Easy/Cheap Book Binding Repair




Introduction: Easy/Cheap Book Binding Repair

About: I do a bit of everything. Letterpress, oils, water colors, graffiti stencils, writing, poetry... ahhh I'm never bored.

My older sister bought an out of print book off of eBay for her kids this Christmas. Sadly she didn't notice that the binding/spine/cover... well it was all in pieces. Which meant...

Step 1 - Call Brother to Save the Day (this step could be skipped)

Basically this instructable will show you one of the easier ways of fixing a book that has been separated from it's cover. It will use house hold items or items that can be substituted with house hold items. Thus... even my sister (who is a stay at home mother) can repair an important children's book on the fly.

Total Cost - hopefully nothing or negligible as these are basically found around the house items.

Work Time - about 30 minutes

Total Time - 8 to 24 hours to let glue to dry firmly

Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Step 1 - Gather Supplies

Basically you'll need:

-glue - I used Hollander's Standard PVA glue. Unless you are tryign to make a family heirloom regular Elmer's glue will work about just as well.

-masking tape - I like using a thicker tape for projects like this


-medium sized brush

-several larger sheets of scrap paper

-craft knife - An Exacto knife would work great... but since I had a whittling knife within my reach I used that (for our purposes even a steak knife would be fine).

-a strip of super - Basically a piece of stiff cheese cloth or any other type of porous scrap cloth.

-stiff card stock or cardboard - I used this for applying a large even spread of glue fast (compared to just using a brush)

For those that would like some a site that has all your paper and book binding supplies check out Hollander's website. I think they are in Michigan... and from what I've been told they love helping people when they drop by... sadly i'm in at least a five hour drive away... and have never visited in person.


Step 2: Preparing the Signatures/Spine

Basically all modern books have their pages independently brought together before the cover is fixed to them; they are either glued or sewn together before the cover is then adhered. When the pages are clumps of folded sheets making of sections of pages each section is called a signature.

In the case of this children's book, the pages were folded in small clumps of two pages folded in half which were then sewn all together. They were then glued all together with some of the thickest glue that I've ever seen. Most of the pages were still holding together pretty well so I wanted to skip right to binding the book... but there was too much glue (I was worried that when I would glue on the super that it would just peel off).

So I took a knife and whittled away as much as i could without cutting into the pages. After getting most of it off I was about to use a large file to scuff the surface up... but instead chose to just cut a series of cross hatching across the signatures.

Step 3: Step 3 - Cover Quick Fix

I liked the give that the cover had and knew that once I applied the super (that's your stiff cheese cloth) it would further reinforce the structure... so I used masking tape to fix the cover's shape and to give it some hold until I glued on the cloth. I made sure to use masking tape on the inside (packaging tape would be fine for the outside) as I wanted to make sure that the glue would have a surface that it wouldn't peel away from. When using tape make sure there is some give where the cover bends or you will make it too stiff and the book will pull the cover off when you try to close it.

Step 4: Step 4 - Glue on Super/Glue Spine to Cover

So basically cut your super (or cloth) so that it is a bit longer than the spine of the book and giving you some extra width (I had almost and inch on each side) that will rest on the insides of the cover.

Using your brushes give a heavy coating of glue to the spine where the pages come together. Apply the super and press it in firmly. We want glue to sink between the pages and the gaps in the super.

When dry or mostly dry repeat the process with the spine of the cover. Press together firmly. Make sure that you are also gluing down the cloth against the left and right sides of the cover.

Step 5: Step 5 - Fix in Place and Dry

We want it to dry firmly together. I added some scrap that i didn't mind getting messy to the sections with glue... then held it all in place with a chair while it dried.

Note that i used some heavy cardboard to disperse the weight across the whole spine.

Step 6: Step 5 - Glue in the Flyleaf

Cut paper so that it is a bit longer than your book open with it's height being just large enough to almost reach the edges of the inside of your cover.

Glue to cover being sure to cover up the super.

Due to covering such a large area with glue I use a bit of cardboard or stiff card stock to spread the glue on the inside cover. If you are too slow or put too much glue on things can get soggy!

Make sure to get extra glue in the crease where the book fold's together... and make sure to tuck in the flyleaf into this crease as best as possible. Not only will this make your book look sharp... it actually greatly strengthens the hold your super has on the spine.

Step 7: Step 7 - Finish Allowing to Dry & Enoy

Let dry overnight if possible... then enjoy!

Papercraft Contest

Participated in the
Papercraft Contest

On a Budget Contest

Participated in the
On a Budget Contest

Be the First to Share


    • Cardboard Speed Challenge

      Cardboard Speed Challenge
    • Sculpting Challenge

      Sculpting Challenge
    • 3D Printed Contest

      3D Printed Contest