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The Work of the Bindery

( Originally Published 1930 )



Divisions of the Work.—It was stated above that there is a great variety of work carried on in individual binderies. Many of these plants also make it a practice to specialize in certain kinds of work. The bindery work can be divided into the following classes:

a. Bookbinding proper, or edition work.
b. Pamphlet, or magazine binding.
c. Binding of loose-leaf covers.
d. Miscellaneous operations, such as ruling, punching, cutting, perforating, crimping, and so forth.
e. Mailing work in a newspaper printing plant.

The operations performed in preparing the various types of bindery products will be described in the following paragraphs.

Bookbinding Operations.—This type of binding can be divided into three general parts. The first part includes the work of folding the printed sheets into signatures, bundling, gathering, collating, and sewing. The second and third parts are called forwarding and finishing. (Signature is the name given to the folded sheet before it is trimmed and divided into the pages which it contains. Four, eight, sixteen, or thirty-two pages can be printed at one time on a single sheet. Collating is the process of examining the gathered book, pamphlet, or magazine to see whether the signatures are in the proper order.) Many machines have been invented to perform the operations in the bindery, but these are found as a rule only in the larger establishments.

The first operation after the sheets have been printed is that of folding. This can be either a hand or machine process, depending upon the number of sheets to be folded and the size of the bindery. Usually women do the work of hand folding and they also do the feeding of the sheets when machine folders are used, but men are required to keep the machines in good working order. The folding by hand is done with a tool called a bone folder. The worker folds a sheet over so that the pages have the same margins and come in consecutive order, and then she runs the folder over the paper in order to crease it. If the sheet has eight pages on it, she must fold it twice; a twelve-page sheet must be folded three times. The folding machine is adjusted by the operator according to the size of the sheet that is to be folded, and then the sheets are fed to it by a girl. The folded sections which are called signatures are then bundled and are ready for the operation of gathering. The work of gathering the signatures to form a complete book is also done by girls and women, either by hand or with the aid of machines. In some binderies, the sections are laid out in bundles in consecutive order on long tables, and the girls pick them up as they walk around them. When they complete the walk around the tables, they have gathered the entire number of signatures. In other binderies, the bundles of sections are placed on a table, the top of which turns. The gatherers are seated about this table and pick up the signatures as the top moves around and around. Gathering by machines, however, is a much quicker way to perform this operation. There are several kinds of these machines in use. The bundles of sections are placed in boxes in consecutive order on all of these machines. The signatures are removed by suction from the bottom of each pile, and are dropped on a conveyor which carries them to the end of the row as a book. Some of these machines have stitching devices attached which staple the sections together. Girls and women work at the gathering machine, their job being to keep the boxes supplied with signatures and to remove those that are imperfect. Men operate the machines and keep them in working order. Collating is the next operation. This is also done by women and girls, and it includes examining the gathered sections to see that they are not misplaced. After the books are collated, the sections are stitched or sewed together. This is either a hand or a machine operation, at which women and girls are employed. Machine sewing has almost entirely eliminated the older process of sewing by hand. In the machine sewing, the signatures are carried to the needles after they have been placed across a device called a feed arm which is attached to the machine. One girl places the sections on this feed arm and another removes the sewed book.

The forwarding operations follow and include further work, on the book as well as the preparation of the covers. The first operation is that of smashing, which is a process of compressing the books in a machine, the purpose being to flatten them and make them more compact. Rounding and backing are the operations which follow smashing. These are performed by hand or machine. Rounding is necessary in order to give the back a rounded appearance, and the purpose of the backing operation is to make it possible to open the books more freely. Glue is applied to the backs of the books before they are rounded and backed. The backs are then lined with thin strips of paper or cloth which partly provide the means of attaching the cover, and the books are ready to have the covers attached.

The process of making the covers is called case making, and the operations connected with the job of attaching the covers to the books are called casing-in. In most cases the covers are made before they are attached to the books, but sometimes they are built right on to them. Men perform these operations by hand or with the aid of machines. The making of the covers includes the cutting of the stiff paper boards and the cloth, paper, and leather which covers them. The cutting is usually done with a machine. This process of making the covers also includes the gluing of the covering material to the boards and the folding in of this material over the boards so that they will present a neat appearance. This work can be done by hand or by machine. After the covers have been prepared, they are ready to be attached to the books. Casing-in, as this process is called, consists mainly of pasting the covers to the books either by hand or by a machine. The strips of paper or cloth which have been attached to the backs of the books are also glued to the insides of the covers. Casing-in is done, in the main, by pasting half of a double sheet of paper on the inside of the front and on the inside of the back of each cover and then by pasting a part of the other half of these sheets at the place where the cover opens on the front and the back of the book. The books are then placed in a press and are allowed to dry. The casing-in process is not always carried out in the same way in all shops.

The finishing operations are the ones which make the books more attractive in placing the decorations and the lettering on the covers and of gilding and decorating the edges of the book. The finishing of the covers may be done after they have been attached to the books; but, as a rule, when large quantities are to be produced, this work is done before the casing-in operation. When machines are used, the designs and the letters are stamped or embossed on the cover. Embossing is the process of raising the letters or designs. Hand finishing is done with heated tools which are pressed down over the material in which the letters or the designs are to appear, such as gold leaf, silver leaf, and so on. After the pressure has been applied, the leaf is brushed away, and the design or the lettering remains, thus leaving the cover ready to be attached. Men perform the finishing operations, sometimes with the assistance of women.

Pamphlet-binding Operations.—Pamphlet or magazine binding is called soft-cover binding to distinguish it from bookbinding or hard-cover work. The operations connected with this branch of bindery work are not so numerous or so complicated as are those that are necessary to produce hard-covered books. A magazine or pamphlet must be folded, gathered, collated, stitched, or sewed; and the cover must be attached before it can be sent out to its readers. In addition, the operation of tipping is sometimes necessary to produce a magazine or a pamphlet.

After the folding has been completed, the gathering may be done by hand or machine. Some machines now in use gather the signatures, cut the backs where one fold occurs, rough the backs so that they may be glued easily, apply the glue to the backs and attach strips of muslin which will hold the pages together, and then attach the covers with glue. Another form of gathering machine stitches the signatures together by what is called a saddlestitch. This is a method of stitching through the fold at the back of the magazine or pamphlet. Saddle stitching is a machine process which is performed by a number of different types of machines. With one type of machine the signatures are gathered in the required order, and the cover is put in place before the stitching occurs. The magazine is placed on a table or saddle of the machine, and the operator presses a treadle which starts the stitching process. A wire staple is forced through the cover and the leaves which form the pamphlet, and it is clinched on the inside. Some of these devices are able to make more than one stitch at one time. These are called multiple-stitch machines, and are usually attached to the machines that gather and stitch the signatures and the cover in a single series of operations. Girls usually feed the gathering and stitching machines, but men adjust and repair them when necessary.

The operation of tipping is performed when it is necessary to insert additional single sheets that have been printed separately. This is a hand operation, as a rule, but sometimes machines are also used. It consists of pasting, sewing, or stitching these inserts on the pages that are to receive them. It is usually done before the signatures have been gathered into book or magazine form. This is entirely a girl's job.

It can be seen from the preceding description that the process of preparing a magazine in the bindery is not as detailed or complicated as is the making of books.

Miscellaneous Bindery Operations.—Every commercial bindery carries on a number of operations that are necessary in the process of making printed articles, but still are not related. One of these operations is that of ruling or of making lines on blank sheets of paper.

Concerns that manufacture blank books and also certain other binderies use the ruling machines for this work. There are two varieties of these machines. One of them rules by the use of pens, while the other makes the impressions with the aid of discs. Flat sheets of paper are used with the pen-ruling machine, and they are fed to it either by hand or by an automatic feeder. The sheets are carried under the pens on an endless cloth belt, and adjustments are made on the machine which allow the pens to make the desired impressions at the right places on the sheets, The disc-ruling machine is a rotary machine which is supplied with sheets by automatic feed or from a roll of paper. It makes the impressions with discs instead of with pens. The pens receive the ink from strips of flannel or thin threads of yarn, while the discs are supplied with ink from an ink-covered rubber roller which they touch as they revolve. These machines rule sheets for blank books and for various other purposes. The operators usually are men, but girls are also used to feed the sheets when automatic feeders are not attached.

The other operations, such as punching holes in sheets of paper, perforating, numbering, and crimping, are performed by machines which are fed by women or girls. Cutting of the paper into sheets of the required size, and trimming of the assembled books, magazines, or other printed products are also machine jobs which are handled by men. Cutters are operated by hand power, as well as by electricity. The trimming of books and pamphlets may be done on the ordinary cutting machine, but there are trimming machines now in use which are able to cut the front and the sides of a stack of magazines or books in one operation. Other types of machines have been introduced which cut paper automatically.

Operations in Preparing Loose-leaf Book Covers.—Loose-leaf books of various kinds have become very popular in recent years. They are used for the keeping of various kinds of business records. The manufacture of these articles includes many activities that are not found in the ordinary bindery. A machine shop which makes the metal parts of the loose-leaf covers is necessary in such an establishment. The metal parts are the features which make these things different from the ordinary book covers.

After the metal parts have been made in the machine shop, they are sent to the bindery proper to be placed in the covers. All of the binding operations in this type of factory are performed by hand. Each worker makes a complete cover from the start to the finish. The difference between the jobs of the men and the women, however, is that the men work individually, while the women work in groups and make the cheaper articles.

For instance, when an order comes in for a large number of the less expensive covers, the materials are brought to a large table around which the girls sit. Then all of them preform the first operation until every cover has been prepared for the next operation. When this is done, each goes through the succeeding operations at the same time until the covers have been completed. On the other hand, each man is given a complete order to work on; and he prepares one cover at a time, as a rule, until he finishes the lot.

The first operation in the manufacture of loose-leaf covers is to lay out the work. This consists of figuring out the cutting sizes of all the materials that are to be used. The material is then cut to size on various cutting and slitting machines which are operated by men. Cloth is cut by a slitting machine, leather is cut by a clicker machine, and the paper board is cut by a paper-cutting machine. The material is then taken to the tables at which the men stand and the girls sit. Guides are placed by the workers on boards, which rest on the tables, in order to indicate accurately the positions of the cloth and the board parts of the binder or covers. The materials are glued either by hand or by machine, depending upon the quantity, the boards are placed on the pieces of cloth, and the edges of the cloth are turned over on the boards with an instrument known as the bone folder. The backbone of the binder which is of metal is placed on the cloth or other material between the boards, and it is fastened in place. The lining is then glued on the cover—various kinds of material being used for this purpose. After the lining is glued on, the binder is sometimes run through the rollers of a wringer, in order to smooth it out thoroughly. It is then ready for the cover design which is printed, air-brushed, or stamped. The above description concerns the operations on one type of binder. Many different kinds of loose-leaf covers are made, but the operations vary only slightly from those described in this paragraph. The work of decorating the loose-leaf covers is similar to that which is required in the finishing of covers of bound books.

Operations in a Newspaper Mailing Room.—A description of the work in a newspaper mailing room is included in this chapter because it corresponds in a newspaper plant to the bindery in a commercial printing establishment. There is one marked difference between the two places, and that is that no women or girls are employed in the newspaper mailing room. The work here is much heavier and is carried on at a faster pace than in the binderies. The operations are per-formed by apprentices, or learners, and by regularly qualified workmen, or journeymen.

Before the work of getting out the newspapers commences, certain things must be done by the workmen. They must prepare the paper wrappers. in which the newspapers are wrapped; they must correct and revise the mailing list; and they must tag the mail sacks. The mailing room is a scene of great activity when the news-papers begin to come in from the pressroom. A conveyor system brings them into the mailing-room from, which they are taken by apprentices and placed on tables. Many different kinds of activities are then carried on at the same time and at a high rate of speed, because it is necessary to get the newspapers out on the streets and to the railroad stations in the shortest possible time. In one section of the mailing room, several men may be seen counting out newspapers and tying them in bundles for delivery to the various branches in the city. In another part are located the stuffing machines which assemble the different sections of the newspapers at a rate of five thousand each hour. Still other men are operating hand-addressing machines which paste on single copies the slips of paper bearing the names of customers. These are taken by another group of men who wrap all those that go to a single city in one bundle, which is called a club bundle. Power-addressing machines are also used to address individual newspaper copies, but all the wrapping is done by hand. As the bundles are addressed and wrapped, they are thrown into mail sacks which have already been prepared and labeled. These are placed on a conveyor which takes them down to the loading platform, where they are loaded on trucks and are transported to the railroad stations. Other trucks deliver to the branch stations those newspapers which are to be sold in the city and its suburbs.

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