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Archive for the ‘Phase Box’ Category

Phase Boxes

Well, I made two more phase boxes for some photo albums that belonged to the Vanderbilt family today.  It all started out so well, but ended up not too good.

The first box went like a dream, but it’s just a smidgen too small.  I don’t know how it happened.

The second – well, I should have quit while I was ahead.  It started out well.  The measuring was difficult, but I thought I got it right.  Obviously not.

  • The top cover was longer than the bottom.
  • The hinge was curved upward and tied with some sort of leather.  The ends of which were on the underside of the album and had large metal pieces attached to them.

The laying out of the lines went really well.  Then the trouble began.  I marked the lines to decrease the tray by one board width on each side and started cutting.  I couldn’t believe it when I realized I had cut the wrong line.  I cut off a side wall!  Ahhhhhhh.

So I started again.  Somehow this box came out wayyyyyy too large.  The width was fine, but the height was off by two board widths.  I just couldn’t believe it.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have forwarded my calls to the conference room so that I could keep up with the administrative side of things today. It did keep distracting me.

I think I’ll just chalk this up to a learning experience.  I’m going to redo the boxes next week.  Fortunately, I bought enough board just in case something like this happened.

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Well, I got my chance to make my first phase box for someone. Yeah! My mom has a 1877 first-edition Rime of the Ancient Mariner illustrated by Gustave Doré. It was given to her by a neighbor when she was child. Her neighbor got it as a gift when she was a slave. It’s very special to my mom, and this is the first time I ever saw it. She had it wrapped in saran wrap to try and protect it from the moisture in Florida where she kept it. It’s in fairly good shape. There is some foxing, a corner has come off of one page, and there is one torn page of tissue paper over one of the illustrations. The biggest problem is that the covers have come off. I took a look and suggested that I make a phase box for it. I’m also going to look into what it would take to have it conserved. I don’t feel that I have the skills yet to properly take care of this book. The best I can do is box it.

Well, my dad took rough measurements for me, and I figured that I would need a 30″x40″ piece of corrugated archival board. I had such trouble finding this. First, I tried Talas. They had the board, and they had some that there were phasing out so that I could purchase a single sheet. They seem to sell this just in packs of 10 or more. I learned to my dismay that this is because of the shipping. They wanted to charge me $45 for truck shipping. I declined and kept looking. I finally stumbled upon Light Impressions at Shop.com. They sold single sheets. Yeah! Shipping was not unreasonable. I ordered and held my breath. I was so happy when it arrived. It was sent FedEx and packed really well. No damage and usable. What I was worried about was that the grain ran long. This was going to make folding hard.

Luckily my dad had a carpenter’s square that I could use. This made laying out the lines much easier. Cutting had to be done by hand of course and was difficult because the cuts were so long. I found myself running from one side of the dining room table to the other. The folding was difficult. Normally, I would try to have the grain run with the height of the book, but this book was so large that it just wasn’t possible. I would have needed the next size board for that.

Well, I managed to create the box and the book is now housed in it. I’m really quite proud that I did it. But, I’m also a little upset because I had some problems and did damage the board. I broke it along the corrugation on one of the shorter folds. I didn’t break all the way through, but still, the break means the box is less strong. Plus, I shouldn’t have put a thumb notch in the cover. The cover is too long and the depth of the book – slightly over an inch – really didn’t work well.

I’m thinking that I’ll most probably order another board and give it another go. My mom is happy with it, but I think I could do better.

Closed from the frontClosed from the sideFrom the sideOpen from frontCloseup of book cover

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The instructions for creating this phase box were given to our instructor by Artemis BonaDea from her unpublished work, “Conservation Book Repair: A Training Manual.” I was lucky enough to find this manual online in PDF format so that I could share it with you. Creating this phase box isn’t is hard as it may sound, and I think it’s a very useful item.

CuttingOnce the lines were drawn out, we actually shifted the dimensions of B slightly so that it would be smaller than A. It was then time to start cutting away the excess. We started with simply cutting away the excess from the spine of the box. Then we marked diagonal lines to create corners. It was Finished cuttingimportant to remember to cut away the inside triangles. We also cut a thumb notch into the cover. This could actually be done with a punch, which would give you a rounded notch. We simply cut a simple triangle. You can see in the picture that the base is slightly smaller than the cover.

Beginning to foldThe next step was to actually score the folds and begin folding. The trick with this was placing a ruler along the fold and folding the board against the ruler after it had been scored. This gave us sharper folds. After that, we did something I found rather tricky. We cut away the corrugation from the remaining triangle pieces. Cutting tabsThis was done by using a microspatula to separate the corrugation from the covering board; folding back the board; and then using a scissor to cut very carefully.

These tabs were then used to glue the sides together using PVA. Paper clips or binder clips can be used to hold the glued pieces together while they dry. Once it was dried, it was ready to hold my book and get a spine label, which I still have to make. 🙂

Drying tabs

Finished construction

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The phase box is used by the Library of Congress, who, by the way, has an excellent site on preservation. This is primarily used to enclose heavy/large/falling to pieces items. It’s not good for a thin book. The book should be at least 1 inch thick.

This is actually made from one large sheet of a single wall acid-free corrugated board. It ends up looking like a clamshell box. It has a book tray made to fit the book and a cover tray that fits over the book tray. What was interesting about making this box was that we constructed jigs for the book to use in making the measurements for the box. We also created a measuring jig to account for one/two/three board thicknesses.

In creating the jigs for the book, we created a square area, placed the book in it, and then measured the height, length, and width of the book. We had to be sure to make each of these measurements in several places on the book, because not all sides would be equal and we wanted to use the largest measurements to be sure the box would fit the books properly.

Book JigFor myself, I wanted to create a box to house my grandfather’s bible. It’s in Swedish so I can’t read it, but I do treasure it because he was a remarkable man.

In marking the jigs it’s important to note the direction that you measured. You can see the arrows noting this on the jigs. It was especially important to note on the thickness. So that you don’t end up marking the wrong dimensions on the corrugated board.

With the corrugated board, it’s easy to tell how the grain runs. For this type of box, the corrugation should run in the direction of the height of the book. As with any other project, it’s important to be sure the board is squared before beginning measuring and cutting. Because this is made from corrugated board, the cutting was done by hand. Using a board cutter will crush the corrugation and make that side unusable.

Marked board After laying out the measurements for the height and width of the box, I took it to the board cutter to use a t-square to mark my lines for folding and cutting. What you see here is the what remained to make the box after cutting away the excess. I strongly recommend getting a utility knife/snap blade knife for any of these projects. They are much easier to use than a scalpel and more accurate. You may not be able to see it, but the left is marked with an A and the right a B. A is the cover and B is the box base.

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