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View Full Version : Has anyone ever done book binding? What's it like?



Blinkk
06-29-2016, 12:51 AM
Not sure exactly where to post this question, so mods feel free to move.

I wrote a story for a friend's birthday. It's a novella at 30k words, so it's a nice length. Anyways, to make it a really nice birthday present, I've been toying with the idea of DIY book binding. I've never attempted this before but from what I've read online it's a little tricky but doable.

Has anyone ever made their own books? Originally I was going to have the story printed through a mainstream company, but this would be a one-off book. Many places I looked at either don't offer one-off book printing, or it's fairly expensive. That's why I started looking into DIY book binding.

Any ideas, feedback, or input is helpful. Has anyone ever done their own book binding, and what was your experience like?

AW Admin
06-29-2016, 01:05 AM
Not sure exactly where to post this question, so mods feel free to move.

I wrote a story for a friend's birthday. It's a novella at 30k words, so it's a nice length. Anyways, to make it a really nice birthday present, I've been toying with the idea of DIY book binding. I've never attempted this before but from what I've read online it's a little tricky but doable.

Has anyone ever made their own books? Originally I was going to have the story printed through a mainstream company, but this would be a one-off book. Many places I looked at either don't offer one-off book printing, or it's fairly expensive. That's why I started looking into DIY book binding.

Any ideas, feedback, or input is helpful. Has anyone ever done their own book binding, and what was your experience like?

You want to talk to AW mod Evil Rooster. She's a serious and talented book binder.

WriterDude
06-29-2016, 01:28 AM
I'm sure I've seen book binding courses/experiences somewhere. Would love to give it a go.

An alternative is the createspace thing for print on demand. That seemed reasonable.

WriterDude
06-29-2016, 01:31 AM
Awesome gift by the way.

Kylabelle
06-29-2016, 01:55 AM
Seconding what AW Admin suggested. PM Evil Rooster and see what she says.

Blinkk
06-29-2016, 05:40 AM
Thanks for the suggestion guys! Just sent her a PM.

AW Admin
06-29-2016, 05:44 AM
I'm sure I've seen book binding courses/experiences somewhere. Would love to give it a go.

An alternative is the createspace thing for print on demand. That seemed reasonable.

Ask at your local public library. There will be someone in your community who does book binding.

If you're somewhere near a college or university that has either a medieval studies or a library /information science program, they'll almost certainly have a class or know somewhere you can take a class.

At a certain point, you start needing a class because there is some specialized equipment, and there's a lot to know about kinds of paper and glue, etc.

But there are several kinds of binding that are absolutely suitable for do-it-yourself crafty types.

Maryn
06-29-2016, 06:38 PM
Binding is absolutely do-able on a craft level with some instruction. We once had a neighbor who would rebind favorite kids' books that had been read to death. The workmanship was nice enough, but her choice of fabrics was weird and wrong. I might still have a red gingham edition around, which might have been fine for a book about picnics or farms, but not for fairy tales.

Filigree
07-02-2016, 08:09 AM
I've done some binding, but most of mine are weird 'art' bindings. I can send you links, or you can look in the 'Book Arts' section of my Blue Night blog.

evilrooster
07-04-2016, 04:15 PM
Hey - sorry to take so long to reply. I'm (part) British and Brexit ate my brain for a week. :)

If you're able to use YouTube tutorials, this is a good pair to follow to create a fairly nice book with minimal equipment or experience.

Making the book block: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGQ5P8QVHSg
Casing in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Av_rU-yOPd4

A few notes, caveats, and substitutions:

A bone folder is a great tool to have for bookbinding (and folding letters), but if you don't have one, use something like a wooden dowel or the bone handle of an old-fashioned butter knife. (If you do buy a bone folder, soak it overnight in cooking oil in a ziplock bag - it'll glide more smoothly and not pick up adhesive so easily.)

You can use any strong thread for sewing books. Button thread is easy to obtain. Double-triple-check that you have all the signatures the right way up when you sew them on.

What she calls PVA is just Elmer's Glue formulated to archival standards. If you're printing on acid-free paper with a letterpress and hoping your book will last 400 years, get bookbinder's PVA. If not, start binding with Elmer's and move up from there.

You can improvise a book press with a couple of woodworking clamps and a couple of boards. Or just put your book under a stack of other books.

The big thing that she's leaving out of the entire set of videos is paper grain. Basically, machine-made paper has all its little fibers lined up in one direction, usually parallel with the long sides of the sheet (that's why it's easier to tear paper in one direction than the other). When you get them wet, those fibers swell in particular ways. Professional binders make their books with the fibers running parallel with the spine -- but because the paper's folded in half to do that, it means that you have to use cross-grained paper to start with, which is harder to find and generally more expensive.

To avoid the headache as much as possible when you start binding, my one piece of advice if you're using normal paper is be sparing with the adhesive. Don't soak the spine of the book with glue. Maybe leave the glue you're going to use on the spine out to thicken up a little bit, then brush it on lightly.

When it comes to making the cover, if you use paper (which is a lot less of a headache than making your own bookcloth like she suggests), make sure that that grain does go up and down (here are a few ways to check: https://printingpartners.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/paper-grain-direction/). Likewise, make sure the grain of the cover cardboard is straight up and down. This is going to mean the endpapers and the covers aren't playing very nicely with each other...give this book a good long time to dry in the press to minimize that effect.

Try to protect your book block from the adhesive as you put the cover on. The best thing for that? Kitchen waxed paper. It's cheap and it works wonderfully.

You don't need to put a headband on if you don't want to; if you do, maybe browse the web for better suggestions than hers. (I just don't like it. YMMV).

And my biggest suggestion: do a blank book first. Try it all out; none of the materials is that expensive. Make your first-order mistakes on it before you go on to the final product. Bonus: you now have a blank book. :) (I got started in bookbinding with blank books; they're still most of my binding.)

I'm glad to answer questions as you go. Good luck!

Xelebes
07-04-2016, 09:53 PM
I did book bindings in high school. Don't remember much other than having a big heavy knife (and I mean a big, heavy knife) and some glue.

Professor Yaffle
07-07-2016, 12:44 AM
I've done a little bookbinding, at university and for a prop-making job I used to have. It is doable, and very pleasing. I never managed to be as technical about paper as Evilrooster, but could do a reasonable job. It's nice to have a sketchbook that I actually made!

My only advice is to go steady, measure everything very carefully and draw guidelines everywhere you can where it won't show (especially when working out where to put the boards for the cover on the paper or bookcloth covering.)

Blinkk
07-07-2016, 09:41 PM
Thanks for all the tips, guys! I'm going to try my hand at a practice binding this weekend. I'll make a journal with blank pages (so if I mess up it won't be the actual gift). I'll let you know how it comes out.

Maryn
07-07-2016, 10:43 PM
Pictures, please? Maybe even step by step?

Maryn, pretty damned demanding

Filigree
07-08-2016, 07:30 AM
Maryn said 'pictures', I thought 'video', and remembered quite possibly the funniest bookbinding video I have ever seen (and I've been in a room with a guy in a Sasquatch suit trying to do single needle Coptic bindings and getting his fur in the thread. Don't ask.)

To top that, here is If'n Books and a very accurate bookbinding demo. If you can keep your eyes on the woman doing the work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V11ztKgKk6g#t=50

This one is not, alas, the full video that I remember, which starts out sedate and has madpeople drifting in slowly.

Blinkk
07-14-2016, 04:36 AM
Thanks for all the support guys! I tried making a journal with blank pages (and was halfway successful) so now I have a cool book all for myself. This is going to become my favorite journal ever. :P Bookbinding is way fun and I'm really looking forward to doing this with the story I wrote. However, this was a practice round so there were a few things I got completely wrong.

The stitching came out ridiculous. I have no idea what I did. I thought I followed the directions word-for-word on this (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGQ5P8QVHSg)tutorial, but my up may be down and my knots may really be sad excuses for halfassed loops and being confused is kind of normal when it comes to Blinkk and sewing. :D I'm looking into more in-depth directions on how to perfect the stitching. My stitching looks nothing like the video. Not quite sure what I did, but at least I was consistent with my mistake. The whole spine looks uniform, so A+ on being repetitive -- mistakenly repetitive. :D :D :D

Actually, aside from the stitching, everything went pretty smoothly. I like measuring and cutting (I do a fair amount of wood working) so I'm pretty good at that part. The cover pages, the spine, and the cover all came out nicely.

Maryn, I will take step by step pictures when I bind my REAL novelette - this one was just a practice round. The gift story is up next! Woot!

Blinkk
07-14-2016, 04:40 AM
PS - I'm a little frightened to tackle the printing of the story. I did some research and found this software (http://www.quantumelephant.co.uk/bookbinder/bookbinder.html) which will make PDFs in the correct order. Does anyone have more information, tips, or tricks on printing the story in bookbinding format? This part looks like it could become a headache real quick, so I'm hoping I get it right on the first try.

Thanks guys, you've been awesomely helpful and supportive this far. I'll take pictures/video when I bind the gift. I'll post that stuff as a thank you for all your help. AW rocks.