Here's How To...

Make a Book

Excerpted from The Handmade Book © 2000 by Angela James with permission from Storey Books, Pownal, Vermont 05261, 800-441-5700, Dept. YP,
A single-section book is simple to make. Sheets of paper are gathered together and folded in half to make a single section. The number of sheets used can vary, but if you use thick paper, do not use too many, or the book will look clumsy.

For the cover, select a suitable light cardboard or heavy paper. If what you choose is not heavy enough, laminate two different papers together to obtain the required weight.


      • sheet of heavy paper for the cover measuring at least 370 x 560 mm (15 x 22 in)
         • 4-6 sheets of plain paper — 110 gsm cartridge would be suitable
         • 1 sheet of contrasting or toning paper for the endpapers
         • 400 mm (16 in) length of wooden dowel approximately 9 mm (% in) in diameter
         • acrylic ink, if staining wooden dowel
         • wax polish
         • 1 m (39 in) thick natural linen thread

       1.   Cut the paper for the cover so that it measures 365 x 520 mm (1 4~ x 20J4 in). Fold in half along the long side, carefully matching the edges. Its dimensions should now be 365 x 260 mm (14k x 10~4 in). 

         2.   To form your single section, measure and cut the sheets of plain paper to the same height as the cover, but make the width marginally wider. Fold each sheet in half along the long side, matching the edges, then insert the sheets one inside the other.


        3.   Cut and fold the endpapers as in step 2 and wrap them around the single section. Cut the edges to the same width as the cover with a knife and straight-edge. 

       4.   Using dividers, mark the seven stations down the center of the opened-out section of folded sheets by dividing the length of the spine into eight regular intervals, then prick though them with a needle. Mark the Cover in the same way using a punch to take out neat holes of about 6 mm (% in) in diameter.

         5.   Cut a piece of dowel to the exact length of the spine. Smooth off each end squarely with fine sandpaper, sand the length of the wood to obtain a really smooth finish, and polish it with wax polish to bring up the grain and protect the wood. Alternatively, you could stain the wood with acrylic ink, using a soft cloth to work the color in. When the ink is dry polish as before.

Handmade Paper

         6.   The book is now ready to assemble. Cut a piece of linen thread about twice the length of the spine and pull it through a block of beeswax . Thread the needle. Place the section of folded sheets and endpapers inside the  folded cover, lining up the sewing holes, and open out the whole. Starting from the bottom, push the needle through the first hole from inside to outside and through the hole in the cover, leaving a long enough thread end on the inside to tie off later. Place the dowel in position, against the spine, take the thread around it and go back through exactly the same hole to the inside. Take the needle up to the next hole, go through again and out of the cover, around the dowel and back through the same hole, pulling as firmly as you can. Continue this process, sewing up the book until you come to the last hole. Keep the tension the same all the way.

         7.   Tie off the thread on the inside of the section by looping the needle under the last stitch and through the resulting ioop twice. Pull tightly and cut off the end to within 15 mm (% in). Go back to the beginning and tie off the other end in the same way. 

Make a Book with a Secret Compartment


The Handmade Book
by Angela James
Hardcover. Storey Books, 2000.

In an age when so much is mass produced, a handmade book -- like home-grown produce or hand-crafted furniture -- is something to be treasured.

This book explains the basics of bookbinding, including materials, tools and techniques; and it outlines 13 step-by-step projects that beginners can tackle. 

Although basic, the projects are nevertheless creative, clever and useful. They include a single-section book sewn on two wooden dowels, a single-section case binding, and a leather-bound pocket book. 

Crafted with care and attention to detail, the handmade books in this volume will make attractive gifts, personalized journals or handy notebooks.

Published in a large format with color photo illustrations, The Handmade Book includes a special showcase section of contemporary bindings by some of today's best bookbinders.

More Resources

Handmade- A step by step guide to creating your own hand bound books at home

A step by step guide to creating your own hand bound books at home

Hardcover Bookbinding Kit
Hardcover Bookbinding Kit

Handmade Leather Journal
Handmade Leather Journal

Handmade Notebook
Handmade Notebook


Books, Memory and Photo Albums, Journals and Diaries Made by Hand

Handmade Journals
Handcrafted Journals, Albums, Scrapbooks & More
The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books
The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books
Creative Bookbinding
Creative Bookbinding
The Craft of Bookbinding
The Craft of Bookbinding

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