How To Bind A Book Or Files By Hand

Do you have files or old magazines that you would like to bind? Here are some relatively simple techniques that you can do at home too.

The binding DIY is recommended mainly for DIY enthusiasts who love to create personalized notebooks or diaries, but it can also be useful for those who make collection of magazines or weekly installments.

The latter are usually entrusted to bookbinders , or craft workshops specialized in bookbinding , but since some of the techniques used are not difficult to perform, it is possible to arm yourself with a few simple tools and try to bind a book yourself.

The different techniques

The art of bookbinding originated in India, but as we know it today in the West it began to develop only from the first century AD.

In ancient India, in fact, the texts were written on palm leaves which were subsequently cut in two, dried and then tied together with wooden boards. It was only with the subsequent development of bookbinding in China and Japan that paper was used and books began to take on the look they still have today.

One of the most important oriental techniques was developed in Japan in fact, and is used in the West, with a more or less similar process, albeit in other ways. In ancient Egypt, for example, it was customary to write texts on papyri which were then rolled up instead of being tied together in sheets.

In the first century AD, however, the Copts, as the first Christians of Egypt were called, developed a completely innovative wire binding method , which ended up becoming the cornerstone of the binding techniques still used today in the West.

Both Coptic and Japanese binding are particularly suitable for binding a do-it-yourself book , or bundles, so let’s take a closer look at them and understand how they are made step by step.

Japanese binding instructions

In Japan, the bookbinding is called Watoji, and it was imported directly from China. It is a simple method that allows the creation of small books and notebooks with covers; as with all other forms of craftsmanship, however, the Japanese were able to transform bookbinding into a real art, even giving life to different styles simply by changing the color of the thread and the stitching pattern.

To perform it, proceed as follows: first take a certain number of sheets, A4 or A3 format depending on the desired size, then fold them perfectly in two and insert them into each other in order to create notebooks.

The number of sheets must be such as not to create too thick files obviously; the weight of the paper greatly affects this aspect, with an 80 gram paper you can put together six or eight sheets for example, while with a 120 gram paper it is advisable not to use more than four or five.

The number of issues must be chosen according to the desired number of pages; once ready, the booklets will be locked together with the help of metal clips, in order to hold them firmly while you mark the position of the holes along the spine with a pencil with the help of a ruler.

The holes must be made with an awl, staying about one and a half centimeters away from the edge of the fold. The number of holes can vary from four to seven depending on the size of the book, and they must be at a regular distance from each other.

After having punctured the booklets, you can make the front and back cover using a cardboard of the appropriate size; the latter can also be covered with decorated paper, in order to embellish and personalize the book.

After having also punched the cardboard, you can put together covers and booklets, thus starting to insert the thread in one of the holes; during this phase you can further decorate the book by covering the corner with a fabric to glue between one hole and the other with the help of a hot glue gun .

As for the type of sewing to be performed, however, as mentioned before, there are different styles, so just search the internet for video of Japanese binding tutorials that can help you.

The Coptic binding

The hand binding method developed by the ancient Copts is simple and functional, moreover it is very similar to the Japanese one, from which it borrows the same principle of execution but without adding complexity to the seams. Despite being rough in appearance, however, the Coptic binding is very strong and allows the pages to open completely.

To make it, you have to follow the same procedure described above, when we explained how to bind a book with the Japanese technique, you must then fold the sheets in half and insert them into each other to form small notebooks, or booklets, and then sew them through the fold after having pierced it at regular intervals.

For the cover you can use rigid cardboard 1.5 or 2 mm thick, which can be personalized by gluing colored paper or leather. With this method it is possible to create notebooks, sketchbooks, diaries, photo albums, agendas or personalized notebooks, but if you want you can also bind booklets or weekly magazines.

The tools you need

Since both Japanese and Coptic binding are fairly simple to make, the tools required are not particularly expensive or difficult to find.

Apart from the raw material for the realization of the book, i.e. paper, cardboard and the materials to cover the cover, therefore, it is necessary to obtain a large and a small awl, upholstery needles, an aluminum ruler, a cutting mat to use as a work support, a cutter, scissors, vinyl glue and hot glue, even if the use of the latter is optional and limited only to possible variations on the execution.

It is also important to carefully choose the yarns to be used for binding the sheets, which must be resistant but not too thick; the best choice is the waxed linen thread which is also used for stitching on leather, and which is available in different colors.

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