North Bennet Street School Workshops

Yet more study opportunities in New England…

The updated catalogue of NBSS workshops is now online on the school’s website,

Quoting from the online listing:  “Lots of excitement in the Bookbinding arena this spring and summer. Tom Conroy and Shanna Leino join us for toolmaking workshops, Linda Lembke explores the properties of paper, the ever-popular Peter Geraty returns for Edge Gilding and Hot Stamping work, and Hélène Jolis is coming from France to lead a leather decoration workshop.”

One example of the rare opportunities to be found at North Bennet this session includes a course on cutting finishing tools with Tom Conroy.  There is very limited space available so New England Chapter members are advised to check this out ASAP.

Cutting Bookbinder’s Finishing Tools
Saturday and Sunday, March 14-15, 2009
Tom Conroy, Instructor

Brass finishing tools are expensive necessities for the hand binder.  Some tools can be well made by the binder, some are best bought new, and some (whether elegant in body and face or merely adequate) may be acquired used.  By making a line, a gouge, and a leaf tool students will learn all the filing, engraving, and mounting techniques needed for toolcutting, and will gain a basis for judging other tools.  They will understand how to make tools for particular bindings, repair battered or worn tools, or fill in incomplete used sets.  Acquiring, and judging the quality, of old and new tools will be discussed.  The tuition includes a materials fee for some supplies and tools: for the most part, students are expected to provide their own hand tools. 

You may register for this, or any of the other upcoming NBSS workshops, online in the workshops section at  Contact the workshops coordinator, Jourdan Abel, for more information: or 617-227-0155.

The Plane on the Bindery Floor


The Bookbinder by Jost Amman
The Bookbinder by Jost Amman

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
Boston, MA

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. 

The New England Chapter is proud to co-sponsor this event with North Bennet Street School.  For planning purposes RSVP to Jourdan Abel at 617-227-0155 extension 102, or by email at

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.”

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