My Favourite Tool: Lara Speroni’s hypodermic needles

If you have been there before, you will know exactly what I am talking about!

When consolidating the sewing structure of a book, very often the access to the sections’ back folds is not ideal: sometimes the shoulder has a sharp angle, maybe the inner joint is not open enough resulting in limited access. It can be quite time consuming, challenging and sometimes almost impossible to insert your needle from the outside of a selected section through to the middle of it successfully and without causing further damage. However in most cases the opposite journey is much more feasible. For this precise reason, the hypodermic needle can help!

In three easy steps:

1. Insert the hypodermic needle from inside the selected sewing hole through to the back fold of the section…


2 …insert your threaded sewing needle into the hypodermic needle’s hole…


3. …and, pushing the sewing needle into the hypodermic one, use the latter to guide the former back inside the middle of the section…


…et voilà! Job done!

The needles can also be shaped and curved if necessary.

Luckily, these days hypodermic needles are available to us all at a click of a button. They can be bought easily over the Internet and they are available in various lengths and diameters, blunt or not.


Now it’s time to go shopping!

Lara Speroni is a London‐based independent books and archives conservator. She has just embarked on an exciting new project working part-time for the London Metropolitan Archives on an NMCT grant-funded contract. For the next 10 months she will conserve and rehouse a group of important early parchment bindings connected to the Diocese of London. The rest of her week, Lara happily continues to work for Sonja Schwoll in her private conservation studio in South London. E‐mail:, Tel +44 (0)755 295 2088

6 thoughts on “My Favourite Tool: Lara Speroni’s hypodermic needles

  1. No problem! I could not believe at the simplicity of this idea when I first heard about it at one of the Society of Bookbinders conferences. It’s very effective.


  2. MANY thanks Lara for sharing your tool-trick. I would like to present an alternative which Christopher Harvey (College of Arms) let me know: a dental floss threader ( It works as the sewing needle itself. Needless to describe the advantages of its flexibility, but I find its most remarkable feature to be the strength and resilience the loop shows when (gently…) pulling the thread into and out of the sections.


  3. I have learned something new! Thank you! I can imagine both tools as essentials in anyone’s tools’ book/roll/drawer…Perhaps sometimes the rigidity of a needle is more useful whereas sometimes the flexibility of the floss threader is a better advantage to be had.
    Following on from how I imagine the dental floss threader works, I can suggest one more quick tip that many will know of, but just in case….the simplest thing to do, when possible, is just to push the usual sewing needle into or out from the section, backward, then thread it, and finally pull the needle with the thread.

    Any more ideas on this topic from anyone else out there?



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