The Plane on the Bindery Floor
Woodworking Tools in Jost Amman’s Woodcut of “The Bookbinder” (1568)
Lecture/Demonstration by Tom Conroy
March 10, 2009. 6 PM
North Bennet Street School
In the first known drawing of a binder’s studio, half the tools are for working wood. Making the wooden boards of a Medieval or Renaissance book took a great deal of skill and time, but this aspect of historical binding technique is often glossed over. In this talk the tools shown in Jost Amman’s drawing will be demonstrated and discussed, with emphasis on the tools used for working wood, the marks they leave, how they differ from modern tools, and related topics like the advantages and disadvantages of wooden boards and how modern sawmill practice results in inferior boards for books.
About the Presenter
Tom Conroy is a book restorer, binding historian, fine binder, and toolmaker specializing in the making and repair of wooden presses. His main benchwork training, after two decades as a self-taught amateur binder, was with Anne and Theodore Kahle at Capricornus from 1981 to 1988. He holds an MLIS from the University of California at Berkeley, and did work there toward and MS in Wood Science and Technology. He has published extensively on the history, materials, tools, and techniques of bookbinding and book conservation, and he has taught workshops all over the country. He is currently affiliated with the Museum of the American Bookbinder in San Francisco, where he describes his position as “one of the exhibits.”