|The curved spine of a book after rounding and backing|
|A backing hammer|
The most basic description of rounding and backing that I have heard is “stick some glue on the spine and hit it with a hammer.” Though the process is significantly more delicate than that, the point is that creating round-back books is not as difficult as it may seem. Don’t be intimated by the equipment used: at the Center for Book Arts, this is a skill taught in Bookbinding 1!
The first part of rounding and backing takes place in how you sew your signatures. Usually, signatures are sewn together as tightly as possible, with thread held taught in order to create a strong text block with no strange gaps between pages. If you plan on rounding and backing a book, however, the outermost signatures can be sewn more loosely than the center ones in order to help the book to curve. To aid this, bookbinders may place a piece of scrap board between the signatures (usually the first and last 2) when sewing them, leaving the necessary gap.
|“Backing” a book|
Once your signatures are sewn and the endsheets added, the spine is glued up. When the glue is still tacky and not fully set, the book is rounded. This process can be done on a table or other flat surface. Using a backing hammer, the bookbinder lightly hits the top few signatures of the spine. The fingers that are holding the book push the foredge inward as the spine is hammered out, creating a curve on one side of the book. The text block is then flipped, repeating the hammering and pushing on the other side to make the curve where can i buy provigil online symmetrical. The text block is hammered and flipped multiple times until the desired curve in acquired: this must not be too round nor too square, and should not be lopsided.
|A rounded and backed book|
Once the “rounding” is completed, the slight curved text block is placed between backing boards, as in up top. This press holds the curved text block in place, and is the point where you strengthen and consolidate the curve of the spine. Rounding gives the book a basic shape for the binder to work with, but “backing” is when the curve really comes to life.
Once the text block is placed snugly in the backing boards (so that nothing will wiggle out), the backing hammer is struck across the block, one side at a time, along the desired angle. Using the correct amount of force at the right angle is the most important part of backing a book (and a skill that takes a lot of practice!). Hitting the block on too steep of an angle will appear more like a triangle than a curve, and hitting the pages directly does nothing more than smash your signatures together. However, once you train yourself to back properly, the process is relatively easy and fun. Plus, it gives a very special, even classic, feel to the book you finish making.
Not many mass-produced books are rounded and backed anymore, though you can definitely find some of your shelves. They’re particularly beautiful and for those even mildly interested in bookbinding, it’s something you should definitely try your hands on at least once! You’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results—I know I was!