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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!).



Monday, May 30, 2016

Is this a thing?

I had some students who wanted to make good corners without having to freehand the cuts.  Now, normally I want to only teach the "right" way of doing things because you never know.  Maybe someone will end up doing this work forever, and it will be their life, but if they started out with jigs and shortcuts I wonder if they'll ever rise above that.  Learn to do it right, then pull out the jigs if there's a reason.

It seems to me that people cling to what they first learned and often have a hard time understanding that what they were shown in the most basic of classes may not really be the best way to approach all their projects as their work approaches greater and greater heights.  It sort of reminds me of birds imprinting people as their mother.  They need to move beyond that but they can't.

I had some pieces of aluminum around and a few minutes to kill while I was waiting for stuff to dry.  So I put an end mill into the milling machine, drew some lines on the aluminum and went to town.  I ended up with this:

What mattered was the angle, obviously, and then the distance between the top of the triangle and the opposing edge of the metal. It should be around 1.5 board thicknesses.  This is pretty close to 1.5 of a 98 point board.  Between setting things up and doing the milling it probably took 5 minutes, with three of those minutes being spend on drawing the cut lines.  

The idea is that the notch sets on the corner of the board:

It gets pulled down to the corner and then I cut the edge:

In the end you get this:

One thing to add is that I wanted the length of the piece to be longer than the covering material would be, but it was even more important that my hands be able to grab the ends with two fingers so that I can use it quickly.  My hands are pretty large - I could palm a basketball in the 8th grade, my only real basketball skill by the way.  Perhaps it might be better if it was shorter for those with smaller hands.   Does Trump do bookbinding?  I'll make a shorter one for him. 

I wanted to be able to hold handle it like this:

Today, even though it's a holiday, I put material on ten covers. I decided to use this for the fun of it (did I mention it's a holiday, I should have some fun!) so ended up cutting 40 corners.  It took me around 8 seconds to cut the four corners on one cover.  I think it worked.

But I wonder if it's a thing that I haven't seen before.  Or maybe I've seen it and forgotten about it.  In any event I think it'll be a thing for me at times and for some of my classes.  

But if it is a new thing it might be just to ticket to get that Nobel Prize so that I can shake the King's hand and make up for blowing that opportunity in a windy hanger at SeaTac in 1975.  Some day I'll get over it, I'm sure.  I know.  I hope.

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