Graeme Birchall

Book Binding Notes

DB2 SQL Cookbook
Book Binding Notes
About the Author
Urban Boathouse Design
Window Pictures
Bronx River
Stereo Pictures

Cheap and Simple Book Binding Instructions

Below is a quick-and-dirty technique for binding a book. The object of the exercise is to have a manual that will last a long time, and that will also lie flat when opened up. This technique has been used to bind many hundreds of books, including a complete set of DB2 manuals. All suggested actions are done at your own risk.

Tools Required

  • Printer, to print the book.
  • Binder Clips, (1" size), to hold the pages together while gluing. For larger books, or to bind multiple books in one go, use two, or three, cheap screw clamps.
  • Cardboard: Two pieces of thick card, to also help hold things together while gluing. For larger books, or when binding multiple books, use thin plywood.


Ignoring the capital costs mentioned above, the cost of making a bound book (of say 100 pages) should work out to about $4.00 per item, almost all of which is spent on the paper and toner. To bind an already printed copy should cost less than fifty cents.

  • Paper and Toner, to print the book.
  • Card Stock, for the front and back covers.
  • Glue, to bind the book. Cheap rubber cement will do the job. The glue must come with an applicator brush in the bottle. Sears hardware stores sell a more potent flavour called Duro Contact Cement that is quite a bit better. This is toxic stuff, so be careful.
  • Cloth Tape, (2" wide) to bind the spine. Pearl tape, available from Pearl stores, is fine. Wider tape will be required if you are not printing double-sided.
  • Time: With practice, this process takes less than five minutes work per book.

Before You Start

  • Make that sure you have a well-ventilated space before gluing.
  • Practice binding on some old scraps of paper.
  • Kick all kiddies out off the room.


  • Print the book, double-sided if you can. If you want, print the first and last pages on card stock to make suitable protective covers.
  • Jog the pages, so that they are all lined up along the inside spine. Make sure that every page is perfectly aligned, otherwise some pages won't bind. Put a piece of thick cardboard on either side of the set of pages to be bound. These will hold the pages tight during the gluing process.
  • Place binder clips on the top and bottom edges of the book (near the spine), to hold everything in place while you glue. One can also put a couple on the outside edge to stop the pages from splaying out in the next step. If the pages tend to spread out in the middle of the spine, put one in the centre of the spine, then work around it when gluing. Make sure there are no gaps between leafs, where the glue might soak in.
  • Place the spine upwards. The objective here is to have a flat surface to apply the glue on. Lean the book against some thing if it does not stand up freely.
  • Put on globs of glue. Let it soak into the paper for a bit, then put on some more.
  • Let the glue dry for at least half an hour. A couple of hours should be plenty.
  • Remove the binder clips that are holding the book together. Be careful because the glue does not have much structural strength.
  • Separate the cardboard that was put on either side of the book pages. To do this, carefully open the cardboard pages up (as if reading their inside covers), then run the knife down the glue between each board and the rest of the book.
  • Lay the book flat with the front side facing up. Be careful here because the rubber cement is not very strong.
  • Cut the tape to a length that is a little longer that the height of the book.
  • Put the tape on the book, lining it up so that about one quarter of an inch (of the tape width) is on the front side of the book. Press the tape down firmly (on the front side only) so that it is properly attached to the cover. Make sure that a little bit of tape sticks out of both the bottom and top ends of the spine.
  • Turn the book over (gently) and, from the rear side, wrap the cloth tape around the spine of the book. Pull the tape tight so that it puts the spine under compression.
  • Trim excess tape at either end of the spine using a knife or pair of scissors.
  • Tap down the tape so that it is firmly attached to the book.
  • Let the book dry for a day. Then do the old "hold by a single leaf" test. Pick any page, and gently pull the page up into the air. The book should follow without separating from the page.

Graeme Birchall