Volume 36 - Autumn 2013


Malcolm Hammers

How not to do it! - by Tom Conroy

(In hammer-backing, the spine folds are moved sideways by curved glancing blows passing obliquely from one side of the book to the other. Straight blows mash the sections and dent the spine or may even break the paper.)

Malcolm bashes books he backs,
Hammer falling straight and hard,
Lets them set in crooked stacks,
Asymmetric, dented, jarred,
Twisted heads and crumpled tails.
Seems to think he's driving nails.

Foolish lad! He now is binding
Toolmakers' catalogues
Full of hammers for the finding,
Hard as hearts and big as logs.
Out they come when backing's noised.
See the books with hammers poised.

Malcontented books back Malcolm
Bash his spine from head to tail,
Straight blows! Hard blows! None can balk 'em!
Malcolm crumples with a wail.
He lies crooked on the ground.
Futile tears won't bring him round.

MORAL: Curved strokes. Curved strokes.

Tom Conroy is a book restorer, binding historian, toolmaker, teacher, and fine binder in Berkeley, California. After fifteen years as a self-taught amateur binder he began benchwork training with Theodore and Anne Kahle at Capricornus in 1981. He holds an MLIS (Master of Library and Information Science) from the University of California at Berkeley.


Skin Deep - Volume 36 - Autumn 2013

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