Save a Broken Binding





Introduction: Save a Broken Binding

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first ...

It always bothers me when the binding on a good paperback reference book is broken. It happened to these two books when I lent them to people. I want to keep and use the books for a while without them falling apart, yet. You can see the white line marking the break in the binding on each. The top book has already received the repair this Instructable will describe.

Step 1: Check the Center Margins

The plan is to stitch the book together with thin wire. Check the center margins to see how much room is available.

Step 2: Drill Holes Through the Book

I could have used a handheld electric drill, but also had a drill press available. I chucked up a 1/16 inch drill (my smallest) and clamped a fence to guide the drilling and make it uniform. The front cover on this book is also creased. The wire stitching will reinforce it, too.

Step 3: Thread the Wire

I drilled three sets of two holes each. I am using some fine stainless steel wire someone gave to me. Thread it through two of the holes. (This process will be repeated for each set of holes.)

Step 4: Pull Tight on the Underside

Press the wire flat on the underside and make the bends in the wire's corners as sharp as possible.

Step 5: Cut and Twist

Cut the wire so there is about half of an inch extra on each end after the loop through the two holes is closed. Twist with a plier, but gently. You do not want to twist the wire off or weaken it by nearly twisting it off.

Step 6: Trim the Twisted Wire

Trim the twist in the wire. I made the twist near to one of the holes. I bent the twisted wire over in a loop and tried to point the twisted ends into the hole.

Step 7: Drive the Ends Into the Hole

You do not want the sharp ends sticking up. After pointing the ends into the hole as much as is possible, use a hammer and maybe a punch to attempt to drive them the rest of the way into the hole. However well that turns out or not, tap on the twisted wire with a hammer to drive it down as much as possible. The twisted wire may not be smooth enough for sliding the book around on a fine wooden table, it will be smooth enough for use on most desks. Cover the wire with bookbinding repair tape, if you wish.

Step 8: Tighten the Wire

If the wire loops are a little loose, crimp the backside of the loop in a zig zag pattern with a needle nose plier to take up some slack.

Step 9: That Center Margin

Here you can see the center margin after the repair. It is narrower than before, but still adequate for reading, if not completely adequate for placing on the glass stage of a photo copier. I could have consumed less of the center margins of this book, but I wanted to include the crease in the front cover under the wire stitching, too. The book will now last much longer than before.



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    The problem with this fix is that given time the wire will be damaging to the book, here is a simple guide to book repair you may consider.

    1 reply

    Thanks you for the link. I used my wire fix on a couple of books some years ago. I do not use those books often, but I have not had the problem you describe.

    i've tried to rebind books by hand before, bit of a mission to be honest. You have to have a steady hand a good eye for detail (which i don't) more recently i've just used book binders.

    1 reply

    What I showed here is not a perfect solution, but allows me to use a book I like and want to keep without fear that it will break into two pieces, or soon have pages falling out. Thanks for looking and for commenting.

    I did this to a book once. I didn't use wire... i used a very strong upholstery thread... but any strong string would probably work.  then i filled the holes with glue... it was a book that our family all liked a lot and i saved it. 

    I did it, I used this to fix a really worn out Indian cook book that I love and use all the time! I never would have thought of this and it worked great. Thanks!

    1 reply

    Again, thanks for letting me know. I hope you are still able to hold the cookbook open adequately while using it.

    How fabulous - I live in Phoenix, where leaving a book in the car - even briefly - means the glue is destroyed and pages fall out all over the place! Thanks for a really fast and easy fix.

    1 reply

    Thanks for the feedback. I am glad it is helpful to you. I have stayed in Phoenix twice, each time during the month of August. It was warm!

    Thanks for letting me know.

    Phil, perhaps you know, but someone said "there are two kinds of fools: 1) those who lend books, 2) those that returns them" I write my daily personal journal, and I bind it in a similar way as you do. But my method is more "quick and dirty" as yours. Once a year (december) I generate the blank daily pages, one page per week, which usually makes 27 sheets printed on both side. Then I pick out some family photos for the covers and backcover, I stack and match the sheets and covers, I do with a sharp knife cuts 3 or 4 mm deep at the edge of the spine, about an inch away from each other. Then I insert a sewing thread in zigzag through the cuts and back. Once done, I cover everything with plenty of vinyl glue, trying to it penetrate the cuts so that the threads remain trapped.

    3 replies

    rimar2000, you should do an instructable and show how you make it. I love my journal and am always interested in how others make and keep theirs.

    OK, I will do the instructable the next time I make my personal journal (next december). Anyway, It's easy to understand it by reading my above explanations, overcoming the difficulties of my English. 1) I create a OpenOffice Text Document whit all the weeks of the year, a week by page. 2) I print it in double face. As my printer don't do this automatically, I print first the odd pages, then the others. 3) I print in thick paper some family photos. I varnish them for more durability. 4) I stack all. I control the correct order. 5) I do with a sharp knife cuts 3 or 4 mm deep at the edge of the spine, about an inch away from each other. 6) I insert a sewing thread in zigzag through the cuts and back, several times for maximum strength 7) I cover the spine with plenty of vinyl glue, trying to it penetrate the cuts so that the threads remain trapped. 8) I cover the spine with a strip of paper to make it prolix.

    You do a credible job of real bookbinding. Lending books often turns out badly. I think I treat other people's books better than they sometimes treat mine.

    This is a great instructable. We have had two halves of a dictionary for almost five years! It's nice because two people can look up two different words at the same time, as long as they aren't in the same half of the dictionary. I will be using this great idea.

    I just use clear packing tape. If it is applied carefully usually it can't even be seen.

    Good idea. You can get more of that stainless wire in either the sporting goods department (fishing line) or the hobby department (beading) of your local wally's. The cost is the same either place.

    1 reply

    Thanks. The top book in the Introduction was done with some floral wire my wife had. I do not think it was of stainless steel. In the meanwhile someone gave me the remainder of a spool of stainless. The floral wire was not a hard to handle and I did not get so many punctures and cuts as I sometimes get with the stainless.