Bookbinding Project No.2: Perfect Bound Album or Book


This is the seccond in my tipster series on different types of bookbinding. I was going to do ring-binding, but decided to do perfect binding instead. Perfect Binding uses fewer tools and hardware than most other types of binding, and is a more easy method of bookbinding than most others.

Perfect Binding is a great method for getting a sleek look to your book, it also uses fewer tools and hardware than most other types of binding. While it does give you a sleek look, the only drawback with Perfect Binding is that because the books lay tight and flat, they are not suited to projects which will need vast quantities of items stuck in, or textured things. So I would recommend this type of binding for note books, thinner presentation books, or ones you will not be over filling. While you can also use any type of paper to make your pages from, I would recommend a good quality file weight paper around 90gsm.

Tools and materials:

  • Bone Folder or blunt cutlery knife
  • Ruler
  • Scalpel/Craft Knife or rotary trimmer/guillotine
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Small Paintbrush size 6/8/10
  • Large Paintbrush (1 Inch.)
  • 4 Bulldog clips (binder clips)
  • PVA Glue (wood glue/white school glue)
  • Bookbinding Adhesive
  • Various papers for covers and inner pages (90gsm approx.)
  • Cardboard for hardback covers (1mm or thicker)

Step 1: First, decide on the size of book you want to make. I am going to be making a 14.8cm squared Album, which is A5 paper cut to square. In this type of binding, your cover size is going to be exactly the same as your inner page size.

The inner pages of your book is going to be made up of ‘Signatures’. A Signature is single piece of paper folded in half symmetrically so that it makes two pages of your book. So, to make the Signatures for my book I took an A4 piece of paper and folded it in half, so it looks A5 in size. Then with a Trimmer, I cut my folded paper to the size required for my book.

You will need to make sure that your signatures are folded precisely and cleanly. The more effort you put into good folding and trimming, the better your final book will look in the end. I use a Bone Folder to make sure my folds are crisp and sit flat. Once you have folded and trimmed all your signatures, stack them neatly with all the folded edges together on one side. Run the bone folder down this edge, squashing the folds downward as tightly as possible so they sit nice and flat. See Photos 2-6.

Step 2: Once you have all your Signatures prepared, neatly stack them again, making sure the binding edge sits flat. Hold the signatures in place with 2 of the bulldog clips. Once this is done, add PVA Glue to the ends of the signature folds along the binding edge. With your small paintbrush, spread the glue evenly along the binding edge. This glue is going to form the spine which holds your book together. Now that you have applied the glue, take the two remaining bulldog clips and clip them two the binding edge, this will make sure the bind is nice and tight. For larger books you may need more clips. Just make sure the clip is not touching the glue.

It will take about 20-25 mins for the glue to dry, though you could speed this up with a hairdryer if needed. Once the spine glue is dry, remove the clips along the spine and repeat the same gluing process again, this will make sure your PVA Glue is of a good strong thickness and will not split and crack when you use your book. Leave the spine glue to dry for an hour before you join it to your cover, this will make sure the spine is strong enough and properly dry. See Photos 7-11.

Step 3: It is now time to make your album covers. To find the size of the piece of paper to use as the cover to your card you will need to do this: firstly measure the width of your spine, and then add this to the thickness of the card you are using for your covers. Then add this total spine width to the size of your front cover and back cover. So, in example; My spine is 8mm wide, my cardboard is 1mm thick and the size of my card cover is 14.8cm. So that means I need to add 8mm+1mm+1mm+14.8cm+14.8cm = 30.6mm total. To this total you need to add 4 cm. This extra 4cm will give you some paper to wrap around the edges of your card. So, the total width of my piece of paper needs to be 34.6cm.

The height of your piece of paper just needs to be the cover height plus 4cm. So my paper height needs to be 14.8cm +4cm = 18.8cm total. I recommend drawing out the measurements on the piece of paper before you cut anything, this way you can place all the elements of your book down and check the sizes are correct. Once you have checked the sizes, cut the corner of the paper off leaving a 3mm gap between the corner of your card and the cut line. This will help give your cover proper mitered corners once you glue the paper down.

You will now need a small piece of paper to act as an inner bind to your spine It should be the same height as your cover and wide enough to cover your spine and about 2 cm each side of it. So, my inner spine paper will measure 14.8cm high and 4.8cm wide. See Figure 1 and photos 12/13.

Step 4: Apply Bookbinders Adhesive or more PVA to the reverse of the cover paper and place the card covers down each side of the spine area. Smooth the card down to help remove air bubbles. Now add glue to the reverse of the inner spine paper, and stick it down over the length of the spine. Use your fingers or the bone folder to make sure it is well stuck down with no air bubbles.

Now fold over the edges of the paper around the card and smooth them down so that they are stuck well with no air bubbles. Work opposite sides first. this way you will be able to get good folds at the corners. See Photos 14-19.

Step 5: Unclip your stack of signatures and apply PVA glue to the spine and smooth it out with the small brush. Fit the spine of your signatures stack into the spine of your cover and press down. Fold the covers up around the stack and lay book on its side, run your fingers down the spine to smooth out the glue. Next, open up the book carefully and lay the stack on one side and put a piece of scrap paper under the first page. Paste glue all over the top of the first page, this will then be stuck down to the inside of the cardboard cover. Make sure to smooth it down well. Repeat this step for the other end of the book.

If any glue seeps out of the edges, just make sure to wipe it off carefully, or you will stick you pages together where you don’t want to. See Photos 20-24.

Step 6: Reapply the bulldog Clips to your finished book and leave to dry for at least an hour. You might want to use some folded scrap paper to stop the clips from marking the outside of your book. See Photo 25. Once this time is up, take of the clips and enjoy your book :)

For my first bookbinding tutorial, check out How to Make a Post Bound Photo Album.

written by asharnanae on 2012-01-26 #gear #tutorials #tutorial #presentation #paper #tipster #album #handcraft #crafting #hand-craft #bookbinding


  1. nuhdos
    nuhdos ·

    Wow ! Your tutorials are always amazing, and with a lot of information and photos. Congrats !

  2. asharnanae
    asharnanae ·

    Hey Nuhdos, thankyou :) though it looks like I fogot to upload figure1 no that I take a second look!

  3. wolkers
    wolkers ·

    I totally agree with nuhdos!! I really love your tutorials. Keep up that good work! I'll definitely use that version to keep my photos in place :)

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