~ 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.