More on Syringes

May 26, 2010

I noticed that McMaster-Carr sells syringes and needles in the United States. They are currently  available in type 304 stainless steel. Gauge 25, .020″ O.D. fits a 1/64″ blade quite well, $13.97 for 50.  The 21 Gauge, .032″  O.D. fits the thicker 1/32″ blade, also $13.97 for 50.  Both are an easy to handle 1/2″ length.

As Victoria previously mentioned, there are advantage to flexible plastic needles as well.  The thinnest PTFE needle they sell is 22 Gauge, .040″ O.D., $19.43 for 10. They also have a Polypropylene needles, 25 Gauge with a .029″ O.D. for $2.23 each.

WARNING: Their catalog contains over 480,000 products and is highly addictive.



Board Slotter Light

April 22, 2009



I bought this small led light at a local hardware store.  Not only does it come with three batteries, a ball head and a magnet, but it only cost USD 2.99.  It is easy to either clip on to around the blade guards, or the magnet will stick to any steel nut or bolt.  It is obviously not extremely well made, and the vibration of the machine causes it to vibrate excessively, but it is quick to take it on or off.  It would also be fairly easy to make a small stand, out of binders board to mount it on. This light could be useful in a number of instances where one needs a simple, quick way to get a little more light and color temperature is not important– into the gutter of a signature while sewing?




Added on May 6, 2009

I guess I’m not the first one to want more light while sewing.  The illustration below is from C.E. Prediger, Der Buchbinder und Futteralmacher, Vol. II.  Anspach, Frankfort & Leipzig, 1745.


We have been experiencing problems with the syringe tips for applying adhesive into the slot.  Standard metal blunt tipped syringe needles are prone to clogging and frequently the adhesive is difficult to apply in an even and controlled way.  They can also be difficult to clean.

An alternative is the clear tapered syringe tips available from Preservation Equipment Limited, UK.  These tips are made from flexible translucent plastic with a diameter of 0.041mm.  This will allow a more even flow of adhesive, whilst the flexibility of the tip enables smoother and more accurate application.  The flexibility and translucency of the tips also makes cleaning easier and more effective.  They are sold in packs of 10, catalogue reference is 870-1055  from  Any feedback would be welcome.

Victoria Stevens

slotter dust cover

November 21, 2008

I tend to batch items to be slotted, and as a consequence the slotter often sits unused for a while.  I made the dust cover pictured below out of binders board and covered it with cloth.  It is is simple step shape that covers the clamping bar.  This way it is not necessary to clean the carriage each time the machine is used.


Blade Longevity

October 16, 2008

We’ve been using carbide blades at Columbia and keeping track of how many boards we slot to get an idea of the life of these things. We have a 1/64″ (which doesn’t get as much use), and a 1/32″. Jeff tells me the old blades were able to slot 10 boards before they were exhausted, but the first carbide blade we put on our machine went through 102 before I retired it so it seems like a good investment. (Less time wasted switching out & disposing of blades, too.)

I think these blades can be resharpened also, right? We haven’t looked into where to do that just yet.

Slitting blades supplier?

October 3, 2008

Jeff recently recommended using carbide slitting blades instead of the high speed steel ones originally specified.  These are manufactured in the US by Johnson Carbide (see link on blog homepage) and distributed through MacMaster-Carr.  I have tried to find a UK supplier of solid carbide blades, ideally with the same hole diameter of 1/2″ to avoid the need to modify the machine.  Does anyone have any suggestions for a UK supplier?  Victoria


September 30, 2008

I recently purchased two items that make the slotting experience easier and more pleasant- optisight magnifier and the Shure SE110 noise isolating earphones.  The Optisight visor is much lighter and more comfortable than the usual Optivisor, and it comes with three diopters- a 1.75x that has a viewing distance of 14″, a 2x (10″) and a 2.5x (8″).  The make aligning the blade position with the board much easier.  I use them for many other conservation tasks as well, and they are fairly inexpensive.  But then again, I’m over 40.

Most slotting machines use a vacuum cleaner to remove dust, and most vacuum’s tend to be fairly loud.  It might be difficult to get your institution to provide these, but the Shure SE110 earbuds, with the foam inserts, significantly reduce annoyance, and well as being very good quality headphones.  I often wait to slot until I have a batch of boards, and not having that annoying whine in my ears for a couple of hours made these well worth the expense.  Since they block out a fair amount of outside noise, you can listen to your ipod at lower sound levels, which preserves your hearing, at least that’s how I justified their expense.