|Board Shears at the Center for Book Arts|
In last week’s Monday Methods, we discussed a very significant part of bookbinding and printmaking: the guillotine, used to cut large stacks of paper down to size. The guillotine, however, cannot be used to trim binder’s board (used for making the casing, or covers, of many hardback books). Binder’s board is often purchased in large sheets and must be trimmed to size before use. So how to cut them? That’s where board shears come in.
|Cutting a piece of binder’s board with Board Shears|
Board shears look similar to modern paper trimmers, but to a much larger scale. Like the guillotine, the board shears are heavy and sturdy, contain a stationary blade for cutting, and use a clamp to keep the materials in place. Unlike the guillotine, however, the blade does not come down automatically, but is mounted on a cutting arm. This cutting arm, as seen in the picture above, is pulled down manually, cutting small stacks of paper or book board with the force of the user.
Board shears also have a ruler printed on the top to make measuring easier, as well as a guide bar to keep your measurement in place. If you know you would like a 9″ tall book, for example, you can easily set the movable guide bar to the 9″ line, place your binder’s board down, and cut. The guide bar is able to slide to different widths and can be locked in place once your measurement is set. Your board or paper is then placed flush and square with the bar (as the piece of binder’s board seen above) and the clamp is pressed down using a foot pedal, preventing the board from slipping under the force of the blade and insuring a straight cut. Because the guide bar stays in place, board shears can also be used to conveniently cut multiple pieces of paper or board at the exact same size without remeasuring.
While board shears are used in contemporary hand binding, the earliest known reference to one comes from 1842, in an article in Penny Magazine titled A Day at a Bookbinder’s. An 1854 article on the history of bookbinding places the invention of the board shears even earlier, to 1836, with credit given to Warren De La Rue.
Our board shears are a popular piece of equipment to rent by the hour, for binders who want to work on their own projects, but don’t have room for their own boards shears in their apartment. If you’re interested in coming in to cut some board on our shears, give us a call at 212-481-0295 and ask if the studio is free for the day- hourly rental starts at $15 per hour for members.
Do you have any stories/anecdotes/jokes about board shears? Want to give us suggestions or comments? Just want to say hi? Comment on this post, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit us on Facebook (/centerforbookarts) or follow us on Twitter (@center4bookarts). Can’t wait to see you there!