sewing-frame and lying press for bookbinding

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Project by antmjr posted 01-01-2012 03:37 PM 11050 views 6 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi all and happy new year to all of you!
May this damn 2012 bring lots of money to everyone, we do know well how to spend them in a moment ;-)
It usually happened that I bought some used books with abebooks and the like, wishing every time to be able to bookbind them again. So at long last I decided to give it a try. First I bought the right manual, published in London 111 years ago.

A sewing-frame consists of three elements: the bed, the uprights with their nuts, and the crossbar.

I built the bed from a piece of formica laminate top, taken away from an old kitchen; all around it, I glued some black locust from my garden (it’s always the same tree I cut down and lumbered seven or eight years ago). In the corners I threaded the holes, to insert the uprights.

I turned the uprights with my lathe, then I threaded them by hand with this 1-1/2'' tap:

You usually find that the uprights are way taller; the reason is the professional bookbinders were used to sew more books than one on the same cords at the same time. I for one don’t need it, so my columns are shorter. The crossbar is a small board; you see there is a copper rivet too, so as to prevent the possibility of cracking along the slit.

Here my successful attempt to bind an old book again, and below the way the cords are fastened under the bed by means of some wooden keys.

I end with few pics of the press, out of Hungarian black locust – the nuts are out of black locust from my garden (just out of curiosity, as you see our Italian black locust is clearer, in honey tone, and smaller in dimension).

More pics here on my picasa web album, and here below a little tutorial in four steps, this one is the first, made by a guy from Florence (it is in Italian, but you can understand everything as well – for those who do not know anything on the subject).

-- Antonio

8 comments so far

View stefang's profile


17040 posts in 4621 days

#1 posted 01-01-2012 03:43 PM

Good to see that you are keeping this skill alive and saving old books at the same time Antonio. Wishing you a Happy newYear too.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 5032 days

#2 posted 01-01-2012 03:46 PM

Molto bello, Antonio. Very informative. Great insight into book binding. Very nice job on the press.

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 4471 days

#3 posted 01-01-2012 03:47 PM

Thank you so much Mike, and the same wish for you and your family – we should rename you Billy the kid, since you are always the quickest in commenting :-) and thank you Tim too!

-- Antonio

View shipwright's profile


8760 posts in 4085 days

#4 posted 01-01-2012 06:14 PM

Ciao Antonio, This is just a beauty to behold and a working “new antique”. I love your wooden threads and of course you couldn’t have a better material to hold them than Black Locust. I have some of our local (Western Canadian) Black Locust and it is about the same creamy color as yours. I just spent a month in Italy but alas, it was in the south. Next time maybe I’ll get to the north again.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 4471 days

#5 posted 01-01-2012 06:23 PM

what what what??? and where? and when? I’m looking forward to see the thousands pics you should have taken…Lately the whether was better in north Italy, hope you have found a good whether in the south too.
(thank you Paul and happy new year)

-- Antonio

View a1Jim's profile


118297 posts in 4864 days

#6 posted 01-01-2012 07:31 PM

View LelandStone's profile


90 posts in 3800 days

#7 posted 01-01-2012 07:36 PM

That was great, thanks for sharing this! :o)

-- Leland, OC California

View antmjr's profile


262 posts in 4471 days

#8 posted 01-01-2012 08:48 PM

thank you Jim (glad to “meet” you again, I haven’t been here for a while) and thank you LelandStone

-- Antonio

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