In the last few years, many crafters have been making "altered" books. This fun way of altering books into a unique treasure naturally leads to hand-made book binding. Cutting the book board, paper for pages and gluing all the pieces together may sound laborious, but it all comes together quickly enough and there's a great return on the investment of your time. Setting up an assembly-line type process allows a whole load of books to be created in little time (though an investment in some duplicate tools would be necessary to have multiple books being created in all steps of the process). Even though the basic books may be turned out assembly-line style, each book may have a different cover paper and be uniquely embellished.
There are a few web sites offering instructions for creating and binding your own books. Some of the book binding and preservation repair sites have good instructions. As with everything else, you can shop for your book supplies online.
Once the supplies and tools have been gathered, it's time to start cutting. When all the pieces are cut--the book paper, the book board, the book cloth--it's time to start folding. Fold the paper into signatures and stack. Sort your supplies into an assembly-line order (the choice is up to you) and begin assembly.
Supplies you will want:
Decide on the size book you want to make. Keep in mind that the book cover will need to be slightly larger than the page size. Also plan on a bit of excess for the covering materials--trimming is easier than trying to make too small a piece of paper or fabric fit.
Cut the paper for your book signatures. Fold the paper in half with a bone folder and make nested bundles of six sheets (this will make 12 pages). You may wish to write your name in the outer crease of the sets--hence the term "signature". Using a spare piece of paper as a template, mark the signatures where they should be sewn--most books will hold together well if sewn with 4 stiches. Using the paper awl, punch holes in the signature sets. Sew the signatures together. Clamp the signatures together with quick grip clamps or even binder clips and run PVA glue along the folded seams. Set the signatures aside to dry.
Cut the book board to the desired size for the spine and covers. Cut the book cloth to cover the book spine and generously overlap onto the covers. Mark the paper side of the book cloth where the spin and covers will lay. Place PVA glue on the book cloth then position the spine and covers on it. Pull the ends over to the inside of the spine and covers, pressing firmly and smoothing any air bubbles. Be sure to press in the space between the spine and covers.
Lay decorative paper down and position the book board on it. Let the paper covering generously overlap the book cloth. Mark where each cover will be. Cut small slits from the paper where it will be folded over into the book. Put a thin coat of PVA glue on the paper cover. Position book cover over it and press firmly to remove bubbles. Fold the top and bottom sides of paper over the book board and press firmly, including where the paper extends off the book board to the last piece of paper that will be folded over. Fold over the end piece and press firmly onto the book board. Repeat for the other cover.
When the signatures have set well, glue the first and last page into the book (some book binding tape may be desired on the spin for a finished look). Put glue on the first page that will face the inside of the book cover and press it onto the book cover. Close the book. Open the book again and glue the last page that will face the inside cover of the book. Fold the back cover over it and press firmly. Open the book, smooth any bubbles out and close again. Run finger from top to bottom between edge of spine and front cover then do the same for the back cover. Let dry thoroughly overnight.
Last updated on July 4, 2023
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