Book Making Checklist


I’ve gone as far as I can in making the book (i.e., step 18 in the list below); I wait now for the delivery of the book boards that will form the covers of the book.

Some learnings made to this point. First, I printed on 13”x19” double-sided paper, 12mm thick with a weight of 215gsm. I think the weight is about right. For sewing the signatures together, I used 0.55mm waxed thread. For a book with pages this large and weight, I think a 1.0mm waxed thread would provide extra strength that would be comforting, if not necessary.

I skipped step 13, rounding the back of the book, thinking this would be more relevant for a book with more pages, such as a novel. However, I think hammering the signatures into alignment is worthwhile doing, even if not rounded. With that rationale, it doesn’t make sense to glue before rounding and therefore, I’ll also switch the order of steps 12 and 13.

I may have used too much glue along the spine of the book, which makes it difficult to lie flat. I’ll need to look into this a bit more.

I found the process of sewing the signatures together cumbersome because, in part, of the length of thread I had to pull through. The length of the thread is calculated as (# of signatures x width of page), which in my case is 8 x 13” or 104” plus some extra. The solution is to either reduce the number of signatures, which is a possibility, but requires a more complex printing process, using shorter pieces of thread and tying these shorter pieces together as necessary, or look at some tooling. I’ve looked at using an awl as they often have a built-in spool that holds the thread, but I have not worked out the sewing process at this point.

In terms of the sheets, rather than printing each page on half a sheet and folding, I printed on the whole sheet and taped two sheets together to form a signature. The essential ingredient here is the tape. For that I used a white cloth bookbinding tape, that I feel, so far, has worked out quite well.

The steps summarised below are based on my recollections and the references cited further on:

  1. [βœ“] Fold sheets into folios
  2. [βœ“] Group folded sheets together into signatures (sections, or quires)
  3. [βœ“] Organize all signatures together and align to form the codex (book)       Note: The first and last signatures were the end paper that will connect to the book board
  4. [βœ“] Clamp signatures tightly
  5. [βœ“] Mark the kettles, i.e., x lines across the back, evenly spaced, with outer lines about 1” from the ends (top / bottom)
  6. [βœ“] Saw along each line to make kettles (holes) through which the thread is passed
  7. [βœ“] Run string adjacent to the inner kettles
  8. [βœ“] Sew first signature
  9. [βœ“] Sew second signature
  10. [βœ“] Sew all remaining but the last
  11. [βœ“] Sew the last
  12. [βœ“] Glue back & the press under weight until glue dry
  13. [βœ—] Round back of book
  14. [βœ“] Feather ends strings  that protrude out from back
  15. [βœ“] Glue the feathered ends of the string onto the end paper 
  16. [βœ—] [optional] Glue ribbon bookmark to back of signatures
  17. [βœ“] Add Capitals to top and bottom of back of signatures
  18. [βœ“] Glue backing  materials (e.g. cloth or muslin) onto back of signatures
  19. [] Glue book board onto backing materials
  20. [] Clamp book into press with book back outward
  21. [] Size, cut and glue [exterior] Covering (e.g., cloth, leather) onto book back and over book board
  22. [] Fold excess covering on top & bottom over edge of book board
  23. [] Cut [interior] book covering (e.g.,  paper) to size and glue to book covers (front & back
  24. [] Press book until glue dries




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