Book Binding Supplies

Making a Book

Books are fairly simple constructions: a book is simply a number of pages bound together. But you can take the bookmaking techniques to a time intensive, complex level. There are a few secrets when it comes to putting a simple book together, however. This ArtTips will look at creating the pages for your book, and the next ArtTips will get into creating the cover and binding for your book. Let's look at a few bits of info that will help us construct a better book, starting with its pages.

You will need:
- Paper for your book pages
- Folding tool
- Paper trimmer or very sharp scissors
- 2 large binder clips
- 2 pieces of foam board

Paper Quality
Your paper choice might depend on your vision for the end use of your book. It might depend on having leftover materials that you want to use. It might depend on any number of things, so take the time to think it through. If you will be using your book as an art journal, and painting in the pages, choose your paper accordingly. Watercolor paper is an excellent choice for delicate, water-based work and mediums. If you anticipate using it more for sketching and notes, consider a thicker paper than can be erased and impressed on with pen and pencil points.

Note: If your paper is to thin, it could tear in the binding process. Consider adhering two sheets of thin paper together for better durability, or use thicker paper.

Step 1: Fold the Signatures

Decide how many pages you want your book to be and put it together in signatures.

A set number of pages folded and sometimes bound together is called a signature. Most books today are usually put together in signatures of 12 or 16, depending on the thickness of the paper. Books are made with signatures for several reasons. First, a signature of 16 pages is made from 8 larger pages folded in half, which makes the edges of the book pages more uniform. If you were to take all the pages you wanted in a book and just fold them in half, the edges of the pages on the outside of the stack wouldn't line up with those towards the center of the stack. Signatures keep the page edge more consistent. Signatures also help keep the book together. Binding signatures together, rather than individual pages, makes the book stronger and more likely to stay in tact.

Tip:If you are using thicker paper, consider a signature that has less pages. This makes the signature easier to work with, and the paper edge will be more consistent.

Line the edges up as carefully as possible when folding the pages. The more meticulously you fold your pages, the more accurate the edges and corners of your book.

Using a folding tool to fold the signatures will make your signatures easier to bind, and give you a crisper crease.

Clamp the signatures overnight with two binder clips to fully flatten the pages. Use two pieces of foam board to protect the paper from being imprinted with the pressure from the binder clips.

Step 2: Cut to Size

Choose how big or small you want your book to be.

Trim Size
Determine how big you want your book to be. If you have paper that is a standard size that you envision using for this project--for example, you may have a stack of construction paper, computer paper, or other kind of paper stock that is all 8.5 x 11 inches that you will be using for your paper signatures--then consider that you will be folding your paper in half for the best book construction, so your book would be 5.5 x 8.5 inches at the most.

Once you have folded your signatures and flattened the pages, you can determine your trim size and shape. If you have a certain shape in mind, make a pattern that you can follow for the signatures, end pages, and the cover pieces. Use a pair of freshly sharpened scissors, if possible, to cut the signatures to shape. Accuracy is everything here, so trim with great care.

Continues below with with cover construction and binding techniques.
Products (Total Items: 19)
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Lineco Book Cloth Black 26X36
(Item Number 220-4021)

Lineco Archivel Book Cloth Black

Strong close weave European cloth is backed with acid-free paper for easy application. For covering Books, Boxes, Portfolios,or Art Objects.

MSRP: $21.14


Lineco Super
(Item Number 870-1021)

An open weave cotton cloth for good adhesive penetration. Its purpose is to unite signatures while leaving the backbone of the book flexible.

MSRP: $10.05


Lineco Book Cloth Red 17X38
(Item Number 220-4090)

Lineco Archivel Book Cloth

Strong close weave European cloth is backed with acid-free paper for easy application. For covering Books, Boxes, Portfolios,or Art Objects.

MSRP: $21.36


Lineco Book Cloth Linen 17X38
(Item Number 220-4087)

Lineco Archivel Book Cloth Linen

Strong close weave european cloth is backed with acid-free paper for easy application. For covering Books, Boxes, Portfolios,or Art Objects.

MSRP: $21.43


Lineco Book Cloth Blue
(Item Number 220-4092)

Lineco Archivel Book Cloth

Strong close weave European cloth is backed with acid-free paper for easy application. For covering Books, Boxes, Portfolios,or Art Objects.

MSRP: $21.36


Lineco Small Bone folder
(Item Number 870-900B)

This selection of genuine bone folders offers a variety of different design elements that increase the versatility of the tool while providing additional comfort to the user. They can be used for making creases or folds on tapes and papers without causing the paper to become shiny.

MSRP: $10.17


Lineco Large Bone Folder
(Item Number 870-901B)

This selection of genuine bone folders offers a variety of different design elements that increase the versatility of the tool while providing additional comfort to the user. They can be used for making creases or folds on tapes and papers without causing the paper to become shiny.

MSRP: $13.60


Lineco Bone Scorer
(Item Number 870-905B)

Makes an excellent crease in paper or marks a line without using pencil. Genuine cattle bone.

MSRP: $11.31


Lineco Micro Spatula
(Item Number 870-003)

This spatula is wonderful for applying paste to small areas and other delicate binding and repair tasks. The springy ends enable precise control and the polished stainless steel cleans easily.

MSRP: $8.71


Lineco Binding Thread
(Item Number 402-0050)

Strong genuine Irish linen thread. For hand sewing.

MSRP: $11.34


Lineco Binding Tape
(Item Number 870-6563)

Genuine linen tape is closely woven for strength; 0.375" width accommodates most popular size books.

MSRP: $12.53


Lineco Needles Bookbinding
(Item Number 870-887)

Sized to accommodate sturdy bookbinding threads, these needles have a length that is easy to handle and a slightly blunted point to reduce paper snags. Manufactured from the finest grade steel.

MSRP: $7.84


Lineco Book Repair Tape 1 in. White
(Item Number 533-2024)

Both the 1" and 2" tapes are used to hinge covers, reinforce pamphlets, repair covers and loose pages. They use a strong, acid-free linen fabric coated with neutral pH adhesive.

MSRP: $10.58


Lineco Heavy Duty Awl with Ball Handle
(Item Number 870-885)

A large handle allows control and a strong grip. The fine point produces holes properly sized for sewing.

MSRP: $15.33


Lineco Medium Duty Stainless SteelAwl, Heavy Duty, Stainless Steel
(Item Number 870-889)

Made of stainless steel and featuring a beautifully designed curved handle, this awl combines excellent control and good punching force.

MSRP: $16.52


Lineco Light Duty Awl
(Item Number 870-888)

A light duty awl adequate for many bookbinding projects. The fine point produces holes properly sized for sewing.

MSRP: $6.50


Lineco Beeswax
(Item Number 987-1001)

Beeswax is the traditional material used by conservators and book binders for waxing thread to make difficult sewing jobs easier to accomplish. Sold in 1 oz.

MSRP: $8.36


Lineco Binder Board 4-pk
(Item Number BBHM251)

LINECO Archival Reinforcing Repair Tape.Stronger long fiber material for reinforcing and repairing book jackets and art plates.

MSRP: $15.85


Lineco Weight Bags
(Item Number 969-1101)

Weight bags are used to hold artwork, photos, textiles, or other items in position while working. They also provide weight pressure to hold glued items together while drying.

MSRP: $11.34


Bookmaking for Artists: Cover and Bind

Let's get back to bookmaking! Now that we know how many pages our book is, and what size this fabulous little project is going to be, let's look at creating a cover for the book, and a stitched binding technique called chain stitching or Coptic stitching. We are focusing on this stitch because it can be used in a fully covered book, or an open spine book. We will make an open spine book in this tutorial.

- Cover material
- Awl or small gauge punch
- Hole punch
- Beeswax
- Needle & Thread

Creating the Cover
Your book cover should be thick enough, and strong enough, to protect your book pages. Most book covers are created from cover weighted paper, card stock, or even cardboard and other recycled materials. Consider materials that might not be a traditional cover material; we like foam board because you can apply a large number of artistic treatments.

Use the stencil you created for sizing your pages to cut the cover board pieces to fit. Depending on the look you want for your book, you can cut the cover pieces to fit exactly, or you can add a little bit of overlap, cutting the pieces slightly larger, to be more protective of the page edges.

Tip: If you are just starting out exploring bookmaking, we recommend cutting your cover pieces slightly larger than you page signatures. As you become more familiar with the binding process, and how the stitching can pull at the pages and cover, you can experiment with different cover shapes, sizes, and materials.

Once you have cut the cover pieces to fit, finish them with whatever treatment you can envision, whether it is painting, wrapping, or otherwise. This book cover will show the thread holding the book together, as well as an exposed spine, so plan your cover accordingly.

Plot the Punch Points
Now it is time to determine where you will be stitching the signatures together, as well as attaching the cover pieces. You can place the binding stitches creatively so that they are their own beautiful part of the finished book by using colored thread or sewing the signatures together in graphic-like patterns. For this tutorial, we will do simple stitch placement to show the basic technique.

Stack the signatures together with the spines all facing the same way. If you have a specific top (also called the head) or bottom (also called the tail) of your book, be sure to place the signatures together accordingly. Clip together with binder clips, and use a pencil or marker to mark the punch holes in each signature's spine where it will be stitched together. Be sure the pencil marks align as perfectly as possible. Stitching that is even slightly out of alignment can move your signature out of line, or even tear the paper pages when the book is finished. Be sure to mark the cover pieces as well.

Tip: For first time book makers, we suggest an odd number of punch holes.

Tip: Mark the very edge of the signatures for your punch holes, but mark your cover pieces on the flat part close to the spine. They should be at least 1/8th inch in from the edge to ensure the threading doesn't tear through over time.

Punch the Holes
Now, unfold your signatures, and keeping them perfectly aligned, use a small awl to punch holes in all the signatures where you have marked. Make the punches clean and even. (We suggest using a cutting mat for good follow through on your punched holes. This will minimize ragged edges and tears.) Use a larger hole punch to punch the holes in the cover pieces.

Tip: Your punch holes only need to be big enough for the thread to fit.

Prep Your Thread
This is where the beeswax comes in. Thread can be pretty tough on paper, so rub your thread across the beeswax several times to coat it well. The wax prevents the thread from tearing the paper while you stitch the binding. You can also use waxed thread as an alternative.

Stitching the Binding
For this open spine book, we are going to use what is called a Coptic stitch, or a chain stitch. Start with one cover board and one signature.

1. Start on the inside of the first signature, at the what will be the tail of the book (or the bottom). From the inside out, thread through the signature and through the tail hole of your cover board, leaving enough thread inside the signature to tie off later. The thread should lead from the inside to the outside. Align your cover board with the signature, and bring the thread around the cover edge to thread through the tail hole from the outside of the cover in, bringing the needle between the signature and the cover board, and creating a small loop. Don't pull the thread tight again the cover and signature; bring the thread through the small loop to make a knot, pull the knot snug, and then thread the needle back into the first signature hole from outside. Your thread should be exactly where you started.

Tip: If you don't want a knot on the outside of your spine, loop the thread through just the cover hole again and then back into the signature hole. Tie your knot on the inside of the signature to secure.

2. Next, from the inside of your signature, just move up to the next hole and take the thread back out. Repeat the looping or knotting process to secure this section to the cover, bring the thread back into the signature, and move up again until you reach the final hole at the head of your book.

3. Rather than sewing back into the top signature hole as you have done for the others, it's time to add your next signature. Sew your thread into the top hole of the second signature, keeping the signatures well aligned. Because you don't need to attach this signature to the cover, immediately move to the next hole down and thread through.

4. From here, attach the second signature to the first by threading through the first signature's spine loop, and back into the hole you just came from. Move down and repeat this process, attaching each signature to the previous at each signature hole. Repeat this process for every new signature, as well as when you get to the second cover piece.

Tip: You will be zigzagging across the book spine, and attaching a signature each time you come to the end, until it is time to attach the second cover piece.

5. When you get to the last hole on your second cover piece, instead of going back into the last hole twice, pull the thread between the cover board and the last signature, and tie it off on the inside of the cover.

Congratulations! You just made a book.