New Revised Edition 2024- Traditional Techniques in Bookbinding- A Beginner's Manual


< Please do not copy, all rights reserved >

Introduction 5
Chapter One: Equipment and Materials 9
Chapter Two: Preparing the Signatures 32
Chapter Three: Sewing Without Tapes 41
Chapter Four: Sewing with Tapes 48
Chapter Five: Preparing the Text Block 54
Chapter Six: Preparing the Case-bound Cover 64
Chapter Seven: Finishing the ‘Library Style’ 78
Chapter Eight: Some Variations in Styles 83
Chapter Nine: Finishing and Decorating 86
APPENDIX: Printing Your Own Signatures 94

Traditional Techniques in Bookbinding


A room without books is like a body without a soul
Cicero (attrib)

A well-made book, crafted by hand, is a thing of beauty as
well as being a conveyor of information and meaning.
Nowadays, the traditional craft of bookbinding survives only
in small, specialist binderies and in the workshops of keen
amateurs. Indeed, it is often referred to as a ‘lost trade'. That
is not quite true, for many of the traditional techniques were
recorded in books written decades ago by men and women
who were masters of their trade.

In this introduction to traditional bookbinding, we will be
using information gleaned from some earlier published texts
written by master craftsmen of the trade. Of course, certain
modifications to these traditional techniques will be
necessary to deal with changes in the materials now
available for use in bookbinding. Also, some of the old
techniques will be omitted because of their difficulty. For
instance, in this introductory text we will not deal with sewn
headbands or with leather bindings. Such techniques or
styles should only be attempted after the novice has gained
some experience in basic techniques. We need to remember
that the novice of old had the great advantage of working
alongside his or her Master, something that cannot be
replicated in a mere book of instruction.
Wanting to learn more, purchase the book now- BUY NOW

Traditional Techniques in Bookbinding


If you look at the books on display in a bookseller’s window,
you will notice that the majority of them are softcover books
whose covers are exactly the same size as the pages within.
This is called perfect binding but, in the eyes of a
traditionalist, the binding style is anything but perfect. In
fact, all the pages and the cover are simply glued together
and such books will not withstand heavy usage over a long
time period. In short, they are built quickly by machines and
to a budget.

If we move to hardcover books, we immediately notice that
the covers protrude out over the edges of the pages, giving
the latter some protection from wear and tear. It is with
these hardcover books that we will be concerned for the
remainder of this introductory text. There are two main
types of hardcover books. The simplest in terms of
construction is called the case-bound book. Here the cover of
the book is usually constructed as a separate entity and
then the text block or book block (the group of sewn papers)
inserted within. In this text, we will begin with the
construction of a case-bound book, then move to the more
robust library style of binding, where the book cover is often
constructed around the text block and is more securely
attached to it. However there are some quite robust versions
of case binding and the distinction between the two styles is
not clear cut.

This type of binding is called the 'library' style because it was
once used widely for library books, where constant handling
by customers over many years called for robust

There is a third style of binding, sometimes called the flexible
style, which is similar to the standard library binding, but
utilises older techniques such as 'raised cords' and often
features a full leather cover. We will discuss this style again later, but will not use it in this introductory text.
Wanting to learn more, purchase the book now- BUY NOW