#44 Preparing a Deckle for Sheathing

One of the moulds being made has some experimental features. It and its deckle are made of larch; an early effort of mine to start looking for alternatives to tropical hardwoods. I sheathed the mould in brass, mainly to demonstrate sheathing on the blog. The larch deckle will also be sheathed. This gives me an opportunity to try, for the first time, using traditional copper staples at the corners.

Here the deckle is being drilled for the staples. It is easiest to do this while the deckle still has square edges. One could easily do this free-hand. This is the same drill press set-up I used to drill for the acetal pins that were used in place of staples for the other deckles.

Pictured is another method of shaping the inward sloping bevels of a deckle using a rasp and file. This deckle is receiving small inward curves along the short sides. A rasp makes quick work roughing these areas. It will be followed by a file to remove the rough rasped surfaces prior to scraping and sanding. Traditionally flat areas were left where the deckle is gripped to the mould during sheet formation. You can see this in the middle of both short sides above. Perhaps the gently tapered areas were designed to encourage fibers to wash off the deckle during use.

Here a file is being used to smooth the rasped surfaces. Note the ‘stair step’ device at the back. It enables the deckle to be tilted at various angles so the file and rasp handles can ride on the bench surface to guide them in shaping the inner edges of the deckle.

One of the long sides set up for shaping with rasp and file.

A wire-width groove has been chiseled between the holes for the staple. If this step is skipped splinters of wood are likely to pop up as the staple is hammered down. This wire is .050″ diameter.

The soft copper wire readily conforms as it is tapped into place.

Small recesses are chiseled for the staple ends. I copied the orientation of the recesses from the old deckle I took apart.

The way the staple ends are clinched makes sense. They end up parallel to the contours of the deckle so they can lie flat, leaving a smooth surface to be covered with brass sheathing. I hesitate to leave these ends exposed, fearing that they would catch fibers (or flesh) in use if the deckle was left unsheathed. Perhaps it would be OK after all as they are fairly unobtrusive.

The stapled deckle atop a drawing I made of the old deckle as I dismantled it.

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