Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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Smyth-Cleat sewing

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A method of machine sewing or lacing adapted from an earlier European method by the Smyth Manufacturing Co. in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It combines thread and adhesive to secure the leaves of a book. In a separate machine, the back of the sections are planed off leaving the spine as smooth as possible. This is a very critical part of the operation, because if the cut spine is not smooth and even, subsequent operations are affected detrimentally. The block of leaves is then placed spine down in the Smyth-Cleat machine and is moved into position where a circular saw cuts a number of cleats completely across the back from head to tail (the number depending on the long dimension of the book). The sawn leaves then move into the sewing position where a single hollow needle laces thread around the cleats in the manner of a fiddle or figure-eight stitch. The sewn text block is then ready rate of setting; however, if the book is to be rounded and backed, an adhesive other than a hot-melt is required. because of the DRYING MEMORY of hot-melt adhesives.

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