Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Practice makes better

Spirit Level 1
Original model, spirit level

As regular readers may remember, I built spirit level late last year, but was unhappy with several aspects of it.

Well, I've almost finished rebuilding it: bigger (4 inches wide when closed, instead of 3, 17 inches wide when opened) and better (several more models and half a side of leather later) than the original. I'm not sure where it's going to go (in the gallery/sale sense) quite yet, but I'll finally be done with it.

The building of the bigger version has been an adventure, and I'm so much happier with both the end product and the process.

I ended up making some reusable spacers in various widths and a nifty little corner-cutting jig to make my leather work both faster and more accurate, and splurged to buy a 60-mm Olfa rotary cutter, which has made working with leather sheer joy instead of frustrating trial.

The improvements in both speed and in quality are definitely measurable: I was able to construct the case entirely in just over an hour, including cutting the five pieces of board, laying them out and cutting the leather accurately, gluing the boards down, trimming the corners, gluing the turn-ins, and joining the side flaps to the outside portion.

When you consider that the first iteration took me the better part of two days -- most of which was taken up in lousy quality of my gelatine glue pot, along with poor measurement and cutting of materials -- that's pretty amazing.

All that's left is to print out the interior photo and text, cut the marbled endpapers, and finish the glue-up: using the finished case, I used some scrap paper to figure out sizes and plot where the folds will go, and adjust my InDesign file appropriately.

But I will take tomorrow off from books, or at least building them: I've got a greenhouse to construct, plants to repot, and a lot of time to spend doing laundry.

Canoists on the Bow River this past weekend. It was a warm day, but that water is coming straight off of this year's snowpack. Brrrrr!

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