Home‎ > ‎

Binding loose sheets into a book

The Missouri Valley Wrench Club Newsletter typically prints somewhere between 100 - 120 pages annually. The newsletters as issued are double-sided photocopies stapled at the upper left hand corner.  If they receive a lot of handling, the outer sheets are likely to get worn or torn.

The first decision is whether to keep the newsletter back issues intact.  If "yes," then "how." 

Some people remove the staple and  use three-ring binders and "sheet protectors" to hold the sheets.  Eventually this gets bulky and expensive.

The Newsletter editor uses handmade "perfect bindings" to hold sets together.

The first ten years of the Newsletter form one volume roughly 5/8" thick.  Newsletters for 1992 - 1999 form a second volume approximately 1 1/4"  thick.  The third volume contains 2000 - 2003 newsletters, and three more volumes each hold three years' newsletters. 1982 - 2012; thirty-one years' run of newsletters occupies about 6 1/2" of shelf space.

The remainder of this page explains how these bindings were constructed, if anyone wants to duplicate this method of keeping newsletter sets intact.

(There are also several You Tube videos demonstrating various techniques for home-made perfect bindings.)

Editor's bookshelf with Newsletter back issues in blue covers.
Editor's bookshelf; Newsletter back issues in blue.

The first step is to assemble supplies and equipment. The process laid out here uses
  • a flexible polyvinyl acetate adhesive (e.g. Elmer's Craft Glue) -- I don't know if "hot melt" is flexible enough.
  • fabric ( muslin, an old cotton bed sheet or shirt, etc. -- traditional book binding used linen )
  • good quality blank paper for "end sheets," the hollow that allows the back to flex, and the inside surface of the covers
  • cardboard to form the "hard" covers -- I've used cardboard from cereal boxes or the boxes that held 100 9" x 12" manilla envelopes --- something decent quality and stiffer than poster board
  • high quality clear self-adhesive plastic laminate for the outside covering -- or alternately fabric such as the color fabric of a weight used by quilters - plastic is easier to keep clean -- I've used vinyl surface wallpaper to put a cover on an old hymnal
  • some type of clamp to hold the block of loose sheets together initially and to hold the final binding flat while the glue cures -- a woodworker's bench vise might work if wide and deep enough -- I use two woodworking "Jorgenson" type hand screw clamps and two pieces of 3/4" plywood because they can be adjusted to distribute pressure over a wide area
  • some type of "burnish" to get a good bond between the plastic laminate and underlying paper, and between glued paper sheets and underlying cardboard. A stiff ruler works if the edge is not too sharp. The bookbinding trade has a tool traditionally called a "bone folder" that has rounded edges and is roughly 6" - 7" long.

To be continued ---