Friday, March 25, 2011

Perfect Bound?

Perfect binding is the technique of securing loose single pages of a book into a solid text block with an adhesive rather than by means of sewing. A common example of this is the paperback; almost everyone has seen at least one where the binding has failed and the pages have begun to fall out. Less than perfect, the binding with glue is sometimes needed for a book. To aid in the gluing of the edges of the pages I have made a simple jig.

Measuring the height of the cross pieces of my laying press, I cut two pieces of book board to this height by the opening between the screws. Then two more boards cut to around 5 inches wide by the length between the screws. I hinge the two boards together on one side with book cloth leaving a small gap between them.
I made this set of boards to use with pages that are 8 1/2 x 11, the most common size I am asked to bind.

These boards should lay in the press as seen in the photograph. They will help to hold the pages together when you put them in the press and provide a surface when gluing and then finally will hold the pages together after they have been glued.

The text block is squared up between the boards with the fore edge is placed inside the press. Check to see that the spine is out for gluing and the pages are squared up to the spine.

After the pages are secure put down waste sheets under them as you fold them over to one side. This fans out the edges and when you glue you actually are gluing the sides of the pages at the spine edge. Before gluing, I place another waste sheet on top to keep the glue from going too far on the top page. Brush PVA glue across the fanned edges.

Quickly before the glue starts to dry the pages are folded over to the other side and glued again so both side of the pages are glued at the edge. Sometimes you will hear this kind of adhesive binding called a "Double Fan Binding."

After the second side is glued, remove the waste paper and slip wax paper between the pages and the boards of the jig. Bring the pages back upright and clamp the boards around the pages. Let the glue dry over night in the press and then line the spine and prepare a case as usual to finish the binding.

For thicker books, I sometimes give the text block a slight rounding by using a cardboard tube under the press so when I put the pages and board in the press they shift over the curve of the tube. You do not want to round the pages too much because it will interfere with the fanning over of the pages and will not expose as much of the sides of the pages for gluing.


  1. I can't TELL you how badly I needed to see this!!!! I do a lot of re-binding, and I've never found a system for double-fan gluing that worked for me. Happy happy happy!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing these photos! This has definitely increased my knowledge on some perfect binding printing.

  3. Wow, I didn't realize it was so simple to do at home! I'll definitely give this technique a try. My kids will love seeing their work come together. Thiago |

  4. Perfect binding is a widely used soft-cover book binding method. With this binding method, the pages and cover are glued together at the spine with a strong, yet flexible, thermal glue. The other three sides of the book are then trimmed as needed to give them clean “perfect” edges.

  5. Thanks for showing a cheap and easy way to bind books. I like the card board trick! It saves me buying a special binder. Thanks!

  6. I also have used a card tube under the foreedge to create a rounded back for many years. There's an example in my blog Therebindery.

    1. Hello Chris. I am very interested in this technique for rounding fan bound books however I cannot find any information in your blog. Are you able to give me any further details. Thank you - from Richard Osborne

  7. Wow..Nice blog shared with us. Print Perfect Bound Booklet from PrintMagic and is a great way to impress clients with a clean looking and professionally finished product. Featuring a flat spine, the pages are glued together with a strong adhesive, By providing a high-end look to your bound booklet or catalog. This binding option is similar to the ones you can see in magazines or the books you read and is a popular choice for businesses who want to create a product customers may want to hold on to.

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