GRA 420 Lecture Notes - Lecture 3: Spinal Board, Straight Edge, Wrinkle

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January 29, 2015: Lecture #3
A case is one form of a cover. A cover is anything to protect the actual book block.
The reason why we make a case is to protect the cover, to create a decorative and texturized cover,
to make the book more fancy, to separate it from other books (used as a marketing tool),
Soft covers are cheap and only protect the book for a while. Hard cover books are more expensive
and protect the book longer. Hard cover books are sent out first because they want people to spend
the extra money.
Creating a case consist of two large thick board for the front and back cover and a softer spine
board that protect the spine because the spine is a weaker point on the book block (the moving part
so it gets worn out). The hard cover (front and back) are stronger so it does not bend and there is
more weight to keep the pages close.
The book case was made slightly larger than the book block because it makes it easier to open with
the extra lip and if the book is dropped the corner and edges of the cover will protect the content
To make the cover/case you have to trim the case boards to size (slightly larger), form the case
(glue the boards together onto the covering material), case in the book block (applying the case to
the book block/ end sheets), then any extra steps like decoration/foiling/dust jackets can be done
after depending on the process you are using. You can apply thumb cuts
Covering materials range anywhere from nice leather to vinyl, covering fabric, paper, or use fabric.
However if using a porous material, usually the covering material is laminated on one side with
paper lining so the glue does not soak through the fabric. Make sure the material does glue to the
Other things that can be done with covers are to decorate them. Commonly in the past, covers were
designed and tooled with embossing. So what they use to do was that they had metal tools that
they heat up and put a wheel with a pattern and they put it in a fire and they put gold foil on the book
and run the wheel along the gold foil so the foil would deposit on the book.
This is a mechanical case assembly line, also leads to the casing in process. This portion of the
machine is the actual case making. It starts with the actual covering material. Sensitive materials
like leather is not common with an automatic line because it is too risky.
First you have the cover materials, then it is picked up by grippers and moved to the roller system,
at the same time the front and back cover boards are precut by a table saw (cutting the thick boards
burst on the guillotine, so they are cut on a table saw to get a nice straight edge. The table saw cut
at an angle and it can cut several boards) and stacked up. The boards are lined and picked up two
at a time (front and back) and it goes into the set of rollers and gets glued on one side and applied
to the actual covering material. At the same time there is the spine board, the spine board is one a
strip or roll and gets cut off because it is more flexible to cut off a roll than cutting up individual
pieces that has to be lined up perfectly. Grain direction matter for all materials, the grain direction of
the cover should be grain long because the edges won’t curl as bad and if it does curl it will curl
away from the spine. The covering material should be grain long as well because so it is the same
direction as the board so if it swells from humidity then it best if it is done in the same direction or
else the covering material will rip and also want to create the hinge with the grain so that it is easier
and lays open better. The boards and spine boards are all attached and glued by these rollers that
will attach to the cover material in the appropriate place. Then there is portion on the top that tucks
in the flaps on the front and side edge to create the turn edged design. There are rollers that folds
the corners over so you get a perfect fold every time.
The speed of the machine, depending on the material/size, but a machine like this will make 30-120
covers a minute or 1 everything two-half seconds.
After the covers are made, the embossing and debossing are made. Embossing makes a hill and
debossing makes a dent. This is done after the covers are attached.
After the casing is made, they have to applied to the book block (casing-in). We take one book case
and it gets dragged from the bottom of the pile and placed on this form that is holding it and pushing
it forward and it lines up with the book block, that is coming from the bottom), then the case spine is
rounded so it forms the same rounding as the book, then a block knife comes below (not sharp), a
blade from up from the bottom of the book block and pushes the book block up to the spine of the
case itself. Then there are a set of rollers that push down the side of the book block/case to apply it
to the end sheets. You have to line up the end sheets properly or else they will wrinkle. Then the
book is turned over on its side to add the hinge to give it a nice opening and look.
Then the book is jacketed (optional). The jacket needs to be folded or creased (done first). The
jackets are stacked up next to the books, so to have the jacket applied, the book must be opened at
the front and back by just holding the book block and the case will open by itself or the lip will help it
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