Get started with book binding

We introduce the basic principles and some great resources to get you started with book binding.

While digital tools offer us numerous possibilities to create wonderful things, as designers there's nothing that beats the feeling of crafting something purely physical. Producing something you can hold in your hand also gives you a much deeper insight into the design process in general.

Book binding is a great technique that you to produce beautifully customized handcrafted books and publications from a range of materials. Just as we recently explained how to create your own zines, here we'll outline some of the basic concepts and principles involved in book binding, and some resources that will help get you started.

What you'll need

There's no one method of book binding but here's a basic breakdown of the materials that can come in handy:

  • Paper stock
  • Bone folder
  • Heavyweights/paper press for pages
  • Pencil
  • Craft Knife/guillotine
  • Ruler
  • Book binding thread
  • Needles
  • Double sided adhesive/PVA

You can also buy starter packs containing all you need from retailers such as J Hewit & Sons.

Binding methods

Depending on the number of pages you want to bind, there are a range of different methods you can bind your pages. Each also comes with its own different options in terms of finish. Some popular binding methods include:

Preparing your paper

You'll need to make sure all your pages are flattened and perfectly cut out to align with one another. Beyond that, there are a number of different ways to prepare your paper, depending on the binding method you decide upon.

For saddle stitch binds, for example, you'll need to allow extra paper to cut down once you've folded your pages to the exact size you require - making sure the cover will be able to wrap around the body paper.

Online training

Bookbinding in pictures: a beginner’s guide to bookbinding - This online PDF offers a working guide to the processes used in bookbinding. It is illustrated with over 500 photographs showing
step by step the methods, equipment and materials used in rebinding and repairing books.

How to bind a book: a 10-step guide - This tutorial walks you through one method of binding a book using some cost-effective binding and stitching techniques.

Further reading

  • Hand Bookbinding: A Manual of Instruction - This expert guide to creating fine books by hand includes detailed instructions, with over 270 helpful illustrations, covering materials, tools and equipment, making a slipcase, rebinding an old book, and more. It also includes 8 specific projects.
  • Bookbinding: A Step-by-step Guide - This practical guide introduces the techniques of hand-binding a book with step-by-step instructions and photographs.
  • Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions From A Master Craftsman - A third-generation traditional bookbinder gives easy-to-follow instructions for making all the major styles of Japanese bindings.
  • The Handmade Book - An introduction into the art of bookbinding, explaining how to create your own unique and personal journals, notebooks, albums, and portfolios using a variety of traditional and modern techniques.

Words: Meryem Meg