The Book and Paper Group
The American Institute for Conservation

A Simple Tip for Tearing Repair Strips--Flat, Even and Narrow

Betsy Palmer Eldridge

In short, the technique is to pull the body of the repair paper from the repair strip and not the repair strip from the body of the repair paper as is commonly done.


There seems to be a natural tendency for right handed people to work from the right side of a sheet of repair paper, marking off the width of the strip with dividers, using a straight edge and a water pen, or brush, or needle, or knife as desired, and then trying to tear off the strip from the body of the paper. The result is often not very satisfactory. The strip breaks apart, is uneven in width, or is wrinkled with the fibers distorted. Also it is difficult to tear off very narrow strips that way.

Much better results are obtained if the right handed person works from the left side of the sheet, marking off, using a straight edge and pen, and then tearing off or pulling away the body of the paper from the strip, which in this case lies protected and supported under the straight edge. It is important to keep proper pressure on the straight edge, especially across from the point where the tear is occuring. The result is feather edged strips that are flat, even and can be much narrower than otherwise possible.

Betsy Palmer Eldridge
Book Conservator
Toronto, ON

Publication History

Received: Fall 1993

Paper delivered at the Book and Paper specialty group session, AIC 21st Annual Meeting, May 31-June 6, 1993, Denver, Colorado.

Papers for the specialty group session are selected by committee, based on abstracts and there has been no further peer review. Papers are received by the compiler in the Fall following the meeting and the author is welcome to make revisions, minor or major.