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Re: [BKARTS] Casing/binding

Peter wrote:
> All can  just as easily (and easier) be made as a case
> with NO loss in strength or other structural sacrifices.

Although I generally agree with Peter about almost everything, I'll have to
chime in on this and agree with James. I have had many books, some that are
400 or 500+ years old, where the leather had deteriorated and was gone in
the hinge, and the only thing holding the covers on, and quite usably so,
were the sewing support cords laced into the covers.

On the other hand, I have had many case-bound books that split in the hinge
and became uncased.  The big advantage of them is the ease of repair, with
the case being mendable off the book and simply reattached with new mull,
hollow back, or whatever. Casing onto glued linen tape sewing supports adds
considerable durability if one must do case binding, and laminating a thin
board (such as 2-ply museum board) over the tape ends and mull as a fill-in
for the turn-ins transforms the case-binding into a split-board structure,
which is my preferred procedure.

Case binding may be easier, but it is not as strong or as durable as
supported sewing with laced-in boards.

I think it is important, particularly for those new to the field, to
present this information and to maintain the correct terminology, rather
than to gloss over truly major differences.

Case bindings can sacrifice openability and return to round features that
are achieved through certain kinds of "true" or "real" binding methods.
Case binding is a shortcut, plain and simple.  It works for all sorts of
books, and is appropriate for production work and certain artworks
(particularly those that aim to appear like trade books). It can be made to
look and feel like a real binding, but it's not. It is weaker and doesn't
open or close the same. Gary Frost has presented some wonderful
explications of the properties and advantages of true bookbinding over case

The Center for Book Arts had a wonderful exhibition in 1997 titled "Gary
Frost: Explorer of Book Structure & Action" that included examples of many

For those who have not had the pleasure of reading Gary's philosophical,
methodological, pedagogical and historical writings, a visit to his website
is in order:

In particular, I recommend his comment from this past June titled "Readers'
Guide to Book Action"

as well as his 2001 comment "Rediscovering Connections"

If you are unfamiliar with historical models, go to

Get his Perennial Millenial T-shirt, which I am wearing as I write this,
but first go to
Return of the Sewn Board Binding

and don't miss
Future of Wooden Board Bookbinding

If you get through all this then you probably hooked and will read
everything else. You also will have a better appreciation of the haptics
and mechanics of the book.  The following short quotation from the above
reference will give you a preview of how one can think about strength and

The anatomy of the cover-to-text attachment needs attention. We must both
separate the various components and understand their interacting motions.
The use of relatively heavy sewing supports and relatively heavy covering
skins causes the board to move off the shoulder on opening. This action
must be accommodated and controlled through effective adhesion of the panel
linings. The back linings, put down under the board, are primary actors in
the opening motion and their materials, fit and their adhesion need close
consideration. The lining tongues must be put down with a only slightly
opened board so that the leverage of the board begins transmission in the
first few degrees of opening and continues to open the book fully without
hinging further than 90 degrees.

In transmission of the leverage of closing the laced sewing supports and
covering skin are main actors. Here the last few degrees of motion are
critical. At the end of the closing motion great compressive force can be
applied via the outer bevel. This sudden, clamping action drives the inner
bevel against the shoulder and drives the board against the text, expelling
air from the leaves, locking up the shape of the back and transforming the
whole book into a solid geometry. At that moment, with the covers held
closed, the clasps are tripped into place.


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