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Re: [BKARTS] Traditional bookbinding: Tapes & Lacquer

Two questions I received off-list may be of more general interest, so I am
posting the Q&A's with the permission of the correspondants. I may have
edited the Q's a bit. One is about lacing in tapes, the other about
finishing with lacquer:


Dear Mr. Minsky,

I recently took a look at your beautiful Bar Mitzvah book. I happen to  be
working on a full leather album sewn on tapes and I was hoping for  your
advice. I was curious if you have a specific way of disguising the tapes
when they are laced into the board. I've tried a few tactics but always
seem to see  the  "bumps".

Johanna Finnegan-Topitzer


Dear Johanna,

I don't always disguise the tapes, but accentuate them by working the
leather gently at the tape edges. I love the beauty of the structure, and
their indication that these are true bindings, not cased-in books.

That's the quick answer. I don't like the bump to be too high, so after I
cut the slot in the board with a chisel I cut a channel the width of the
tape to the board edge and glue the tape into the channel.  If the tape
sits too shallow or deep in the channel you can adjust that before gluing

On those occasions where I do need to hide the "bump" of the tape, for
example when a design is being tooled over it and that would cause a line
to appear to waver, then I cut the channel slightly deeper than the tape
thickness, inlay the tape, and glue the piece of board I cut out back on
top of the tape. I then take a flexible flat knife (like a thin snap-apart
extended about 2") and slice off the excess board.

Perhaps you also are referring to the "bumps" on the inside of the board.
There I cut a channel for the tape before hammering down the slot. Then I
slice off the excess bump around the slot using the thin blade. That is
usually perfect. If not, a liner can be glued on both sides of the board
and sanded.


Hey Richard!

What's the automotive uv-filter lacquer? I know you have fiddled with
lacquering on some materials- i recall the Salman Rushdie reliquary...

Is it oil-based? nasty clean up? fumey? some of the above?

9 coats? thats a lot. hard to tell from your image, but is it very shiny


Jake Benson


Hey Jake--

> Is it oil-based? nasty clean up? fumey? some of the above?

all of the above. This one is just in an aerosol can from the auto parts
store. There's all different kinds. Make sure it says non-fading.  If I
have a lot to do I get specific lacquer by the quart from a body shop
supply. That you need to put in a sprayer, but if you just have a little
job you can use the refillable bottle paint aerosols.

Lacquer comes in different temperature specs, so if you're spraying at 60
degrees you use a different one from what you use mid-summer. Use an
organic vapor filter cannister mask.  If indoors, watch the overspray and
use an exhaust fan or hood in a separate room you can leave when done

> 9 coats? thats a lot. hard to tell from your image, but is it very shiny

That's not a lot. sometimes I do 30 or more coats, and put gold leaf or
japan colors or whatever between coats to get image depth. You control the
shininess with rubbing compounds, It can be as dull as ground glass or
mirror finish. For high polish use "Liquid Ebony" brand.


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