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[BKARTS] Is fairy dust required in making adhesive lay-flat bindings?



PETE JERMANN'S LAY-FLAT ARTICLE
This Sunday I came home from a bicycle club supper barbeque and decided to
turn on my computer. I found Pete Jermann had just posted his article
"Flexible Strength" http://www.temperproductions.com/flexible_strength.htm,
a discussion of lay-flat binding theory. After months of studying binding
methods for my own books, this is the first article I have seen that
literally zooms in to the details of the lay-flat binding.

LEG-HOLD TRAP BINDINGS
Also the university library where Pete worked for in the past was lucky I
think. The library's in my city mostly like to staple together books or glue
them so heavily that it is almost impossible to even read them. I would like
to introduce yet another definition for these latter bindings as leg-hold
trap bindings. I guess this is a good way to protect the contents of the
books as no one even wants to read them...and read with a buddy in case one
of these snaps shut.

DO I NEED TO USE FAIRY DUST?
Armed with some more explicit information from Pete's article, I made
another PVA lay-flat adhesive bound book before I hit the sack. I checked
the book the next day and it was a disaster. Roughly 30% of the pages are
falling out. This is not much different than all adhesive bound books I have
tried making by all kinds of methods and using various adhesives such as
thermal hot melt glues and cold glues. Information I have read makes it
sound easy to make an adhesive bound book, like there is nothing to it. I am
not a klutz with my hands as I have done fine woodworking, made a beautiful
musical instrument, and done intricate machining. I used various jigs not
unlike I have seen in articles and books. Now I am wondering if I need to
say a certain kind of prayer before making each book, or perhaps bookbinders
are not telling me that I have to sprinkle fairy dust on each and every
binding I make.

TESTS
I have bought, borrowed, and downloaded many articles and books on
bookbinding. I made several adhesive bound books with various methods, all
paper in the tests was porous copy paper with paper grain parallel to spine.
I jogged the pages to line up the binding edge in my book clamp. I sanded
the edges, removed the dust and observed under a powerful magnifying glass
that all page edges were even as far as I could tell but had rough edges. I
used commercial quality PVA and hot melt glue in my tests. I also tested
commercially made books.

(1) PVA vigorous brushing...in the latest book I clamped the book block with
none sticking past clamp bar. I applied undiluted PVA glue with vigorous
brushing on spine five times, then glued on bookbinders scrim. Allowed to
dry with binding end of book block inverted. About 30% of pages either fell
out or were easy to tear off. Many sections of the book block with pages
that seemed well adhered could be torn apart.
(2) PVA double fan glued...stuck 3 inches of the book block past the clamp
bar. I applied medium coat of undiluted PVA glue with sponge brush during
fanning book block over 90 degrees bend first one way then another coat
while fanning the other way, while applying pressure in a way to keep pages
even. Allowed to dry with binding end of book block inverted. Pulled book
block back and clamped not too tight near edge of binding. When dry, many
sections of pages were not glued at all and some pages pulled out.
(3) PVA double stage application...clamped book block with none sticking
past clamp bar. I applied two coats of PVA adhesive, first thinned 3 :1 then
undiluted, one hour apart and applied thin paper for binding reinforcement.
At first book appeared to be wonderfully bound. Did repeated subway test in
which the book block is doubled back on itself and also did book whip test
by holding one half of book while whipping the free book pages open and
closed vigorously. Many pages started popping off the binding glue and
gradually 30% of pages fell out.
(4) Hot melt thermal binding...used two types of specialty bookbinders EVA
hot melt adhesive. Used book clamp over a metal plate on hot plate at
300-350 deg F. Used various thickness of hot melt. Appeared to be bound
evenly. I could pull many of the pages apart with not much trouble. The hot
melt appears very weak and stringy.
(5) Commercial thermal binding...went to a dealer for thermal binding
machines. Person produced a sample lay-flat book on latest expensive model
of machine. Many pages appeared to be solidly bound, but there were gaps
between several of the pages and this makes the book feel like it had breaks
in the spine.
(6) PUR bound coated stock...received sample of polyurethane bound lay-flat
book from local bindery. Sample had coated stock regular thickness pages.
Claimed that polyurethane adhesive made super strong book even with coated
stock. Did repeated subway test in which the book block is doubled back on
itself and also did book whip test by holding one half of book while
whipping the free book pages open and closed vigorously. Many pages started
popping off the binding glue and it appeared that there was little
penetration to the fibers in places even though knurling of page edges was
used.
(7) PUR porous stock...had 1992 Autodesk computer software manual which I am
sure must be a PUR lay-flat binding as it doesn't melt and is not soft like
my PVA bound books. Did repeated subway test in which the book block is
doubled back on itself and also did book whip test by holding one half of
book while whipping the free book pages wide open and closed vigorously.
Book seems to handle this kind of abuse quite well. Pages seem to be glued
very well and have a very slight arc when opened but glue line is visible
and shows no visible milling.

CONCLUSIONS
(1) The PVA adhesive  I have which I got from a commercial bookbinder seems
to be extremely weak as I can tear apart pages with ease even when I observe
some glue on edges of the paper. Run a fingernail over a spine with PVA
exposed, it feels mushy soft and ready to tear.
(2) I have never seen a thermally bound book with even gluing of each page,
there always seem to be gaps between some pages. Run a fingernail over a
spine with hot melt exposed. The adhesive feels very inflexible more like
wax than rubber or plastic.
(3) PUR or polyurethane adhesive appears to be super tough compared to PVA
and hot melt glue. It seems almost impossible to tear apart pages when the
glue has penetrated. Run a fingernail over a spine with PUR exposed. The
glue feels very durable like regular plastic.

QUESTIONS
(1) Why are my experiences with PVA adhesive or hot melt adhesives different
than all the articles I read?
(2) Are the page gaps in thermal hot melt binding due to typical poor
clamping of book blocks?
(3) Why isn't PUR used more in short run bookbinding or even library binding
if it is so strong? I was told recently by a bookbinding expert that while
it is trickier to work with than hot melt or PVA it is even possible to do
short run bookbinding with it. As long as temperatures are kept below stated
limits no toxic fumes are created I'm told. Does anyone have any experience
with PUR used for short run bookbinding?

Ben Wiens
Ben Wiens Energy Science Inc.
8-1200 Brunette Ave. Coquitlam BC V3K1G3 Canada
Tel: 604-520-6321 8am-10 pm Pacific Standard Time
E-mail: ben@benwiens.com
Energy Website: www.benwiens.com

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