Knotty Kneat Stuff

Bookbinding (Part III)

BINDING PREP: Building the Text Block (Punching, Folding & Stitching … and Gluing)

Items Needed for Text Block Construction:

  • Plenty of Flat Surface Area (w/ room for a mess)
  • Steel Straight-Edge (Ruled)
  • Awl/Leather Punch/Steel Pin (Strong & Sharp)
  • Backing for Pin-Punching (Thick Rubber Mouse Pads work well; Best: Wood Strip w/ pre-drilled narrow holes to receive awl point under paper being punched, see below for hole spacing)
  • Sheet of Paper, same size as text sheets (i.e., 8½ x 11) with punching guide holes, see below for hole spacing)
  • Sewing Needle (fairly heavy duty and more than 1” long)
  • Light-Colored Thread (Recommend Dental Floss (Basic UNWAXED Light-Gauge String-Type (NOT Ribbon)
  • PVA Glue
  • Glue Spreader (small strip of thin wood w/ squared end (i.e., popsicle stick w/ round end snipped off)
  • Thick Hardwood Boards (2) (at least ¾” and NOT Warped; Recommend Oak, Mahogany)
  • Strong Clamps/Vises (at least 2)


Punching & Folding:

Presuming we’re making a full size (5½ x 8½) book, our sheets are your standard 8½ x 11 (11 x 8½?).

Grab a blank 8½ x 11 sheet; preferably cardstock, but that’s not critical. Fold it in half widthwise so that the crease divides two (2) 5½ x 8½ halves of the sheet. Make sure the crease is as perfectly centered as possible (and that is important). Now, open back up and work the crease so that the open sheet lies nice and flat.

Make sure you’ve got a nice wide space (both inside margins, side-by-side) running down the middle. Grab your Ruler (Ruled Straight-Edge), draw the center line down the crease. Then mark an EVEN number of points on the centerline. Six (6) or eight (8) points work fine. They can be equidistant, or else alternating longer and shorter distances. The first and last points should be 1/4” or so in from the edge; then, start measuring in from there. If you use alternating distances, don’t vary them too much, and make sure the wider spaces are on the ends, between the last 2 points at each end. If you use 8 points and vary, you have a third wide space in the middle as well. I use 8 points, equidistant, 1⅛” apart. It works just fine (I keep it simple).

Making sure the points are aligned perfectly right along the center line, lay the sheet on your mouse pad or other backing material. Take your awl/leather punch and pierce those points nice and straight.

Now, take Signature 1 (book pages 1-12) and lay it out in Landscape Orientation (sideways) so you can read the text.

Again, you should have a stack of 3 sheets (1st Signature):

  • Top sheet: 12 & 1 (front), 2 & 11 (back);
  • Second sheet: 10 & 3 (front), 4 & 9 (back);
  • Bottom Sheet: 8 & 5 (front), 6 & 7 (back).

Making sure that the stack is arranged precisely as described immediately above, flip the stack over (all 3 sheets together) so that you are now looking at book pages 6 (left side) and 7 (right side). Place the punched guide sheet over the stack and line up all the edges nice and neat. Now lay the stack, with guide sheet on top, on the mouse pad/backing surface. Use whatever you may to ensure that the sheets do not shift around, and punch the Signature clean through so that it looks like the guide sheet, but with text. Drive the point through and then some. Y’wanna open the holes up and kinda make the paper that’s left as the rims(?) of the holes blossom out the back. Now, without letting the sheets shift at all, remove the guide sheet, and fold the Signature crisply down the middle. Book pages 6 & 7 should now be kissing each other, and there should be 8 (or 6) little burs (where the holes are) dotting the outside of the fold. Take your wood boards and sandwich the fold. Press it hard for a nice tight fold. You can run a dull, solid instrument along the fold to tighten even further. A rolling pin works great, but always work from the middle of the fold out to the ends. Do not run or roll from the end inward, as that will contort your Folio, which is what you now have: a Folio Signature … first of three.

Grab Signature 2, and repeat … and Signature 3, and repeat.

[We’ll save the Stitching for tomorrow (next Post). You’re just gonna LOVE this part.]

About Knotty Puppet

I'm the rather slight fellow you see dangling in the cave, center stage on the cover of THE GODDESS & THE DEVIL, a most unique and provocative multi~genre creation. It's a ton of real, thoroughly researched history called upon by our fictitious players arguing about good & evil (&c., &c., ...) who happened to find themselves in one Hell of a bind one night in Salem, 1692.

Posted on November 11, 2012, in Knotty Kneat Stuff and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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