getting pages square to the cover

I’ve been asked how to get the pages square to the covers. Or how to line up the book block so that it’s square to the covers. Here is how I do it!

I start with a finished cover, leather cut to size and backed with a paper.

I then get out my trusty right anlge square! Its a mini square that I found at a salvage store in maine. It’s about 2 inches on the short side and 3 on the long. It’s very small, and in this picture covered in Leeho 2way glue. That’s accidental! I use this with a sample signature (i.e. one I mispunched the stations.) to line up where I want the spine to be and to make it square.

Here’s my signature and square. I pick one side to be my assumed square side. In this case, and most, I picked the bottom edge of my cover. I lay the signature on the cover, leaving some room on the fore-edge from the front cover and slip the square along it’s side. I line the edge of the square against my assumed square edge of my book and then line up the signature along the square. (Did that at all make sense?)

The next step is to insert the spine template. It’s a 1 inch wide piece of scrap paper cut to the same height as my signatures. One side is coated with Leeho 2 way glue, allowed to dry and make it removable. You just need enough ofthe glue to keep the template from shifting as you draw your spine pattern and cut or punch it.

This is the tricky bit. I hold the signature, all lined up and straight to the covers , down firmly, and don’t allow it to shift. I then bring my template in and line it up against the signature. I smooth it down and removethe signature.

This is what it looks like when I’m done with the lining up. I’ve eye balled a distance from the top and bottom of the book. I give the bottom a little more space, because it gets more damage and abuse than the top.

Now I’m ready to measure out my slots or stations. I line up my clear fiskars quilting ruler along the template.

After I line up the ruler i measure out where I’d like to see the slots or stations. I use my trusty right angle square and the ruler to measure things out in a pleasing manner.

If I’m doign stations rather than slots, I draw a series of lines that go the length of the template to show where the signatures will line up.

I find the template to be the only way to get the spine straight along the cover. In the early days i measured from the fore-edge and it could sometimes be quite ugly, especially if my foredge were off a fraction of a degree.