Picture of Handbound Book
Pages last longer, lie flatter, and look better inside a handsome, durable hardcover. When you've completed this bookbinding project, you'll have a durable, attractive, and personalized copy of MAKE (or other magazine or collection of loose pages) that will last forever and lie flat.

This Instructable is a longer version of the article that appears in heavily edited (in a good way) form in Make magazine, Volume 5. While the editors did a great job of distilling ramblings that far exceeded the word limit I was given into a concise and useful article, the limits of space prohibited much of the additional description, background, nuance, and pictures (larger versions of all the images in this Instructable are available in this Flickr set) of my original piece. So, I thought it was worth posting my first draft. What it lacks in polish I hope it makes up for in depth.

Note: Like most thick magazines or paperback books, MAKE is perfect bound: individual leaves (a leaf represents two pages, front and back, on one sheet of paper) are collected and glued directly to the spine, where the front and back cover (a single continuous wrapped sheet) meet. Shorter magazines are often saddle-stitch bound (longer sheets, representing two leaves each, are folded and stapled at their spine), which actually cuts out a number of steps for hand binding. If you've decided to bind a saddle-stitched magazine (or several into a single book), you've saved yourself a lot of trouble and can skip ahead to Step 4 ("Stitch the Signatures").
SparkySolar9 months ago
Thank you, this is very thorough
saosport2 years ago
Thank you I was looking for something like this. My mom's favorite cook book is falling apart and I want to fix it. I just have to get the book away from her:)
upbags23 years ago
Thank you for sharing this awesome tutorial!

Can mull be replaced with buckram which is a heavily starched interfacing or other interfacing? I know cheese cloth is probably too loosed weaved.
BrianSawyer (author)  upbags23 years ago
Thanks for the kind words. As for your question, I wish I knew the answer. I don't know much about buckram, but I'd need to look at the weave to determine if it would work. It should be pretty easy to test, though. Just brush it with glue against a sheet of paper and see how well the glue penetrates and whether the fabric feels firm enough to support weight of the pages.
You are very welcome and thank you for responding so promptly!:) Yes, I will certainly try the test and if doesn't work, I'll simply purchase the mull.

Thank you so much!
Owenmon4 years ago

could you please remove this instructable from the Oodammo guns group?
the group is only for k'nex guns that shoot a certian type of k'nex, and this
has just about nothing to do with k'nex or oodammo. thank you.
BrianSawyer (author)  Owenmon4 years ago
I have absolutely no idea how this found its way into your group. I haven't even logged on to Instructables in ages. I'll try to figure out how to remove it, but I still can't see how it was added.

At any rate, my apologies!
no need to apologize, i find it funny that it did though. thanks!
BrianSawyer (author)  Owenmon4 years ago
Sorry, but I still don't see its group associations and don't know how to remove it. If you can point me in the right direction, I'd be happy to do so.
thepelton6 years ago
I am thinking of binding a bunch of things I have downloaded off the net, including from Instructables.com. I also was interested in some lists of random things from other sites that would be good made into bound books.
dadokon66 years ago
Although I haven't yet bound mine, I'm going to use this and another Instructable to archive my Garden Railroad magazines. I found an unusual source for the cover 'board' material, when my workplace threw away a whole bunch of old 3-ring binders from various vendors and such. Cut off the vinyl outside, and Shazam! Cover stock! PS. I'm cheating a bit, this is the second 'ible that I've posted this comment on. These are the two best bookbinding examples I've found. Thanks!
Hi Brian im new to the book making scene and have got a 500 page (1000 printed pages) that i am binding. this is the only DIY instruction i have found that shows loose pages. could you post or email me a bit more detail on arranging the loose (500 pages) and how you glue them to make the signatures. it will be most appreceated. Dave
BrianSawyer (author)  Dave_in_deal7 years ago
Hi Dave, I think the tutorial is as clear on this point as I could possibly make it. Good luck. Brian
UltraMagnus7 years ago
this is quite a good guide, although, my biggest gripe with it really is how you glue the pages together to make folios. i doubt the glue will hold well in the long term. you would probably be better off just oversewing the binding instead of going to all the faff of making folios and signatures.
BrianSawyer (author)  UltraMagnus7 years ago
Well, since I've sewn through the glued edge anyway, the pages are held in with thread more than glue. Even if the glue fails, they're still stitched securely. Really, the glue is more for support of the stitching process than anything else. I agree that it's a clumsy process and less than ideal, but I'm not sure of a better way. Certainly, if you begin with a saddle-stitched magazine, you're already way ahead of the game and are better off avoiding the whole signature-creation process. If I understand you correctly, you're suggesting it would be better to sew directly through the spine of the original magazine? The point of the exercise is to make the project last longer, and pages fall out of perfect binding easily, so I'm not sure what would be gained by that process. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding you?
well, i guess the ideal way would be to just re print the magazines from an ebook version, although if it is a scanned ebook that has a whole bunch of other problems.

oversewing is basically taking the loose pages, and punching holes near the edge through all of them and sewing them together that way.... wikipedia explains it much better than i can http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oversewn_binding
BrianSawyer (author)  UltraMagnus7 years ago
Ah, I see now. Yes, oversewing does look like a better solution than mine. Thanks for the tip.
Browncoat8 years ago
Any chance for someone paying you to do this? I've got a Bible that needs a little TLC with it's binding...
in all honesty, if the bible has any value other than sentimental, this is the last way you want it rebound. take it to a book restorer, or google around for guides on book restoration
BrianSawyer (author)  Browncoat8 years ago
I suppose anything's possible, given the right price, but my guess is that anything I'd have to charge for a job like this would be way more than anyone would want to spend.
Cool instructable- well written and nice pics. I have been wanting to bind a book for a while. Thanks!!!!
TobeDesign8 years ago
Hi Brian, Quality web page by the way, great having well thought out accessable instructions. I'm new to this Book making lark and was wondering if I could put a couple of questions to you. You know when a book is tightly bound and the pages don't want to stay open, they kind of sping shut, is there a names for that kind of book binding? Or is that something left to the professionals? Much thanks, Tobe
BrianSawyer (author)  TobeDesign8 years ago
Hi Tobe, Do you mean "perfect binding," where the pages are glued directly to the spine (as mentioned briefly in this Instructable)? That kind of binding is less structurally sound, but it's more easily automated. Hand binding is usually worthwhile for many reasons, aesthetic and practical, but I'd leave perfect binding to your neighborhood print shop. Thanks, Brian
BrianSawyer (author)  BrianSawyer8 years ago
If you're still interested, I just stumbled up on pretty good tutorial on DIY perfect binding.
lemonie8 years ago
Good instructable!
See also here, has a few more more details:

BrianSawyer (author)  lemonie8 years ago
Yes, I've seen that link and mentioned it on my personal blog as the best, most detailed online bookbinding tutorial I've seen (including, of course, my own). Thanks for the comment and tip, though!
lilly8 years ago
I just tired it and though I need a little more practice it worked out perfectly. Thank you so much, I always wanted to know how to do this and now I do. I'm going to post some photos of my second attempt at it, since the first one is slightly weird. This was fun! thanks again!
lilly lilly8 years ago
between posting this and now I made another 2 - I'm starting to be happy with the result, especially the small one!
Book 2.1.jpgBook3.jpg
BrianSawyer (author)  lilly8 years ago
Sweet, lilly! Those books look great! Thanks so much for sharing them here!
I got totally addicted to it and made about 6, then swapped 3 of them of other hand crafted object, now I'm trying to see how to encorperate this new skill with some other stuff I'm working about. Thanks for the awesome tutorial!
Thank you so much for this. I've been looking to handbind a book for a friend of mine, & this is the best one I've found by far.
To risk sounding like a fool, Is it nessisary to have the pages in small groups of papers or can the book be (properly and nicely) bond with all pages in a large bundle. I also would like to know if thiss method is specificly intended for magazines, or if I can bind regular books with this process.
BrianSawyer (author)  mega_swordman8 years ago
You can certainly bind a small magazine (or book) in a single bundle, but once the number of pages gets beyond 16 or so, you'll run into problems. The inner parts of the outer pages in the group will run into the gutter and be stitched/glued into the spine (i.e., covered up and unreadable) and the fore edges won't come close to lining up, making the whole thing look quite sloppy. Also, you'll have a larger bulk problem (the spine will be much, much thicker than the fore edge). As for working with books, the process is the same. Actually, if you remove the cover of a book that's already separated into signatures (most hardcover books, but no perfect-bound books), you've saved all steps having to do with signature creation. In fact, I originally learned this method for books and later had to add the signature-creation bit to make it work with a perfect-bound magazine.
Quite thank you
This is the brest online tutorial for book binding I have ever seen.
I second that.
BrianSawyer (author)  HeresyOfTruth8 years ago
Wow. Thanks, Heresy!
Sk8rDuck8 years ago
Cool. I was just learning about binding books on my vacation!
modio8 years ago
what a coincedence! i am just about to bind a prop book. this really helped, thanks!