Bookbinding Tutorial

By Alex Founder of Be Good Stay Good

It’s time to learn how to bind books. Bookbinding is a craft that goes back hundreds of years - and this is your chance to get an idea of some of the things that are involved.

The materials you will need are; 

String and needle: go for thick string. If you happen to have waxed string at home and have been wondering what to do with it - now is your time to use it!



Ruler, pen and scissors 

Paper that is cut to double the size of the final book. You’ll be folding it in half later on. 

Paper for your cover: for this particular book I recommend 300gsm paper, but don’t go anywhere over 500gsm as this is where folding starts to become a little annoying. Go creative with the pattern. You could make it yourself, use old newspaper stretched over cardboard or old pictures that are big enough.

Bodkin: that’s the thing that looks like a long needle with a round piece of wood attached. It is used for pressing holes into layers of paper to make threading the needle through it a lot easier.

Boneruler: that’s the thing above the cover. It’s used to score the paper, making folding it a lot more precise.

I also like having a couple of bulldog clips nearby.

Now we’re ready to get started!

Clear your work area and get the boneruler, your cover and the inside sheets ready.


Gently fold the paper in half without pressing down. Use the bone ruler to slide over the paper in an angled motion. This make sure that the paper is folded neatly. Run it up and down the fold a couple of times. Repeat this action with all the sheets. You will end up with something like this:

Shuffle the sheets and the cover paper into each other. You’ll probably notice that they won’t quite line up. Don’t worry about that part yet, we’ll take care of that later!

Align your papers along one side and one bottom line so that the folds are meeting each other. Measure out the middle of the cover as well as 2cm from the top and bottom of the book. Mark out those spots very lightly along the fold with a pencil.

You can kind of see the marks in the picture, especially on the top one where I messed up a little bit and made two marks by accident. 

Using the bodkin press through the three markings you made and punch little holes into the paper. Repeat this for all three markings on the spine.
Now the fun part begins: You get to sew!

Get your needle and string ready. You want your string to be about

three times as long as the spine of the book.

 Feed the string through the middle hole from the outside.

Pull the string through until you have about 3-4 inches left at the

end. It is important that you leave some string out there because you will need to tie a knot with it at the end. 

From the inside of the book thread the needle through the top hole, making sure the end of the thread doesn’t pull further in.

From here you go back outside along the spine to the bottom hole.

You should now be on the inside of the book again. It’s time to back to the middle. Notice from the picture how the end part of the string is clearly on one side of the thread that runs down the spine? This is very very important. Pull the end bit over to the left

and hold it there, while you thread the needle through the middle hole again, 

making sure the new thread comes out on the right side of the spine.  

Now tie a knot with the two ends, making sure the thread along the spine is still in between them. This ensures that nothing can wiggle around and your  book will stay together.
You can cut the end of very close to the hole or leave the thread hanging. I’m a minimalist kind of girl and like things looking clean, but I could see a cute little bow being really nice here too. 

Fold your book together. You’re nearly done!

Get your paper scalpel and a ruler. Line it up along the cover edge and cut down through the paper. You might have to do that a couple of times to really get all the paper. Repeat the same on the top of the book. 

And you’re done.

 You’ve just made your first book!

Be Good Stay Good is a cute Etsy Shop & Blog check them out, or get in touch with Alex via Twitter or  Facebook

Leave a comment