Tools of the Trade

There must've been an old clause in airline travel that let you take otherwise contraband items through, as long as they were "tools of the trade," because those are the words my bookbinding instructor, Maureen Duke, always uses when she talks about bringing paring knives through airport security. It stuck with me because of the smirk she used when she said the term, like it was the magic phrase that would suddenly defeat the intimidating security guys. "Tools of the trade, boys!" and she saunters through with her knives. I can picture it.

The tools within reach at my desk

The tools within reach at my desk

With the new academic year started, and students starting to build up their own collections of tools, I gathered my favorites.

Tweezers, largely "borrowed" from my dad, who used to be a doctor. The pale green one is the best; pointy but not too pointy, flexible but not too flexible, sleek. Regine, epoxy-coated stainless steel.

Tweezers, largely "borrowed" from my dad, who used to be a doctor. The pale green one is the best; pointy but not too pointy, flexible but not too flexible, sleek. Regine, epoxy-coated stainless steel.

Tiny scissors also borrowed from Dad. The big ones from Maureen, and the middle-sized ones from another bookbinder. 

Tiny scissors also borrowed from Dad. The big ones from Maureen, and the middle-sized ones from another bookbinder. 

More bone folders than I need: I only ever use the one to the left of the PTFE (white) one, and the tiny one. Tiny one came from a manicure set, and has a little curve at the tip. The wooden one is a replica 18th c. French folder that Tristram made me.

More bone folders than I need: I only ever use the one to the left of the PTFE (white) one, and the tiny one. Tiny one came from a manicure set, and has a little curve at the tip. The wooden one is a replica 18th c. French folder that Tristram made me.

The thin spatula is the one I can't live without, and use daily. The large one is nice for scraping spines. The wooden-handled ones are feeler guages so nicely adapted into little spatulas for me by Tomoyuki Uemori.

The thin spatula is the one I can't live without, and use daily. The large one is nice for scraping spines. The wooden-handled ones are feeler guages so nicely adapted into little spatulas for me by Tomoyuki Uemori.

The essential dividers, mostly inherited and the top two purchased, a little loose to be so useful as the others, but too beautiful to leave behind.

The essential dividers, mostly inherited and the top two purchased, a little loose to be so useful as the others, but too beautiful to leave behind.

The middle one a gift from Tomo, and my favorite. 

The middle one a gift from Tomo, and my favorite. 

Not anywhere close to all of the brushes accumulated between conservation and the old art school days, but an assortment of paste brushes, paint brushes, cleaning brushes, consolidation brushes, glaire brushes. I've had the big glue brush since I was 16, if that excuses the rust. The only one I ever had, until I was gifted the tiny one (more useful that you might guess) and inherited a massive one about four times its size, that doesn't even fit on my desk.

Not anywhere close to all of the brushes accumulated between conservation and the old art school days, but an assortment of paste brushes, paint brushes, cleaning brushes, consolidation brushes, glaire brushes. I've had the big glue brush since I was 16, if that excuses the rust. The only one I ever had, until I was gifted the tiny one (more useful that you might guess) and inherited a massive one about four times its size, that doesn't even fit on my desk.

Maybe bookbinding tools next time.