A Step-by-Step Guide to Binding a Book Properly

bind a book

Do you want to start a scrapbook, keep a journal or a journal and stick with it? You can of course buy a matching book in the store, but if you want it to be really personal, then it’s time to rediscover the not-yet-lost art of bookbinding. Book bindings can be simple and more complicated. You can glue, bind with ribbon, or even sew your book.

Table of Contents

Perfect binding

Fold the sides in half.

Secure the fold using a bone folder, or run the tip of your fingernail over the edge and press down. You can fold the pages individually or several at once. If you have too many pages to fold sharply, create a few stacks. A stack consists of four sheets that you fold in half. Put the stacks on top of each other.

Lay them on top of each other at the fold.

Lay them crease-side down so the flat part of the stack faces out and the “arms” of the stack rest on the inside of the crease. Use a long stapler if a regular stapler doesn’t reach the center of the fold. If you’re making stacks, staple each one individually.

Make sure you have a 1/2 inch margin when your sheets are printed.

Words printed on this border become part of the binding and are therefore unreadable.

Cut a piece of tape that is two inches longer than your book tall.

The tape can be colored or neutral. Make sure the tape is strong enough to hold the book together. Don’t use masking tape or clear tape. Purchase linen or cotton tape that will provide the necessary support.

Place the tape on a flat surface and press the book onto it.

Doing this instead of trying to glue the tape to the book will make it easier to form a straight glue line. Center the book on the tape, as you will need to fold the remaining tape to cover the other side of the book. If your book is thick, leave a larger margin for the tape so you have enough tape to cover the spine of the book and still get through to the other side.

Wrap the tape around the spine of the book.

Guide the tape with your fingers so it sticks to the spine of the book. Wrap the tape all the way around so it covers the bottom, spine, and top of the book.

Reinforce a thick book with several layers of tape.

If the book has many pages or is made up of multiple stacks of paper, tape it multiple times. Glue the book until the binding feels secure.

Cut off excess tape.

The tape is longer than the book itself, so there is tape overhanging the top and bottom of the book. Use scissors or a scalpel knife to cut off the tape. Cut as close to the book pages as possible. Cut off any excess tape. Do not fold excess tape or the book will be harder to open.

Thread binding

Make sure the pages have a margin of at least 1 inch on the left.

If you printed in the standard format of Word, then you automatically have a margin of 2.5 centimeters. If you wrote the pages by hand, make sure the margin is there. If there is no border, then the words on the left are unreadable.

Make a hole 1/2 inch from the top edge and 1/2 inch from the left side edge.

Use a hole punch to keep everything looking neat. If you’re having trouble measuring and punching at the same time, use a pencil to mark the appropriate spot before making the hole.

Repeat at the bottom of the page.

This time measure 1.25 centimeters from the bottom edge and 1.25 centimeters from the left side edge. Make sure the holes line up.

Using a ruler, draw a fine line between the two holes.

Use a pencil so you can erase the line later. You can also draw a bold line with a pen or marker if you want it to stay on the first page.

Make a hole every 1/4 inch along the line.

Make sure the holes line up. You’ll tie the thread through these holes later.

Measure and cut the thread so it is twice the length of your book.

The thickness and texture of the thread are irrelevant to the binding, so go all out! Choose plain black tape for the classic look, or something colorful if you like it more personal.

Thread the thread through each hole.

Be careful not to pull the thread all the way through the first hole, you do that to finish the thread binding. If the thread is too short, remove it and cut a longer one.

Loop the thread back through the top and bottom holes and tie it tight.

If you pull the thread through a second time, the bond will be stronger. Depending on the number of pages, you may need to thread it through the holes a third time to make the binding even stronger. Finish the tie with a simple knot or fancy bow and trim any excess threads.

Stitch binding, also sewn binding

Fold the sides in half.

Use a bone folder or the tip of your nail to ensure the fold is strong enough. Depending on the number of pages, you can fold the sheets individually or in groups.

Measure the length of the book with a ruler.

If you know how long the sides are, then you don’t need to measure. If you don’t know this or don’t use standard pages, then measure carefully.

Divide the measurement result by five.

This binding method requires five holes in the fold. These should be evenly distributed. The spacing depends on the size of the pages. For example, if your side is 22 centimeters, dividing by five gives you 4.4 centimeters.

Mark the corresponding points on the paper with a pencil.

Do this on the inside of the fold, using a ruler to make sure the measurements are accurate. These points are called stations or breakpoints. The first breakpoint is on the bottom of the sheet, the fifth is the top. For example, if your side is 22 centimeters long, then the first point is 4.4 centimeters. The next point is always 4.4 centimeters above the last. The fifth point is 4.4 centimeters from the top of the page.

Pierce each point with a prick.

A prick is used to poke small holes in anything from paper to leather or wood. Use a paper prick. If you don’t have a prick, use a large needle.

Stick the needle through the third point and pull about two inches of thread through the side.

Hold the rest of the thread with your non-dominant hand so you don’t accidentally pull too much through. You can use thread of any color you like. Remember that the thread remains visible!

Pull the needle through the fourth point.

The needle and thread are now on the inside of the fold. Release the remaining thread and pull through as much as needed.

Pull the needle and thread through the fifth and fourth points again.

The needle goes through the fifth point and then back through the fourth point hole so that it is again on the inside of the fold.

Pull the needle through the second point.

The needle is now on the outside of the second point.

Pull the needle through the first point and again through the second point.

Your needle goes through the inside of the first point and then back out to the second point. The thread points away from the fold.

Complete the tie by pulling the thread through the third point.

The thread now runs through each point and the book has a thread on both the inside and outside of the fold.

Tie a knot on the inside of the fold of the third point.

Tie the thread to itself and pull on it. You can tie any knot of your choice, so long as it is tight and the tie stays in place.

Cover Binding

Tape the edges of the paper with clear tape to hold them in place.

This way the pages don’t tear out easily. Lay half the tape to one side and fold it over the other. Repeat with each side.

Using a ruler, measure 1/2 inch from the top of the page.

To make it look more dramatic, you can measure 1.9 centimeters from the top edge.

Make three marks 1.9 centimeters apart.

The first mark is 1.9 centimeters from the top of the page. Using the ruler, draw these marks so they are straight. Repeat on the bottom edge.

Form stacks of four or five sheets each and poke the holes with a prick.

If you don’t have a prick, use a thick needle. You can also poke holes in the covers this way.

Measure your thread.

The thread should be as long as the edge length multiplied by the number of pages you want to bind. Cut six pieces of string of equal length. If you have 20 sides and the base is 5.7 centimeters long, then you will need 114 centimeters per thread.

Pass the binding needle and thread through the first hole on the bottom.

Pass the thread through and tie a knot in the thread. The knot is on the side of the paper that faces up, not the bottom. Do not tie a knot in the tying thread. Once you’ve tied the knot, cut off the tail of the thread and pull it in to make it look neater.

Pass the thread through the first hole on the bottom cover.

Pull the thread until the paper is pulled through the cover. Then pass the thread under the first loop. Include both strands.

Finish each remaining hole with a new binding needle and thread.

Repeat the process with the loop. Use threads of different colors for each tying hole to make it look more quirky, or use only one color to create a unified look.

Repeat for each hole on subsequent pages.

Pass the needle and thread through the stitch of the side you just worked on to make the book more stable. Start on the third page. Once you have worked the thread through the paper, formed the loop and slipped the needle under the first loop, insert the needle under the last stitch.

Bind the top cover like a regular page.

Loop around and under the previous stitch, then bring the needle back in and open the book. Tie a knot by passing the thread under the stitch on the previous side.


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