Reattach Loose Board of Book

Basic Book Repairs Lesson

How to reattach the loose board of a book-cloth book.

This is a basic rather than advanced repair. Consider holding off and getting more information if your book has any of these additional issues.

  • This is not ideal for books with illustrated end-sheets because it removes some of the end-sheet hinge area.
  • If the board is still attached fully by either the inner hinge or outer joint there are some different ways to approach this.
  • If your book is over 8 inches tall you may need to add another layer of tissue or other strengthening material for the hinge.

The end result should be an archival repair that could be restored more fully at a later date. For instance with a re-back (original spine over new). It will serve to keep the board with the rest of the book and should look clean and neat without covering original material.

Following the book repair hierarchy:


  • If the board is only mostly loose then finish the separation both for the inner hinge and the outer joint. For the outer joint, cut along the very edge of the board with a sharp knife. For the inner hinge, make the cut along the fold of the end-sheet or along the edge of the board.
  • After the board is fully detached, clean off the edges. A sanding block with 100 grit sandpaper works well for this.
  • Use a knife and straightedge to trim 1/16th inch of the book-cloth off the board's spine edge.
  • Using the book repair knife, lift the outer spine edge of the boards by about an inch and a half. Lift it open a bit, but the further you open it the more likely it is to create wrinkles and damage the cover.
  • Make sure the edge of the cloth case-spine is completely unattached to the text-spine.


  • You can color any of the tissue or paper hinges to match the book better. Use color pencils, acrylics, archival pens or whatever archival means makes sense. Or leave it plain and don't worry about it.
  • An advanced technique would be to match and touch up the color of the paper or cloth edges before glueing or pasting them.


  • You will make a total of three new hinges. The inner hinge, The board attachment and The spine attachment.
  • 1) Inner Hinge: Make a new inner hinge from tissue (about 40 gsm). It should the height of the text-block and wide enough to attach to the fly-leaf by about 3/16ths of an inch and it should extend far enough that when the board is in place that it will attach to the paste-down by about 3/16ths of an inch.
    • Be prepared to align the board with the other board so the square (board overhang) is correct.
    • Use wax paper or parchment paper to keep the hinge from sticking to itself when you attach the board side.
  • 2) Board Attachment: Cut a strip of tissue (about 40 gsm). It should be the height of the board and about an inch and a half wide.
    • Note that on a more advanced repair this strip would be taller than the board so that there could be turn-ins. This repair is not addressing turn-ins.
  • 3) Spine Attachment: Cut a strip of archival paper (a medium weight acid-free paper about 70 pound) the height of the text-block and about 2 inches wide. Fold it in half so it is a long skinny V strip. One side will be attached to the text-spine and the other will be attached to the case-spine.

PASTE (or glue)

  1. Inner hinge: Attach the strip either on top of the fly-leaf or under the fly-leaf if it removes easily (be sure to replace the fly-leaf if you do). Let this dry fully before making the next attachment. Use archival rice paste for this. (Such as Nori) You can water it down a bit. If it doesn't seem to be sticking well you could add a bit of PVA to the paste. Think 70% paste, 30 PVA% Or just brush the tissue with paste and then brush it with a bit of PVA. The paste will have soaked into the fibers so not much PVA will be absorbed.
  2. Board attachment: Use PVA to attach the hinge to the board and attach it to the text-spine. Figure out if paste or glue works better. Sometimes the wetness of paste will cause staining to the cloth and sometimes you need a little extra strength on the very edges. I will usually use paste with a little PVA on the edges but sometimes I use just paste or just PVA.
  3. Spine attachment: Use PVA to attach the hinge to the text-spine and use paste to attach the hinge to the case-spine


  • Optional: Use SC6000 on the new exposed tissue on the outside of the book. It will seal the fibers and make it shiny. If you don't have SC6000 you can also use paste to seal the fibers. Don't do this for the inner hinge tissue because it could make it stick together
  • Optional: Make a .005 mil polyester film cover for the book. Use a double fold on the fore-edges. Here is a video showing how.


Other ways (that don't work well) to reattach a loose board include:

  • Gluing out the entire fly-leaf and shutting the book.
  • Using great swathes of all sorts of tape
  • Gluing the outer hinge or inner hinge.

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