Repairing Book Hinges

Tightening and Repairing Loose Book Hinges

The previous post talked briefly about how most hardcover books are constructed so that you know which part actually needs repair when the book hinges are loose.

When the hinge area is loose and the endpaper is not torn, use a wooden stick such as a bamboo skewer or thin knitting needle coated with PVA to feed a small amount of PVA into the joint area.
Carefully insert the PVA-coated knitting needle or skewer into the hinge area at the top of the book, rotating as it is pushed down.
Pull the knitting needle out, turn the book over and repeat on the opposite end. Be careful not to get any glue on the spine of the text block.

After both ends of the hinge are glued, put a piece of wax paper or non-stick material in the hinge area to protect the end paper from any excess glue that might seep through the torn hinge area or out the head or tail. Remember, glue in the wrong place could glue the book shut!

book repair folderClose the book and use the long thin edge of a folder on the outside of the cover to work the book cloth down into the case joint. Use the long edge of the folder as the ends, even the rounded one, can sometimes tear through
the book cloth.

Work from the center to the top of the book, then from the center to the bottom of the book. This will adhere the crash, end paper and book board and move any excess glue out of the hinge area. Remember, rubbing the folder along the spine joint can make the book cloth shiny. To prevent this, lay a piece of non-stick material or thin paper on the book cloth before working with the folder.

Open the book cover and use a folder to gently work the end paper back into the hinge. Again, use the long flat edge of the folder as the ends can tear through the paper. Replace the wax paper in the hinge, close the book and rub the folder in the outer joint once again.

Place the book in a book press to dry. If a book press is not available, put knitting needles in the hinge areas of the case and place weight on the book. Let your repair dry overnight.

NOTE: If a book needs other repairs such as recasing or rebacking, do not tighten the hinges until those repairs are completed. Tightening hinges is generally the last repair to be completed.