Thursday, January 3, 2013

Bradel Binding -part 1 a Paper Case Binding

This is the first of three posts on the Bradel binding. This style of binding can be traced to 18th century Germany. The origin of the binding is uncertain, but the name comes from a French binder working in Germany, Alexis-Pierre Bradel. It originally appeared as a temporary binding, but the results were durable and the binding had great success in the nineteenth century. Peter Verheyen wrote an excellent description of this binding at

My version of the Bradel binding is built on the textblock and is covered in a decorative paper. The top and bottom edges and corners are wrapped with bookbinding cloth to give them extra strength.

I sewed this book on three linen pilaster tapes. I added a blank 2 sheet signature on the front and back of the book. Then I tipped in plain colored endpapers inside the first blank page, leaving a plain white waste paper on the front and back of the book.

I pasted up and rounded the spine, then backed it to a 45 degree angle, two boards widths wide.

The tapes were frayed out and glued down to the side of the text block.
I made the endbands by wrapping a blue cloth around a thin cord and then added them to the spine. The spine was first lined with mull, cut to fit between the tapes, then I cut a second layer of mull the full length of the spine. The final lining was a piece of Arches text paper. When it was dry, I lightly sanded the spine to a smooth rounded shape. 

The Bradel spine piece was made of a paper strip about 3 inches wide and a spine stiffener made from a piece of Stonehenge paper, cut the width of the spine. The length of these two pieces were made oversized so they could be trimmed once the boards were attached.

The two pieces were glued together and then wrapped around a dowel and left to dry. This gave the spine stiffener a curved shape that would fit over the rounded spine.

The sides of the spine piece were glued to the waste sheet on the sides of the text block, making a hollow on the spine.

The boards were cut the height of the text block plus 3/16 on an inch to allow for a small square. The width of the boards was left longer than needed so they could be trimmed after they were attached.

I glued an area slightly wider than the width of the paper of the spine piece and then put the boards in place.  

Then I trimmed the spine piece to fit the height of the boards.


I tore away the unglued section of the outer white waste pages and then sanded it down, leaving a softer transition along the edge of the page.

After the boards were attached, I trimmed them to the final width. When doing this, I often stand the book on the fore edge to see if the boards are even. If the book leans one way or another the boards are not even with each other.

To prepare for covering the book, I needed to cut the ends of the bradel piece at the joint to allow the covering material to wrap over the boards and behind the spine piece. This was also done on other hollow structures made on the book.

I cut strips of book cloth 1 1/4 inches wide and glued it along the top and bottom edge.
Then after brushing glue on the turn in area, I worked the cloth around the spine piece and around the slits I had cut earlier.

To level out the cover boards, I cut a fill card to fit between the cloth and let everything dry under a light weight.

The marbled paper was cut to fit the height of the boards, leaving a small area of the cloth exposed. I started by gluing up the paper and then adhering it to the front board and working it down along the joint. Then I covered the spine and worked the paper into the joint on the back and then the full board. To finish, I wrapped the fore edges of the book.

The endpapers were then pasted down.


  1. Jana,
    Absolutely wonderful description of doing this in-boards. Thank you for sharing. Peter

  2. By knowing some simple bookbinding methods, you will be able to create your personal books, sketchpads, and journals. In addition, with this skill, you will be able to restore your ugly old book into its original state. If you want to learn it for your own purpose, there are some methods in bookbinding you have to know such as western styles and Japanese styles.

    Book Binding Boston

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