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Basic Bookbinding Tools

Do you really need to have the right tools for stitching together basic pamplets to fill a notebook? The improvised items I’ve used in the past seemed to work, but as a technical person I know having the right tool for the job often makes a huge difference.

With the idea in my head that I will be making lots of refills for my traveler’s notebook, I decided to get the “proper” tools and supplies from a bookbinding supplier. It was about $30 total from www.JohnNealBooks.com, and they should last for many, many pamphlets.

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The awl was not really necessary, but a more comfortable tool than the alternative I using. I do find that this model makes a bigger hole, which makes the sewing a lot easier.

The needle could have been bought at a local fabric store, and it seems identical to the fattest one in a Singer assortment I bought eons ago. I notice the eye of the needle is quite large, and I think I might invest in a version with a smaller eye.

The bone folder burnishes the paper more than the steel folder I ground out of an old planer blade while waiting for my order to arrive but grinding one’s own folder isn’t very practical. For $6 this is worth the money as anything else doesn’t work quite as well. Using a folder to crease paper is a lot faster and more accurate than using a finger nail.

The 18-3 (bigger number = smaller twine) linen twine is another win. It is a lot thicker than the carpet thread I was using, and once it’s been run through a small block of bee’s wax it takes knots very well. Paired with a larger needle it’s a lot easier to use than the darning needle/thread combo I was using. Ironically, this was the most expensive item in the order – $12 or so – but there’s more than 100 yards in the roll, with less than a yard required for a book.

If I was going to do it again, I’d probably stick with my home made folder, and choose different needles, but otherwise I believe the notebooks I’ve stitched with these items are superior to my earlier efforts. If you’ve been toying with sewing your own books, consider ordering the right tools.

2 comments… add one
  • Jesse December 15, 2012, 11:46 am

    This is exactly what I needed today! I just printed out, trimmed, and found a cover for a Chronodex planner and was stuck on the binding part. I just ordered up enough supplies to bind this and some refills for the Travelers Notebook I’ll be ordering in the new year…

    Thanks!

    • Steve December 28, 2012, 5:48 pm

      Hi Jesse – glad I could help! Once you get started, making the books really doesn’t take much time.

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