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Re: Paper Grain (Determining)

Most books on bookbinding will discuss paper grain and give methods of
determining the direction. Jane Greenfield's THE BOOK and LIBRARY
PRESERVATIONS MANUAL by Hedi Kyle et al are particularly good sources.

In addition to the methods suggested by Peter, here are some other ways of
determining paper grain:

1. Laid paper: hold a sheet up to the light to discern the direction of the
chain lines, spaced approximately one inch apart. The grain runs parallet
to the chain lines. Be careful not to confuse those lines with the fine
ones visible on the surface of the paper. Those are made by the screen
(usually bamboo) of the mould and run cross grain.

2. Lay a sheet of the paper on the table or bench and bend it over,
pressing down lightly but not creasing it. Try it in both directions. It
will roll easily in the direction of the grain but you will feel more
resistance across grain.

If you cannot feel a difference in resistance try:

3. Make a tear in the sheet in both directions. The tear will be straighter
with the grain than it will be cross grain.

4. Wet two edges of a piece of paper. One edge will flute (I used to say
"cockle") and the other will curl. The grain runs parallel to the curl.

5. If the paper is expensive and you can't risk damaging a whole sheet,
moisten a corner on one surface (it's okay to lick it). One edge of the
corner will curl in the grain direction.

6. Fold two squares of the paper in different directions. The one folded
with the grain will have a smooth fold but you will be able to feel the
broken fibers along the fold of the piece folded cross grain.

7. From THE BOOK by Jane Greenfield, p. 25: "The method used to determine
the grain of board is different from that used for paper. Put the board on
a flat surface and bend one edge by placing your thumbs underneath and your
fingers on top. Bend one edge at a right angle to the first in the same
way. You will find that the board bends more easily in one direction than
in the other. The grain is parallel to the direction in which the board
bends and will fold more easily. In bending with the grain, the palm of
your hands and your fingers rest on the board and curve with it. In bending
across the grain, your hands are forced to cup away from the board."

It's easy to tell the grain of full sheets of board by holding it and
bending it in each direction.

The grain of parent sheets, full sheets of board, etc., is usually "long"
but don't bank on it. Letter, legal, and 11x17 sizes are all long grain.
When you fold sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 copy paper in half horizontally to make
a pamphlet, the fold is cross grain, in the wrong direction. The pages will
not turn easily or lie flat. The way to overcome this is to cut 11 x 17
paper in half horizontally, giving you twice as many sheets of 8 1/2 x 11
short grain paper.

The above information, plus that given by Peter Verheyen in his post this
morning is probably more than you ever wanted to know about paper grain. If
you have anything to add (or dispute) please don't hesitate to write.

Betty Storz   storz@mcn.org
Mendocino, CA

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