View Full Version : How to upgrade the binding on a book

Robert Fulman
06-03-2013, 06:10 PM
There was some interest in the P&J thread on my custom bound faux S/L of Wizard and Glass, specifically on the how's and whys. I'll cover the "how's" in this thread. I didn't take enough pictures of my W&G project to produce a tutorial, so I've started a new project and I'll walk you through it. At this moment, the project isn't completed, but I'll try to finish it sometime this week.

Project Idea: re-bind a mass market Gunslinger paperback in quarter bound (faux) leather, with pictorial wrappers.

Robert Fulman
06-03-2013, 06:21 PM
(Sorry, you'll have to wait; my iPad absolutely refuses to copy links from PhotoBucket.)

06-03-2013, 07:39 PM

harrison ryan
06-03-2013, 07:43 PM
I subscribed to this one. I think this sounds fun as hell.

06-03-2013, 07:45 PM
I subscribed to this one. I think this sounds fun as hell.

Me three and maybe i'll gets some tips on what to do with my vintage "Hardy Boys books".

06-03-2013, 08:17 PM
I have a beat up copy of Dark Forces with no jacket I have thought about having the mist pages from it bound separately! Now I might try it my self!


06-03-2013, 10:58 PM
Cool idea. I'm subscribing to see if I can do something interesting to an old edition too...

Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 04:05 AM
I am going to work with a mass market paperback of "The Gunslinger", and I am going to repurpose some of the interior artwork from a Plume trade paperback. Don't worry, the mass market isn't a first printing, and the trade is a book club edition. I have "stained" (with a Crayola marker) the page edges of the mass market to make it look fancy and to mask the tanning of the paper.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 04:09 AM
I stripped the cover from the mass market. This will serve as the page block. I also removed and trimmed-to-size four black and white pieces from the trade, which will serve as endpapers. Normally, the endpapers are each a single piece of paper twice as wide as the page block, but I think these will work for this project.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 04:12 AM
The binding process involves an awful lot of glue. After applying a thin (less than 1/8 inch) bead of glue along the edge of the text block, I attach my endpapers. I think the book already looks pretty darn classy.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 04:18 AM
After attaching the endpapers, I added the "Super" to the spine. The Super is a mesh cloth that will reinforce the binding and attach the text block to the case (i.e., the boards). You can see that I notched the Super, which is meant to help center it on the spine. I didn't do a great job, but that should cause any problems. If I was more of a perfectionist, I would tear it off and do it again.

After attaching the super, I add decorative head and tail bands. These bands are made by sewing thread onto the edge of a piece of cloth (I didn't make them, I just bought them). They serve no purpose other than to look fancy. I will trim them after the glue is dry.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 04:23 AM
That's all I have for now. I'll try to work on the rest tonight. Fair warning, though, I've never done this before, so it could fail spectacularly. In the meantime, here is a slipcase I made for The Waste Lands.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 07:18 AM
For now, I purchase all supplies I need from hollanders.com (http://www.hollanders.com/index.php/bookbinding-supplies.html).

Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:06 PM
For the boards and spine, I am using a relatively thick piece of cardboard (Davey Board .098, to be exact; this is definitely overkill for this project). The book cloth is a faux leather. These boards will be glued to the cloth. In general, I didn't take pictures of gluing steps because I have to work relatively quickly. On the cloth, you can see pencil marks I made to help make sure I place the boards correctly.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:09 PM
Instead of wrapping the boards entirely in book cloth, I am going to use two pieces of artwork from the trade paperback. I think it's a nice touch to use the pieces that Grant used for their editions. These papers are purely decorative. The book cloth will hold the book together. In this picture, you can see the book cloth after I have glued and folded it. If you do this, remember that the front of the book is on the right.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:14 PM
I glued the papers to the boards, and now I am ready to finish wrapping. First, I miter the corners, making sure I don't cut right to the corner. If you cut too close, the paper won't cover the corner of the board when you fold it over. Folding the corner is a bit tricky; it's like wrapping a little tiny present with the help of glue.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:17 PM
Here is a view of the completed boards. After flipping over and admiring, make sure you smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles, but be careful not damage the paper. There's dried glue on the cloth; that's not an issue because it can be cleaned off later. Be careful not to get glue on the papers, though.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:21 PM
First, I glue the super to the end paper, then I apply a coat of glue (don't go crazy) to the end paper. I'm not going to try to demonstrate the procedure for gluing the end papers to the boards. It's a pain to get right. Mainly, you just have to have the spine of the case and text block touch, and have an even amount of board going around the end papers. You really only get one shot to make sure you don't turn the end papers into a wrinkled mess, though. Don't forget the wax paper; you don't want to glue the pages of the book together.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:25 PM
I don't own a book press, so I just use a stack of Alton Brown's cook books. Keeping wax paper between the end papers, I also wrap the entire book in wax paper and the place under a heavy even weight for a few hours to make sure the book dries properly.


Robert Fulman
06-04-2013, 06:32 PM
Here's a look at the finished product. It looks pretty good, but I'll definitely need to find a way to protect the pictorial wrappers.



06-04-2013, 06:37 PM
Awesome! Now I want to try one. :)

06-04-2013, 07:36 PM
Nice work. Are you using a bone folder or anything similar when wrapping the cloth?
Does it make a difference if you reverse the layering so the leather overlaps the image?

I remember seeing a few YouTube videos showing this process a while back.

Robert Fulman
06-05-2013, 04:08 AM
I do use a bone folder to make creases, such as when I am wrapping the paper arouns the boards. For smoothing the papers, I try to avoid the folder so I don't make any scratches.

I had the same thought about the order of the paper and the book cloth, but every book I've checked confirms that this is the right order. After I thought about it more, it made sense. The book cloth is the binding, and you want as much of that as possible in contact with the boards. Attaching the cloth on top of the paper would make the binding weaker. You could try to align the paper right next to the cloth, but that would require very straight/square cuts.

Robert Fulman
06-05-2013, 04:24 AM
Feel free to ask additional questions, but here are some final thoughts on the project:

This book is really small, which it a lot harder to work with than I expected. I had very little room to work with when trying to attach the endpapers to the boards.
If I was doing this for real, I would choose a different paper for the endpapers. They look really nice, but I think it's probably too thin.
I really like how the wrapping came out. There's probably a shellacking technique or something that I should have used to protect/strengthen the paper.
Staining the pages with a black marker was a silly idea, but I like how it looks.
I'm not going to post photos, but I actually messed up on gluing the endpapers. There is a noticable gap between the spine of the cover and the spine of the page block.
Cost of materials: one sheet of the book board costs around $4, but I probably used 1/4 of a sheet. The book cloth cost something like $6 for an 18" x 24" sheet, and I only used about 4" x 8". The head band cost $2 for 12 inches worth. Overall, this project was cheap, and was really completed with scraps left over from the Wizard and Glass project. W&G probably cost $25 (I was binding two large books, so I needed a lot more material). The slip case I made for The Waste Lands cost around $8 in materials.

harrison ryan
06-05-2013, 02:02 PM
Awesome job. I'm not 100% sure of the results, but you may try an acrylic matte medium or a decoupage glue like Mod Podge for the "shellacking" of the boards. I would test it first, but it should make that glossy paper pretty much waterproof. Comes in a variety of finishes.
I look forward to seeing a slipcase tutorial if/when you're up for it.

06-05-2013, 02:07 PM
What do you use to cut the boards to size? I had trouble with that part when I tried to make a slip case.

06-05-2013, 02:32 PM
He could always test it on the illustrations from the trade that he didn't use presuming he kept them.

06-05-2013, 04:58 PM
I don't believe this is something I could do well. I have really large hands and though I am as OCD as the next guy here that seems a little beyond my scope. However, is there a "Craft" type kit that you can buy? Maybe I can talk the wife into helping out. Or maybe my daughter.

06-09-2013, 02:38 PM
That looks great!