A website about constructing metal book clasps, bosses and other types of book hardware, showing examples of book clasp repair and restoration and information on workshops offered by Joycelyn Merchant on the design and construction of metal bookclasps.

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Demo Books with Miscellaneous Clasps

Original Experimental Book

The book used to construct this clasp sampler was made in India. Its pages are heavy paper, made of what appears to be cotton rag. Boards appear to be made of paste board, or something similar to Davey board. It was perfect to use for this experiment in making and attaching clasps to this type of book structure; especially since it saved me the time and effort involved in making a book from scratch.

Attaching clasps to this sort of book differs from attaching them to wooden boards in that each clasp must have a back plate on the inside which will function as a support for the rivets in order to keep the clasps from ripping out of the board.

I plan to fill this book with clasps on all sides; each of them illustrating a different type of catch mechanism.

Fish clasps and clip clasp.

Minimal tools are needed to make the little fish clasps shown on the left. This clasp is one piece of metal folded in half. The top can be decorated by using metal stamps or by hammering a texture on the surface.

Attached to a strap made of leather or book cloth lined with Tyvek, this style clips onto a pin which protrudes from the board edge.

Another very simple clasp, shown bottom left, can also be made using just a few tools. The clip slides over a curved lip extending from the top catch plate.It is also attached to a strap lined with Tyvek.

Clasps attached to wooden boards

First Attempts

When I first began, I didn't really know that much about wood board books so I used whatever wood I had on hand, which happened to be cheap plywood. The text block is part of a telephone book guillotined to size. It served as a quick and cheap option to use for practice in attaching clasps to wooden boards.

The lesson from this experiment is that cheap plywood makes for horrible book boards, so don't waste time trying to make it work. Some people have had some success with a higher quality plywood, butI prefer solid hardwoods. Better examples of wooden board books with clasps can be found in other pages on this site.

Two interesting possibilities.

Two of the clasps, pictured individually in the photo on the left, were made by modifying existing hardware parts.

The one on the lower right is made from a picture hanger riveted to a handmade leather cord. A piece of ivory piano key was glued over the rivets.

The clasp on the bottom left is modified from a piece of copper strap, a found item, a battery cable.

Each is riveted onto the back board, comes around, up and over onto the top board. They hook over pins, modified from cup hooks riveted through the center of the top board and through a little brass plate on the inside to secure them.

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