Book Repair Basics

Basic background information you should read before you start repairing your books.

Book Repair Glue

Book Repair – Glue or Paste?

There are two main kinds of adhesives used in book repair: paste and glue. Each has special properties and should be used in specific instances. 1. BOOK REPAIR PASTE Paste is generally a cooked mixture of water and vegetable starch, such as wheat or rice. 2. BOOK REPAIR GLUE Several types of glue have been used in bookbinding over the years, the most common being animal hide glue. In recent years, animal-based glues have been replaced with synthetic vinyl resin…

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Book Repair Glue

Book Repair Adhesives

There are two main kinds of adhesives used in book repair: paste and glue. Each has special properties and should be used in specific instances. 1. BOOK REPAIR PASTE Paste is generally a cooked mixture of water and vegetable starch, such as wheat or rice. Repairing paper with paste will give a stronger bond than repairing it with glue because the paste soaks into the paper fibers and bonds them together. Since paste contains water, it can stretch and cockle paper.…

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Clear Plastic Tape (Sticky Tape)

Many books are repaired with clear plastic tape or “sticky tape”. What appears to be a quick solution can become a long term headache. Before using plastic tape, it is important to understand how it works and how it affects books. Plastic tape is dangerous to use in books because it is unstable and causes a great deal of damage. Often two or three layers of tape will cover a single repair. The first repair did not work and additional…

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Document Repair Tape

Document Repair Tape

Document repair tapes differ from common clear plastic in several ways. The carrier (the part of the tape that holds the adhesive) is thin, acid-free paper, not plastic. It is not as stiff as plastic tape so a page can turn and bend more easily. The adhesive used is a neutral acrylic adhesive that should not dry up, yellow over time or seep out the edges of the document repair tape. Because this adhesive is neutral (neither’ acidic nor alkaline),…

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torn-book-page

Heat Set Tissue

Heat set tissue is a thin tissue that has been coated with a heat activated, acrylic adhesive. The tissue is torn or cut to fit the tear or paper loss, laid in position and covered with silicone release paper (so the tissue doesn’t stick to the hot iron). The tissue is adhered to the paper with a heated iron (approximately 100 degrees F.). A standard household iron or tacking iron from a hobby store can be used to adhere heat…

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Japanese repair tissue

Japanese Repair Tissue

Japanese repair tissue is sometimes called “rice” paper, but this thin paper is made from the fibers of the mulberry tree, not from rice as the nickname implies. The strength of Japanesere pair tissue comes from its long fibers which make the paper very strong, even though it is very thin. Handmade Japanese repair tissues are made on a mold and have mold or “chain” lines which can be seen in the paper. These lines generally run the same direction…

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torn-book-page

Repairing Paper

In general I use Japanese repair tissue, wheat paste, and heat-set tissue or repair tape to repair paper tears. Over the next few posts I’ll cover the basic information about: Japanese repair tissue heat set tissue document repair tape clear plastic tape repair adhesives  the difference between glue and paste pva glue wheat paste (including recipes) These repair methods will be applicable to any paper tear in a book whether its a paperback or hardcover.

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Finding the Grain

How to Test for Grain in Paper or Book Cloth

All paper and book cloth has a dominate grain. It’s important to know the grain direction before you start your book repair, so here are the most popular methods for determining the dominant grain in either paper or book cloth. Paper can be tested for grain using the bend test, the tear test or the water test. The grain of book cloth usually runs parallel to the selvage or bound edge of the fabric. If the selvage of the book cloth…

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checklist

Planning Your Repairs

Just like any activity you don’t do often, book repairs should be planned and your work area prepared before you start. Read the directions for any repair thoroughly before attempting the repair. Make sure the workspace is large enough to work comfortably. Clear away excess objects and have the tools and materials needed close at hand. Think about where the repaired books will dry. Materials that are glued or pasted must dry under weight or the paper will buckle. If the book has several…

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Which Repair Method Should I Use?

It is important to determine why a book needs repair. Has it been damaged through carelessness or simply through use? Was it manufactured in a way that caused the damage? Has an old repair failed or caused more damage? How have previous repairs hindered the mechanics (the way the book opens and closes, the way the pages turn) of the book? Is the book constructed in signatures (folded pages that can be sewn or glued together)? Is the book constructed in single…

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