How to repair a chip in a Leather Spine

How to Repair a chip in a Leather Spine

How to repair a chip in a leather spine- Lamb - Essays of Elia 9

The key to this quick fix is to understand the anatomy of this book. The spine has a natural hollow area between the liner of the text-spine and the liner of the case-spine. This must be preserved to maintain the functionality and in fact also to maintain the aesthetics of the cover. Before getting to the chip repair, I followed along the usual hierarchy for leather books. Clean and Protect, then I moved on to Color and finally came around to Correct and Paste which is where this part of the repair takes place. Afterwards would be the Protect portion which is where I apply leather dressing and sc6000.



Don’t Do This! Scraping a book spine towards yourself

Sebastian is trying to take a shortcut that I feel is too dangerous. I mean really, the very first rule of any bindery is don't bleed on the books!



Book Box Repair: Don’t use tape

Book Box Repair:

This is a very short video looking at some of the problems of a book box from 1904. This box has been previously repaired with what is most likely document repair tape which is an archival solution that is limited in it's appeal. For one thing it just looks like white tape has been applied. It doesn't blend in. Also, it is not easily reversible. If it had been applied with paste and tissue it could easily be re-done. Another problem with the box is that the seller taped directly onto some printing in the inner lid and this caused damage that is hard to repair and was easy to avoid.

To see more in-depth videos on book box repair become a Save Your Books member.

How to Repair a Book Corner

How to Repair a Book Corner

Book Repair DIY Corner Repair

Repairing the damaged corner of a book is really easy. There are just a few things you need to be careful of and this goes for leather as well as book-cloth books.

If you have the DIY Basic Book Repair Kit you will already have these tools and materials.

  1. Paste
  2. Paint brush (1/4 inch wide or so)
  3. Micro-spatula or the Book Repair Knife
  4. Japanese tissue: Moriki (color to match the cover)
  5. Waxed Paper
  6. Bone Folder
  7. Bulldog Clip
  8. Pressing Board
  9. Spray Bottle
  10. Optional: Weights of some sort (to help prop up the book)
  11. Optional: Paper towel or clean damp rag in a bowl for keeping fingers clean.

To start, get a container (a coffee cup is fine) and put a bit (Tablespoon or so) of paste in the container and then spritz a bit of water into it and mix it up with the brush. It should be spreadable not runny. The point is not only to make the paste go further by watering it down a bit  but it will also soak into the fibers of the book-board more easily if it is a bit wetter. Not too wet or that can cause staining to the cover material and take a really long time to dry.

Next take the knife and cut into the covering material if it isn’t already missing along the edges of the corner. Make the cut in the middle of the edge for at least an inch on either side. Peel back the covering material to expose the board. Using the micro-spatula for this is safer than using the knife.

Then use the micro-spatula to pry apart the layers of the board. This can be easy or hard depending on the board. Sometimes I have to use a knife and just make layers. The point is to open up the fibers so that when we add paste it isn’t just a layer of paste on top of the board, rather it becomes part of the board.Be careful not to remove any of the board.

It is very important to cut into the board further than the line where it starts to be weak. if you can bend the corner about an inch then cut into the board an inch and a quarter to make a connection between the week and strong part.

Apply the paste between the layers with the brush or using the micro-spatula. Press the board layers back together but don’t press the covering material back together yet. The bone-folder can be helpful here. Remove excess paste. It is handy to have a damp rag around to help clean your fingers or at least a paper towel.

Put wax paper scraps between the covering material and the board that has been pressed and shaped back together. Also wrap wax paper around the outside of the corner so it doesn’t stick to the pressing boards. Use the pressing boards and the bulldog clip to further press the corner. Wait until it is dry.

When it is dry apply paste to the inside of the covering material flaps and press. Remove excess paste. If the material is really fragile like dry leather or thin paper it might be better to use a more dry archival glue to re-attach the flaps.

Now you area ready to apply the Japanese tissue that is colored to match your book. Remember to always color before gluing. In the case of this book the tissue matches the book with no additional coloring needed. Acceptable methods of coloring are archival pens or color pencils or even acrylic paints.

Tear a piece of the tissue so that it will just fit along the edge of the corner and cover any missing pieces of the covering material. A torn edge will look more natural than a cut edge.

Rub the tissue down through wax paper to prevent it moving around. Mold it into shape. In the video I am using a Teflon folder which doesn’t catch on things and won’t burnish. The bone folder works just fine too. A little paste on the outside of the tissue will help keep it sealed. I recommend a coat of SC6000 (a kind of wax) to seal it even better and make it shine a bit.

Good luck! As always, practice on a book you can replace and then have fun!


Book repair kit for repairing a book corner

Book Repair Kit