Bookbinding Basics

Whether you want a self-bound book that is hardcover or paperback, with the right materials you can bind a book right in your own home. Use the same basic bookbinding methods as the professionals with specific supplies such as PVA glue and wax-coated thread, both of which are found in any craft store.

Signature Book

Fold eight sheets of plain white paper in half width-wise. Do the same with a piece of heavier paper, such as construction paper or card stock. Poke three evenly spaced holes along the fold of each folio, or folded piece of paper, and the heavier paper with the tip of an awl. Stack the folios together with the holes aligned, with the heavier paper folded over the top of the stack. Thread a tapestry needle with wax-coated thread and sew through the aligned holes of the signature. Tie a knot in the end to keep the thread from unraveling and trim the ends of the thread.

Perfect Binding

Cut your pages all to the same size with a paper cutter, or carefully measure and cut each page to the same exact size. Stack them together with the edges aligned and hold the edges together with binder clips. Brush PVA glue along one edge of the stack, the edge that will be bound to the spine of the book. Wait up to 24 hours for the glue to dry and brush the same kind of glue onto the spine of the book cover. Press the glued edge of the stack to the spine and apply clamps to the edges to hold it together as it dries.

Hardback Binding

Fold together four pieces of plain white paper width-wise and poke four evenly spaced holes through the top page to the bottom page, 1/4 inch away from the folded edge with an awl. Repeat this step 30 more times for a book with 120 pages. Thread a tapestry needle with wax thread and sew through the four holes of one folded stack to hold it together. Sew the same thread through the holes of a second stack to connect the two stacks together. Repeat until you have sewn all of the stacks together. Brush PVA glue along the spine of a book cover and press the folded edges of pages to the spine.

Make a Hard Cover

Measure and cut thick cardboard or 1/8-inch thick chipboard to two pieces that are the same size, which will be the front and back covers of the hardback book. Cut another piece that is thinner than the first two, but the same height -- the spine of the book. Arrange the two covers with the spine in the middle, edges aligned on a piece of fabric. Glue them onto the fabric and leave about 1/4 inch between the edges of the two covers and the edges of the spine. Trim the fabric so that it extends 1 inch away from the edges of the covers and spine. Fold the edges of the fabric over the edges of the boards and glue them down the PVA glue.