Bookbinding Wrap Up

By now you've spend the past three weeks learning how to make single signature books and perhaps have tried your hand at the more intermediate book. Now that you have learned to create two different styles of books on your own, you're probably wondering where to go from here. Well, I’m here to tell you that there are 2 ways to uncover more advanced bookbinding techniques.

Your first stop should be to visit a bookstore to peruse the shelves of books on binding and crafting journals. A quick search on amazon shows over more than 30 or more books displaying instructions on building and crafting different types of books. From japanese stab bound books to crafting leather wrapped tomes. Look at the end of this article for more suggestions on good books to begin your search. However, if finding that reading instructions out of a book seems confusing to you, or you are not quite sure which of the various tomes of instruction seems right to you, I recommend bugging a friendly employee at the art store and see whether or not someone in your community is hosting a bookbinding class or seminar. More often than not, one employee or two just may know of a store in your area that caters to classes on bookbinding techniques.

I've seen classes range from the cheap $25 for a half day tutorial to full hands-on courses that cost on the upwards of $200. If the stores let you down, you may also want to contact the nearest 2 or 4 year university that has an arts department. Chances are that the schools may offer a course on fine art bookbinding occasionally and may offer empty seats to the public. If they do, I highly recommend you support the arts and take the class.

I googled around for a few sites and these websites (no affiliation) offer classes or book kits that you can purchase to continue on with your bookbinding adventures. Even though you may not live near these locations, they may be able to point you in the right direction for more help: offers book kits and classes on crafting all sorts of different books, even metal ones. Kristi's website offers online classes on bookbinding. Mary Kaye's studio offers many unique kits for purchase. Her books have been featured in many of the bookbinding art books that I've suggested you can purchase.

Okay, now that you have bookmarked or found a few good bookbinding sites here’s a few more ideas on how to make these books a bit more like planners or GTD friendly. As one anonymous reader pointed out on a previous post, a good thing to do to make your own planners is to print out Doug’s D*I*Y* Planner forms 2-up as well as on a duplex printer. Doing so will allow you to have 4 layouts on one single folio. You can print 4 week-long planners, or one whole month’s worth of days on one piece of paper. And if you do this for every week in 2006, you can bind the whole calendar into one book! And you have also saved quite a bit of money.

Another idea to do is to add tabs to different sections of your books. Take a piece of paper and write down all the different subjects you want your handmade planner to have on it. Cut out each description and then tape the tab to the side of a page using heavy packing tape. Or, go out to your local scrapbooking store and ask if they have tab-like stickers or metal tabs that you can buy, write onto and then attach to your pages, giving your pages a planner or address book feel to them.

Some other quick suggestions include creating signatures then gluing them onto a clipboard or into a small planner. Or bind interesting items into your books, like envelopes that can be used to store expenses or notes or project information. This idea is especially handy if you’re working on home redecorating projects and need lots of small or large envelopes to store snippets of fabrics or designer business cards. If you are really feeling creative (or bored at work and looking for something to do) you could bind a book for each project you have going on, each with their own envelope so that all the project information is in one handy place. You could even bind straps into your books to hold pencils or pens sturdy so that you don’t loose your pen when you’re on your way to a meeting or need to be mobile. When you are binding books for planning purposes, use your imagination, everything and anything can become a book or can be used inside your book.

Finally, I wanted to give you some ideas on what you can do to transform those old, discarded journals with pictures of kitties or weird patterns on them into more personalized books to be written in. The easiest solution to redecorating any journal you feel unusable is to recover the cover. It's a cheep and easy solution that takes only a few minutes to do:

  1. Grab some PVA glue and some bookbinding fabric or paper and measure out a length of the book from cover to cover (as if the book were opened).
  2. Cut the new cover material an inch or so larger than the book, you’ll be wrapping this new cover inside the book to hold.
  3. Place the paper face down and then spread PVA glue all over the backside.
  4. Carefully lower the book onto the paper and smooth out any air bubbles with your bone folder or hand.
  5. Fold over the side edges so they wrap around the book's front cover and get glued on the inside of the book. Again, use your bone folder to make sure there’s a nice flat edge and no air is under the cover.
  6. Fold over the top and bottom edges of the book's front cover as done in the previous step. You may need to cut out or fold over the small piece of paper or cloth that sits near the spine’s top and bottom, as there may not be much room to tuck the paper down into the space between the spine's cover and the book block.
  7. Repeat the last two steps on the back cover.
  8. Let the book dry at least for 2 hours before you start planning on using it. That way the glue has time to dry. (Most books and instructions will say to leave the book to dry overnight.)

Voila! You now have a re-covered a book so that you can use it. However, recovering journals just isn’t all you can do to a book. There are a lot of artists out there who are taking normal, hardback books of any genre and transforming them into beautiful, rebound planners and journals. While I won’t get into the subject too much to make one of these journals, all you need to do is find a used or old hardback book that may not be considered antique and rip out all the pages. Then you use bookbinding techniques described in my articles or other books to reinsert new signatures, turning an old, unloved book into a new, usable treasure of art. Of course, tearing down books and remaking them may sound horrible to some of you. I know that when I was in a class being taught how to rebind books, one gentleman’s face grew very pale and white when I asked him if the book he brought with him was going to be torn apart. He thought the idea of rebinding books and tearing them apart was a horrid thing to do. However, people do a lot of strange things in the name of art. I know I do.

Created as a portable means to share ideas and entertain and educate people, books have now become works of art in among themselves. Over the past three years I have seen the bookbinding arts community grow in number. There are a lot of great websites out there with ideas and pictures of people’s explorations with making their own book as well as personalizing premade books. And with these sites, there’s been an equal amount of books written on the subjects. Some of the more interesting forms of the art include making tiny books that are no bigger than your thumb--complete with words in them and wearable book-jewelry, like necklaces or earrings. People are making book covers out of Polymer clay or metal and then binding them onto the paper signatures. One of my current binding projects includes painting AOL discs black so that they can be tied together to make a circular journal. I’ve even seen a few artist’s make tiny star shaped books to use as their christmas tree ornaments. Even if you do not participate in the art of bookbinding, at least you can appreciate the art and ideas that books bring to our lives. I hope that you discover the fun and passion of creating your own books and sharing your thoughts and creativity with the rest of the world!

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One of the most noted book

One of the most noted book artists that I know of in Newfoundland, Canada is Tara Bryan. I believe she still offers workshops now and then for those who are in the area. You could look at her work for some inspiration and examples of unique books, or if you are in the area you could contact her to ask about classes through her website

my first book

I just completed making my first book. I'm at home today due to a horrible cold and laryngitis, and I'm bored stiff. I decided to go through my Someday/Maybe list. Lo and behold, one entry caught my eye: "Learn Bookbinding." I quickly re-read all four bookbinding forum entries and got to work.

Here's what I used:

10 (8 1/2 x 11) sheets OfficeDepot white copy paper (20 lb)
1 (8 1/2 x 11) sheet ExactBristol medium card stock (67 lb)
1 sewing needle stolen from my wife's sewing kit
about 3 feet of waxed dental floss (too sick to drive to craft store)
1 fine point black Sharpie (instead of bone folder)
1 used thumbtack stolen from my kids' bulletin board
4 rather hefty cookbooks

After it finishes pressing overnight, I'll take it to Kinko's tomorrow and trim the edges. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but it's a pretty good feeling. I'll probably try it with with some lined paper or graph paper, too.

This is pretty cool. :)

Print out your book signatures and calendars in Word booklets!

I just came across (via PigPog) this page:

Microsoft Word Booklet templates! (Free!)

The site is called Ricky's Ram Dump and is a GTD-type site. The Word templates let you print out a file in a booklet format. The download file has templates for 4,8,12,16,20,24,28,and 32-page booklets, 5.5 x 8.5 size.
These would be wonderful signatures for our books, and we could also format calendars and paste them in, and the pages get automatically sorted into the right order to print as booklets. He says this also works for Open Office documents, so maybe it will work with the templates here on the DIY site.

And the instructions are superb.

I've just got into

I've just got into bookbinding since this summer. Wow, what a great outlet it's been, especially since I'm a writer, and it's allowed me to produce my own work from start to finish. I was also able to make all my Christmas presents this year, which was a lot of work, but felt great, and was fun to do.

I tried to use online instructions at first, but it all started coming together when I bought some books on the subject. (Making Books by Hand by Peter and Donna Thomas was my favourite.)

Also, I couldn't do what I'm doing now without ClickBook. I'm sure it was mentioned in one of the earlier articles. It's software that does 'imposition' -- rearranging the pages for folding and binding in the right order. These people sell it:

No need to buy Clickbook--the Word files do it for free

The thing about the Word files is that they do the imposition for you FOR FREE--no need to buy ClickBook. A couple of years ago I had daily agenda pages set up in the exact format I wanted and started trying to print them, and it was really difficult to get them to come out in the right order. I still have a note/map in my old planner about how to do it. Now, with the word files, that's taken care of automatically. And for free. The only problem is that it's set up for 5x8 pages--don't know how hard it might be to modify that. The output is great, but ClickBook might be nicer--I just don't want to pay for ClickBook because I tried it back in the 90's and didn't like the way it worked. So I'm so grateful for this--it will serve my purposes excellently.

Imposition? Then print at will!

Imposition, I would think, is a feature found on most high end word proccessors and all DTP (page-layout) programs. I'm sure that if you don't need MS Word or to output to an imagesetter one of the free DTP programs will offer better value.

I confess! I have shares in all the major freeware progs :(

Bookbinding Photo's

I found you here
If I may....I would like to ask two Questions...
A-------How do I glue two normal photo's back to back
to make a wedding book??
I tried all sorts of Ideas but nothing work
I have a large Laminator here too - but did not try to "heatseal it" without a plastic pocket.
Obviously the idea is for the two photo's to end up 100% flat - if possible
Please spend some of your valuable time to let me know
Waiting in anticipation to hear from you soon:-)
Regards and warm wishes


Gluing Photos

Hmm, my suggestion would be to take some glue stick or other adhesive (make sure it's acid free or photo safe as you don't want the chemicals reacting badly to your photos) and then glue them together.

Place a blank paper on the top and bottom of the photos that are glued together and then set a heavy book to flatten them out. That's what I would do.

Of course, the alternative is to take the original photos to kinko's or another copy center and have them print them out double-sided on one piece of paper for you.

Good luck,

shares, shares, shares

Hehe Sardonios, how are those share stocks looking, Is freeware a 7 zeros industry or what ?

It's a 7 zeros industry,

It's a 7 zeros industry, allright, no other digits though...

Make your own Moleskine-ish notebooks

Just came across this:

It's a five page series on how to make your own moleskine-type notebook. The best part of it (IMHO) is a really great set of illustrations & instructions on how to sew multiple signatures together (the second page.) They look much clearer and easier to follow than instructions I've seen in many professionally published books.

OTOH, I don't think much of his naugahyde covers, but, heck, the cover is simply wrapped around the finished guts, so tinkering with it is a snap. :)

Michael Shannon's website is

Michael Shannon's website is very helpful, too bad it doesn't also have a video tutorial, because the pictures no matter how careful and detailed, are never enough to really assist a newbie in creating his or her first moleskine-type notebook.