Why I Love the K-118 Binding Structure

The K-118 binding structure is a hand bookbinding technique that I started experimenting with about a year ago. It promises reliable, easily opened books without 'Backing' the mechanical folding of sections of pages onto themselves at the spine. It uses oversized parchment spine liners that are glued, worked into the spine and subsequently interlaced with beveled cover boards.

I find that at this point in the process (as shown) the book is very stable, the last picture above is an early example of this binding style I attempted, put aside, then promptly forgot about only to rediscover it last weekend - a year later. This is due in part to the fact that all of the structural components of the book are already in place. To say it a different way, the covering material is not counted on to be structural, though I have found that particularly thick leathers (4 oz+) will undoubtedly impede the opening slightly.

Is it an exaggeration to love the K-118 style? For me, I don't believe so. I started to learn to bind books because I had a need for both a photo album and a sketch book and no matter how hard I looked for either I could not find any examples of substance or quality available. I, then and now too, put a lot of emphasis on usable gutter space and that's only the first reason of many that I am wary of the traditional Rounding & Backing way to prepare the spine. The K-118 style allows wide opening all the way to the gutter and can easily stay open on any page.

Just look at those parchment attachment points, a signature of the style

Whats not to love? Would a book by another name function just as well? In Bruce Levy's 1987 paper where he introduces the K-118 structure he remarks about its name that "This structure, which we call "K-118", for want of a better name"¹. Might I be so bold as to suggest one:

The Tight Parchment Style
The Conservation Tight Parchment Style
 I combined the tight from 'Tight Back' with parchment the material being used to line the spine. I find it easier to refer to it in this manor but call it what you may this style is a gift from history, exactly what I was looking for and I encourage anyone interested to give it a try for themselves.

¹Levy, Bruce R. "The Restoration Rebinding of Speculum Naturale by Vincent of Beauvais, and the Subsequent Development of Several Options for Conservation Rebinding Structures Based on Details Found During the Restoration." The Restoration Rebinding of Speculum Naturale. American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, n.d. Web. 14 Feb. 2017. http://cool.conservation-us.org/coolaic/sg/bpg/annual/v06/bp06-08.html


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