Book Binding – Part 2

The post last week showed you how to bind your class notes into a book.  This week, I will show how to finish compiling your documents with a hardcover bookbinding.  I chose to use a different example for my pictures here, as the bookbinding in these photos is more simplistic and instructive.


My hardcover bookbindings use matboard as the base material.  Matboard can be purchased from a hobby store which provides picture framing materials.  The board is cut to size, slightly larger than the paper which it is binding, with a razor and straightedge.

Next I use fabric scraps to prepare corners and spine coverings for the book.  For a more ornate book, I like to cover the entire matboard with one fabric, then use a second fabric for the corners and spine.  However, I want this post to show the bare minimum.  It is important to at least cover the corners of the matboard with material when binding a book in this manner, as the material is little more than thickened cardboard and can damage over time.

The corners are made by folding a trapezoidal shaped cutout of fabric at the corners.  The spine is made by using a strip of fabric to strap the matboard pices together.  Sometimes, I use a thicker material inside the spine fabric to improve the spine quality.

Cover to Book

The cover is secured to the book with at the edge of the spine.  A minimum, you can use a piece of gaffers tape to affix this point, but I chose to use colored paper.  The paper is glued to the the first page with a thin layer of PVA glue, and folded over.  The next half is glued to the hardened binding.

Note that the pictured example is NOT my best work.  This illustrates and experiment I made while coming up with this method.  The glue causes waves in the colored paper as it dries.  Furthermore, the cover which is thickened by the fabric causes waves as the paper settles into the matboard preferentially.  In later work, I have used another layer of material to thicken the matboard to match the fabric thickness.

Not the prettiest thing I've made, so learn from this mistake.

The end result is quite nice though.  The cover is substantial enough to protect the materials within, and the cloth hardcover bookbinding adds a bit of elegance to your shelf.  In my future experiments, I plan on adding embroidered titles to the spine before binding.

Hardcover bookbinding with cloth and matboard is a nice way to keep your documents on the shelf.


Bookbinding Class Notes – Part 1

Isn’t it a hassle when you go try to keep your class notes organized and bound, but your professor loves handouts?  Just take to bookbinding class notes into a copy worth keeping, like I have.  This and the post next week will show the steps I took to bind the notes from one of my classes into a hardbound copy.

Bookbinding Class Notes - I used LaTeX to make the table of contents

Printing and Sizing the Paper

When preparing my notes for bookbinding, I had to deal with a combination of page sizes.  I took my notes on lined paper which was slightly smaller than the handouts, which were printed on standard US Letter sized paper.  This was fixed by cutting down the letter paper with a straightedge and razor.  I chose to cut from the bottom edge of the letter paper rather than the top to resize.  Either works, and it is a matter of preference.  Be sure not to cut off something important!

Bookbinding Class Notes

Binding with String and Glue

Once you have all of your notes ready to go, place the copies in a stack and secure with clamps.  For this book, I used a piece of wood on either side of the stacked papers to prevent the C-clamps I was using from damaging the notes.  The wood was positioned to leave a margin on the binding side of the documents.

Next, line was traced on the top page 1 cm from the edge.  This line was marked at regular intervals (I think I used 1 cm for my intervals on this copy).  At each of these intervals, I drilled a small hole all the way through the papers.  I used a 3/32″ diameter drill bit.  It is important to note that while drilling these holes, the papers will tend to splay out.  I mitigated this issue by securing the area adjacent to the drill hole with channel lock pliers.

When all of the holes are drilled, use a needle and thread to bind the book.  There are several different binding techniques you can use, but I have found that a simple looping forward and backward along the spine of the book was sufficient.  With the string tied off, I used a liberal amount of PVA glue along the spine to further hold the pages together.

String is really all you need for the spine, but glue is extra security

Next week I will describe how I make my covers.