Book binding

5 tools that will help you do bookbinding a lot faster

Making a book using your hands takes time and a lot of patience. There are a lot of steps involved, and each step needs to be executed with a certain level of craftsmanship, for the final product to be of a reasonable quality.

Now, bookbinding is one of those crafts that you get started with using tools and implements that are easily found at home – paper, ruler, thread, needle….it is therefore easy to habitually continue using these tools as you get better at your craft. However, as you make more DIY books, it is well worth your time to think about small changes to your toolset and processes, that can save you loads of time. Here are a few simple ones that have helped me a lot!

  1. 90 degree ruler: One of the things you have to do often in bookbinding is cut things in a way that they are at a 90 degree angle. You have to cut paper this way. You have to cut book boards this way. You have to cut end pages this way. And each time you do this, it is easy to spend precious time trying to make sure that the angle is indeed a 90 degree!

Therefore, if you’re doing this often, it’s not a bad idea to get a 90 degree ruler. It will save you so much time! 🙂 I bought this one on Amazon and it works just fine.

2. Box cutter for cutting paper, shaving text blocks, cutting book board: Another thing that you have to do often is cut paper and board for all sorts of reasons – you have to cut book board to meet the size requirements of your book. You have to cut end pages to cover your book.

I used to do all this with the help of a scissors at the beginning. But scissors is so inefficient for cutting! You’ll have a much easier time using a box cutter – it’s sharper and faster. I highly recommend getting one. I’ve been using this one on Amazon.

3. Curved needle: You need a needle for sewing together your signatures. While a straight needle works fine, I’ve found a curved needle makes it easier to sew signatures, especially if the sewing needs you to “loop” around repeatedly. It’s not a necessary investment, but a curved needle pays off dividends in the long run. This bookbinding kit comes with both curved and straight needles as an example.

4. Waxed thread: When sewing signatures together, you’re often working with long stretches of thread (eg: 40 inches long). If you use regular thread, it’s very easy for the thread to get tangled together when sewing, leaving you spending half your sewing time just disentangling the thread. To avoid this from happening, it’s recommended that you use waxed thread. Some people apply beeswax to regular thread to create their own waxed thread. I find it easier to simply buy waxed thread – it reduces the work involved and works great! For example – I’ve been using the waxed thread included in this bookbinding kit and have loved it so far 🙂

5. Pre-cut materials such as end pages and headbands: This is probably the biggest thing you can do to save your self some time. When making books, you’ll find that you’re often repeating the same steps each time. For example – You have to cut and glue end pages. You have to cut and glue headbands. You have to tear paper and create signatures.

Some of these things you have to do each time you make a new book. But some things you can “batch do” ahead of time, to make the making of each individual book a lot faster. For eg: If your books are similarly sized, you can batch cut lots of end pages in one sitting, so that you simply have to glue the pre-cut pages when making a new book. Or you can batch cut headbands in one sitting, and simply glue the pre-cut bands when making a new book. This type of batching can save you tons of time!

I hope you find these tips useful for your DIY books. Drop a comment if you’ve found any other tips that have been helpful!

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