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Tucson, Arizona, United States
I work as Panther Peak Bindery and am a bookbinder, conservator and instructor working outside Tucson, Arizona for individual and institutional clients across the country. I am a two term President of the Guild of Book Workers, was a Fulbright Scholar, taught at North Bennet Street School for over nine years and was the fastest in my middle school class at running up and down a flight of stairs (really!).

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Don't step on my double wall box

People say stuff all the time.  Some of it sounds great and right and important, but not all of it is really true.

One thing bookbinders hear is the importance of stepping the walls of double wall drop spine boxes.  It sure sounds good and right and important.

Here's what I'm talking about.

When I make my double wall boxes, for large and heavy books I cut and glue together the walls of the trays.


They are glued together to make the trays.


What folks argue for is the need to step the walls like shown here. This would increase the glue area by one board thickness.


After I put the walls together I line the trays with paper.


Then cover with cloth. I've been using Natuurlinen the past seveal years, but use other materials as well.

We had someone come by the school one year ranting about how you had to step the walls of double walled boxes.  I have this view that all binders and conservators rant about six or seven things, but no two agree on which seven things they should be getting upset about. 

So we did an experiment where we made two trays and then tore them apart. Guess what? No difference. It was extremely difficult to tear either of them apart. They both were over engineered.  We didn't know which we were tearing apart until after the experiment so there was no cheating.

Obviously it's not just the joints that matter. The paper lining helps.  Bookcloth is difficult to tear, and remember that testing cloth strength on a box wouldn't be done by tearing the edge of the cloth but by grabbing cloth away from the edge and trying to pull it apart.  Hard to to do with any cloth.

So, don't waste your time with stepped joints. They look good, until they're covered.  It sounds good that you're using them.  They just don't make any real difference.





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