A Jig for Board Books

This is a belated P.S. for the post on making board books.

I knew as soon as I started making an edition of board books that I had to create a jig to keep the boards steady while gluing the page spreads on top. Even pushed up against a straight edge, the @#$% boards have a tendency to wiggle. This is not good. Accuracy is everything when making a board book. I also needed to speed up the gluing process.

The solution:

taped-in-place-with-boardsI began with my usual setup with an L-square taped to the table. Long ago at the hardware store, I found a thin metal bar that is exactly the width of my boards. The space between boards happens to be one board width, so I  taped the metal bar exactly in place between two boards. Then, to keep everything firmly in place, I taped a half-inch wide metal bar to the other side.

Here is what it looks like without the boards in place:


After putting the boards in place, I trim the top of the page and line that up against the straight edge on top. I leave the other sides untrimmed for now. I line up the middle registration mark over the bar, so I know it’s centered right where it needs to be.


When it comes time to remove the freshly glued page spread, I tip up the bar on the side. The page spread easily pops out. (I loosened the tape over the bar just enough so that there’s room to do this.)

It becomes a little more tricky when it’s time to glue the double spreads to each other as the book progresses, but this arrangement still works. To make it easier, I taped two L-squares one on top of the other to create a space twice as deep.

The main thing to remember is that “removable” tape will cure after a while and become far less removable. So after a few days, it’s not a bad idea to pull up the tape and replace it, if necessary.

19 thoughts on “A Jig for Board Books”

  1. One day (in a galaxy far,far away…) I might try this.
    Right now? I am so sick of the book mountain and this relentless heat…
    Oh yeah, my cat has hi-jacked my computer again!

    • I’d love to see what kind of book a cat might make.

      But assuming this is actually the Secretary, I hear ya… I’m getting mighty tired of my two current projects as well. My plan is to make nothing but mindless fun stuff once they are done. And I can’t wait until they are done! But I think it’s still going to be a little while…

      I am selfishly grateful it is not hot here. The descriptions all of you keep writing about the heat down there make my toes and hairs curl. Does not sound fun. At all.

    • I vividly remember, years ago before I ever made a book, talking with a friend who was showing me a book she’d made. “I could never, ever do anything like that!” said I. “I could never do anything that precise that required measuring and lining things up like that.” Ha ha.

      You could’ve fooled me with your supposed lack of precision! Your books are so well crafted. I don’t always comment, but I watch what you’ve been up to on your blog. My mind still boggles that you haven’t been doing it all that long.

      I hope you’re feeling better! Humboldt does rather feel like one huge petri dish at the moment. I hope I make it Sat–I need to take the photos! But I’ve been feeling a bit up and down myself…we’ll see. I’m looking forward to my new tarot deck! :-)

  2. Aren’t jigs great? When I take the time to set up a stable and secure jig, I feel so efficient and professional!! Unfortunately this is all too rare, but I’m making 15 copies of my BAO book-ee (do you still want to trade?) so I’m determined to set up properly this time.

    I also love your metal rule (half inch?) The atelier in Paris had a range of them and I am most covetous! Where did you buy yours Ellen?

      • Yes, please, would love to trade! Keep in mind, I’m still working on ’em…

        By metal rule, do you mean the plain brass one or the L-square? (I think you meant the plain, straight one.) Both came from a hardware store. (Are they called ironmongers or something else in Australia?) Some bookmaking supply places sell them, but here it was cheaper at the hardware store. There is usually a section tucked away in back somewhere with bits of metal for hobbyists (looks something like these displays. I have them in a range of sizes–and in the sizes I like and use the most, more than one of each. They’re very useful! I especially like the 1/4″ size when making hardbound cases–it’s quite often just right for the hinge space. And I find the 3/4″ helpful for trimming the turn-ins on book cloth. I’m assuming there’s a close metric equivalent if you can’t get that. They are often called something like “metal stock” in the US. Hobby supply places also often sell them (model makers like them). I hope that helps?

          • Don’t worry about not being finished with your edition yet – I’m not either, and as I travel around the interwebs I realize that a lot of us aren’t, so that makes me feel quite a bit better.

            Just happy :-) you want to trade.
            PS Have tried to fix the problem with the link on my name – so finger’s crossed.

            • Thanks for the reassurances on the BAO situation! It is beginning to weigh on me. Good luck to you as well. I’m so happy I’ll be getting one of your books! :-)

              And I’m glad to see that, indeed, the link to your blog is once again actually going to your blog. How crummy that happened in the first place. I wish very bad hemorrhoids (among other things) to the scum responsible (not that I’m a vengeful person or anything like that).

  3. I don’t even know what to make of what you are making; it looks very complicated, so I am duly impressed!

    p.s. I’ve made some strides in my attempts to be crafty (looking less like a 1st grader did them and more like an immature junior high school student, maybe?). I confess, though, there still is an abundance of glitter! :)

      • Oh my! Those are glitter? They make my, er, efforts look amateurish. (HAHAHA! Wait, mine *already* looked amateurish.)

        My entire table (and quite possibly the carpet and cats, too) is covered in glitter. Maybe I can group them all for a photo (since the cats are always hovering nearby) for an abstract piece of art with an annoying title: Les Chats and Mesa Roja Quell Son Glimmering. (The mix of languages would impart an impressive and confusing air, designed to make the viewer think what he or she is looking at *must* be good, don’t you think?)

        • Absolutely–the more incomprehensible writing about art is, the more important and intellectual it sounds!

          I must admit, a table covered in glitter gives me chills. And not in a good way. ;-)

          • It got even worse after I posted this. Squeaky the Cat knocked over a container of glitter and got her tail into the resulting mess. I was calling her Disco Kitty the rest of the afternoon. She was very sparkly. (All my efforts to brush away the glitter were a miserable failure.) I will *not* post pictures, as the sight of a glittery cat might take you from shuddering into convulsions. (Also because I didn’t actually TAKE any pictures; she’s too dark and the pictures wouldn’t have turned out, but that’s a minor point.)

  4. This post is old, but I wonder if it would work having a slot on the aluminium frame you have (the one fixed to a wooden base) in order to fit in the thin bar used to mark where the spine is?


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