2008-09-16

The Joy of Duplexers. On the making of books.

No sarcasm this post, or shouldn't be!

Duplexers are spiffy, especially if you get one for your Color Laser Printer [a Konica Minolta magicolor 2430DL, four separate toner cartridges, expanded memory, network capable out of the box].

I've had the printer for a bit, long enough that the initial black toner was running low and needed to be replaced, so went searching refills. While searching for refills, used a search which brought up a Jim Dandy price the optional Duplexer, nice enough that after several hours of additional searching and thinking I ordered it.

[That was a delivery FedEx did fine on, part of what threw me on the latter debacle, must have changed delivery personnel, actually, they did change delivery personnel; whoops, said sarcasm-free-zone, back to my regularly scheduled post!]

Nifty thing with duplexers is you can print two-sided items, nice for manuals, etc., and even better, if the items were sized properly when created that would be two-sided center-fold items, booklet-style, four pages total per sheet.

Of course, once you've printed them out, how to process them for posterity?

Why, you bind them, duh! "yes, yes, that was obvious, but how to bind them?" you ask.

Well, if four pages per sheet, then step one is to take your paper cutter, align the paper properly and slice them in half, creating a 5½" x 8½" stack. If just plain two-sided by-pass that step.

Now what?

Grab either cardstock or construction paper, acid-free of course, slice off a section the proper height for the spine of your book-to-be, make it about an inch wider than the thickness of your stack [measured such that the stack is not compressed, but not loosey-goosey, want to be able to turn pages easily when done], pause for breath and to clear your head, use a ruler to mark the thickness of the stack centered on the cardstock, this should give two lines dividing the cardstock approx. ½"|thickness-of-book|½", fold them on those lines. This gives you the future spine to your book. Cut out two sheets of cardstock to act as front/back covers, if bold and daring you might actually try to pre-print them as front/back covers, slip them into place at the ends of the stack, you should now have the stack of book-to-be, including covers, and the spine.

Remind me to redo this with circles and arrows, OK?

Next, grab your hot glue gun, um, you do have one of these, yes? Preferably with the optional tips which allow for wider beads of glue? What you need to do now is fill the area between the folds, the side that the book-pages will slip into, fill that area with hot-melt glue. Odds are real good that this will cool off before you get it filled from end to end, don't worry about that, this is prep work. Also doesn't need to be perfect, the next step will even it out.

After you have the initial layer of hot glue applied, find some good insulated gloves, say the welders gloves from Harbor Freight mentioned a bunch of posts back, and drag out your heat-gun/hair-dryer, either will do. Find something to place the spine on that won't be hurt by heat. Put the gloves on so you don't bake your hands while doing the next step.

Holding onto the spine so it doesn't blow away, crank up the hot air blower of your choice [hey, bet a hot air popper might even work!], and direct the air over the hot melt glue, until it flows together and levels out creating a nice even layer of glue across the spine.

The next step is tricky, and should be done with far more care than I've been taking; ADHD, ya dig?

You need to somehow clamp the pages together in the form of the book-to-be, with the spine-side clear. Making it so they aren't skewed at an angle is the tricky bit. Some way of tacking the spine-to-be in place is nice if you can think of one, um, maybe painter's blue masking tape, tape the folded tabs down to the covers, you'll want to be able to apply heat to the back of the spine without touching the tape or whatever.

At this point in my visualization I see the book being all put together, clamped up, and just needing the spine heated enough that the hot glue will melt and allow the spine to press onto the pages, embedding them into the hot glue. If so, good; don't do what I do, which is grab the stack of pages without clamping them and mung them about into cooling hot glue after heating it up with the hot air, it gets ugly and the next stage, making it come out properly, is much harder, no, do as I say not as I do, really, please. I'm not taking a short-cut based on vast experience and ability, I'm being an idiot and knowing it while I'm doing it. There are enough idiots around, don't be one, OK?

Anyway, doing as I say and not as I do, heat and pressure needs to be applied to the spine of the book, enough to melt the glue through the cardstock.

The best tool for this in most households is your garden-variety clothes iron. Plug it in, crank it on high, no steam, and once it heats up iron the back of the book. A nice shiny smooth finish on the iron is preferred, anything that's scorched onto it is likely to come loose and dirtify the spine of the book, bad enough that you already need to take care to prevent it from scorching from heat without adding gunk to it from the iron. Yes, dear reader, I need to refinish the face of my iron.

Moving right along. Iron the spine, taking care to be careful near the ends so that you don't have glue squish out and get on the face of the iron, rocking over the folded edges a little to encourage the glue to bind the covers to the spine tabs. Apply pressure while doing this, you want the pages of the book to nestle down into the hot glue.

You'll get better at this with practice.

The nifty thing is that you can use this same technique with those paperback books with the pages falling out, the ones where they didn't set the pages properly. A good idea to place a layer of cardstock between the spine of the book and the iron to prevent scorching... o what an idiot i am, doing that while making the book thingies would work, too, im an idiot im an idiot im an idiot

Yes, place a layer of cardstock between the face of the iron and the spine of the book, this will prevent scorching and otherwise messing up the appearance of the book.

Labeling the book. My handwriting is at least as bad as you suspect, so I use one of those paper label maker things, peel-and-stick the title, etc., on the spine and the cover.

Once you've finished labeling the spine, run some transparent book tape down the spine for good measure.

Courtesy of the duplexer and this methodology, I have created hardcopy editions of a number of PDF manuals I have for the printer and my camera [both of which are refurbished and came sans printed manuals], instructional materials for the imaging software I'm using, and will continue doing this type of thing in the future.

And as always, learn from my mistakes, make up your own mistakes, don't use mine, I'll charge you royalties if you do.

Post this Puppy!