Re-attaching Illustrations and Plates

Not these plates!

Plates are illustrations that are printed separately from the text of a book.
Many plates are smaller than the text block page and are attached to a page of a text block by tipping them in along one edge.

This is common even in books with sewn text blocks because plates are often printed on coated paper that is heavier than the paper used to print the text block. When the original glue dries up, the plate separates from the text and falls out of the book.
The best way to tip a plate back into a book is to apply glue to the edge of a plate using the second technique outlined in the previous post – Reattaching a Text Page.

It can sometimes be a better choice to use the Hinging-In an Illustration or Plate outlined in a separate post.

Reattaching a Single Text Page

book cornersEach book will accept a repaired or replaced page in a different way. Some pages will sit easily into the hinge area, others will slide in from the top or bottom of the text block. Practice putting the page into the book before gluing to see how the page goes in the best.
Often a repaired page cannot be replaced as far back into the spine as when the book was new. If the edges of the repaired or replacement page extend beyond the text block, the page can tear and need future repair.
If the page does not fit correctly in the text block, especially in the case of
replacement pages, trim the height of the page so that the top and bottom
edges will be flush with the edges of the text block. Use a sharp knife and straight edge to trim the margins as scissors will not give a straight edge.
Leave an oversized margin at the fore edge of the page which can be trimmed to the correct size after the page is tipped-in the book.

Several methods can be used to apply glue to a page; practice each one and
see which works best. Often, different techniques will work in different
1) Using a very small paint brush apply glue to the edge of the page. Do not attempt to use a large brush to apply a small amount of glue. It is very difficult to control a large brush in such a small area and the glue could wind up in all the wrong places.
2) Use a piece of waste paper to mask the inner margin of the page. Leave approximately l/16” exposed of the page exposed. Apply glue across the waste paper toward the edge of the page. Remove the waste paper before placing the page in the book.
3) Apply a l/8” line of glue on a card size piece of thin cardboard or a piece of stiff card stock. Draw the inner edge of the paper along the line of glue making sure the paper edge is covered in a thin, even bead of glue. If the page needs more glue, draw it through the glue again.
If there are some areas that have too much glue and others that are not covered, draw the page over a dry piece of card stock to even out the adhesive.
Once the glue is applied to the page, carefully maneuver the page into the
book. Use the technique that worked best when the page was positioned in
the book before the glue was applied.
Put wax paper directly in front and behind the tipped-in page. Besides
keeping moisture from traveling throughout the book it also protects the
pages from excess glue that can adhere the pages to each other.
Put the repaired book under weight and let dry overnight. When the repair is
dry, carefully remove the wax paper and make sure the page is securely
attached to the book.

Re-attaching Pages

loose pagesTipping-in is one way to reattach a detached page or plate, errata sheet or replacement page. Tipping-in is not used to put a entire book back together.
If too many pages are loose from the binding, the book should be resewn, or sent to a bindery. “Too many pages” can vary from book to book, but generally more than 3-5 pages is too many.
Tipping-in is generally used on text blocks that are adhesive bound with tightly glued spines. The tight spine keeps the book from opening flat and will help to hold the tipped-in page in place. I have talked about adhesive bound text blocks and how these text blocks are constructed in a previous post.
While the general rule is to use paste when repairing paper, glue is used when tipping in a page. Paste can be a better bond between paper, but it is not as flexible as glue. Since the tipped-in pages need to flex and bend, flexible adhesive is very important.

In the next few posts I will cover the basic instructions for tipping-in loose pages whether they contain text or images.

Missing Page Corners

Choose two layers of Japanese tissue that together will be close in thickness to the page being repaired.
Protect the pages behind the repair with wax paper. Use a piece of black mat board to highlight the edge of the repair. Fold a piece of Japanese tissue in half and place over the missing corner. The edges of the patch should extend past the edges of the page.

Needle or water tear (tearing Japanese repair tissue post) the two :layers of tissue. The patch should be about l/16” wider than the loss (missing corner). Apply paste to the repair patch and position the repair patch on one side of the missing corner. Work the edge of the patch into place.
Fold the patch over and work the edges of the patch into the page.
Dry under weight and trim any excess margin.
After the repair is dry, curl the paper around the tear to ensure all the edges are well adhered. If the edges are loose, repaste and dry under weight, then test again.

Repairing Holes in Book Pages

It is not too common to find holes in the middle of the page, but it can happen. While the print can not be restored, the page should be mended to prevent further damage.

Choose two layers of Japanese tissue that will be close in thickness to the repaired page. Tear two pieces of Japanese tissue to cover the hole using the techniques covered in the post on using Japanese repair tissue.

  • Protect the text block with wax paper on either side of the damaged page.
  • Paste up one piece of Japanese tissue, position it on the page and work the edges into place. Paste up the second piece of repair tissue and lay it in place, working edges down with a folder.
  • Cover with wax paper or non-stick material and blotting paper.
  • Dry under weight.

After the repair is dry, curl the paper around the tear to ensure all the edges are well adhered. If the edges are loose, repaste and dry under weight, then test again.

Repairing Cut Paper or Pages

Paper cuts slice completely through the paper fibers so they do not have a
top or bottom feathered edge as you would find in a paper tear. Paper cuts must be repaired with a Japanese repair tissue patch or document repair tape.

Since the cut is unsupported, it might be better to put repair tissue on both sides of the cut or wrap a short amount of the Japanese repair tissue or document repair tape around to the back side of the repair to reinforce the repair.

Follow the instructions outlined in the post for applying Japanese Repair Tissue or using Document Repair Tape.


Repairs with Document Tape

Document repair tape is discussed in a previous post. In general, it should only be used on books that are not too valuable or part of a special collection.

Make sure the edges of the tear are lined up correctly and apply the tape over the tear. Do not try to repair a long tear with only one piece of tape. If necessary, apply tape on both sides of the paper to attach loose edges but remember that this will add two extra layers of thickness to the book.
Archival tapes are usually 5/8 to 1” wide. Tape that wide can often be cut in half or thirds so as to lessen the amount of tape used in each book. In addition to saving money, it will also be better for the book. When tape is applied to both sides of a repair, cut the second piece a little wider than the first so the edges are offset.

Document Repair Tape

Repairing Paper Tears with Japanese Tissue

Japanese repair tissueJapanese repair tissue adds strength to a repair. It is used when the tear does not have wide, overlapping edges and needs reinforcement.
Choose the best method for tearing and applying paste before beginning the repair.

Apply paste on the Japanese repair tissue, then pick up the tissue using a needle, microspatula or fine tweezers. Carefully lay the tissue on the tear. If
the tear is at the edge of the page, extend the Japanese tissue 3/8” past
the edge of the paper. This extension can be turned under now or trimmed
when the repair is dry.
It can be difficult to work with a piece of Japanese repair tissue over 3” so try repairing long tears with several short, overlapping pieces of Japanese tissue. While it may seem inviting to use one long piece of tissue, it is much harder to control, and the finished repair can look clumsy.

Once the pasted Japanese tissue is laid over the tear, cover it with a strip of
wax paper and use a folder to gently press the edges of the tear together.
Remember to always work from the base of the repair toward the edge of
the page.
Wipe away any excess paste that is forced out of the edge of the tear. If
there is much excess, use less next time.
When the entire tear is repaired, cover it with wax paper or non-stick
material and blotting paper, then put it under weight. Remember, if the repair
does not dry under weight, the paper can buckle and curl.
After the repair is dry, curl the paper around the tear and make sure all the
edges are well adhered. If there are loose edges, repaste and dry under
weight. If the page creases at the repair, consider applying a second
Japanese repair tissue patch on the opposite side of the original repair.

Repairing Paper Tears with Wheat Paste

torn-book-pageWhen the paper tear has a strong, obvious top and bottom edge, applying
wheat paste to the edges of the tear can be enough to bond them together.

Use a very fine paint brush, microspatula or needle to apply wheat paste to the top and bottom edges of the tear and press them together. Cover the repair with wax paper press the edges of the tear together with a folder. Remember to always best to work from the base of the repair toward the edge of the page.
Wipe away any excess paste that is forced out of the edge of the tear. Note how much excess paste was used and try to use less for the next repair. Always aim for enough paste; not too little, not too much. When the repair is dry, curl the paper around all the edges of the repaired tear and make sure they are well adhered.

If there are loose edges, repaste and dry under weight. If the page creases at the repair, consider applying a Japanese repair tissue (separate post) patch over the repair.

If the tear is not properly aligned, moisten the area with water to release the repair and redo it.

Simple or Complex Paper Tears

Paper tends to tear at an angle so most tears will have a top and a bottom. If the tear passes through the text or an illustration, it is easy to see which is the top or bottom because the bottom of the tear will show the white paper fibers. If the tear does not pass through text, look at the tear very carefully before pasting it together.
Some tears will go with the grain of the paper while others go against the grain. Tears that go with the grain of the paper will usually be smooth and straight while tears that go against the grain will tend to have more feathered edges and will curve as they try to align themselves with the paper grain.
In simple paper tears the page has been torn one time and the tear has an obvious top and bottom. This is easy to see when the tear passes through the text or illustrations.

Finding the Grain
Complex tears are really more than one tear. When a torn page is not repaired, the page can easily tear again and the second tear can have a different top and bottom. Always look at the tear and lay the edges in position before applying adhesive to make sure the tear is in the correct position. If the edges are not in the correct position, the repair will not lie flat and the text or illustration may be obscured.

There are three ways to repair paper tears in book repair – I will cover these in individual posts: