After the success of my pamphlet and single-section cased-in bindings, I couldn’t wait to bind another book. This time, I went for something more advanced: a multi-section cased-in binding. The single-section notebook is cute, but considering the work and materials that go into making the case for such a small text block, it’s not necessarily the most economical or practical of books. There’s a lot more work involved in creating a multi-section text block, but there’s not much of a difference in the case—just the addition of a spine stiffener. Given how well my first few experiments turned out, I decided that I was ready for the challenge.
After cutting the paper and punching the sewing holes, I sewed the signatures together over linen tapes. Unlike last time, I waxed the thread beforehand; I think it probably made the thread a little easier to work with, but I’m not certain that the difference was all that extreme. (Experienced bookbinders: is there any other reason to wax the thread?)
Once the text block was sewn and the endsheets were tipped on, it was time for gluing. The spine got two layers of PVA, mull, a spine liner, and decorative headbands (next time: headbands beneath the spine liner). While the text block was drying, I worked on the case—although in the future (currently, in fact), I’ll be batch-processing the various steps as much as possible. Rather than give this book a full-cloth cover, I went with a cloth spine and decorative (screenprinted) paper on the boards.
It didn’t turn out perfectly, but for the most part the mistakes aren’t visible unless you’re really looking for them. The biggest problem is that the text block isn’t quite centered vertically. I think next time I might try a PVA/methyl cellulose adhesive mix to allow a little more time for adjustments; if I’m preparing text blocks and cases in batches, the increased drying time will be less of an issue.
It felt a real sense of accomplishment when I finished this one, and I have some others planned; I have twelve signatures (three eventual text blocks) cut, folded, and punched, awaiting sewing, one of which will be a notebook for my boyfriend in a full-cloth cover for durability, and the second of which will be another one with decorative paper that I hope to fill with my own ideas for creative bindings. (Next mission: Find some cheap old maps?) My goal is to eventually get to the point where I always have a few text blocks ready for cases. That might prove especially useful come the winter; I see some hand-bound books in my loved ones’ futures this holiday season.