Big Jump Press

Life without a board shear

The Board Shear. The most beautiful cutter ever built, the most useful piece of bookbinding equipment known to man, the greatest thing in the wide world.

A bookbinder without a board shear. Frustrated, ineffectual, emasculated. And shoeless, for god’s sake. Shoeless.

When one finds oneself without a board shear, as I sadly do these days, one must make do with what one has. In my case, that is (1) a huge cutting mat, (2) a less than ideal straight edge, (3) a large metal triangle, (4) a pin vice awl thing, (5) a blade, and (6) rugged determination.

Here I am, grudgingly banging my board and triangle against my cutting mat. As I slide my triangle along and make marks with my pin vice, I try not to think about all the board shears in my past. Of how easy it all was then. Of how I didn’t even say goodbye.

Instead of a cast iron, foot pedal controlled clamp, I must use my actual foot to hold the cutting edge and the board in place. The indignity of it. The dirty directness. It’s like being a bookbinding peasant. But it gets the job done.

Having less confidence than a fully equipped bookbinder, I cut the sheets of board into oversize strips. When it is time to cut them to the correct size for the book covers, I will turn to my under-appreciated kutrimmer 1058. It isn’t perfect, it’s true. It is too small to cut down large sheets of board. It is not as easy to cut squarely and it isn’t as glamorous. But it is a steady friend in lean times. And it can do some things a board shear cannot:

I believe Stephen Stills expressed this better than I ever could, so I will leave it to him. This one goes out to you, kutrimmer.

14 comments on “Life without a board shear

  1. a ferreira
    September 6, 2012

    Does it help, knowing you’re not the alone in it? 😉

  2. Big Jump Press
    September 6, 2012

    It does help! Sad bookbinders unite!

  3. Laura.
    September 6, 2012

    this IS sad! you are quite poetic about it. . . looking forward to reading about how you solve the un-squareness of the kutrimmer when it comes time to cut things down to size. the book continues to look gorgeous! glad you found a polymer plate place in the uk, WHEW.

  4. Big Jump Press
    September 6, 2012

    Thanks, Laura! The plates should arrive any day, I am really looking forward to it! All folios except the colophon are now folded and trimmed. Wowie wow. My kutrimmer cuts pretty squarely for short cuts, so I usually reserve all of the precise cuts for a time when the board is cut down to smaller sizes. I am more worried about the box components, cutting those tiny strips could be a hassle.

  5. Peter D. Verheyen
    September 6, 2012

    I built this cutting jig before I got my Kutrimmer and used it for years to do all sorts of binding, including box making. A (physical) pain after a short while when cutting board – love mat board ’cause its easier to cut and like in Chicago politics changed my blades early and often… This really helped keep things square. Also sometimes bought smaller pieces of board. More expensive, but my time was worth more. Cutting jig description at . 🙂

  6. Big Jump Press
    September 6, 2012

    Wow, Peter, thanks for this excellent link! That jig looks absolutely great.

  7. Big Jump Press
    September 6, 2012

    (and no feet required!)

  8. Maggie Heineman
    September 6, 2012

    You are so friggin’ hilarious! I love it!

  9. Big Jump Press
    September 6, 2012

    By the way everyone, forgive my many spelling errors. I rushed. Argh.

  10. Jacob Degeling
    September 6, 2012

    What a beautiful looking piece of kit that board shear is… Great post!

  11. Glenn House Sr.
    September 6, 2012

    When I bind my next (read “second”) book, the colophon will state in 18 point Stencil Ultra-Bold caps; “SECOND AND PROBABLY LAST BOOK FROM THE 88+/-DEGREE BOOK WORKS.” And the motto of the company, in some teensy but elegantic and florid scripting, will say, “Aw, Hell’s Bells, Y’all. Any gutless wonder can make a 90 degree book.”

  12. Kate C
    October 4, 2012

    Oh man, you’re not alone. I signed up to do 3 large clamshell boxes for a client, and now I don’t know what i got myself into without a board shear! Oh the pain in my hand! 😦

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This entry was posted on September 6, 2012 by in Bookbinding, How I do things. and tagged , , , , , .
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