~ Damp Cloth Method vs. Scraping for Cleaning a Book Cover

I thought this video was going to be about scraping and color touch up again but turns out the damp cloth method worked very well. There are just a few notes on pens vs pencils to round it out.

~ 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.

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~ Strengthen Inner Book Hinge

How to Strengthen an Inner Book Hinge

Strengthening the inner hinge of a book is something to do if the hinge is weak but not fully broken. First, if the end-sheets are illustrated you would want to use paste to put any pieces in place that are loose. After that, cut a strip of a thin Japanese tissue that is the same height and only slightly wider than the hinge are. Use an archival paste to put it in place and attach it thoroughly by rubbing it down with a folder. Kizukishi is only one example of a Japanese tissue that will work for this. There are others that are fine as well. The important thing is that it is so thin that you can see the illustration fairly well when you are done.

The page repair kit that we sell includes two different kinds of Japanese tissue that will work for a variety of repairs.

This is the YouTube video:

page repair kit

The materials and tools needed for archival page repair to repair the inner hinge of a book and more.



~ Book Repair Glue or Paste

Should I use Book Repair Glue?

So you think you need some book repair glue? But maybe it is actually some paste that you need. These are the two most common adhesives I use in my book restoration and repair work. My book repair paste of choice is a rice paste and the book repair glue of choice is a poly-vinyl-acetate or PVA. PVA is a white glue that comes in many forms. The important thing to know when choosing a white glue is that you don’t want it to have fillers that will turn yellow and make it crack later. (Think of the old Elmers glue you used in grade school.) The key is to buy a truly archival glue and even then there are variations. I use Jade 403 (a brand of PVA) because it has very little smell and has just been overall the most pleasant to use of all the PVAs I have tried. One thing to know about PVA is that it goes bad if it freezes so shipping can cost more during cold months. Most scrapbooking or craft supply stores will have some archival PVAs for you to choose from. When a PVA is called archival, it should be because the ph is neutral and because the glue is stable and stays flexible for a very long period of time. not all glues that claim to be archival actually have these qualities. There is no regulation of the word “archival” and it doesn’t even have a standard definition. I have heard negative reviews of some PVAs and pastes too that claim to be arvhival.

PVA is not reversible. There is a reversible PVA that you can buy called Jade 403-R but the well respected conservator, Don Etherington, told me that it just takes away the best qualities of PVA and makes it less useful. Obviously this is a matter of some opinion since many conservators do use it.

The paste I use is Nori rice paste (a brand of paste), because it is simply the best product I have worked with. It is archival in that it has a neutral ph, the adhesion lasts a long time and it is easily reversible in water. Also it smells good. Sort of like vanilla. I used to cook up batches of Zen Shofu wheat paste every few days to keep up with what I needed in the shop. What a pain. Cooking, straining, cleaning up… yuck. I then tried instant pastes and found their adhesion was not very good. So, I am sticking with Nori. Ha ha.

So when do I use each of these? and why?

PVA: Reactivates with HeatArchival Glue Jade 403, book repair glue

  1. Inner hinge areas: Because the flexibility and strength of PVA means I can use less. Even as little as only 1/16th of an inch to attach something.
  2. Solidifying bumped corners: Because it is fast and less wet which is good if the corners are leather.
  3. Sealing edges of boards: PVA is actually a plastic so it really does seal it. It keeps things from breaking up further.
  4. Leather books: While paste is used to put leather onto books in the first place, if it is old leather or powdery or broken up then the moisture from paste would turn the leather black. Therefore PVA is better for reattaching broken leather. Read my blog: Sophia’s Book Repair Hierarchy and Book Cleaning Hierarchy to know more about the proper sequence of events for using adhesives.

Paste: Reactivates with MoistureArchival Nori Rice Paste, book repair glue, book repair paste

  1. Page repairs: Because PVA shows up as a dark line on the edges of any repair whereas paste disappears better. Also paste is easily reversible so if I put it on the page wrong I can just do it over.
  2. Solidifying bumped corners: Because it soaks through the fibers and makes it easier to get the whole area and causes less color change on cloth in general.
  3. Re-attaching loose areas on a book-cloth spine or cover: Because glueing with PVA is more permanent and if I ever need to undo this for a better restoration I won’t lose original pieces.
  4. After coloring in a faded spot on a cloth covered book I would use paste to seal it as a sort of starch. It is less shiny than the PVA.

There are other things I use each of these for but these are the main ones.

Keep an eye out for a video on this soon.

~ 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

~ How to Remove a Library Pocket

How to Remove a Library Pocket

If you have the DIY Basic Book Repair Kit you will already have most of these tools and materials to remove a library pocket. Here is what you need:

  1. Book Repair Knife
  2. Waxed Paper
  3. Baking Parchment Paper
  4. Bone Folder
  5. Spray Bottle
  6. Iron (Make sure water won’t pour out of it.)
  7. Optional: props to keep cover level
  8. Optional: Paper towel or clean damp rag in a bowl for keeping fingers clean.

To start, Assess the situation. If the pocket is on the cover rather than the text-block page you may need to prop up the cover so you don’t strain the hinge. Now check how much of the pocket is actually attached. Use the knife to carefully remove the loose parts but only work on the parts that are easy. Don’t force anything. When tearing a piece off keep the angle low and pull slowly. If you get into trouble pulling in one direction then try the other way. Once the loose paper is removed then assess the glued area that is leftover. In the case of the video it appears the glue is still tacky. This is a good sign that it may be able to be removed using heat. If it is yellow and crunchy then water is your best bet.

In the video I am using a tacking iron (used commonly in model airplane building) I apply the iron through the baking parchment because the iron might be dirty and you don’t want to transfer that dirt to the page. Also it will help keep you from burning the area you are working on. As you heat up a small area go along with the repair knife or the micro-spatula and scrape the paper off.

The sticky residue left in the instance of this video can be removed with a crepe eraser or more scraping with the knife. If that doesn’t work you can cover the sticky areas with a thin Japanese tissue called Kizukishi applied with paste. This could be colored to match before hand but Kizukishi is so thin that it is mostly see-through. The only other option is to scrape off the offending areas and re-color them which would be a lot of work.


    Use this book repair kit to help you remove a library pocket from a book.