Book Support

Book Supports

Mary Baughman


Each book support consists of two loaf shaped pieces and one rectangular center piece. Each component of the support is made of one piece of foam covered with cotton velveteen. Cloth adheres more easily and firmly to board than to the foam, so lig-free board is glued to the ends and davey board is glued to the bottom of the foam before covering. The bottom of each component is finished with a piece of davey board covered with book cloth. The ends of the loaves are finished with a piece of lig-free board covered with velveteen.


foam supports prices given by size, below 4 lb. char ester (polyurethane ester) custom cut to size and shape by the supplier
100% cotton velveteen $17.00 per yd., 45" wide tightly woven, without a backing
buckram $8.00 per yd., 40" wide complementary in color to the velveteen
ex: Iris book cloth
needle   long and slim with a large eye
thread   sewing weight poly/cotton, same color as the velveteen
adhesive   Jade 403 PVA
heavy weight board $2.95 per 26" X 38" sheet .082 binders board
light weight board $ 3.99 per 40" X 40" sheet 40 pt. lig-free

HRC has three sizes, differing in height and length according to the size of the book to be supported. The center piece is the same length as the corresponding loaves. The centerpiece is 5" wide, and in most cases, 1" thick. For the largest book support a 2" thick centerpiece is used.

A 1/8" thick plywood template of the curve for the loaf components is provided to the supplier who cuts the foam to the required shape and size. The loaf sizes and the cost for the foam and the fabric required are as follows:

size dimensions
length, width, height
per loaf (2)
per center piece
velveteen / buckram
supply total
A 10" X 5" X 4 1/2" $5.88 $0.65 $8.88 $2.66 $18.07
B 16 1/2" X 5 1/4" X 5 1/4" $9.38 $1.05 $11.33 $3.99 $35.11
C 24 1/2" X 9" X 9" $33.47 $1.57 $23.68 $5.32 $99.08

A supplier for the 4 lb. char ester foam used for the book supports is:

A Division of Buckley Industries, Inc.
10201 Metropolitan Dr.
Austin, Texas 78758-4944
(512) 339-9293
Fax: 512-339-9317
800-753-POLY (7659)

It took 148 hours to make 22 book supports, a few of each size, in the three sizes. This works out to about 12 hours to make the set of three components for each book support.

all of the pieces: [Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration]

preparing the foam for covering:

1. Cut two end pieces for each end of each loaf (total of four end pieces per loaf) from lig-free. The end pieces are 1" smaller than the loaf along the rounded edges, but flush on the bottom. The board will be glued to the ends and bottom of the foam because cloth adheres more easily and firmly to the board than to the foam.


2. Glue one end piece to each end of the loaves. A nip in the press is better than a weight to hold them as they tend to fall over. End pieces are adhered before bases because if the base is glued first it will make it impossible for the press to exert even pressure on the end piece. Allow the press to just close. It should not bend the foam.

Allow at least 15 minutes in the press, although it will take longer to dry completely. This tip applies to all subsequent operations involving gluing.

3. Cut two bases for each component (2 loaves and 1 center = total of 6 bases) from davey board, shorter than the foam in length and width by a total of 1/4" in each dimension (there will be a margin of 1/8" all around). Round all of the corners (important because they will stick out from under the foam other wise).

4. Glue one base to each loaf and each center piece. If pressing boards are used, several layers of loaves may be glued simultaneously. Press for at least 15 minutes.

covering the foam loaves:

5. Cut one piece of velveteen for each loaf. Either grain direction of the cloth may be used, but it should be the same direction for each pair of loaves. The edges of the velveteen should meet along the long side and should overlap the curved ends by at least 2".

6. Cut one piece of velveteen for each center piece. The velveteen edges should meet along the long side, and should extend over each end at least two inches as shown.

7. To make the cloth fit smoothly on the curved ends of the loaves it is sewn to form gathers. With a doubled thread, a long running stitch is used to baste the two edges of the velveteen which will go over the curved ends of the loaf. Sew 1/4" from the edge of the cloth. Stitch length pictured here is actual size. Leave 2" of thread on each end. This thread will be pulled to form the gathers. Do not pull the thread yet.


8. Lay the basted piece of velveteen on the work bench with the outer or nap side down. Glue one half of the bottom of a loaf along the long side. Place the glued part of the loaf on the velveteen so that it is exactly centered. Roll the loaf over on the velveteen and glue the other half of the bottom. See the illustration below.

[Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration]

9. Smooth the other edge of the velveteen into place; do not pull, pulling creates dents in the edge of the loaf. If the piece is correctly cut and glued, the cut edges of the velveteen will meet along the center of the bottom of the loaf and there will be an equal amount of cloth over-hanging on each end of the loaf. Follow this procedure for gluing the velveteen to the center pieces as well.

10. Pull on the ends of the thread to gather the cloth at the end of a loaf. Arrange the gathers evenly over the curve leaving a flat ungathered area at the base. With the gathers in place, tie the ends of the thread together. Lift the gathered edges and apply glue under the gathered edges of the velveteen and to the lig-free end piece which was glued to the end of the loaf in step 2. Adhere the cloth to the lig-free. Cut a small rectangle of davey board to fill in the center area where there is no gathered fabric. Adhere this piece to the lig-free end piece with glue.

covering the ends of the loaf:


11. Cut one piece of velveteen for each remaining outer lig-free end piece. The nap direction and grain direction of the velveteen for each piece should match.

12. Glue out one of the lig-free end pieces and put it on the inside of a piece of velveteen. Note the 1 1/2" margin of velveteen at the bottom of the cloth. Trim off the corners at the rounded edges.

13. Apply glue to the rounded and side edges of the lig-free end piece. Adhere the top and side edges of the velveteen to the lig-free, creating gathers as you put the velveteen down. Trim off the "peaks" which are formed in the process of this gathering. Do not glue the bottom area of the velveteen.

14. Glue out this covered end piece, leaving the 1 1/2" margin of velveteen at the bottom free of glue. Adhere it to the end of the loaf, aligning the straight edge of the end piece with the edge of the loaf. Press. The covered end piece is glued in two steps to avoid creating a wrinkle at the bottom edge during this pressing.

15. Glue out the remaining 1 1/2" margin at the bottom of the end piece and adhere it to the bottom of the loaf. Press .

covering the bottoms of the loaves and center piece:

16. Cut buckram for the davey board outside base pieces. The buckram should be about 2" larger in length and width than the davey board.


17. Cover the three base pieces for the loaves and centerpieces with buckram. Use a "library corner" as illustrated.


Do not push the cloth against the edge of the davey board


now push the cloth against the edge of the davey board.


18. Glue cloth scraps to the center area of the base where the board is not covered with cloth. This will give better adhesion between the base and the loaf.

19. Glue a covered base piece to the bottom of each loaf. Press.

covering the foam center pieces:

20. Glue the velveteen to the foam center pieces in the same manner described for the loaf pieces.

21. After gluing, trim as shown. Then, glue as shown. The corners are formed sort of like wrapping a present.

[Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration] [Illustration]

22. Glue the last covered base piece to the bottom of the center piece. Press.

23. Clean all the nasty foam dust and velveteen fuzz from the finished book supports using a stiff brush. Deliver to the curator and be heaped with praise and thanks. Celebrate in an appropriate manner.

The book support was designed by Jane Boyd. This alteration of the construction method was developed by Marie Therese Primanis, Olivia Primanis, and Mary Baughman; the illustrations and this text are by Mary Baughman.

Prepared for the 1996 AIC Pre-conference on Preservation of Collections

Mary Baughman
Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center
University of Texas at Austin
Conservation Department
P. O. Box 7219
Austin, Texas 78713-7219
512 471-9117 Fax: 512 471-9646

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Timestamp: Friday, 13-Nov-2009 10:27:32 PST
Retrieved: Sunday, 16-Dec-2018 22:53:47 GMT