Bookbinding: How to Make a 'Post Bound' Photo Album


In the first chapter of this album making tipster series I will show you how to create your own professional looking ‘post bound’ photographic album, into which you can put your lomographs so they can look their very best.

Post bound albums are great because you can keep adding or removing pages whenever you like. Binding Posts are Small metal fixtures that look like a hollow tube with two flat ends. One end unscrews so that hole punched pages can be threaded onto the shaft and then the top is screwed back on to keep the pages in place. Binding Posts come in all sorts of sizes so pick a size which is appropriate for the album you are going to make. Scrapbook and bookbinding suppliers will stock all the tools and materials used in the tipsters.The step by step photos accompanying this written guide are at the end of this post, and numbered accordingly.

Materials and Tools:

  • Bookboard or thick card (not corrugated card!)
  • Bookbinders Adhesive, Wallpaper Paste or PVA Glue
  • Outside/Inside Covering – Paper or Paint.
  • Inside Pages – Paper or Thin Card
  • 2 Screw-fitting Bookbinding Posts
  • Sharp Scalpel or Craft Knife
  • Cutting Mat
  • 5mm Diameter Screw Punch
  • Pencil or Pen
  • Metal Ruler
  • Bone Folder or blunt Cutlery Knife
  • Large Paint/Glue Brush
  • Scrap Paper

First, decide on the size and shape of the page you want in your album. Once you have done this, you can measure your covers and paper sizes accordingly, following the same process as the album I am creating here. Please note that you need to add 1.5 inches onto the width of your inside page, this gives you a binding margin. This binding margin is where you will hole punch your pages to attach them to the album via the binding posts. So if you wanted to have an inside page dimension of 10 inches high by 6 inches wide, the total width of the page would need be 7.5 inches, to give this extra space for binding.

In this tipster we are going to use one single piece of card to make the front cover, spine and back cover. We will score this piece of card so that the cover/spine can bend. We will also be using one piece of paper to cover the plain card on the outside and another piece of paper to cover the plain card on the inside. We will also be creating a cardboard binding margin cover, this will secure the binding posts to the back cover of the album.

I am creating an 11 inch square album (Cover Size). This is because I want to fit 4 medium format square photos on each inside page. The photo size I am working from is a 4 inch square. My inside page measures 10 and 3/4 square inches, including the binding margin. This will give me a little space around each photo and a small space to write a notation under the photo should I wish to. (see Figure 1.)

To calculate the size of the cardboard album covers and the inside/outside covering paper for any sized album use these formulas:

For Cardboard Covers:

  • Inside page Height size + 1/4 of an inch margin = Front/Back cover Height size
  • Inside page Width size + 1/4 of an inch margin + 1.5 inch Binding margin = Front/Back Cover Width
  • Front Cover Width + Back Cover width + Spine width = total Card Cover width

For Outside Paper Covering for Cardboard Covers:

  • Front/Back Cover Height + 2 inch = outside Cover paper Height
  • Total Card Cover Width + 2 inch = outside Cover paper Width

For Inside paper covering For Cardboard Covers:

  • Front/Back Cover Height – 1 inch = inside Cover paper Height
  • Total Card Cover Width – 1 inch = inside Cover paper Width

For Binding Margin Card :

  • F/B Cover Height = Binding margin Height
  • 1.5 inch = Binding margin Width
  • For paper covering for Binding Margin Card
  • BM Height + 1 inch = Paper Cover Height
  • 2.5 inch = Paper Cover Width

Step One:
Measure and cut your Inside Pages, Cardboard Cover, Binding Margin Cover and the papers to cover them, if you are using paper to cover them and not paint. Make sure to cut down onto your cutting matt, or you will blunt your knife and scar your work surface.

Step Two:
Take the piece of card you are creating you covers and spine from and with the pencil mark out where you need to score to create the folds for the spine. Your spine scores should be towards the middle of the piece of card, and run vertically parallel to each other, giving you two symmetrical page covers each side of the spine. Once this is done, use the craft knife and ruler to lightly score over the pencil line. If you are using Bookboard, you only want to score about 1/3 of the way though your cover, less if you are using thinner card.

Step Three:

Take the paper you are going to use to cover the cardboard album cover, it should be 1 inch bigger than your cardboard album covers all the way around. Cut away the corners of the paper, leaving about 4 mm margin between the corner of the card and the cut line. Removing the corners of the paper will mean you can properly mitre the corners of the paper and this will make you album look professional. (see Figure 3.)

Now with the large paintbrush start pasting your glue over the entire reverse surface of the paper, apart from the bits that will wrap around the inside. Make sure no area dries out while you are still pasting. This is why I would recommend Bookbinding Adhesive as it is very slow drying yet very strong. If you do not want to get any glue on your work surface then lay your cover paper on some scrap paper before you start brushing out your glue.

Once the glue is brushed out evenly, place the card cover down onto it and press it downwards all over the surface, working from middle to edge. Next, bend the cover so that the album is fully closed, and run the bone folder down the spine scoring, then flatten the album back out, this will make sure the spine does not rip your paper once it dries. Smooth out any wrinkles or air bubbles in the surface of the paper and then turn your album over again.

Next you need to use the bone folder to lightly score along the paper next to the edge of the card. Do this around all the edges, this will help your covering paper to bend over and around the card when you stick it down. Paste glue on the paper flaps and then start by folding the base edge in and smoothing it down, make sure you press down on the small overlap at the corners. Once all four sides have been done, run the bone folder over the edges of the card and the joins in the paper to seal the cover down perfectly.

Step Four:

Place your inside cover paper on top of some more scrap paper and paste the entire reverse surface with glue, then place it on the inside of your album cover so that it about a half inch in from the edges. This should cover the edges pieces you glued down from before, and make the whole inside of the album look smart. Use the bone folder to smooth from the middle to the edges to make sure there are no air bubbles or wrinkles. Lastly check again that the cover and spine are bending properly down the score lines, run the bone folder down them if it feels too tight.

Step Five:

Take your Binding Margin card and cover in the same way as you just did for the Album cover. The only difference is that you will not need to cover the inside, as this will eventually be stuck down to the inside of the album. You now need to punch the holes in your Binding Margin Cover, so that the Binding Posts can go though. Mark out where you want you holes to be, and then use the screw punch to cut the 5mm holes in the card. If you do not have a screw punch you could use a normal hole punch for thinner card, or use a spike/awl to push a hole in thicker card. Once this is done, lay the Binding Margin Cover over the Binding margin on you pages and mark out where you need to punch your page holes. If you are using a screw punch, multiple pages can be done at once.

Step Six:

Unscrew the binding posts and then feed the shaft of the post through the holes in the Binding Margin Cover so that the screw holes face up. Apply glue to the back of the margin cover and screw posts then press down to the inside back of the card cover so that the edge sits next to the spine scoring. You may need to weight the card down at this point and leave it overnight so that the album is well glued and dried before you carry on.

Step 7

Once the album is dry and you have added any further detailing to the covers, you can begin to add the pages. If you want the pages to bend nicely, you can score them lightly with the bone folder along the edge of the binding margin. Thread the inside pages over the binding posts. Once all the pages have been threaded on you can screw the tops of the binding post onto the post shafts.

Congratulations! Your album is now complete and ready for use. In my next tipster for this series I will show you how to create a freestyle ‘Ring Bound’ Album.

written by asharnanae on 2011-12-15 #gear #tutorials #art #tutorial #presentation #paper #tipster #album #handcraft #bookbinding


  1. jorgesato
    jorgesato ·

    amazing article. congrats!

  2. vgzalez
    vgzalez ·

    Wow! Great!

  3. asharnanae
    asharnanae ·

    Thankyou :) More bookbinding to come this weekend :D

More Interesting Articles