Introduction: Removing Spine Printing From Hardbound Books

In this Instructable, I will show how easy it is to remove the printing on the binding of hardbound books to prep them for other projects like this one here (which was the catalyst for me figuring this out).

Step 1: Tools

To do this, you will need the following:

  • 100% Acetone
  • Old toothbrush or stiff painting brush
  • Ceramic dish
  • Hardbound book

WARNING: make sure that you are doing this in an area with good ventilation as the fumes from acetone are very strong. Follow all the warnings on the label.

Step 2: Saturate Area With Acetone

Pour a small amount of acetone into the bowl. Dip the brush into the acetone and thoroughly saturate the area you want to remove the printing. I suggest doing a small section at a time as the acetone evaporates quickly.

Step 3: Scrubbing the Print

Once you saturate the area you want to remove the print from, scrub with your brush. Depending on the type of material on the binding, this will be quick or may take a little work. I tried this on a smooth paper binding on a newer book (as used in this Instructable) and it came off pretty quick. The last picture in this step shows how the red dye came off in one, somewhat light, swipe.

I also tried it on a binding that was a newer but had a textured weave to it. Because the print had been into the pattern of the weave, this took a little more effort to get all of the print up from in between. The hardest one was the old book that seemed to be a combination of woven texture and thick paint. Maybe between the texture of the cover and the fact it was 65 years old and everything was made better then, it was much harder to pull up the print on this book but I still managed it.

With the newer books, the print will most likely run. Be sure to check the sides that the print you are trying to remove doesn't pool on the sides and make a splotch on your book where you don't want one.

Step 4: Finishing Up

Dip your brush into the acetone and run it over the spine to clean up any last bits of print and clean it so that it is ready to go for your next project!