On the Cutting Edge
Quick! Name two consumables that are indispensable to operation in the bindery. If you named adhesives as one, you'd be on the mark. But...if you included knives, (yes, they are a consumable), you would be quite savvy. Cutting and trimming are part of almost every finishing operation. And the quality of those cuts are essential to the quality of the finished product.
Guillotine and trimmer knives are fairly high-tech these days. They may be assembled from different grades of steel, including a high-speed carbide alloy. The problems to be overcome are many. A knife may pick up binding glue when cutting through a book block. Incorrectly sharpened blades will cause fusing, where paper sheets stick together. Or "draw" where burrs occur on the cut stack.
And sharpening your knives? Don't tote them down to the local machine shop. Precision knife sharpening and grinding is a science. My good friend Kelly Willauer (also known as the bindery doctor), is an endless source of finishing knowledge. At one time or another, Kelly has dealt with, and mastered, every possible finishing technique. He also happens to work for Jorson & Carlson in Chicago.
J&C has become one of the largest suppliers of bindery knives in the nation. It manufactures all sorts of cutting and trimming knives, and has also perfected specialized computer-driven knife sharpening services. J&C has also developed knife manufacturing techniques which eliminate various types of bowing within the knife that will cause defective cuts.
The end of the story is that dependable guillotine cutting and trimming knives are critical to producing a quality product. Proper sharpening will yield long knife life and reliable day-to-day operation.
And "The Bindery Doctor" makes house calls! Kelly can be reached at (847) 344-8066. If you've got a bindery problem, give him a call.