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Recasing - Page 2: Rebuild  original case Recasing -Page 3: Recase with new cover


by Pete Jermann,  c. 2004

Recasing is a binding/repair process used for rehabilitating hardbound books in need of repair. The re-casing process described herein rebuilds a book from the textblock out (page 1), producing a book that is often structurally superior to the original binding. With slight variations, the process allows for either a brand new cover  (page 3) or a cover built using much of the original materials (page 2). 


  • Endsheets - 80 or 100 lb. text stock, folded once with grain, no hinge reinforcement.
  • Super or Backlining - cotton backlining, 68/68 threads/inch (LBS cotton backliner)
  • 10 pt. bristol
  • for the inlay
  • Boards - if replacing the original boards use Davy Red Label board or similar binders board
  • , the thickness should approximate that of the original covers.
  • Cover materials - C grade buckram, F grade buckram or most any type of book cloth.
  • Adhesives - Heavy, film-building, flexible PVA for gluing up the spine (Wisdom R1503, brush application). Lighter PVA for sheet goods (Wisdom R172DT, glue machine and brush application or a heavier PVA thinned slightly with methyl cellulose).



Rebuilding the Textblock


1. Cut cover from textblock

2. Tip on loose leaves and new endsheets

The endsheets are made of a single sheet of a heavyweight paper (80lb) folded in half with the grain.  There is no need to reinforce the fold.  At this point, the endsheet should be larger than the page size of the book.  Stagger the endsheets to each side extends from a different end of the book.  This makes trimming with scissors easier.

3. Trim endsheets

4. Clean spines

  • Using wet (but not drippy) standard brown paper towels, the casing press with backing boards inserted and a hot iron, steam the spine to loosen existing lining materials. The papertowel should be placed on the book’s spine with the ends folded in to leave about 1/2” between the end of the papertowel and the head and tail of the spine. Note: steaming to close to the ends can stain the head and tail of the textblock.  

Note: Steam simply accelerates the process of softening the adhesive on the spine in order to clean it.  Some book papers are very absorbent and can wick the moisture from the spine into the book's margins. In such cases a slower, more conservative approach may required.  The spine can be dampened slowly with wet towels minus the iron and worked off in a slower, more gradual manner.  


  • Using a dull knife, scrape the old liners from the spine. The object of cleaning the spine is to to establish a good base on which to put the new spine liners. Old paper liners and loose materials should be removed. Cloth and cheesecloth liners can be removed it they come off easily with steaming, otherwise they may be left intact. The spine may need to be steamed several times.

Note: The spine does not need to be perfectly clean. Over-steaming, particularly on older books with absorbent paper can cause staining in the gutter margin.


5. Cut spine liner

Trim a piece of spine lining material to about 1/4” less than the length of the textblock and and 2 1/2” wider than the thickness of the spine.  In the picture to the right the textblock itself is used as a gauge to cut the length of the spine.

6. Apply spine liner

  • Apply a layer of PVA to the spine. 
  • Glue up one side of the spine liner with a light coat of  PVA, center  the liner on spine and work it down firmly onto the spine and onto the front and rear pastedowns (outer pages of the endsheets) of the textblock. The spine liner should conform to the spine and hinge areas of the textblock.
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