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Date: 19 December 2014. Bookbinding for Beginners.


Now, you've read the title of this article no doubt and thought "What on earth or at sea has this to do with boating life?" However, if you consider the size of Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship you'll know exactly why having bookbinding skills is almost essential, at least for me.

The new editions are weighty tomes. Really it's too large to easily handle on my lap. However with a bit of effort I turned one large volume into three smaller ones. It's not hard, and you can do it too.


As you can probably surmise, this is an earlier effort. None are perfect, however the three volumes are now eminently readable. (The locker these are in gets some use. That's why the dust jacket is scruffy.)

Deciding where to divide a thick tome:


Looking at the Chapman's Piloting & Seamanship book was a bit overwhelming. At over 900 pages, it's not the type of book you'd relax with unless you're Superman. I decided on three sections, each approximately 300 pages and one inch thick. Give or take.


First I took a look at the Table of Contents. Fortunately the third section on Safety began on page 369. That's the page on the right side and would make dividing simple. Obviously splitting a chapter seemed stupid -- who wants to retrieve the next book for the rest of a sentence?!?

Further scanning showed Chapter 18 starting on Page 631. That made another logical stopping point.


I made notes on the Table of Contents so I'll know what
 part to pull when I'm seeking specific information.


A sharp knife allowed me to divide (cut) the book into three sections. Then I bound it. Several years later, it's still intact and working well for me. Because I did this so long ago, there are no pictures of the Chapman project.


I did rebind a book for a Christmas present, and here's how I did it:

It all started last summer when I went shopping with Sticky-Fingers. [See the Deal Breaker (galley gear in thrift store) article about *that* fiasco.] However in one of the small shops I found the remnants of an old book with a rubber band holding the pages together.

Because I like old stuff I gave the pages a look-see. The contents
were interesting, so I bought the carcass of what was once a book.



For instance, what's not to like about a book that tells you how to prevent milk fever in cows and how to cure hog cholera?! The folksy and specific instructions for medicine using vinegar and turpentine(?!?) make for a fun afternoon of reading.

For the record, I do read normal stuff too
and far more frequently than the oddities.

However, if I ever want to know how many bricks it takes to make a wall
The Circle of Useful Knowledge has the answer. And soon the recipient will know too.

But first I needed to reinforce this book for the fellow I want to give it to. Basically I had some pages, with a sewn binding still relatively intact but no cover, nor any end pages. I had most of the guts, and a plan.


Using a pair of C-clamps I squeezed the book together. Next I took out some E6000 glue that I'd bought at the Dollar General store. The packaging says it's good for gluing paper and I thought "wonderful". Well, it's okay for this particular use.


I gave the E6000 a day to dry, then proceeded to the next step. I wanted thicker pages to cover the guts and had a bag from the local ACE Hardware store on hand. It said "Please Recycle This Bag" and so I did.

I cut the bag just slightly larger than the book pages. Additionally I had a piece of very thin teak in ship's stores. I wrapped the bag around the teak, then glued the paper to the wood. I used GE Silicone
to stick these pieces together as I wanted flexibility.

I used the teak to give a bit of additional support to the spine. [From my experience with the Chapman's this step is not necessary.]

It should be noted that the front part (shown above) of the paper bag was covered in the final product. I used a part of a brochure with a photograph of the Carrabelle River for the "real" end page. To cover the rest of the bag at the front and give me a place to write a dedication, a plain piece of copier paper was used.

Liberal use of GE Silicone glue allowed me to stick everything together. The C-clamps were a big help in holding everything steady. Silicone is your optimal choice because it is flexible.

And I'd specifically not recommend DAP brand of silicone. Sometimes it pays to opt for a better quality product. This is one of those times. Use GE brand -- it's better.


Each year it seems one gift piques my interest. This time it was Sam's book. I hope this to be something he'll want to keep. A lot of effort that went into little things that will most likely go unnoticed such as:

  1. The cover is a chart with the Carrabelle River at the top. Since I was on the Carrabelle River and Sam had a boat there quite some time ago, I hope it will bring happy memories for him.

    [You "met" Sam in the Shooting Star article. He owned the Mainship.]

  2. The pretty End Page, glued after the teak/paper bag part was finished shows the Carrabelle River too. If Sam looks carefully he can even see the dock where his boat was. Mine too, for that matter.


End page showing the Carrabelle River:


The chart (book cover) had a plastic liner on both sides. I didn't know what would adhere to the plastic on the inside and wanted to make sure the pages stuck to the cover. Therefore with a steady hand I carefully cut through the inner layer of plastic and removed it.


You can see my results in this picture:

I used E6000 to glue it all together and in retrospect should have used GE Silicone. The E6000 is too fluid. It seeped through and shows on the outside.


The  book is fascinating. I wonder if Professor Hermstadt's recipe will actually make gold and silver. If so, I would like a charm bracelet, necklace and perhaps some silver clips for my hair.


If this works, y'all don't forget Janice aboard Seaweed...

As for Sam's gift, I took a piece of the paper sack and burnt the edges with my lantern. The goal was for it to look rustic. And also, I gave him the history of the book and why it is now his. This is the dedication I wrote:


I had a great deal of fun making the book for Sam. But even more fun perusing the pages. Charles Kingsley published this gem 1 January 1885 and it truly is a step back in time. In just a couple weeks it will be 130 years old. How cool is that?!?

The book even includes recipes. There is a section on booze, including cordials, bitters, and various liquors. One of these days I will have to try the sangria. I used to enjoy a spot of that on occasion and have not made it for decades.

To bind a book you'll need
GE Silicone glue, stiff paper for the end pages and a cover. I used a plastic reinforced chart this time, but have used paper folders, wood, and even the cover of an old book. Of course the easiest method is to take your pages to a store and have it done for you.

Many box stores (office supply variety) along with copy places have the machinery necessary to spiral bind books. Some also do other types of binding. The prices are reasonable so if you have a book that needs some attention you have options.

Aboard Seaweed I work with what I have. Because I don't own a car often I make do. This time I believe the results are okay and hopefully Sam will keep and enjoy The Circle of Useful Knowledge. Time will tell...

If you make gifts do you worry/wonder if the recipient will keep the item?
And, have you ever made over books such as I did with this one?

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2014, 2020

Categories: Books, Characters, Gear, Locations, Money, Recipes, Recommendations

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