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How to bind a book

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Ever wanted to make a journal that was exactly the way you wanted it? Or maybe you have access to a print center at work when no one's around and you enjoy printing off novels (of *course* I wouldn't do that...).

But how do you make that magical step between loose pages and a beautiful, fully bound volume?
Read on, fellow bibliophiles, read on.

(Other uses that have just occured to me-- your own calendar, a hollow book, archiving magazines/comics, etc)

**UPDATE: All of the photos are up, and should help to clarify the process. Yay!
 
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Step 1: Prepare your materials

Picture of Prepare your materials
This is, unfortunately, going to require some materials that you won't be able to find around your house. I have included suggestions for scrounge materials you could possibly switch in, but no guarantees as to durability or looks. I would also highly recommend printing out the entire instructable so that you have it handy-- your hands will be full (and sticky!) enought to make going to the computer difficult. Coloured paper is good (so you don't get it mixed in with the other papers), but white will suffice.

You'll need: (an overview of what you can buy online at http://www.dickblick.com/categories/bookmaking/)

*Paper
*A papercutter (useful, but not always required)
*Scissors
*Straightedge Ruler (you'll need to measure and crease)
*PVA (Polyvinyl Acetate-- find bookbinding glue in your local art store (or http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/44/)
*Paintbrush for spreading PVA
PVA is very durable and flexible-- you can make do with Elmer's Glue, but it's not as good)
*Cover board (I use chipboard because it's cheaper http://www.dickblick.com/itemgroups-c/chipboard/ but other people swear by binder's board http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/27/, make do with non-corrugated cardboard)
*Bookbinding cloth (this is almost completely necessary; if you *have* to make do, glue some cloth onto paper.) http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/45/
*Bookbinding needles (sewing needles aren't strong enough-- embroidery might work)
*Waxed thread (http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/41/ or wax some emboidery thread with beeswax http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/26/) Dental floss might work, but I haven't tried it.
*Head Material (also really hard to scrounge; any ideas for in a pinch?) http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/37/
*Cloth for adhering signatures (preferable a loose weave cotton, but I've had success with thickish clothing cloth) http://www.dickblick.com/zz128/29/
*Awl (this is also almost essential; try and make do with a pointed compass, but it won't be pleasant)
*Pretty paper for the cover
*Pretty (thicker) paper for the endpages
**Optional bone folder for nicer (flatter) creases
nreed46 months ago
I have a hacksaw...
thank you for the awesome instructable, here's my attempt at making a book which I chose to make for my university project. http://i-really-should-be-working.tumblr.com/post/48636945286/so-today-i-made-a-book
XP12 years ago
This was my attempt at binding a book. I made it for a freind who likes Paris, and wants to travel. It was made with real leather. It came out okay, I thought.
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Amazing! That's actually what I was looking to do. Any chance of an instructable? I'm mostly curious about the metal corners and bookmarks...oh and the inner page of the cover...
Actually, the corners were found at Michael's in the scrappbooking section. They were not too durable; however, if you look online, I have found that you can find some nice silver plated corners for your project. The inside page/cover section was the first page of the actual bound paper "insert" glued to the cover, with a piece of card stock overlapping the gap between the cover and the insert. On top of that was a piece of paper which was cut to size and applied accordingly.

Good luck on your project. If you have any more questions let me know.
kdelwat2 years ago
Awesome! I looked for bookbinding tutorials and found this. Well-written, good job. I'm going to use this to make a notebook.
The cloth for the spine is supposed to be under the paper for the cover.

Spine cloth covers binding and part of the cover board
Then you apply the cover paper to over that.

That way your binding is better protected since it the most crucial part.

Nice instructable! I honestly prefer it to both books I found on book binding. But do you ever press your books or have any insite on doing so? I am not sure if it is entirely necissary but it is supposed to help stop any warping and get bubbles in glue out.

eleraama (author)  the mastergoat4 years ago
 I don't press my books, mostly because I don't have space for a vice or press, but I frequently use very large binder clips to keep everything together. I brush on all my glue to prevent bubbles as well (using a watered-down glue solution instead of full-strength PVA helps immensely, particularly with the cover paper)
Another substitute for a big old book vice is to use one or two C-clamps and two pieces of scrap wood to spread out the pressure and prevent marring the book. And even cheaper and simpler, you can use long bankers clips like they sell at some office supply stores and just clamp the spine lightly that way.
mbear eleraama3 years ago
Instead of a full sized press, look around for a set of encyclopedias, phone books, dictionaries, etc. Then you have a way of putting pressure on the book without losing a lot of space in your home.
Excellent set of intructions! I've been kinda faking my way through various ways of binding since a was a kid. This time, I think I have created my first REAL bound book.

I blogged about it-- and gave you credit; http://probablepossible.com/2011/01/17/book-binding-for-fun-not-profit/
DSC05631.jpgDSC05637.jpgDSC05635.jpgDSC05634.jpg
your link didnt work for me :(
Oops-- try this link?
http://probablepossible.com/probabilities/book-binding-for-fun-not-profit/
thank you!
Just stumbled upon this very useful instruction while searching the internet after getting a $200 estimate from a bookbinder! Yikes! I'm making my own next 5-year blank diary because Levenger has stopped carrying them - and theirs were too "glitzy" anyway. I used PrintShop software to format the pages and looked up the day/dates for future years on the internet. It took quite a while to format , but now that it's done, printed, and ready to bind, I think I will be making some as gifts - provided I like my binding results. I'm using 32 pound paper with a nice "tooth" for writing/drawing, and each month gets eight full sheets in two signatures (4 sheets per signature, 24 signatures total, 96 full sheets of paper for the 8.5 x 5.5 inch book.) Wish me luck with the binding! Thanks so much for the how-to!
kp77angel3 years ago
Thanks a bunch- been after something like this for a while and you've got me wanting to make one right now... what to bind... hmmm...!
This is awesome, thank you so much for posting (all those years ago). I just stumbled upon this site so I'm not sure if you'll reply but I was wondering how you would print something so you could bind it. A friend and I have sort of written a book, if you could call our ramblings a book and I thought it would be a lovely gift to her if you could give it to her in a bound book.
eleraama (author)  VeryIrrelevant3 years ago
Any copy center should be able to print double-sided in "booklet" mode for a few cents a page; if it's not too long and you work in an office, you could probably also just run it off on your office's megaprinter/copier. If the project has fewer than about 25 pages, you'll want to use perfect binding instead of case binding.

I just ran a 26 page PDF through Fedex Office's online print order system (was redirected from kinkos.com) and it was estimated to cost about $5 USD for an all black and white print.

If you do have someone print it, remember to have it collated in booklets of 28 pages, which ends up being 7 sheets (you can fudge this, but no fewer than 4 sheets per folio or they'll tear, and no more than 9 or it's too unwieldy)
Any idea if "Elmers carpenter's wood glue" will work?
YEA... ITS O.K
eleraama (author)  sweet_hart964 years ago
 I would suspect not (at least, not if you wanted to keep the finished piece around); most of the wood glues I've worked with have been brittle and may be acidic. 

Which is to say: It will work, but the book will probably eventually self-destruct. Normal Elmer's glue is PVA, which is much better, or you can make wheat paste.
don't quote me, but i heard that elmer's wood glue is the same as its wood glue, except in concentration (and perhaps a few minor formula changes). If anyone has any definite info on that, please share
Xeaden3 years ago
Wow this is a great tutorial! Im going to try making one! My only suggestion would be, if possible, even more pictures! Im a visual learner, so its better :)
mousearound3 years ago
i have used duck tape when my husband asks me too. i have found that so far and it has only been a year, that 1. it has to stay out of the sun or heat, because it will pucker and makes it look awful. and 2. so far the adhesive hasn't given out maybe in five years or so if he keeps leaving it in the car window. im not too happy with him leaving it like that after i worked so hard to repair it in the first place.
mousearound3 years ago
you can normally find beeswax in the cosmetics department its used for scalps thats where i always find it im a seamstress and use it for my needles all the time. also a less expensive alternative to PVA is rubber cement it has done me really good
dreachan3 years ago
can i use something else like duck tape?
eleraama (author)  dreachan3 years ago
You can try but I seriously doubt it will end well; the adhesive is not pH-neutral (as far as I'm aware) so it will start to eat away at the structural integrity of the book and it tends to get brittle with age. (That being said, if you don't really care about the book's longevity it may be worth a try) The paper I've used in the picture is a pH-neutral kraft paper; it has more cellulose than normal paper so it stands up to more abuse.
dreachan3 years ago
have u made this into a video tutorial?? im more of a visual learner ^-^.love the project!!!!
jdc1874 years ago
im a little lost did you trim the head strips or are they under the cover. also for those of you that want a seemles look for the cover try covering the whole thing with a cloth of your choice after you put it together but befor you glue the pages to the cover
eleraama (author)  jdc1874 years ago
 I apologise for not replying to this earlier, but in case someone else has the same question, the head *must* be glued to the board for the book to stay together. The cloth placed on the binding is there to make the binding stay together and remain flexible, not to keep the covers on.
jdc1874 years ago
would realy like to see a close up of the kettle stitch but so far found the instructions very easy to follow
542458 jdc1874 years ago
I'm sure you've already completed your project, but I'll post this here for anyone else having the same troubles as jdc.
This site explains and illustrates kettle stitches pretty well.
http://www.csparks.com/Bookbinding/sewing.xhtml

Would tacky glue work?
Dr. Steel4 years ago
This is actually a very good instructable, hoever, it is kind of hard to see whats going on in the pictures at times.
cplkao4 years ago
Its a great help, but I hope your photos are a bit clearer, maybe forgot to turn on the macro mode ;)
jrobin2765 years ago
Linen bookbinding thread is best, although I know people who use waxed embroidery floss. Dental floss stretches - don't use it! Not only is it frustrating to work with, but over time it will stretch and your book will start falling apart. A thumb tack is another good alternative to an awl. Wheat paste is used traditionally, and is made by boiling unbleached flour and water - recipes are easily found online, it's WAY cheaper than PVA, and works just as well.
eleraama (author)  jrobin2764 years ago
The one thing I'd caution is that wheat paste eventually cracks unless you keep it somewhere reasonably humid. PVA is flexible and tends to hold up better over time.
I've actually found the same thing! Also, don't make much wheat paste at a time - that stuff molds QUICK.
kamondark5 years ago
hey man, what exactly is a bone folder?
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