Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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knocking out the swell

The process of reducing the "swell" in the spine of a book sewn through the folds by hand or on a sewing machine. The swell may be caused by the addition of thread in the folds of the sections. and also, at times, by the thickness of the paper used to guard damaged sections. Reducing the swell is a somewhat delicate operation, as it is necessary to have additional thickness in the spine in order to be able to round and back the book properly; too much swell, however, produces undesirable results, including a wedge shape, a greater tendency for the spine of the book to fall in, and a book that is lacking in firmness and solidity. Excessive swell may be reduced by clamping the text block in a lying press, placing the knocking-down iron against it, and tapping the side at the spine with a backing hammer, or, as in the case of library and edition binding, by smashing or nipping. (339 )

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