Let’s have a look at the most useful tools you can have to help you repair your favorite books.

book repair folderA folder is a tool approximately 6 – 8” long and about 1 – 1 l/2” wide. A typical folder is approximately l/8” thick, smooth with one pointed end and one rounded end made from animal bone or plastic. Folders are used for many things such as creasing paper, smoothing down repair tissues and working cloth into a joint area. Some plastic folders are available with two round ends. When purchasing a folder, try to buy one with one rounded end and one pointed end. That tool will be much more versatile. Bone folders can be filed to a desired shape and size while plastic folders cannot.

A microspatula is a metal tool, approximately 6 – 8” long with one rounded end and one pointed end. Use a microspatula to pick up pasted strips of Japanese repair tissue, lift book cloth or endpapers away from the book board, or apply glue or paste in a very tight area.

A needle-in-a-stick can be used to apply glue to small, tight areas, mark cutting lines or score tear lines on Japanese repair tissue. This kind of tool can be purchased from a pottery material supply house (needle in a wooden handle) or botany material supplier (needle in a plastic handle). It can also be constructed by drilling a very small hole in the end of a wooden dowel and inserting the needle into the hole. The needle should fit tightly into the hole in the dowel. A small drop of glue on the end of the needle will help it hold better.

A good assortment of brushes makes repairing books much easier.
The size of the surface to be pasted or glued determines the size of the brush used, so keep a variety (thin, medium, thick) on hand. Round or flat bristle brushes be used.
While natural bristle brushes are usually best for performing repairs, some libraries recommend using a synthetic bristle brush for PVA glue as it can be difficult to wash all the glue out of a natural bristle brush. A buildup of PVA glue can ruin a brush. Some people like to use separate brushes for paste and glue. A brush should never be allowed to dry with the adhesive on it. Keep the brush in the adhesive or water and always wash a brush out when finished. Mild hand soap or dish washing liquid can be used to thoroughly clean brushes.

When storing a brush in water, use only enough water to cover the bristles. If the water extends above the ferrule of the brush (the metal ring around the shaft of the brush that holds the bristles in place), the wood of the shaft can expand with moisture. As the wood dries and contracts, the ferrule and the brush’s bristles can loosen. Remember to shake out all the water from a brush before putting it in paste or glue.

A self-healing cutting mat and sharp knife, scalpel or breakaway utility knife  makes precise cutting easy and fast. It is important to always work with a sharp blade when cutting or trimming repair materials. Attempting to cut with a dull blade will usually result in a torn edge that needs even more repair.

Cutting on cardboard is not always a good idea because the knife blade can be caught in the “track” of a previous cut and ruin a repair. Self-healing cutting mats allow numerous cuts to be made without tracks forming. These mats can be purchased in various sizes from craft stores or fabric stores.

Dividers can be used to transfer and mark measurements from one place to another. Other basic tools include sharp scissors and a rigid, metal straightedge.

Paper wrapped bricks or jars filled with coins can be used as weights while a repair is drying.
A glass sheet with ground edges makes a perfectly flat work or drying surface. The glass should not be larger than 18” x 18” or it can be difficult to move from one place to another. Thin pieces of plywood or Formica can also be used.