~ Make a Book Press

How to make a simple book press yourself!

You only need a few things to make your own book press and you may already have them laying around the house.

Here is what you need to make a simple book press:

  • Two clamps
  • Two boards
  • Two Bricks
  • Some Packing Tape

This video shows step by step how to make a simple book press.


Book Repair Expert

Need help with repairing your books?

~ Archival Page Repair Instruction for Beginners

Page Repair Instruction to go with the SYB Page Repair Kit.


Some page repair is very simple and some is more complicated. Hopefully you will be able to follow the page repair instruction here to be able to achieve archival page repairs with ease. I have broken it down based on my book repair hierarchy.


What you will need is the Eraser and 320 grit sand paper (Included).

Erase gently especially when near an edge. When you are next to an edge consider holding down the area with your other hand and carefully erase only toward the edge. Sandpaper can help with some dirt removal. Avoid illustrations and text. Tear off a tiny piece of the sandpaper (the kind in the kit has a sticky back) and stick it on your finger.


You may need Color pencils, archival pens and the like (Not included).

Because of the infinite variety of color issues I have not included any coloring devices. However, there are many situations where it is not a bad idea. Note that it is important to add the color to any areas before you apply any adhesive. The adhesive seals the fibers making it harder for the color to soak in. Keep coloring to areas that are already abraded and for coloring the Japanese tissues used in the repairs. Be aware that coloring on your original item is very tricky and often not a good idea at all. One thing to watch out for is creating halos. This happens when you are trying to fill in an abraded area and you extend the new color beyond the edges of the "loss" onto the original color. Another thing to watch out for is color that soaks through. Acrylic paints and watercolors can be archival but are also tricky to work with. Many pens are not archival and can introduce acid or an odd sheen to your page. Try coloring the tissues before applying them.

Correct (Shape and Alignment) 

You will need Japanese tissue Thick and Thin (Included) to correct the tears. Be sure to align the scarf edges first!

  • Sekishu is about 30 g/m2
  • Hinging tissue is about 12  g/m2

Also needed:

  • Poor Man's Light Table (Included)
  • Water Brush (Included)

Keep alignment, shape, size, thickness in mind as you create your piece of tissue for the repair.


Never use PVA on page repairs (and yes, there are always exceptions)

  • Nori Paste (Included)
  • Brush (Included)

You can use the paste full thickness or water it down a bit. Clean the brush when you are through with soapy warm water. Store it brush side up. The paste will last longer stored in the fridge but will last a long time out of the fridge too.


You will need the Wax Paper (Included).

Rubbing the repair with wax paper after it is dry can help flatten the fibers of the repair and also help keep it from sticking in general.

What does your page look like?

Simple Tear with scarf edges:

Clean first with the eraser. Place a clean piece of card stock (heavy paper) into the tear.This way you can clean one edge of the tear at a time. Gently clean the area always moving the eraser towards the edge. Never rub across edges because you are likely to create a new tear. Be careful not to create glaring clean spots. Does the whole page need to be cleaned? If you clean this page are you going to have to clean all the pages? Try to keep the book looking homogeneous. Clean both sides

   The reason to clean the area first is that once you have added an adhesive to the area you will not be able to clean it as thoroughly again. 

     Decide which side of the page you want to apply the repair tissue. The verso is always preferred to the recto but if there is an illustration or text to consider you may choose to repair the recto. It is also ok to choose it because sometimes it is just easier to work on the recto. Place a clean piece of wax paper beneath the page with the tear. This is so that the paste won't accidentally transfer to the next page. Do you need a weight to help prop open the book and weight down the page so the tear lines up? A baby-food jar full of pennies or even just a can of soup is handy here. Make sure you have easy access to the tear you are working on.

For a simple, straight, scarf-edge tear you can tear pieces of the Hinging Tissue to the right length. It is already a typically good width for most tears. Tearing is better than cutting because it leaves longer fibers on the edges.

Place the bit of tissue onto some wax paper or any clean waste paper. You can squeeze some paste directly onto the brush and then apply it to the tissue. If you are doing a few repairs consider putting a tablespoon of paste in a cup and then thin it down with about a teaspoon of water. This should give you a nice consistency but feel free to adjust as necessary. Have a damp paper towel nearby safely in a container.  This is to clean your fingers off as needed.

Hold the tissue in place with your fingers as you brush the paste on. Try not to get paste on the other side of the tissue. Pick up the tissue carefully and transfer it to the tear. Clean your fingers now. One reason this method is far superior to tape is that if you put it in the wrong place you can just pick it up again and move it. If it dries in the wrong location just get it a bit damp again. Being reversible is one of the qualities that makes this an archival repair.

     Once the tissue is in place, put a bit of wax paper over it and rub it down a bit. Be careful about moisture here. Rubbing down too hard could cause the moisture from the paste to transfer to the paper so strongly that you can create a stain. If the area gets too wet you can avoid creating a stain by misting or dampening the area around it and then drying it carefully. Make sure your paste isn't too wet in the first place. Don't soak your paper with water. This is not supposed to be a wet repair.

Drying the repair can be as simple as letting it sit between sheets of clean wax paper with the book closed. The wax paper will absorb any moisture and keep the pages from sticking together. If you are in a hurry though, you could use a hair dryer. However, drying it quickly can cause warping. Ironing with a tacking iron (a small iron with no holes for steam) can be the best and fastest method. Be certain to protect your page with some silicone release paper also known as baking parchment. Never iron directly onto a page. Be extra careful to make sure you don't iron wax paper onto your page. The wax would transfer and just like crayons it is impossible to get out.

Cut tear (no scarf edges)

The only difference for this kind of tear is that you will most likely have to apply a tissue repair to both sides of the page.

Old Tape / New Tape

If you are repairing a page that has already been "repaired" with tape you have my sympathies. This is always just a little heartbreaking for me.  Tape has a "plastic" carrier and an adhesive layer. When you are dealing with the old yellow cellophane tape you can usually just pull or scrape off the old "plastic" layer. What is left is the sticky residue which has frequently been absorbed into the paper turning the whole area yellow or brown. This is a very acidic area now. You could use a spray de-acidifier to keep it from getting worse. If it is sticky you can try using a crepe eraser to remove the stickiness. Don't use any of those citrus chemical treatments you can buy at the hardware store. They are meant for non-porous objects. If you use them on paper or book-cloth or leather they will soak in and do more damage than the tape ever did. This area will be very fragile and won't hold up to general erasing or sanding well.

The important thing is to remove what you can and then cover the area with Japanese tissue and paste to protect the pages around it while strengthening the area that has been damaged. See Losses for how to create a fitted shape when the Hinging Tissue is too narrow to cover the area.

Most newer "plastic" tapes can be re-activated with heat. With careful application of heat and using a lifting implement of some sort you can painstakingly separate the "plastic" layer from the adhesive. Sometimes you can even get the adhesive layer off. A tacking iron and lifting knife are my preferred tools but heating pads and microspatulas are fine too. Remember that heat is dangerous to paper and fingers too. If the area is still sticky, use the Japanese tissue and paste to cover the area. You don't want your pages to stick together!

Losses (Holes)

Your page has a hole in it. You could always just approximate the area and tear a bit of Japanese tissue to cover it. But hey, we have this handy dandy "poor man's light table" and water brush right here! Place the plastic part of the light table over the hole and the black part under the hole. Now put the Sekishu (The heavier tissue) on top of the plastic part. Hold it in place with your fingers or with weights while you trace the hole shape with the water brush. The water creates a weakened area that you can then tear out. This may take a few tries to figure out how wet to make it and where to tear but you can get very precise. The in-fill only has to overlap the edge by about 1/16th of an inch. Sometimes it makes sense to use more than one layer. If that is the case, create all your layers before attaching any of them. There are many different thicknesses of Japanese tissue out there. I have included the thinner Hinging Tissue and the thicker Sekishu. Try www.talasonline.com or www.hiromipaper.com for other varieties.

~ How to Tint Japanese tissue for Book Repair

 How to Tint Japanese tissue for Book Repair

I only learned how to tint Japanese tissue for book repair after many years of making do with whatever colors I already had around. When I finally did start color matching myself I couldn't believe how easy it was to at least get really close. Getting an exact match took longer but it is a fun process anyway so I do recommend trying it. And it only requires a few tools and materials.
A small but deep cup
A brush (maybe 1/4 inch or 1/2 inch wide).

Something to paint on that the paint won't stick to like glass, pyrex, plexiglass, or what I have here is an enamel photo processing tray.

Japanese tissue. I am using Sekishu here but many others will work fine too.
A Water Spray Bottle (optional)
The Acrylic Paints that will make the right color for you. That will be different for each situation but here is a list of a few sort of standard colors for paper. I like Golden paints particularly.
Titan Buff
White (whatever kind)
Raw Umber
Burnt Umber
Yellow Oxide

You will only need a small amount of each. A pea sized dollop is a good way to start but with fluid paints two or three drops will work.
Some colors go further than others meaning that it is best to start with tiny amounts until you get a sense for how much the addition will change the overall color.

After mixing the colors with no water added (or just a tiny bit), use the spray bottle to add water a bit add a time. The spray helps it blend in faster but you can just dribble some water in if you don't have a spray bottle handy.

Watch for lumps. It should be watery like milk rather than cream. You will need at least a 1/4 to a 1/2 cup of liquid to make it easy enough to paint with.

When you think you are getting close to the color you need, hold the cup near the object you are trying to match (end-sheet, page or cloth cover) to take a look. Don’t spill!

When you think you have a good match test it out on a bit of the paper you are going to color. Dry it. The color will change so make sure it is really dry. Hold it next to the paper you are trying to match. Notice: Too dark, too light? Needs more red or yellow?
This may take a long time to match the first few times but you will get faster at it. I think my first color match took 2 hours! Now it can be 15 minutes.

There is a color wheel that I have always liked called the Analogous Color Wheel. It is for oil paints but I like the muted colors. It can help you to see what direction to take the color in.

Hal Reed's Analogous Color Wheel

Once you have the color, get a bigger paint brush. I like a two inch Purdy for this. I used an enamel photo processing tray, but you could use anything so that the paint won’t stick to it.

Paint away. Fairly quickly to avoid leaving brush strokes.

Peel it up while it is still wet and then dry it. You still have to check to see if the color is accurate so waiting for it to dry can be annoying.

I will typically use a bit of paper towel to dry it but be careful. Letting wet paper sit on top of any pattern can imprint that pattern into your paper. So keep it moving!

You can use a hair dryer too of course.

Typically I will make a batch of several sheets of slightly different colors to match different books. This saves a lot of time.

Here is the book I was working on.

I matched the Japanese tissue for the hinge color.

For more on how to actually match colors, this Members Only Blog post and video will help.  go to https://saveyourbooks.com/color-matching-a…restoration-less/

~ 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!



~ 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.

~ Will repairing a book destroy the value?

Will repairing a book destroy the value?

The simple answer is yes. The complicated answer is not necessarily.  If the book is collectable and other people value it, then doing a repair can make it worth less money. Two ideas must be accounted for though before that first statement can be fully understood.

The first idea is the difference between the words repair and restore. I define each of these in another blog post but suffice to say that repairs are obvious and they frequently cover up or destroy some of the original materials whereas restoration is as close to invisible as possible and strives to keep all original materials as intact as possible. Restoring a book will not usually destroy the monetary value and can even increase it. However, not all books are worth restoring and the Purist book collector will not buy a book that has been restored. But this is the top 1% of the book world.

The second idea is to look at the word value. The value of a book is not intrinsic to the book. Books are like any other commodity in that the more people desire them the more value they can command. Besides monetary value though there is also sentimental value. The same principle applies. The more you care about a book the more value it has for you. This is not trivial. Repairing a book doesn’t usually take away the sentimental value. Look at some before and after pictures to decide if a repair is the right thing for you.

At Save Your Books we understand that both kinds of value are valid and treat all books individually and with great care.