DIY Book Binding Equipment – Binding Jig For Perfect Bound Books
There are a lot of options available on the market for perfect bound bookbinding equipment. Most are expensive and geared toward companies running fulltime binderies. Others are pitched at the business market and focus on creating bound reports. There are even a few binding solutions aimed at small operations looking to create short runs of perfect bound books. But, they all cost thousands of dollars.
My first experiments in bookbinding involved some extremely low-tech bookbinding tools – paint stirrers and binding clamps. It was tricky to get the pages lined up, position the stirrers, and get the clamps on (they got in the way when applying glue, too). Finally, there was no good way to add the covers. I needed a better solution.
An important resource in my bookbinding journey is Nathan DeStephano’s Easy Bookbinding course. In addition to all of the information about designing, formatting, and printing books, he includes detailed instructions for a bookbinding jig that is cheap and easy to make. In my research I had seen a few similar products, such as the $135.95 version sold by GigaBooks, and decided to come up with a version of my own.
The main difference between my bookbinding jig and others available is that I made mine entirely out of scrap lumber (I’m a cheap guy!!!) The whole thing cost just a few dollars for the metal hardware. The first day I tried it I made 2 books – with covers – that were much better than any others I had made previously. The pages were all properly aligned, the spines were properly compressed for gluing, and the covers fit perfectly.
A bookbinding jig doesn’t have to be overly complicated. It’s main purpose is to provide 2 surfaces that are aligned at a 90 degree angle to make it easy to square up the pages you are gluing together (a process known as jogging), and clamping down the spine edge during gluing to keep the pages compressed together and stable as the glue is applied and dries.
I made all of my critical measurements by laying a sheet of paper from a project onto the main board and tracing the edges. From there I was able to work out the placement of the page guides and the press bar.
Here is a look at the jig in action as I bound my first book. The book block and cover are in the jig and the press bar is clamped down. I applied glue, folded over the cover, and let everything dry.
For this test book I used 5 minute epoxy for the glue and it produced a very sturdy binding – it’s just a little difficult to work with given the fast set time.
I hope these pictures provide inspiration for you as you design your own bookbinding jigs. If you are interested in a more detailed plan for how to create a jig, please leave a comment below.
If there is enough interest, I’ll draft a detailed set of plans along with assembly instructions and a materials list, and maybe even put together a demonstration video to show how to assemble everything and create a book.
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