I recently had an order for 50, preprinted books. The first time I cased in a book with printed matter, I cased it in upside down. Live and learn, right? Now I don’t case in anything without first checking the orientation of the textblock. I also have a couple tricks for preparing the signatures to make it easy and keep everything straight. The first tip I actually got from Sarah Nicholls at the Center for Book Arts. We had a lot of folding (like 2,000 invites) to do for the benefit last year, and she rigged up a folding jig. Since I had 300 signatures to fold for this job, I rigged up something similar.
Basically, it’s just a straight piece of bookboard glued on top of another. It makes folding very easy. One thing I had to consider with these signatures is that since they’re printed with the images extending all the way into the gutter, I couldn’t crease them with a bone folder without risking scraping some of the image away, so I used a brayer.
The other thing I had to be sure about was keeping the signatures in order and oriented the right way. To do this while I punched, I had the stack of signatures on the left of my punch cradle with the spines pointed in.
As I punched signatures I placed them on the right side of the cradle.
It was like turning the pages of a book backwards. Then for sewing, I placed the signatures in front of me with the foredges pointed towards me. As I sewed, I flipped the signatures one at a time, bringing the spine side to the edge of my work table. This kept everything in order and oriented correctly.