Bookbinding - A method of attaching covers to a book. The endpapers are pasted onto the insides of a pre-made cover. This is the weakest style of covering, since nothing from the book block is incorporated into the structure of the covers (unlike lacing on or covering with split boards).

Though it's theoretically possible to do so, casing in is not used for bindings sewn on exposed cords, or tight joints. It is too weak to use on heavy books, where the weight of the book block can pull the endpapers out of the case. It is, however, the easiest and most reliable way to make an even and attractive hollow back book.

This technique is also easy to mechanise. Any mass-market hardcover book you buy will probably be cased in. If you open the cover and see the imprint of fabric under the endpapers, the book is definitely cased in, with a cloth hinge for extra strength. (If you don't see the cloth, it's either been bound with split boards or doesn't have the added strength in the hinges. The quality of the rest of the binding will tell you which.)

How to case in a book

This explanation assumes you have a rounded and backed book block sewn on tapes, and the assorted bits of cardboard and heavy paper you need for the covers and hollow back. You'll also need some rice paper and whatever you plan to cover the book in (leather, cloth, paper, whatever).

  1. Mark up your rice paper

    The rice paper serves two functions. It serves as a template, so you can get the spacing of the covers and the spine right. And it is the tenuous scaffolding of the case, holding the elements in that spacing until the covering material is in place.

    Cut a piece of rice paper as tall as your book block plus the anticipated squares at the head and tail, and wide enough to wrap all the way round the book block, again plus squares. Don't worry if it's a little small - it's the central portion that really matters.

    Lay the rice paper in front of you, landscape style. Find the approximate centre line - it doesn't have to be precise. Now measure out the width of the book's spine so it pretty much straddles the centre line. Mark the spine positions, making sure your lines are square.

    Measure 5 - 7 mm out from the spine markings you've made (the width depends on the size of the book and the diameter of your grooving rods or plates). Mark again, delineating the French grooves and the spine edges of your covers. Make sure the lines are square.

      ____________________________
     |          ||   ||          |
     |          ||   ||          |
     |          ||   ||          |
     |    1     || 2 ||    1     |
     |          ||   ||          |
     |          ||   ||          |
     |          ||   ||          |
     |          ||   ||          |
                3    3
    
    1.  covers
    2.  spine
    3.  French grooves
    
  2. Glue down the spine strip and covers

    Cut a spine-width strip of heavy paper, as tall as the cover boards. If you're planning on adding false bands to your hollow back, glue them onto the paper. Then glue the inside (the non-banded side) of the spine strip to the rice paper, inside the lines you drew.

    Now glue the cardboard cover pieces down to the rice paper, again where you've marked the lines out. Make sure the bottoms of the boards are even with that of the spine strip.

    I use PVA for this step, but any reasonably quick-drying adhesive will do.

    You now have the outsides of your cover bits held together by an inner membrane of rice paper. The skeleton of your case is complete.

              inside
                                  <- rice paper
     |          ||   ||          |
         1       3 2 3       1
              outside
    
    1.  covers
    2.  spine strip
    3.  French grooves
    
  3. Cover the case

    Decide what material you want to cover the book with. Lay your rice paper and cardboard construct on it. Cut about 2 1/2 cm larger than the case skeleton on all sides. Do whatever prep work you need to do on the covering material (for instance, shaving leather thinner).

    Choose the right adhesive for the job here, and apply it to the right surface. If you're working with leather, it should be wheat paste on the hide. If you're covering with cloth, use PVA applied to the cover boards and left to get tacky. (The selection of adhesives and leather preparation are both outwith the scope of this node. Practce, experiment, and play around to get it right.)

    Lay the cover skeleton on the covering material, rice paper up, so the margins are even all around. Press the covering material onto the boards and spine strip, working it well around any false bands you have added.

      _______________________________
     |    covering material          |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     | |          ||   ||          | |
     |_______________________________|
    
    

    Turn in all the edges, mitering the corners.

        ___________________________
       |\_________________________/|
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       | |        ||   ||        | |
       |/         ||   ||         \|
    
    

    Wrap your book block in waxed paper, and slip it into the case you've just made. Wrap that whole bundle in more waxed paper Lay grooving rods in the French grooves, or put your grooved pressing boards on, making sure the waxed paper isn't wrinkled. Put aluminium flashing in between the covers and the book block, and put the whole parcel into a book press for a day or so.

  4. Trim the turn-ins

    If you're working with leather, or any other elastic material, the edges you've turned over onto the inside of the case will be uneven. Use a craft knife to trim them even on the boards. Do not trim the edges at the French grooves or the spine. You'll cut through the paper and leather and ruin the whole thing. And any unevenness won't show anyway, so there's no need.

  5. Attach the book block to the case.

    Choice of adhesives matters here. Use whatever you used to attach the covering material, or the difference in moisture between different adhesive types will cause the boards to warp.

    If there is a fabric tab on the spine (this is added to make a cloth hinge for extra strength), brush it with adhesive and stick it down to the outside of the book block. Then put more adhesive on the outside back waste sheet. Lay the book block down on the case, inset enough to make the square. Make sure it's straight and the waste sheet is even, then press down. Don't open the back page. You'll tear the board paper.

    
     \ <- case
      \
       \
        \    ____________
         \  /           /
          || book block |
           \\           \ 
    
    

    Now paste(or glue) up the waste sheet on the front of the book. Wrap the case around the book block. If you've done things right, the front cover will overhang the book block by the same amount as the back cover. Press down hard.

    
     \   ____
      \      \
       \      \|
        \    ____________
         \  /           /
          || book block |
           \\           \ 
    
    
            ______________
           //           /
          || book block |
           \\           \ 
    
    

    Now slip some aluminium flashing in between the pasted or glued board papers and the book block, barely opening the covers to do so. Wrap the whole thing in waxed paper, and lay your grooving rods (or the bars on your pressingboards) in the French grooves. Put the book in a book press so just the spine shows. Leave it for as long as you can (at least 24 hours) before you even think of opening it.

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