Introduction: Book Binding Project for All Your Magazines

About: Hello, I'm David. I'm an Australian and I have been living in Phuket, Thailand, since 2006. I started my working life as a dairy-hand. I've also worked in a variety of other jobs, including being an I.T. Coord…

Like many people I have magazines that I collect, but this poses a problem, how to keep them tidily and in a manner that makes them enjoyable and practical to refer back to anytime. You could always buy the binders provided by the magazine publishers, but they are not always that good, and can be expensive. So, I decided to have a go a making my own using recycled materials I had laying around. It worked out great, and I hope that you will enjoy making and using your own just as I do.

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Step 1: Creating Your Template

Create a blank that is cut to the desired size of the finished book.

Use a scrap of recycled plywood (or you can use new plywood if you prefer), mine is very conveniently painted white on one side. Place one of the magazines on the scrap and lay a straight rule against the edge, remove the magazine, and draw the line. Do this for all sides.

Step 2: Checking for Size

It is okay if the book covers are the same size and the magazines, but most hardcover books have covers larger than their pages. With that in mind I suggest adding 5mm top and bottom, and 10mm to the right. Before you start cutting make sure you have suitable safety equipment

Step 3: Cutting the Covers

Okay, you are probably looking at my oscillating cutter and wondering, “Why doesn’t he just use a bandsaw?” Well, I don’t have one! Use whatever tool you have to cut out the template that you can use to trace out both covers of your book, and for any future book binding projects that you might make

Step 4: Cleaning Up the Edges

Trace out your two covers on your plywood. I’m using recycled plywood that is painted white on one side and has shoe tread-marks on it!

Cut out your covers and take some time to sand them back. If your using recycled plywood as I am then be careful that it doesn’t splinter like mine did.

Step 5: Choosing Your Binding Fabric

It’s just my personal taste but I think that blue denim goes very nicely with wood and should make a very nice spine for the book. Other options might include corduroy, canvas, or anything else that you might like to use.

Step 6: Preparing the Spine

The spine will have two layers of denim. Start by gluing the denim onto the back cover. I’ve cut my denim so that there is around 2.5 to 3cm that is glued down. The piece in this photo is actually for the outer spine.

Step 7: Gluing Down the Denim

My edge is rough, but this doesn't really matter. Notice that the denim on the edge has been folded slightly to make sure that it glues right up to the edge properly. I’m using TOA latex glue, I find it works very well for this kind of task. I would suggest using something similar

Step 8: Sizing Up

Lay your stack of magazines down on the inside of the cover. Make sure that their edges are all lined up correctly, then fold the denim over the magazines and cut a 3 cm overlay to glue into the front cover

Step 9: Attatching the Other Cover

Glue up the front cover as you did with the back cover and press it down onto the denim. Do this with the magazines in place so that you get the thickness of the book right. Carefully open the cover and lay it flat on the bench, and press the denim down to make sure that it glues properly.

Step 10: Tidying Up the Denim

Fold in the overhangs and glue them down. This will help to stiffen up the top and bottom edges for tying down the magazines later. You might want to stiffen the spine with some thick card first, in hindsight that would probably be better.

Step 11: Preparing the Binding Strings

Start cutting your string, double length, with plenty of excess. I’m making this book to fit six magazines, plus a supplement that came with one of them, so seven strings are needed for this book. You will need to choose how many magazines you will put in yours, keeping in mind thickness and ease of use.

Step 12: Gluing Down the Strings

Spread plenty of glue on the denim (it will soak in a bit) and then lay out your strings as shown above. Leave several centimeters hanging out the bottom, and the rest hanging out the top. Make sure they are laid out evenly and straight. Over the top of the strings glue down a strip of denim (although you might want to add some moderately stiff card as well to stiffen up the binding).

Step 13: Turn Over

Wait until the glue has dried and then turn the cover over, so that it is inside up. Make sure that the binding is flat and that the strings are where they should be, and tidy.

Get your magazines ready! If you are binding the January to June issues, for example, then you will start with the June issue and work forwards.

Step 14: Tying Up the Magazines

Run the long end of the string down the middle of the magazine and tie it off securely at the bottom. I just used a simple double knot, but if you are more skilled at tying knots than I am then will probably use something better than that! Make sure it is quite tight. Make sure you are inserting the magazines in the correct order!

Step 15: Be Careful...

One at a time tie down each of the magazines working to the front of the book. As you add more magazines you need to be more and more careful that they are tied directly to the fabric spine and that the other magazines aren’t pushing the new additions out of position as you tie them down.

Step 16: Pad and Double Check Everything

Line up a block of wood, or another book, something of suitable size that will enable you to lay the front cover flat at the height of the thickness of the book. Double-check all the strings to make sure that the magazines are in fact tightly tied down.

Step 17: Checking and Trimming

Try closing your book. If the cover stands up a little as mine does in the photo above then this is ideal.

Remember, paper settles with time. If you can comfortably press down the cover flat with little effort then you’ve probably got it just right, if not, then adjust as you feel is appropriate.

Now is also a good time to trim off the excess string.

Step 18: Preparing the Outer Spine

I’m using a piece of denim with the leg seam still attached, and it is cut to overlay front and back covers so that the existing inner layer of denim folded is covered. Glue it down the same way as before.

Step 19: Gluing Down the Outer Spine

Paint plenty of glue onto the spine. Make sure it is good-and-thick! Press the fabric down onto the spine. Turn the book over, paint the glue on the back cover, and press the fabric down onto it.

Step 20: Tidying Up

The top and bottom edges need to be folded in and glued, as before, but this time they have to be cut first. If you are using a seem in the fabric like I am then it might be best just to cut that excess off. Cut into the corners of the spine.

Step 21: Keep on Trimming!

Open up the covers, and glue down the excess into the inside of the covers as shown above. Next you will need to cut the excess from the end of the spine itself.

Step 22: The Inside of the Covers

You will remember that I am using recycled plywood that is painted white and has shoe-prints on it. I’ve covered the inside of the book with classic brown paper, which has the added benefit of neatly covering up the edge of the fabric as well. If you have other ideas for inner covering please comment below!

Step 23: All Done

Your finished book should look something like this, though I would hope that it will look even better! I’ve varnished mine, but you can finish yours however you like. All it needs now is titling of some kind. I will probably print the magazine logo, with the included issue numbers, and glue that onto the cover. Enjoy your book

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