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How to Bind a Book

Tulika Nair Nov 26, 2018
Learning to bind a book can be an interesting and creative recreational activity. Know more about book binding and the different ways of doing it here!
Ever walked into a used books store and marveled at the treasure trove you have discovered, finding books not just from a few decades ago, but those which were written in the 19th century? One of the important factors that aids this survival of the fittest law amongst books (other than careful handling by previous owners) is how well they have been bound.
If a few centuries ago, you asked a bookbinder the question, how you could bind a book, you would have probably met stoic silence, because it was then an art held precious by those in the profession. Today, though like every other art, book binding is more within our reach as are the different ways to bind a book.
The art of book binding traces its origins back to ancient India, where religious texts written on palm leaves were bound between two wooden boards threaded with long twines. This method was spread to other parts of Asia by Buddhist monks. But it was the Egyptian Coptic Christians who made the first breakthrough.
In a method we now recognize as a bind, they discovered that they could fold sheets of parchment and sew all the sheets together to create a book like structure, which could be written on both sides and then hold together with wooden boards.
The Arabs made more progress in the eighth century by producing paper books, which were sewn with silk and bound with leather covered boards. With the invention of rag paper and the printing press in the 1400's, book binding became more of a standard process and more accessible to the masses.
In today's world, there are different ways to bind a book but the 4 main book binding methods are hardcover binding, punch and bind, thermally activated binding, and stitched or sewn binding. In this article we will try and explain to you two ways to bind a book at home―hardcover book binding and spiral binding a book.
If you have an interest in scrapbooking, then any one of these ways to bind a book at home may pique your interest. This will allow you to create a scrapbook that will be definitely more special than buying an impersonal scrapbook from the market and then recreating your memories in it.

Things you need

  • Leather or fabric
  • Stapler
  • A4 sized sheets, 20 (more if you want)
  • PVA glue
  • Stiff cardboard
  • Lining paper


  • Divide the 20 sheets into piles of 4 sheets each. Stack each pile neatly and fold them into half. You will now have five piles of sheets.
  • Now unfold the sheets and turn them over.
  • Mark two points on each pile, about two inches away from each edge. Ensure that the marks are exactly on the fold crease.
  • Staple each pile separately on these marked points.
  • Now turn the piles of sheets over again and close the ends of the staple pins.
  • Stack up the folios (piles of stapled sheets) together neatly. They should be tightly held with their edges aligned. You can take the help of giant paper clips to hold them together.
  • Take a piece of fabric and cut it in such a manner that its length is exactly the same as the page height and its width is five times the width of all the folios held together.
  • Apply glue on the folded side of the folios which are held together.
  • Ensure that the glue does not drip in between the folios.
  • Stick the folios to the fabric with a bit of the fabric sticking out on both sides.
  • If needed, trim the folios so that they are all of exactly the same size.
  • Now place the folios on the piece of cardboard and cut out a cover with a straight edge at the side, where the folios are held together and half an inch of space on the other three sides. Cut out another piece of cardboard with the same dimensions.
  • The next step would be to cut out the book spine. For this, you need to cut a piece of board which is of the same width as the folio and the covers held together and the same length as the book covers that you have cut out.
  • Lay out the fabric or leather you have chosen.
  • Place one book cover, the spine, and the second book cover on the material with a equidistant space between the spine and covers on both sides.
  • Cut all around the three card pieces at a border of one inch.
  • Glue the card pieces to the reverse of the material. Ensure that they are all aligned with each other. There has to be a gap of one inch between the spine and the two covers on either sides.
  • Smear glue on the edges of both the covers and fold the material neatly to stick on it, sticking opposite sides first.
  • Apply glue on the edges adjacent to the spine.
  • Place the folios stuck together in such a manner that it is centrally resting on the spine and only the fabric piece jutting out from under the folios is stuck neatly on the edges of the cover.
  • Let this dry before you proceed to the next step.
  • Cut out two pieces of lining paper, the dimensions of which are such that the length of the sheets are slightly smaller than the page length and the width double to that of the folios.
  • Smear the inside of the cover and the first page with glue.
  • Stick the lining paper in such a way that the cover of the entire front page goes inside the space between the page and the cover and is glued all over the inside of the cover.
  • Repeat the same for the back of the book.
There you have it! Your very own hardcover book. In case you want something that is a little less messy than glue, you could also use book binding tape. You can be as creative as you want with your book and the book cover.

How to Make a Spiral Bound Book

Spiral binding is the most effective for journals, notebooks, and school projects with a relatively shorter shelf life. Spiral binding is tedious to do at home, because it is time-consuming, and requires a binding machine.

Things You Need

  • Binding machine (if available)
  • Comb or coil (plastic or metal)
  • Paper (pre-punched, if you do not access to a binding machine)
  • Covers


  • Stack up your sheets of paper together. Trim the papers to the size that you desire for your book.
  • Design the covers for your book, and place them on the front and back of the stack of papers.
  • If you are using a binding machine, insert the stack till they reach the paper stop, so that all the holes remain aligned when the papers are punched.
  • Follow the instructions on the machine to insert the coil or the comb.
  • If you do not have a machine and are using pre-punched paper, you have to thread the coil through the holes one at a time.
  • The excess coil at both ends need to be snipped off with a pair of pliers and then folded-in to prevent injuries.
These were just two of the ways to bind a book at home. You can experiment with these methods to personalize your book to suit your needs. Now that you know how to bind a book, you can use this art for recreational purposes, creative indulgences, gifts, or maybe even to set up a shop.