Bookbinding With Basic Tools <3




Introduction: Bookbinding With Basic Tools <3

About: the a b c approach is not for me .all feedback welcome. thanks for looking. if you would like some assistance or are interested in purchasing something don't be a stranger .

Bookbinding is a surprisingly useful tool in an age of instruction manuals not being supplied.or if you want to make a sketchbook or diary with your favorite paper, they also make a wonderfully personal valentines gift.

The basic skills of bookbinding are as old as dirt. It does not have to be complicated , involve specialist tools , jigs or materials. especially with materials almost anything can be made into a book. I knew somebody who made a pebble-dashed book. The more you change it ,The more its yours.

All the stages in this 3x speed video and more are explained in the following steps. This book took about 3 hours to make.The last step features a shorter x3 video demonstrating how to make a miniature version of the same book in 1 hour

Step 1: Tools N Stuff.


  • paper
  • card
  • strong thread
  • fabric off cuts
  • glue


  • clamps
  • boards to use with clamps(size of proposed book)
  • bradawl (pointy thing)
  • soft surface to use with bradawl
  • piece of card to use with the bradawl
  • sharp knife
  • metal rule
  • curved surface(i used a large screwdriver handle.)

you can think of something to make the cover look nice,(i used spray paint)

Step 2: Fold Paper Into Bunches.

Traditionally its all about the even numbers.

4 sheets folded makes an 8 page bunch.

100 sheets of paper is 25 bunches ,or choirs ,there is a lot of terminology that I'm going to avoid.

Step 3: Poke Some Holes

On a piece of folded card, same size as your paper.

Make four marks, it really helps if the left 2 mirror the right two .at an equal distance from the outside edge.Left and right on image,top and bottom of your book.

If a bunch gets flipped the holes of that bunch will still line up with the next bunch.

Id recommend keeping at least 4 or 5 cm away from the edges ,to make trimming or re-trimming stage safer.

Place the card in the center of a bunch,and use a bradawl to punch through all the layers onto a soft foam surface.

Step 4: Sewing Bit One

Use a needle and tread to go through the holes you just made, following the illustrated pattern, you want all the dangelly bits on the outside of the spine.

My top tip for tying it all of tight is to bend the bunch perpendicular to the spine, wedge it between a couple of heavy things, to make the thread ends your tying closer together, when it unfolds it gives the thread an extra tug to keep the pages tight together.

Step 5: Sewing Bit Two

Put all the bunches spine down on a flat surface,(line them up) clamp a board on back and front.As tight as possible!

Flip the whole thing over to reveal all your previous sewing work looking all neat and tidyish.

There are several special sewing techniques for this bit, if you check my video you'll see where Im going with this, the general idea is to use more thread to tie each bunch to the one next to it.

  • Waxed thread is helpful as it makes knots easily.
  • As long as its all tight it has not got to look pretty.

Do not release the clamp yet.

Step 6: Hide That Rats Nest

keep it clamped for now. if your making a thin book you might want to slide the spine up a bit,image 1.

Use plenty of PVA or wood glue rubbed into the stitching, as it begins to dry layer it with a mesh type fabric to reinforce it. Top it off with your spine material, don't fold the edges over yet, just pat it down to squidge all the glue in the gaps between the bunches.

Drying times vary depending on glue and its environment, i left mine overnight. Ideally unclamp it when its not squishy, but still a bit flexible.

Step 7: Front and Back.

I spray painted my card before putting it on, I had a specific look in
mind, hard cover with soft fabric spine. The order of events at this point is not so important.

If you've not got spray glue PVA is useable,if used thinly. Greaseproof paper or cling film between the first page and the body of the book to prevent moisture creeping in is an option.

or just use spray glue

Remember ,its your book.

Step 8: Trimming.

Depending on how your stitching went, the need to trim is negotiable. It can make or break the book,(literally) and often the first cut goes wrong so needs doing twice. Different papers behave differently, its an odd material.

  • Trimming large amounts of paper is not complicated but its not easy either,without industrial equipment.
  • A sharp knife with care and some practice gives the cleanest results. look at image 3
  • Avoid cutting through the stitching,(image 1)

Paper cutting experiment results :-Saws are generally terrible,especially jigsaws. the jury is still out on the electric plane.

Step 9: Knocking Into Shape

Darn i thought i was going to avoid this terminology stuff.

  • This step adds a nice curve to the spine, depending on how far the spine glue has set defines how permanent the curve will be.
  • firmly holding a curved object (i used screwdriver handle) against the page ends bash the spine into a pleasing curve, without letting go. clamp it. (one hand clamps are useful here,or phone a friend) then do the other end. leave the thing clamped overnight and fingers crossed it more or less stays in shape.

Step 10: Problem With Last Bit of the Video.

Whilst I was recording the time-lapse video of the process, the phone ran out of memory ,and this messed up the video file. so i posted this cry for help.

These are pictures of downloaded camera manuals i made into books for my reference.also some sketch books from 97, and some close ups of this instructabled book.

Anyway thank you for reading this Instructable, hope you like my other ones.


Step 11: You Can Make a Minature on in About an Hour.

used quick setting epoxy instead of pva to speed up the process

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    27 Discussions

    Like this. Hey... Can you give me vote and like in Egg Contest 2016??? Please. thank you :)

    This is a nice guide, The trimming step is especially helpful, I usually just dont bother trimming my books because it is such a pain, but maybe I will now. I have only made books with a hard spine or long stitch books before, but I will have to try this method. Also if you haven't, you should try making your signatures with cloth tapes, it goes a lot faster than chain stitching.

    Also my mom makes marbled paper for bookbinding (or any other paper craft) which is how I got interested in bookbinding. Anyone interested in making books with traditionally marbled paper should check her stuff out!

    Sorry for the plug and thanks for the guide!

    1 reply

    nice plug ,i like it. i tried a cloth tape method i was having trouble with the tension. id like to try paper marbelling tho i have not done any research on it.

    Great tutorial. thank you for it. I have a question you may or may not be able to answer.I want lines and numbered pages (the numbering is optional) but the lines need to have margins so the lines do not go all the way thru the spine. I hope that made sense.

    2 replies

    Hello, do you want to put the lines in yourself,i have not seen lined paper for such purposes ,tho iv not looked for it....
    METHOD ONE . . . . laser printer can be handy here, if your doing a single fold,like in the big book top video, you should be able to find a setting called booklet printing, set it to print pages 1 to 16 which is four pieces of paper, the printer will prompt you to put the printed pages back in the paper tray if it cannot automatically print double sided. continue with booklet printing on pages 17 to 32, 33 to 48, and so on.. this is how i turn a massive pdf into a book, its also a goid idea to check it the margin clearance is adequet to allow for trimming ,binding and alignment errors.
    METHOD TWO . . . . if your doing a multu fold like the small book in the end video ,i havnt done a printed book this way, you might find some setting for flipping and arranging pages, the other way would be to fold a piece of paper and write 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 on the pages consecutively and the right way upwhile its still folded, then unfold it to reveal the order and orientation of each page, using this as a key you could draw up a page of lines and margins that would magically all be the right way up when folded.
    hope this makes some sense and is of some use, if i totally missed the plot, let me know and i will rethink it.

    Thanks a ton, thats exactly what I needed. i just couldn't think of how to word it to google it. booklet printing was it. thanks again for the help.


    2 years ago

    That is pretty neat. It takes a real man to make his own book.

    I remember making something like this in high school; ought to try it again.
    Quick question: if we can't find card stock, would white computer paper work? I imagine there would have to be more paper?

    1 reply

    Regular paper works fine, be awair that its easier for the cotton thread to cut 80gsm paper. 100gsm paper should be well behaved, it would be a good idea to get a feel for the process before lashing out on special paper. If you practice with terrible paper like newspaper your results with better materials and honed skills will be a level up.

    how durable are your books/how long do they last? Is the spray paint not affecting the book? sorry for asking so many questions, but as an enthusiast, I am curious of how healthy and long the lifespan of the book will be.

    7 replies

    I try to make them more durable than they need to be. The hardback in the last step is at least 5 years old. materials to avoid in the spine are contact adhesive. and gaffa tape(had some problems with these materials in the paperback in last step). its also why I don't use the saw method for making holes in the sheets reduced chance of pages sliding about. I think the spray paint will be ok as the cover is ridiculously thick and dense, I think the paint is pretty much inert once dry. you may notice that the pva I'm using is exterior grade wood glue. I feel the key to durability is in the effectivness of the stitching and encapsulating it on a cocoon of glue. Other factors are the quality of the raw materials. The paper I used for this book is sold as card. having the cover a little larger than the pages acts as a bumper, I didn't want that look on this book. also paper in books lasts longer if it's used in accordance to the direction of its grain. Using acetate for pages is tricky. hope some of this experience info is useful to you.

    It is! Thanks! But one more question.... Is it reversible? I mean, would I be able to unbind it again? I know it's an odd question, but could it be unbound to repair it in a few decades, or to practice to do so?

    the thread could be cut then it would be a case of cutting between the outer pages, id hope this book would last at least 20 years, iv added pictures of some books i made in 1997. i did use glue on the spines and they are still holding fairly well.


    EDIT, did not use glue on the spines of 1997 books.

    stumbled across these old things also.


    your welcome, i think copydex would be right up your street. if you were intending on re binding or editing books,


    You should have added audio. Also it got boring watching repetitive steps. Speeding up the video through the repeated steps would make for a better instruction, as well as shortening up the video considerably. I got tired of watching it.

    1 reply

    i thought the you tube video editor had the option for speeding up, i could not find it.You tube only seem to supply music that makes me want to tear my eyes out. you can always nudge the search bar along a bit.
    i have iTunes running constantly on my computer(unless im moving large files about)
    i have no video editing software for post production that is not android based.
    Most process based videos use cuts, i find this misleading(sequence shortened) i wanted to show all the work involved and where all the time and effort goes, luckily for you i experienced technical difficulties while capturing so lost about 20 min off the end.
    thank you for watching my video,and commenting.
    in future I will experiment with longer frame gaps while capturing though i do not the result to be too jumpy.