Learn the art of book binding! In this online class we will learn the techniques and process of making a one-of-a-kind handmade notebook. The course will cover the nitty-gritty details of taking raw materials and forming them into a functional book, as well as covering tips on craftsmanship and production.
Making Perfect Bound books is a great way to enter the world of book binding because, compared to stitching methods, a Perfect Bound book requires less material, unique tools, and can be completed between 30 minutes and an hour. Crafting Perfect Bound books is an excellent way to make gifts for friends, for personal use, and even to start a business!
Why Book Binding?
So, you're probably thinking book binding sounds like an unusual hobby. Well, you're right! After all, we live in an industrial society where every item we use is mass produced; and while handmade has become a novelty, most people would never consider making their own books. That's why I want to invite you to join the cool kids! This class is for anyone with a sense of adventure and lover of learning. I will teach you the skills to create excellent quality Perfect Bound books, become better craftsman, and have fun along the way.
I have been making and selling books for years, producing a variety of binding styles, but Perfect Bound books are my bread and butter. I want to share my expertise with you, and hopefully have fun too!
What You Will Learn
Materials We Will Need
We will need to gather some materials to produce a book. Below you will see a general list of the materials, we will cover the material list in more detail at the beginning of the class.
Gather materials & tools:
We are going to glue pages into textblocks by holding them tightly in a bookpress, or if you do not have a bookpress under some big ol' heavy books.
Sort sheets out into stacks of 30. We can easily glue between 3 and 10 stacks at a time. Stacks need to have spacers in between each so we can separate them easily after gluing. The best way to make spacers is to use those annoying Advertisement Mailers you get in the mail. Place two of the Mailer sheets between each textblock as you stack them.
Make sure the spines of all the textblocks are perfectly aligned as you place the stack in your bookpress or under heavy books. It's difficult, kind of like shuffling a deck of giant card, but necessary to have sharp even textblocks.
Once the texblock stack is secure in your press grab a medium/large paintbrush and brush a good layer of PVA Glue over the spine of the entire stack. Wait about 10 minutes or until the glue is mostly dry and repeat twice more. In the end we want three coats of glue on the textblocks.
After the glue has had plently of time to dry, pull the stack out of the press. The textblocks should be easier to peel apart from each other since we used the Advertisement Mailers as spaces between each textblock.
If they do not easily peel, passing a X-Acto knife or other flat instrument in between the spaces should split the textblocks off.
Of course you want to do the best you can not to damage the texblocks, scuff the spine, or rip a page but it is not a big deal if that does happen, and it probably will with a few of the textblocks.
Endsheets need to be the height of the textblock and twice the width. So if we have a textblock that is 8.5" x 5.5", then the endsheets need to be 8.5" x 11".
You can find 8.5" x 11" and 12" x 12" decorative paper at many craft stores.
The endsheets need to be exactly the height and twice the width of the textblock, so they will need to be trimmed.
Start by folding the endsheets in half. If using a paper with a design, the design should be on the inside of the fold.
Then trim the folded endsheet so that it is exactly the height and width of the textblock.
Attach the folded endsheet to the textblock using the tape strip you just applied. Take care when placing the endsheets as they need to perfectly butt-up against the spine.
Flip the textblock over and repeat on other side. Be sure to place the endsheets correctly, with the fold along the spine and if the paper has a design both endsheets are presented in the same vertical direction.
Now that we have a solid textblock with endsheets attached, let's cover the spine with a decorative tape. The tape is partly decoration, partly reinforcement, and partly a protection of the glued textblock.
Working with the tape can be tricky because, well, it's sticky and difficult to manage. If I have a clean work surface I will roll out a strip of tape directly onto the surface, longer than the length of my book. Then trim both sides of the tape to be the exact length of my book. I like to cut both ends to be sure I have a clean, sharp edge.
Now, it doesn't really matter what the width of the tape is but you don't want it to be too wide. A good width would be about 1-1/4". That allows for the depth of the textblock (about 1/4") and allows 1/2" of tape on each side of the textblock (if your textblock is thicker you may want to account for that).
Once the tape strip is trimmed accordingly, place it with care on the spine of your textblock while trying to center it as best you can. Smooth the tape along the spine to push out any air bubbles, then gently fold the tape flaps over the edge of the endsheets.
Voilà, your book is shaping up to be awesome.
The cover of our book will need to be the height of the textblock and the width of the textblock minus about 3/8". So if we have a textblock that is 5-1/2" x 8-1/2" then our cover will need to be 5-1/8" x 8-1/2".
Grab your chipboard and cut out two pieces to be the required size for your cover. If I plan on making a bunch of books sometimes I will go ahead a cut up a whole sheet of chipboard in one go, just to get in the groove and get it over with.
Grab the paper you chose for the cover and lay it on your workspace with the design facedown.
Updated: Optionally you can use a Sray Adhesive like Super 77 to connect the chipboard and cover paper. Doing so can help prevent bubbling of the paper. But I wanted to show the PVA glue method in the class to help reduce the amount of materials necessary.
Paint a thin layer of glue over one side of the Chipboard Cover you just cut out.
Place the Chipboard Cover on the Cover Paper, sealing them. You probably want to try and place the cover parallel to the edge of the paper sheet, not angled, that way any design will look correct. I also like to leave some paper overhanging the Chipboard Cover that can be trimmed away with a knife to ensure a clean, sharp edge.
Repeat with the other Chipboard Cover piece. If you are using a piece of 12" x 12" decorative paper (typical size from a craft store) you should have plenty of room to place the two Chipboard Covers side-by-side.
Using the X-Acto knife, trim along the edges of the Chipboard Covers. Now you have a ready-to-use cover.
It's time to connect the Cover pieces to the Textblock and Endsheets, we are almost at the end of our journey.
Paint a thin layer of glue on the backside of one of the Cover pieces
Place the Cover piece on the Textblock/Endsheet combo. You want the piece to align to the outer edges of the Endsheet, the Cover should be about 3/8" away from the spine (which is why we cut the Cover piece to be smaller than the full Textblock size). Be sure the Cover is exactly parallel with the Spine, because if it is just a little bit off it will be very noticible. The reason we leave some space between the Spine and Cover is so the book can open properly. When placing Cover pieces be sure to apply them correctly with the design facing the correct direction.
Repeat with other Cover piece.
Here are some ideas for materials to use:
My name is Caleb Sylvest, I’m a guy that likes to make things. I am a Designer & Developer living and working in Dallas, TX. To me design is a way of life and I like to incorporate good design in everything I do.
A hobby of mine is hands-on bookbinding. I love the process of taking everyday items (paper, glue, tape) and crafting them into a functional, beautiful book. I have spent years studying the art of making books and have learned many techniques, including perfect bound, pamphlet, coptic, japanese stab stitching and more. I have made books to sell, give as gifts, for personal use, and for decorative display.
Why buy something when I can make it myself?