Posts Tagged ‘Bookbinding Equipment’

Welcome Back

Today I would like to share  pictures of the two wonderful Lying Presses, that my amazing husband made for me. A lot of my books so far have not featured glued bindings and covers so until recently, I had not needed these kinds of press. Until I bought some bookcloth and tried my hand at case binding that was.

My New Lying Press

I had the MAD idea of making case bound books as Christmas gifts! In case you ever find yourself also thinking this is a good idea…my advice would be to start MUCH earlier than late November! This made drying times much longer as it is now damp and cold in the UK. Make them in the summer when the glue will dry faster (if you live in the UK that is).

The first press is 28cm long and the larger one is 40 cm long. When I am using one of them I put it across the other pair like this;

My new Large Lying press

This makes up for the fact that I don’t have a tub for them. It keeps the work up off the desk. I really couldn’t justify £80 for a commercially made press, for the amount of use they will get. Making them yourself, does also mean you have full control over the size of the press.

I’m so lucky to have a wonderful husband that supports my hobby and who will put such lovely tools together for me.

Thank you to my wonderful husband for taking time out of your hectic schedule, to make these for me. I love them and I love you too. 🙂

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂


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Welcome Back

Now that I have been bookbinding for a few years, I have to admit to really wanting one of those old fashioned book presses. A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to buy this book press.

My 'New' Bookbinding Press

My 'New' Bookbinding Press

Isn’t it beautiful! I am in the process of cleaning it up a bit. Having the dilemma between wanting to keep the original paint, because I just love those wonderful gold lines on it. The dilemma being, there is a bit of surface rust and I’m worried about getting covered in it, every time I use it.  There was a piece of card that had obviously been left in the press for a number of years, very firmly stuck to the underside of the platen’s. With much soaking with water, and encouragement from me it finally gave up and the platens are now as smooth as they are designed to be.

It is likely that in time I will need to rethink keeping the original paint work in favor of having a clean press, but for now I’m enjoying the beauty that comes with age. The thought that this press was around and in use before I was born and will outlast me is a pleasant thought 🙂 and one that attracted me to it in the first place.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Welcome Back

Yesterday I started an article listing my most used bookbinding tools and equipment and what each tool does. It got a bit long for a single post, so here is the rest of the article and also some links to suppliers.

Case bound Books

If you wish to add board covers to your books you will need the following  items in addition to earlier products.

PVA: To add board covers to your books you will need an adhesive. I use Hobbycraft Craft PVA. PVA dries fast and is easy to clean up. Don’t leave a brush covered in PVA to dry –  or you will need to buy a new brush! If you can’t clean the brush straight away, place it in a pot of water, until you can clean it properly. I use a Pritt Stick for handmade papers as it isn’t so wet. If you wish to use Bookbinding glue it is still PVA but has Methyl Cellulose added which makes it a little slower to dry. If you wish to use book cloth, you will want to use Wheat paste, PVA would show through bookcloth and leave shiny marks on the surface.

Blank Newsprint: When you are gluing, it is essential that you are working on a clean dry surface. If you work on a pile of blank newsprint, if one sheet gets glue on it , it is easy to fold that sheet up and still have a clean surface ready and waiting. I got a huge pile of A3 blank newsprint from a removals company for just £12! Storage companies also sell this. I cut my paper down as I only make small books, so this pile of paper will last me a very long time. I don’t glue onto magazines or other printed surfaces, as when the wet glue gets on it, the ink can run and ruin your project.

Wax Paper; When you cover bookboard with decorative papers, it is a good idea to leave the boards under weight to dry. To stop glue transferring from your project to your press and also to stop any dirt from your press, transferring to your project, wrap the project in wax paper. You also use wax paper to protect your bookblock from a newly attached cover, while the glue is still wet and the project is under weight drying. I buy my waxed paper by the roll from Lakeland Limited

Paintbrush: I use a no6 flat hog hair brush for applying glue. Don’t leave glue on the brush unless you are still using it. If you can’t wash your brush out straight away, stand the brush in a pot of water. PVA dries fast. If you let PVA dry on your brush –  you’ll need to buy a new brush.

Bookboard: People struggle with this as it is know by different names in different countries. Bookboard is also know as Grey board, Davy Board, Matte board and Chip board. It is a dense grey cardboard and is available in a variety of thicknesses. If you have dexterity issues like me (RSI) then for small books you could use mount board as an alternative. Mount board is the card stock used by picture framers. It is thinner and more flexible so not suitable for larger books but if you dexterity doesn’t allow you to cut Grey board it is an alternative – if you work small. In the UK you can get Grey Board from art stores.

Measuring Gaps; From B&Q (DIY store) I bought three square section steel rods, 6mm,8mm and 10mm. My husband cut these down to managable lengths and I use these as placement guides between the spine piece and the outer covers for case bound books. Its far easier than a lot of measuring.

Post Bound Albums

If you have seen commercially available scrapbooks they are post bound albums. If you wish to create them I recommend buying a Crop A Dile, this is a very strong hand held punch and will easily bite through chip boards and is much quicker and easier than using a hand punch and hammer!!!!

Posts:The metal posts themselves are another one of those products that go by different names in different countries. They go by the names; Screw Posts, Inter Screws, and Chicago Screws. The posts are usually available in Aluminum, Nickel and Brass. One tip! Whichever tool you use to create the holes for your posts..buy the screws from a country that does the same dimensions! I used a Crop A Dile to make my holes…perfect but when I bought the screw posts from the UK they were cut to metric sizes, because the Crop A Dile is an American made product it cuts holes in imperial sizes DOH!!!!!!

The best advice I can give a new bookbinder is to have a good look around the Internet and books and find a kind of style that you like, this will help you decide what equipment you need to get. Blogsare a good place to start, there are often tutorials on them and if you like someones style they often have links to blogsthat they follow, which are likely to be of a similar style. You Tube is also a great place to look for tutorials, not all of the films on there are great, such is the nature of the site, but there are some real gems on there. I learnt my coptic stitching from videos on there, so if you are  miles from anywhere and getting tuition locally isn’t an option the internet can be a real friend. Next month my Featured Artist for September will be Jackie Poutasse who runs a superb forum for bookbinders, the forum is called The Book Arts Forum and is a wealth of information and a perfect place to find others with the same interest and also links to lots of tutorials.


Here’s the part you have been waiting for, do have a look at my Bookbinding Tabat the top of this blog, there are Far more links in there than would be sensible to link to in a single post. There are links to suppliers, books and tutorials in that section so do have a good look round those pages.

UK Suppliers

Falkiners ( now Shepherd’s)

Paper Mill ShopAll kinds of papers and scrapbooking tools

Lakeland Limited Kitchen store but they stock wax paper 😉

J. Hewit & Sons Bookbinding tools and leather for bookbinding

US Suppliers

Talas Bookbinding Supplies

Paper Studio Decorative Papers and tools


Boektotal Bookbinding tools and supplies

Papier Royaal; Paper, Journals and Bookbinding supplies  

I hope you have found these articles useful, it has taken me a number of years to accumulate these links and one of the reasons I started this blog was to bring them together to make it easier for others to find related sites. Do visit The Book Arts Forum as it is not only a wonderful and friendly community of bookbinders but also another great source for research and inspiration.

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie 🙂

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Welcome Back

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.

My Essential Bookbinding Kit

My Essential Bookbinding Kit

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

Billie 🙂

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