Do It Yourself Book Binding

A simple little origami paper trick started a new interest for me in bookbinding. I found a blog article with a link to a PDF file that, when printed out and folded, created a very useful little 8 page expense tracking booklet that would slip in your pocket.

I have found a number of other websites recently that offer various printable templates for customized notebook and day planner pages that can be printed out on your desktop. Now I want to bind a proper notebook with my own templated pages inside.

There are several ways to go about making a book. The cheapest and easiest is to saddle-stitch the book. For this method you lay a small stack of pages together with a cover made of card stock, put two staples along the spine to hold it together, and then fold it in half. The edges of the paper will not line up perfectly (a problem that becomes more pronounced as the number of pages increases.) Alternately, you can sew the pages together with a heavy thread instead of stapling. You can also trim the edges with a paper trimmer to even them up. Many large hardcover books are made by glueing together several small stacks of pages bound in this way.

A very common method of binding is to stack together your pages and then glue them along the spine edge with a very strong glue. After the pages have dried, a heavier stock paper is glued to the spine as a cover. Look on your bookshelf, you will find that all of your paperbacks are bound this way. Since there is no folding – except the cover – the pages are easy to line up and the edges of the finished book are very clean. This is referred to as a ‘Perfect Bound’ book.

Because of its simplicity, I have chosen a perfect binding for my book.

Here it the step-by-step binding process:

1 – Stack your pages together in order. If you want to make a book with pages smaller than 8 1/2 x 11 inches, you can fold the pages in half and then stack the folded pages together.

2 – Clamp the pages together along the spine edge. You can do this a number of ways and even buy a press device if you wish. I suggest a few big spring clamps that you can get at the office supply store and a couple of paint stirrers. Place the paint stirrers along the outside edges of the spine and clamp it all together. The stirrers will help spread out the effect of the clamps and also keep them from marking up or denting the paper.

3 – Take a small piece of fine sand paper (200 or 300 grit should work) and rough up the paper along the spine edge. This will expose the fibers of the paper and allow the glue to bond firmly with the paper.

4 – Glue the edges of the paper together. Use a small brush or a cotton swab to spread the glue around evenly. (Gorilla Glue and Power Poxy Contact Cement are good adhesive choices. Good old white glue will even do the job.) Wait a few minutes and apply a second coat then let everything dry thoroughly.

5 – When the spine has dried, it is time to glue on the cover. Remove the clamps. Fold the cover using the edge of a ruler so that it will wrap neatly around the pages. Then, apply more glue to the spine and place the cover. You may wish to clamp everything together again while the glue dries.

6 – When the glue is dry, remove all clamps and trim the edges of the cover with a knife or razor blade.

Your book is complete!

This technique is perfect for making photo books, journals, short story collections and more. If you have bought an e-book that you wish was in print form for reference – print it and bind it. Anything you can print on your desktop printer will work. Make gifts, or just collect your personal writings in a more substantial and powerful way.