Making Books by Hand

  • Creating textblock (the pages inside a book)
    • Imposition – the process of arranging a book’s pages so that once the printed sheets are folded, the pages will appear in the correct order.  I use Montax imposition software for this process.  The diagram below shows the order of pages for a single signature of the book.
      • A signature is a group of sheets folded in half which is worked into the binding as a unit.
    • Print and cut signatures, fold and press
    • Punch holes in each signature using a punching cradle
    • Press for several hours
    • Sew signatures together
    • Glue on endpapers – The first and last pages of a book, glued to both the textblock and the cover.  I use paper made from the Lokta plant which grows in the Himalayas.  This sturdy paper is sustainable and eco-friendly paper which is 100% handmade.
    • Press for several hours
    • Place textblock in finishing press and spread glue on the spine
    • Trim edges with book plough.  A plough trims the textblock to produce smooth, even edges.
    • Place back in finishing press
      • Glue on mull – a strip of cloth that is attached to the back of the textblock and glued to the cover boards.
      • Glue ribbon placemarker
      • Glue on headbands – the decorative roll of cord or thread found at the head and tail of the spine of the text block.
      • Glue on Oxford hollow – a tight tube of strong paper glued directly to the spine of the book.  The covering material is glued directly to the outside of the hollow, causing it to open away from the book (as shown in the second diagram).
  • Making the cover (case) – The exterior covering of a book made from binder’s board and cloth.
    • Create book cloth – I apply an iron-on adhesive to the back of a piece of cloth.  I then iron tissue paper to the opposite side of the adhesive.  This strengthens the cloth and also prevents glue from leaking through and staining the cover.
    • Cut out binder’s board (a form of pressed or chipboard) for the two covers
    • Create recess in the board for the book label
    • Glue board to book cloth
    • Glue the edges of cover to board
    • Press for several hours
  • Casing
    • Place textblock in case
    • Glue mull and end paper to boards
    • Press

For more detailed information about bookbinding I recommend the following sites:

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