Its worth drawing attention again to Vivien Frank’s post headed Better Kettles. If an ordinary reef knot or square knot is used to tie the sewing thread having exited the second section, it can form a small but troublesome bump. When knocking-up the completed textblock prior to glueing up it can cause the first two sections to become mis-aligned which can be difficult to correct so it might be worth following Vivien’s of advice.
Before gluing up I check the amount of swell. This was mentioned earlier on the post headed Sewing the Book when issues about thread selection were discussed. I reckon its more likely that you could be inconvenienced by too much swell rather than too little. If you’ve mis-calculated and there is obviously too much swell, then its best to re-sew using a thinner thread.…….. otherwise the back of the book will have a tendency to become too rounded and it’ll be too difficult to achieve shoulders the right depth to accommodate the boards.
However if you feel you just need to fine-tune and reduce the swell a little, then pressing the squared-up textblock in a nipping press could be an option. As the platen closes on the swell, it may cause it to twist out of shape so it could be worth temporarily packing out some of the sections with folded sheets of clean waste in the centre so that the whole block becomes a level playing field. Ensure the tapes are out of the way so as not to be impressed into the text.
Another way can also help reduce a slight excess of swell. Protecting the textblock with pads of greyboard, drop it foredge first into a small bench press and tighten, turn upside down and lower spine area into the jaws of a laying press and tighten that up. The bench press having trapped the foredge will prevent the spine from twisting.
For many years I have used a brass edged set of backing boards which self-align by the outside edges sitting on the top of the press, however at the last SOB Conference, I bought myself to a pair of Brockman Metal Edged backing boards from Louise. These self-level in much the same way but the boards are deep enough to cover the entire book and are tapered off at the bottom…….. so the bottom edge does not impress into the textblock. Another design feature is their being flat and not wedge-shaped like traditional backing boards thus avoiding the joint area being overly compressed.
Louise will have some for sale the SOB Training Seminar in Cirencester in June and they will soon be shown on the Brockman website http://www.brockmanbookbinders.org