There are many different skills necessary to being a book conservator.
You need research skills to track down information about the history of a book, or to find modern equivalents of historic materials.
You need fine hand skills so that you can place a small drop of paste
along the edge of a scarf tear and then smooth the edges together so
that no one can tell there was a tear to begin with.
And you need to know how to maintain your equipment, including the big
paper cutter, more commonly known as a board shear. The board shear is
like a giant pair of scissors, with a fixed blade in the bed of the
shear, and a movable blade in the handle. Both blades need to be
sharpened on a regular basis according to how much the shear is used.
So there's hands on with a fine brush and then there's hands on with a big crescent wrench. I take the top blade off...
...and bolt it to a piece of plywood to protect the blade and the mailman when the blade is sent out for sharpening.
Then I crawl under the bed of the board shear and remove the lower blade.
These are the 56" blades from the big board shear in the lab, bolted down for shipping. They're shipped to a vendor who will sharpen them and then bring them back and re-install.