Introduction: How to Bind a Book, (fake/hybrid Perfect Bind)

About: Tinker, astronomer, father, busy body.

I was recently in the position that I needed to bind a book. There are many good Instructables on how to make a book. Unfortunately, none quite met my needs (namely to bind single 8.5"x11" printouts/pages). So I developed this method which seems to work well. This technique seems to work best with at least 50 pages (about 1/4" thickness) I'm guessing the maximum is around 500 pages.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Ok! here's what you will need:

1. Something worth making into a book (I would recommend a stack of papers)
2. RTV or PVA glue (something that will bind to paper and not shrink)
3. Sewing thread
4. Rubber cement
5. Duct tape
6. Two sheets of paper twice as wide as your stack of papers
7. 2-3 pieces of non-corrugated cardboard the same size as your stack of papers
8. contact paper/ laminating sheets (self adhesive is easiest)

Dremel with a cut-off wheel
4-5 black binder clips big enough to hold your stack of paper (for thicker stacks, try C-clamps with some wood to protect the paper)
X-acto/ razor/ box knife

Step 2: Align and Clamp Your Papers

Presuming you have your papers all printed, organized, etc, add one blank sheet of paper to the top and bottom of the stack then carefully nudge and tap the papers into perfect alignment.  Use one binder clip on each edge to hold the pages in alignment. Place the top and bottom clips near the edge that will become the spine rather than in the middle of the top and bottom edge.

Step 3: Cut Some Grooves

Using a  dremel with the cut off wheel, cut a number of grooves across the spine of the pages, spaced about 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Cut about 1/8" deep. Try to cut them all the same depth and spaced evenly down the length of the spine. If they are cut too shallow, you will have trouble with the step 5.

Step 4: Trim the Cover Boards

Cut a strip off the edges of the cardboard that will be the covers of the book . The cuts should be about 1/4 to 1/2 inch off the side that will be closest to the spine of the book. If your book happens to be the right width, the small strip can be used to back the spine in the next step. If the width doesn't match the thickness of the spine, an additional strip  the same width as the spine will need to be cut from a third piece of  cardboard.

Step 5: Bind With Thread and Add Some Glue


Grab some thread. Use the Binder clip at one end of the spine to hold the end of the thread. Starting at the end, draw the thread through the grooves you just cut and around the tabs formed by the cuts. Start at the second cut from the end. Draw the thread through the groove then back down to the first groove and back across to form a loop around the tab of paper. Hold the loop of  thread tight around the paper and move up to the next empty groove. Repeat the sequence in a loop-de-loop fashion until you reach the end of the spine (The diagram is a much better guide to see how this is done) Turn around and repeat the sequence going the opposite way to return to the starting point. Cut the thread long and slide it under the edge of the binder clip that holds the other end of the thread.

Apply the RTV or PVA glue to the spine. It is critical to push the glue into the pages. This is the key step and will really make a good binding with pages that won't fall out. Let me say it again. PUSH THE GLUE INTO THE PAGES. Use your fingers and work the glue in.

Now that your fingers are sticky, apply a thin layer of glue to the threads showing on sides of the spine and spread a smoothing layer of glue to the spine to accept the backing board from step 4. Make sure the backing board and spine are straight when gluing them together.

Let the glue dry COMPLETELY before attempting to remove the binder clips.

Step 6: Glue the Covers to the Leaf Pages

While the spine is drying, the time is right to work more on the covers. Use two sheets of paper that are twice the size of the book, (for 8.5x11 paper, use 11x17 sheets). Fold each in half to equal the size of the book. Apply rubber cement to the cardboard covers all over one side. Carefully attach the sheets to the cardboard with the spine hanging off and the open edges aligned with the edges of the cover. Press the sheet and the cover together to get the best adhesion.

Step 7: Glue the Leaf Pages to the Body

Once all the previous gluing has dried, unclip the body of the book and snip off the ends of thread. The pages should stay together  nicely. With the body on a flat surface, apply rubber cement to the front page near the spine. The cement should span from the spine towards center of the page about 3/4 inch and run from top to bottom. Lay the cover-leaf assembly (cover/board out) on top of the body of the book aligning the leaf's crease with the spine and the edges of the cover with the edges of the body of the book. Repeat for the back cover.  Applying weight to the book or clamping the spine may be used while the cement dries.

Step 8: Apply Contact Paper and Duct Tape

The final step provides a measure of protection for the book. Before any protective coating is applied, I would suggest creating a label or cover art for the book. If the label is large, glue it to the cover. if its not too big, the contact paper should be able to hold the label in place. 

A few tips on applying the Contact paper:
        Use your fingernail or a spoon to smooth the contact paper and provide the best adhesion.
        Center the Contact paper on the cover with a bit hanging off the top, bottom and open side.
        Trim the corners to prevent overlap when folding the edges of  the contact paper to the inside of the cover.


Apply a strip of duct tape down the spine to protect it. If the book is thick, use a couple of strips to provide coverage out to the contact paper on the cover. Press the duct tape down in a similar fashion to the contact paper to provide the best adhesion. Use an X-acto knife to trim the top and bottom of the tape to be flush with the spine.

Step 9: Use Your Book

Write in it!
Read it!
Refer to it in lively conversation!
Burn it! (if you happen to be a fascist dictator)

I hope you found this Instructable to be a worthy one. This method is still fairly immature and I am sure improvements can be made. I would be interested in hearing what the Instructables community can do with this type of binding.

For the shopbot contest:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
If i win a shopbot,
I'll build something for you.
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