Cases – Pt 2


After experimenting with case bindings for a bit, we were assigned to make a set of 12 that had common materials, but variations in covering style, endbands, and endsheet structure. I’ll break the parts of my set down in that order. Once again, certain features, such as book dimensions, textblock paper, and sewing supports remained constant. I also made all of these cases as a built-in groove (Bradel) structure and keep the spine linings the same to speed up the production work.

Covering Style

All of the books in this series were covered, in part or in whole, with the same paper-backed Asahi book cloth (available from Talas).  I really like this stuff because of its thickness, nice texture, and variation in color – plus I had quite a bit of it lying around. The books were covered in three different styles:  quarter, half, and full cloth. The quarter style has just a strip of cloth covering the spine and extending about a fifth of the way onto the boards. The remainder of the board is then covered (“sided up”) with paper. This one is sided up with Ann Muir marbled paper.

In addition to the cloth spine strip, the half style bindings have cloth-covered corners.  The book below is also sided up with Ann Muir paper.

I tried to create some variation along the series – for instance, the example below is sided up with Egyptian tow flax Cave paper.

Finally, several of the case bindings were covered in full cloth.

Each of the books in the series had to be labeled or stamped, and because typesetting in the Kwikprint takes quite a while, I went with two title layouts and varied the material with which the cover was stamped. The quarter and half style bindings above were stamped on the spine, while the full cloth cases immediately above and below were stamped on the front covers. The book above was stamped with gold foil, the book below was stamped with carbon.

I really enjoy the clean, matte impression that the carbon gives. I also think it is easier to do well. For stamping with foil one first has to make several blind impressions (that is with just the hot brass type), then one or two quick impressions with the foil in place. The gold is difficult to successfully work into book cloth and any movement of the case position on the stamping platen during this process will ruin the job – so great care must be taken. With carbon stamping, the hot type is first “loaded” up with carbon and the case is then stamped with a single, firm impression. As long as you don’t screw up that one stamp, you are good to go.

Another titling technique that I used on some of these books was a stamped paper label set in a label well. The well allows the label to sit just below the surface of the cover, protecting it from abrasion when the book is shelved. These labels are often done in leather, but I found that Cave paper also takes a rather nice impression. I’ll share more about leather labels in an upcoming post on in-boards bindings.

To create the label well, the boards were made by laminating a piece of 20pt board – with the label square cut out – to a piece of thin Davey board. It is important to keep the final board thickness in mind, as it must fit inside the shoulder of the bookblock to create a well working joint. It is also sometimes necessary to line the inside of the board before covering to counteract the “pull” of the 20 pt. When the book is covered, the covering material is worked into the label well with the bone folder. The label material is stamped, trimmed to size, and adhered inside the well. This titling can work on both full and quarter style bindings, however, one must shift the label position depending upon the covering style for it to look centered.


Across the 12 case bindings, I tried several different styles of endband to go along with the endsheet and covering materials.

As these are case bindings, I thought it appropriate to do simple stuck-on endbands in different styles for a number of them. The first is bookcloth (the same used for covering) rolled around a hemp or linen core that is trimmed to size and stuck on the spine with PVA. This is about as unobtrusive as you can get.

I also experimented with stuck on endbands made from marbled paper wrapped over a rolled paper core.

I’m still not sure how I feel about these – they are more a little more lively than the rolled bookcloth, but also look a bit strange and are very stiff.

For the sewn endbands, I also tried to keep them as simple as possible. As I said in the last post, a complex endband on a case binding is a bit weird. All of these are two or thee color silk thread on a round leather core. You can find excellent instructions (with diagrams) for sewing these endbands in Jane Greenfield’s book (see bibliography below).




Back in December I shared the process for doing a graphite edge on a book. I only did this for two of my case bindings – mostly just to get a bit of practice.

In each case, I gave them a pretty dark headband.

One of those edges is also gauffered or “impressed with finishing tools in repeating patterns” (Etherington & Roberts, 1981). The photo below is not the greatest, but it will illustrate the point.

Endsheet Structures

Several different endsheet materials and structures were used in this series of case bindings. Both Johnson (1978) and Middleton (1996) provide excellent diagrams of a variety of endpapers and discuss the relevant merits and shortcomings of each. Of the different papers used as endsheets in this series, the “vellum” shade of the Mohawk (pictured below) was the most plain.

Ingres, a mould made paper with a laid finish manufactured by Canson and Hahnemühle, offered a nicer alternative.

On the full cloth bindings, I tended to go for a marbled endpaper to spruce them up a bit.

As marbled paper is often discolored on the back, I would use it in a made endpaper. In this form of endsheet, two fly leaves are laminated together to form a stiff leaf.  Here is an example with marbled and mohawk papers.

This one is made with marbled paper and Ingres.

A few of these case bindings incorporate an exposed cloth hinge (of the same cloth as the spine covering) that is incorporated into the endsheet structure. In this case the outer leaf of the endpaper is not pasted down, but a separate paper is put down to counteract the pull of the covering material but does not cover the hinge. I’ve seen this referred to as an “island paste-down” (Smith, 1998, p. 351) – I do not know if Keith Smith or Gary Frost coined the term.

Johnson (1978) includes two rather interesting variations on exposed-cloth jointed endpapers for account books that are “designed for extreme hard wear and durability” (p. 59). Even though these models are rather small and in no way require such a reinforced structure, I thought they were fun to do and looked nice.


Well, that is about all I have to share of interest in the case binding department. I just finished a few new projects and photographed them this weekend, so stay tuned. Up next will be either clamshell boxes or a structure we call onset boards… I haven’t yet decided


You may have noticed that I changed my blog theme to more prominently display my blogroll. Do you have a book related blog or photostream? Comment with your link!




Etherington, D. & Roberts, M. (1982). Bookbinding and the conservation of books : A dictionary of descriptive terminology. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress.

Greenfield, J. & Hille, J. (1986). Headbands : How to Work Them. New Haven, Conn.: Edgewood Publishers.

Johnson, A. W. (1978). Manual of Bookbinding. New York: Scribner.

Middleton, B. C. & Nixon, H. M. (1996). A History of English Craft Bookbinding Technique. New Catle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press.

Smith, K. A. & Jordan, F. A. (1998). Sewn and Pasted Cloth or Leather Bookbinding for Book Artists Requiring No Special Tools or Equipment. Rochester, NY: Keith Smith Books.


One thought on “Cases – Pt 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s