book spine damage

Repairing the Spine of a Book – Part 4


IMPORTANT: Read through the instructions for gluing the repair patch in place before beginning this procedure. It is important to understand when and where to apply the glue; if the repair is glued in the wrong order, it’s possible to be “glued into a corner”, needing to glue something that is already covered by another part of the repair.

In modern book case construction, the spine of the book cloth and the spine of the text block must move independently of one another in order for the book to open properly. DO NOT glue the repair patch to the spine of the text block (the pages of the book).

There are many older book structures that function differently to this modern construction. If a book looks or operates in an unusual way, carefully research the book structure or consult a trained book conservator before attempting a repair.

  1. With the repair patch in place, use a knife or microspatula to feed glue between the wrong side of the original book cloth spine and the right side of the repair patch. Do not put any glue on the spine of the text block (the pages of the book) or on the cut and lifted flaps of book cloth.
  2. Use a folder to gently press the original book cloth against the repair patch.
  3. Work on both covers and the spine. Wipe away any excess glue that is pushed out the top of the repair patch.
  4. Use the long edge of a folder to work the patch into both cover joints.
  5. Work this area well to make sure the patch is in the proper position. Double check the repair. Make sure the new book cloth patch lies flat against the text block and the original book cloth lies flat against the patch. There should not be any wrinkles or buckles in the patch or the book cloth spine. If it is not a good fit, readjust it or replace it before the glue dries.
  6. Put the book in a book press or insert rods in the hinge areas and press under weight for about 10 minutes to allow the glue to set.