Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Big IS Beautifull

Those of you out there that have had occaision to work on large over-sized books will appreciate the various problems and challenges that the forwarding presents.The boards I got from France two years ago were dissappointing. The rubber biscuits uneccessary and cumbersombe, they were different heights when locked-up, and they were fabricated from poor quality ply-wood. (It is fair to note that this may not indicate the standard of quality offered, and may just have been a one-off slip).
However , I am a fan of the French style, namely boards made with a substantial shelf, gripping the spine approx 1" proud of the cheek of the press , avoiding the undue brutality of pressure, whilst also making it easier to work on the back of the book.
Having been since unable to source large French-style boards fabricated to code, from good quality material, I decided to make my own.
*NB-there are larger boards out there, but made to the english style, and I found that having a more substantial shelf made it easier to position the book in the press.
My freind Josh Harris and I produced many prototypes , and have finally decided on a design , and have produced a couple of finished sets.
The finished board is 20" long by 7" wide , with a shelf 1"x1.5" that sits ontop of the cheeks.The shelf is attached to the main board using biscuits(they`re not just glued on!).The wood used is a beech, 1/4 sawn for strength , and air-dried for the prevention of warping.The boards are also made with a tapered finish, again unlike my french ones. I am unsure if the tapered finish is unique to england(I'm sure it`s not?!), and also whether an un-tapered finish is unique to the French-I suspect that there is no hard and fast rule and there is a lot of overlap.
The boards photographed are made of white oak , this proves an expensive prospect for production.I know Josh is working on using cheaper alternative material such as plain sawn beech, this may prove a winner, and if so I'll sign on, but I will have to wait and see how these would turn out and perform.
The jaws I decided to make in steel , and not brass....Steel is harder to keep clean , but longer lasting, and I guess longevity is more important.
All in all , the boards are a real piece of work , and I'm very happy with the end result.
We decided to offer the boards for sale ourselves, thereby avoiding uneccessary mark-ups from retailers, allowing for a more affordable price.
Again, I must stress that this was not a for profit enterprise, I simply was motivated to produce a good quality tool to the best standard.
We are selling them for $400. Before everyone gasps in disgust, I can confidently state that I am to date unaware of a Backing Board anywhere that comes close to the quality of this one`s fabrication.
Some of you may feel that its uneccessary, and I do agree that they are a luxury for most, especially these days, but I do insist on and attest to the fact that they have made my life easier.
Plus, they're pretty sweet.....

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