When I first got interested in bookbinding – after watching and reading a few tutorials, I had three issues;
What do I need to get?
Where can I get this stuff?
What do all these tools do, what are they for?
Whenever you start a new hobby it is hard to know where to look for help and what questions to ask. So for anyone interested in starting bookbinding, here are the tools and equipment that I most use and some resource links for suppliers.
Cutting Mat;I use an A3 Jakar cutting mat, available from scrapbook stores
Knives: Stanley S.M.18 for board and S.M.9 for lighter papers
Spare Blades;S.M.9 knife needs blades 11.300 and S.M.18 knife needs blades 11.301. Cutting board blunts your knife really fast. For a clean cut, change blades often. These knives are available in DIY stores (B&Q in the UK)
Rulers;A steel ruler is essential for cutting board/paper. Your sharp knife would cut into a plastic ruler.For measuring I use Judikins rulers; GT013 is imperial and GT014 is in metric. The Judikins rulers have lines across their surface to make lining up across boards etc easy. Quilting rulers such as Omnigrid would be a good alternative and are available in longer lengths. Fiskars also make quilting rulers. These are available in scrapbook stores or material shops.
Bone Folder; Historically these were made of actual bone, and you still can get ‘bone’ folders. I prefer a plastic one easily available in scrapbook stores. You can also get Teflon folders, these are useful if you want to use book cloth and wheat paste as they don’t leave shiny marks on the cloth surface when you burnish. Until you get serious, a plastic bone folder will be fine.
Pencil:I use a H grade pencil, it doesn’t blunt as fast and leaves a fine line. Accuracy, with measuring, marking and cutting is vital with bookbinding. A softer grade pencil will soon wear down and you will end up leaving a line of a couple of millimeters thick. This leaves far too much scope for cutting your board/paper too wide or too narrow.
Binders Clips or clothes pegs; Sometimes you need extra pairs of hands and binders clips or clothes pegs do help hold things in place when you aren’t blessed with extra arms.
All the products listed so far will be suitable for what ever kind of bookbinding you get into. The next set of items you will need in addition to the original list if you wish to sew your books together. Not all binds are sewn, some are glued or taped.
Piercing Tool;Often listed as an awl. Before you sew your pages together it is helpful to pre-pierce them in advance. I use Making Memories Deluxe Paper Piercer; Item #23454. This is a great tool, one end is the paper piercer, the other a needle threader, which unscrews off the end and there are needles stored in the barrel of the tool. How heavy a tool you need for piercing your signatures (collection of pages, nested in each other), will depend on the material you have used for your pages. Heavy paper or card will need a heavier tool. The thing to remember is that you don’t want to make a hole any larger than the needle you will be sewing up your book with, or your bind will be loose. Try looking for this tool in scrapbooking stores.
Needles:I use John James Bookbinders Size No 18 Article no L4303. The size of needle will depend on the thickness of your thread. The size number is based on the size of the eye of the needle. I got mine from Falkiner’s
Foam Mat;I pierce through my signatures into a foam mat. The mat is placed onto a cutting mat to prevent damage to the table I’m working on. Use a dense foam – like the kind on the back of a mouse mat. My mat is 1cm thick, and is from a stamping/scrapbooking store. Some packaging uses this kind of foam, my small piece was an insert from packaging.
Linen Thread;Your choice on the thickness of linen thread you need, will depend on a) the size of your book and b) the weight of materials used. Small books with light paper are ok with thinner thread. Large books of those with heavy paper/card for pages will need a thicker thread. I make A7 and A6 sized books and used Barbour linen thread, No 25 cord 3 for lighter projects and No 18 cord 3 for slightly heavier projects. It isn’t easy to get coloured thread in the UK, so I buy natural coloured unwaxed thread, which I colour to match my project.
Beeswax;You will get a better finish to your binding by running your linen thread over beeswax. The thread will repel moisture which helps the thread last longer, the wax helps knots hold and if you have used waterbased colour to colour thread, wax will seal that colour in.
There is more to this article, but its getting a bit long for one day! Please come back tomorrow where I will continue the list and also give links to suppliers. If you are in a rush, there are some suppliers listed on the bookbinding tab, at the top of this blog.
Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon