A book has a head, a tail, and a spine, so I guess I should be used to referring to them anatomically, but it was a little funny to me to find out that books can have shoulders. It’s for rounded spines in the English tradition, I believe. French bindings round without the shoulders, which means you sort of have to sand the covers where you attach them to the spine so there isn’t a hard step under the book cloth. If you give the book shoulders, however, you don’t have to sand the covers. Using a backing press like this one:

Backing Press

You drop your book into the press with spine raised up the same distance as the thickness of the cover boards–and then you beat it viciously with a rounding hammer. Starting from the center of the spine, you sweep the hammer out toward the edge until your shoulders are just past 90 degrees.
This is the one I made with nice fat shoulders:

It feels so good in your hands–fits just perfectly, and the double-thick covers feel so solid.


About sappling

When God created the world, he did it in six days and rested on the seventh. I always wished there was just one more day in the week, an eighth day just for me to pursue the thoughts in my head and translate them to the physical world. There are only seven days, however, so I steal my creative moments in between being a mom and my work binding books and making boxes for clients all over New York City. I love working with my hands, learning new things, and I'm here to share those lessons with you. There are only seven days in a week. Why not eight? Guess I'll ask when I get there.
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One Response to Shoulders

  1. Ki says:

    Beating it soundly? I LOVE crafts.

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