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Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 01 Jan 2012, 10:00
by Qnis
Hi all,

I have a standard 9" x 6" hardcover book that I'd like to cut out the pages from in order to do a sheet-fed scan.

What's a good method of removing the pages? I was planning on taking a hack saw to the inner edge of the pages, but that is probably not the best way to do it


Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 01 Jan 2012, 11:57
by rob
The first thing you can do is take a razor blade to the inside covers. This will remove the hard cardboard covers (which you can scan with a flatbed scanner later) and leave you with the textblock. The textblock will either be composed of groups of pages called signatures, sewn together, or individual sheets of paper glued together, which is a type of binding called "perfect" binding. "Perfect" not as in "cannot be improved upon", but as in "completed, done, finished, the end" -- it is a very quick and cheap way of binding loose pages.

Anyway, the best thing to do is take two long pieces of wood (I recommend a hardwood such as oak, not pine or plywood), maybe a foot long, by a few inches wide, drill two holes on either end, get two long bolts and some wingnuts, and put them through. You've just created a bookbinding vise. Here is an example of one which is fancier, which includes a squaring guide. BTW, the binding shown in that example is a very flawed perfect binding. A real perfect binding involves bookbinding glue and fanning the pages out a bit.

Anyway, stick the textblock into the vise so that the inside part of the textblock is sticking out by a millimeter or so. Make sure the textblock is approximately straight by measuring both sides of the stickout with a ruler.

Now get a sharp knife that can take a lot of pressure (a box cutter, utility knife, or some other thing) and start cutting off the inner part of the text block. It will take a while, and your knife will get dull fast, but you'll end up with really nice pages to feed to your sheetfed scanner.

Alternative methods involve table saws.

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 01 Jan 2012, 19:41
by darrinjk
Also, you may take your books to Office Depot and for (between 25 and 75 cents) per cut they will cut the spines off for you. I do this all the time with my books. They have a hydraulic cutter that can cut most book's spine's off with only one cut. To me, it's worth the few cents to pay to avoid the time/effort to cut them with a blade or knife.

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 02 Jan 2012, 05:24
by Qnis
Thanks guys! 8-)

There's no closeby Office Depot around me, but I'll check to see if Staples, Officemax, or Kinkos will do this

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 02 Jan 2012, 12:38
by garycdewitt
I would think a bandsaw with a fine blade would work well?

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 02 Jan 2012, 14:46
by daniel_reetz
The problem with saws is that they kind of "fuzz" the pages together for some books, whereas guillotines like the office supply stores have will make a perfectly clean cut.

I'm not the biggest fan of destructive scanning because my own book collection is mostly hard-to-find optics books. But if I were going to destructively scan I'd definitely have the bindings cut off at an office supply store or just buy a paper guillotine.

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 03 Jan 2012, 11:41
by rob
Qnis wrote:There's no closeby Office Depot around me, but I'll check to see if Staples, Officemax, or Kinkos will do this
Kinko's is now FedEx Office :)

In any case, from my research, I understand that all the large office supply chains offer the cut-spine-off-book service, but not all of the stores have the equipment. You'll just have to go in and ask. You might also want to give them a similar book that you don't care about, just to make sure the quality of their poorly-paid wage-slave is good enough.

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 03 Jan 2012, 19:44
by revjoe
Yeah.. I have had good luck with Kinko's / FedEx Office. I have used 4 different ones and all had the guillotine cutters. They normally charge me a buck or two per cut. I also asked at a Staples once upon a time if they had one, and they did. In my experience, pretty much any place that does print jobs will have one.

For what it is worth, make sure they understand how much you want cut off. The first time I had someone do this for one of my textbooks, they cut off a full inch of the book, including a chunk of the text. I have chosen to typically error on the side of being safe, which has resulted a couple times in me having to manually separate the pages as some of the glue was still attached.

Additionally, I have had good luck in having Kinko's tape bind the remaining pages after I have run them through the scanner. So I have a functional, albeit ugly book I can still carry around with me if I need to.

Let us know how it goes.


Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 03 Jan 2012, 20:31
by stearn
Depends on how many books you intend to chop up this way, but I use a guillotine I got from ebay. Not a standard two or three pager, but a heavy duty one that can cut through about an inch at a time. The book will naturally bow around the spine due to the way it is produced, so once I have removed the boards I simply break the spine in sensible places and run a craft knife along it. Usually I would keep each block of book to around 1/2 inch thick. This will avoid too much curvature on the spine, and allow the guillotine to work efficiently. Block up the guides so you are cutting off all the glue but not eating into the text, and away you go - I usually will slide a sheet of card under the main body of the book so it is gripped by the vise but not under the spine so the curve is centred as much as possible. I then page through the loose sheets to make sure all the pages are separated - the first time the ADF jams on the scanner due to multiple pages going through at once is usually the last time, but the damage is already done (to the book anyway).

Although I have only scanned around 100 books this way I have scanned around 1500 magazines and the couple of hundred pounds was a sound investment (I originally was going through a blade a book and the cut was invariably wonky).

Re: Destructive scan: page removal

Posted: 06 Jan 2012, 11:01
by garycdewitt
DOH. I had never thought of scanning up my old magazines.... I usually cut out the articles I wanted and put them in a binder. I stopped buying them because of the bulk of storage. Learn something every day. Guillotine here I come!