How to Do Medieval Bookbinding

Binding is the final stage in making a book. In the late Middle Ages, books were expensive and relatively rare, and binding was the responsibility of the bookseller. Today, the skill of medieval book binding is carried on by hobbyists and high-end book producers.

Step 1

Align pieces of paper 7.5-by-9-inches high into groups of four. Fold the groups of paper in half. Unfold the paper and punch holes into the fold at 0.5, 1, 1.5, 3.5, 4.5, 6.5, 7 and 7.5 inches.

Step 2

Thread a tapestry needle and feed it through the first hole starting from the outside of the fold. Continue threading the needle in one hole and out the next until you reach the edge of the paper. Leave extra thread on each end of the page and do not pull the thread tight.

Step 3

Repeat the process for each of your groups of paper, until all sections have been sewn. Re-fold each section of paper and stack them on top of each other so that the threads line up on the fold, forming the book.

Step 4

Feed a 6 inch length of cotton cord through each loop formed by the thread on the outside of the fold, binding all of the sections together.

Step 5

Punch three holes through two pieces of rigid board, such as four-ply art board. Match the holes to the cotton cords, about 1/4 inch in from the edge. Place one of the boards on each side of the stack of papers and feed the cord through each hole in the board.

Step 6

Leave 1/4 inch of cord between the papers and board. Fray the cord and glue it to the board in a fan shape.

Step 7

Cut a piece of leather 2-inches wide by 7-inches long. With your board folded open, glue this piece of leather to the outside of the book, centered on the gap. Repeat with the back cover.

Step 8

Paint a layer of craft glue on the spine of the book. Lay a piece of adhesive cloth over the glue.

Step 9

Cut a piece of leather 10-inches long and wide enough to cover the spine with 2 inches extra. Place the piece centered over the spine and glue 1 inch of leather onto each board. Fold the excess down over the top and bottom and glue in place.

Step 10

Cut leather to fit each cover with an inch of excess on three sides. Align one edge to the spine and glue in place. Cut a notch in each corner and fold the leather over the inside of the board.

Step 11

Glue stock paper cut to size over the inside of the front board to cover the leather edges. Repeat on the back cover.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Small hole punch
  • Scissors
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Cotton cord
  • Rigid board
  • Craft glue
  • Cotton adhesive tape
  • Leather
  • Stock paper
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