The Abbey Newsletter

Volume 6, Number 6
Dec 1982


Supplies & Equipment & Services

NEH Source of Bookbinding Equipment

The DB Newsletter for December says that Sheila Wright has found a Sussex firm of craftsmen to produce a range of bookbinding equipment in seasoned beech and horn- beam. It includes a nipping press (which has the advantage of being light to move), laying press and tub, finishing press, plough, sewing frame, backing and cutting boards. They may also be able to cut new threads and make one-off designs. A catalogue and price list will be available after 1 January. Enquiries to Sheila Wright, 1 Cowdray Cottages, Sidlesham Lane, Birdham, Chichester, Sussex, England.

A Company That Can Re-Cover Rollers

The APHA Letter mentions a company that re-covers the rollers in printing equipment, but they can probably also re-cover rollers used in binding equipment, as for example hand turned wringers used in cover making, or electric ones, or rollers in laminating machines. The company mentioned in the APHA Letter was S. Bingham, 100 Somogyi Ct., South Plainfield, NJ 07080 (201/561-6336). There are probably others in the yellow pages for major cities.

Another Leather Source

An advertising insert in the DB Newsletter for December, from Howard Clarke of P & L Leather, says: "After 25 years of producing leather for, other companies I have started on my own. I am producing bookbinding leathers only [emphasis added]. These are made on Nigerian native tanned goat, Indian goat, English calf and Indian calf, I will make any color you require and thickness can be varied to suit your requirements...." Nigerian goat of first quality is £4.00 per square foot, or about $6.75. Write Mr. Clarke at Reg. Office Unit 15, Grange Industrial Estate, Southwick, W. Sussex, England.

The Schärf-Fix 80

The following information was sent in by Trudi Eberhardt.

The original. Schärf-Fix, a German skiving machine which came on the market in 1949, was superseded in 1980 by the "Schärf-Fix 80," which was easier to handle and adjust. A European firm produces a machine based on the original Schärf-Fix, and offers it to bookbinders who are unaware of the improved version.

Here is how the "Schärf-Fix 80" works: The leather is pulled by hand from left to right, flesh side up, between a roller and a special, sturdy razor blade, slicing off a layer at a time. The thickness of this layer can be determined by the position of the blade, which is fastened to a movable head. The Position of the blade-head can be adjusted up or down or at different angles, thus making it possible to skive flat, or on a slant for bevelled edges. The distance between blade and roller is adjusted by slightly turning one serrated set screw; the blade is slanted by turning a wingnut. This is where the improvement over the original Schärf-Fix--and also the European copy--is significant: Instead of loosening and resetting three individual screws, the slight turn of one does it all, an estimated time savings of 75%. The blade, pre-set in either parallel or slant position, can be moved up or down, or the blade-head can be lifted by its special lever to insert the leather, and the blade firmly keeps its position. This is accomplished by a band-spring positioned above the blade-head. Only the "Schärf-Fix 80" has this feature; you won't find it in any other make.

With the "Schärf-Fix 80" you can also thin large areas of leather by skiving in rows. No ridges between the rows will remain, thus eliminating the need to follow up with hand skiving. Narrow bands can also be thinned out anywhere on a piece of leather. For the hand binder this means a reliable way to thin out the hinge areas of a full leather binding for smooth opening of the cover. Also, since the leather is pulled through the machine flesh-side up, any markings are clearly visible and can be followed while working.

Manufactured by Ulrich v. Schlieben, Munich, Germany. Distributed in the USA solely by Trudi Eberhardt, 942 Old Sumneytown Pike, Harleysville, PA 19438.

Sources of Safety Equipment

Gail Barazani, in the December Crafts Report, lists four or more suppliers for each of the following:

Catalogs of Safety Equipment. (These are presumably the general suppliers.)
General Products: Barrier creams, lotions; safety containers for storage of solvents & chemicals
Safety Shoes
Hearing Protection
Emergency Eye Wash Fountains
Goggles
Gloves
Respirators

For a copy of this list, send a self-addressed, stamped envelope and an extra 20 stamp to the Abbey Newsletter office.

Oversewer Parts

The Diamond Needle Corporation, G.P.O. Box 1355, New York, NY 10001 (800/221-S818), helps to keep a monopoly situation from developing (or getting worse) around the oversewing machine and the National book-sewing machine, by providing parts at prices competitive with the manufacturers'. Oversewer needles are about $25/hundred from Diamond Needle, which sells 33 other parts for the same machine, and nine parts for the National.

The Saunders Thread Co. in Gastonia, NC 28052, sells a thread for the oversewer that has a Dacron core wrapped with cotton. It is strong but won't stretch like nylon.

Western Paper for Conservation of Western Books

Tim Barrett, of Kalamazoo Handmade Papers, has begun to make and sell western papers comparable to those used in early printed books. The equipment he uses is made of materials that do not corrode; his procedure is documented; the paper is naturally alkaline and buffered to 0.9%-1.8% calcium carbonate. In order to make sheets that work successfully with earlier European papers (1450-1750), he prepares his own pulp: "In brief, our present approach to Western papermaking includes the selection of various grades of unbleached cotton cuttings, linen waste, and raw flax, light cooking in lime, manipulation of fiber length prior to beating, [the] minimal beating required to provide adequate formation quality and strength, and loft drying."

All the sheets are 18" x 24" and unsized. There are three bookpapers (B, B2 and B3) and one thick paper suitable for making limp paper cased bindings (PC). B3 is so strong that it could also be used as a pamphlet wrapper: it withstands 1000 folds on the MIT machine at 1 kg. tension, many times what even the original Barrow standards called for. The B and PC papers, in small orders, cost $7.00 per sheet; seconds, when available, are $5.00 each. For information and samples write Mr. Barrett at 5947 North 25th St., Kalamazoo, Ml 49004 (616/381-2531).

Linen Cloth

Hamilton Adams Imports, Ltd. (P0 Box 2489, 101 County Ave., Secaucus, NJ 07094, tel. 201/866-3250), carries a wide variety of linen cloth, including some that is backed with paper (adhesive unknown). Countries of origin include Belgium, Thailand, and Poland. Size of minimum order is not known, but they have shown some interest in dealing with conservators.

Detecting Substances That Tarnish Silver

There are two tests for detecting tarnishing substances that are solid, and one for gases or any substance that gives off gases. The Collings and Young test, published in Studies in Conservation, 21: 79-84, 1976, uses plate silver, petri dishes, HCl, acetone and ammonia, and involves 8-24 hours' use of an oven. Copies of the one- page procedure can be had gratis from Conservation Resources International, 1111 North Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314.

The Daniels and Ward procedure takes only a few minutes to perform, but it involves sodium azide, which is a severe poison that may explode above its melting point, so it can only be done by a chemist who is on his toes. This test was worked out at the British Museum, where they have been using Oddy's test, a slower method, for about 10 years. The publication describing the Daniels and Ward test is: V. Daniels and S. Ward, "A Rapid Test for the Detection of Substances which will Tarnish Silver." Studies in Conservation 27: 58-60, 1982.

By contrast, Edith Weyde's test to detect gases is as easy as falling off a log. It is described in her article, "A Simple Test to Identify Gases Which Destroy Silver Images," which appeared in Photographic Science and Engineering, 16 (4): 283-286, 1972. It involves hanging up some test strips that look like oversize blank color slides in the area where the photographs or microfilms are stored. If there are oxidizing components in the air, the test strip will discolor in a pattern visible to the eye. If it takes longer than a year or two for this to happen, there is probably no serious danger; if less than a month or two, there is danger. Automobile fumes, freshly produced plastics, new oil paint, and oil and gas heating exhaust are common causes of blemishes on silver images, including redox blemishes ("measles") on microfilm.

In response to an inquiry, Agfa-Gevaert sent a half dozen test strips with instructions for use and an offer to evaluate the first set free of charge. They do not sell these test strips, but supply them free to interested parties. The German address is: Attn: Horst Conrad, Anwendungstechnik Information, Sparte Bild-Foto, Agfa-Gewaert AG, Postfach, 5090 Leverkusen 1, West Germany.

Venting of Flammable Storage Cabinets

Although many experts and manufacturers have recommended venting of cabinets in which flammable liquids are stored, the National Fire Protection Association does not. The September Art Hazards News reprints a letter from an NFPA specialist to the public safety specialist at the Rochester Institute of Technology, explaining why the NFPA Code does not require venting ("Nothing is achieved by such venting.... The storage cabinets are tested in an unvented mode").

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