Book binding

How to make a DIY hardcover journal using case book binding

Case book binding is one of the most popular methods of binding books. Also called hardcover binding, it almost encases a book in a “case”, hence the name (I think!). If you see a hardcover book today, mostly it is made using a version of case binding for its binding. Of course, the binding of most commercial books is automated, and not handmade.

In this post, I’ll be sharing the steps I followed to make a cloth covered journal, bound using the case binding method.

Hardcover journal bound using case binding

Step 1: Decide on how many pages you’d like in your book. In my journal, I’ve put in 7 signatures, each made of of 4 folios (if these terms are unfamiliar to you, read my post on bookbinding jargon).


Step 2. Fold the papers. Once you have your signatures ready, you start sewing them to make your text block. I followed the steps in this video, to make my text block.

Text block

Step 3: I then used illustrated pages from an old book to make my end pages for the text block. I also cut out an old linen shirt as a supplement for “mull” or “super” for my book. These instructions too are covered in the video above.

Text block with mull

Step 4: Next, I cut out my boards that would make the hard cover for the book, and the spine. I then glued my end pages to the board, and left the book out to dry under a heavy book. I followed the instructions in this video for attaching my text block to the boards.

Step 5: And voila! The book is ready! 🙂

Some tips to help make your book special:

  1. Use cloth that feels nice and beautiful to you – ultimately, the cover is what is visible to you and others at the beginning. Find a piece of cloth that would help make your book stand out.
  2. Use book cloth instead of using regular cloth – when you apply glue, it tends to seep through regular cloth, making your cover look messy and splotchy. Special purpose book cloth allows you to apply glue on one side of the cloth, without the glue seeping through to the other side. I recommend investing in book cloth. If you want to, you can also make your own book cloth.
  3. Find some interesting end pages – most books have really dull and boring end pages. But you can have a lot of fun with them if you want to! I think old books are a great source of interesting pages that can be repurposed as end pages.
  4. Think about the size of your journal – how big or small do you want it to be? Journal size plays a big role in how much you’ll enjoy eventually using your handmade journal.
  5. Think about what paper to use – this is driven in large part by what you want to use your journal for. Do you want to only write in it or do you want to sketch in it too? Would you paint in it? What kind of pens do you want to use for writing? All of this determines what thickness of paper would work best for you.

Using your own handmade products is a delight! I hope you’ll enjoy writing in your own case bound book! 🙂

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