How to bind your own notebook

Make your own books! It’s not that hard, i’ll show you.

📖 This is what we’re going to make: a soft-cover notebook with 96 pages, ≈10×14cm

a notebook


1 rock paper scissors

2 folding & puncturing

3 binding

4 cutting

rock paper scissors

Yes you need a stone for this! Well OK, not really, you could use other heavy objects as well. Here’s a list of materials needed:

picture of materials needed for this tutorial

1  12 sheets of paper for the inside of the book. I used an ordinary recycled copy paper (≈80gsm, size DIN A4, 21×29.7cm) 📑

2  2 sheets of paper for the front and back cover. I used a little stronger cardboard paper, yet not too thick, you have to fold it as well! (size DIN A5, 14,8×21cm)

3  1 sheet of paper. Nothing special, only used for a template (size DIN A5, 14,8×21cm)

4  A needle.

5  Bookbinding threads. Compared to other threads used for sewing etc. these are waxed and have a good strength. You could use linen, cotton, nylon, polyester, silk threads… whatever makes you happy, just make sure your thread is not too thin/thick and is waxed (you could do that yourself, if you don’t want to purchase some extra threads)

6  Folding bone. You can also use a wooden/plastic ruler etc. If you want to purchase one of these (which is really a great tool for folding!), please buy a folding bone made of plastic or bamboo/wood, not actual animal bones… ♥ 🐑🐤 ♥

7  Stitching awl. You can also use a thick needle.

8  Box cutter, knife. If you have access to a paper cutting machine in an office, copy shop or printshop, even better!

9  (Metal) ruler

10 Glue. Bookbinding glue is usually called Planatol, wood glue also works i guess.

11 2 wooden plates.

12 Some heavy objects.

13 Adhesive textile bookbinding tape. If you don’t have i’m sure you’ll have other nice ideas for decorating your book spine :)

14 A pencil.

folding & puncturing

the two sheets of cover paper are folded once

Let’s begin with the front and back cover. It’s not really common to bind the cover with the rest of the book, you get 4 cover pages instead of 2, which is a bit weird? But i did once and found it very durable and easy (you don’t have to glue the cover in an extra step…). Just fold the paper once in the middle and we’re done.

the paper for the inside of the book is folded twice

All twelve sheets for the inside will be folded two times, so we don’t have to cut them all to size first. We will cut the whole book in the end anyways. Another reason for the format is the paper grain direction. The paper i used had long grain direction, which is common for A4 copy paper. Folding should always happen parallel to grain direction, otherwise the book can open by itself…

all pages are sorted to 4 sections with 3 folded sheet plus the two cover sections

We have to divide all our folded papers to different sections (with only 1 section we’d be doin a zine-tutorial here…). If you’re doing more pages please note, the number of sections must be an even number for this binding technique. Place 3 folded sheets inside each other, so we have 4 sections (+ 2 cover sections). Each folded sheet will make 8 pages in the end, so 3×8 = 24 pages per section. 24×4 = 96 pages.

all folds are on one side

When sorting pages, make sure all folds are on one side of the book.

the sections are superimposed as they will be bound later on

That’s what we want to bind.

a loose sheet of DIN A5 paper is used as a template for puncturing holes. 6 holes are punctured with a distance of 2cm to each other, centered on the page

For binding we need holes that are positioned the same for all sections. We take the additional loose DIN A5 paper as a template and mark six holes with a regular spacing. You can vary on number and spacing, but make sure the number of holes is an even number!

puncturing holes with the awl on all marked spots.

For puncturing the holes we go section by section. Put one section with the template between the wooden plates and put a stone on top to fix it.

Don’t puncture the holes on flat paper, hold it in an angle of approximately 45–90°

OK the previous picture might be misleading, it’s easier to puncture the holes by holding the paper slightly angled.


Measuring the length of thread used

If you put all your folded and punctured sections together, the holes should be more or less at the same position. Now we cut the thread. For measuring the length of thread needed, just use the number of sections + some more, maybe 1 or two lengths… you don’t want to run short on thread, but also not waste too much…

bind the first section from left to right

Finally: BINDING! We start with one of the cover sections and put it between the plates again. Pass the thread through all the holes from left to right, as marked on the picture. Pull the thread tight at the end, but be careful not to tear the paper. Also leave some thread hang loose at the end.

the next section is carefully placed on top of the first

Remove the top plate and put the next section carefully exactly on top of the first one, fix it again with the wooden plate + stone.

the next section is bound from right to left

outside the spine, the needle passes under the thread of the first section.

Now we bind from right to left and make sure the needle passes under the thread of the cover.

bad example with too loose bound pages and tight binding.

Always, always pull the thread tight, but careful (especially when using thin paper).

We make a knot at the end of section 2 to fix it with the first section

When we reach the end, we pull the thread for both bound sections tight again. And then knot both sections together. Please note, only make a knot here on the first two sections!

Third section, binding from left to right again and passing the needle under the thread

OK good! Next section, binding from left to right again. This time we pass the needle under the previous section’s thread.

Third section, reaching the end, don’t make a knot but just move the needle one time between section 1+2 to fix it.

Reaching the end we don’t knot this time, but fix the sections together in another way. Move the needle carefully beneath first and second section and pull it tight.

next section, binding from right to left again.

Next section, other direction… remember to pass the needle under the thread like on the picture.

Bind your way through like this. Most important things for a good result: 1 pulling the thread tight in each section, 2 don’t forget to move the needle under the previous section’s thread when coming out of the book and 3 fix the ends of sections together. 4 don’t hurry, enjoy :-)

all sections bound, now fix the last layer with the previous ones and step by step go down to your loos thread from start.

OK now we have all sections bound. We need to knot one last time, and “go down” with the needle to our loose end from the start. Knot the ends together.

binding is finished. cut the rest of the thread

Oh no, i didn’t mention the scissors on the material list! I hope you have a pair at home, because we need to *schnipp-schnapp* cut the rest of the thread.

the bound book is quite loose without glue

glue the spine

Our bound book will not fall apart, but is quite loose. Therefore we glue the spine now. Fix the book between the plates, use some heavy heavy books now. Don’t use too much glue on it, otherwise the paper becomes wavy when drying. ⌇⌇⌇

Now don’t don’t move the whole thing and let it dry for a short time. I guess time varies whatever glue you use. The Planatol dries quite fast. We don’t need it to be completely dry for now, just so it’s no longer soaking wet and you can move the book block.

cut some old newspapers to size of the book,  a bit larger

the newspaper is put inside the books to soak all wetness from the glue

While the glue dries, you can read the newspaper and afterwards cut and fold it to size of the book. Remove the plate carefully and bring the book to its final form, lightly strike the book on the bottom side and shift it a little bit, if the spine is not straight. The newspaper is placed in the book so that it absorbs the moisture during drying.

place books, books, books on the plates to give some pressures

For final drying place the book completely under the two wooden plates and use all weight you can find to give some good pressure on it, you know, build a book tower on top of it, or use a press of course… Let it dry overnight.


adhesive bookbinding tape is attached around the spine to cover it.

We get the book out of the press and continue with attaching the bookbinding tape around the spine, to cover it. This is not really necessary, but it looks nice… you can cover with other tape or glued paper or or… whatever you want.

i cut the front side by hand with a box cutter

and the bottom and top side with a paper cutting machine.

96 pages make quite a thick book to cut by hand. If you have access to a paper cutting machine, it will make a difference! Actually i had to do a weird mix of cutting techniques, because the machine’s knife is not that sharp and couldn’t cut the whole block. So i cut the front side by hand and opened the book in the middle to cut the bottom and top sides with the machine. Confusing… yes, but it worked somehow 😆

😍 Yay! 😍

yay we have a new notebook now!

That’s it. Wooohoo we made our own notebook!

it’s beautiful

what else is there in the backyard?


what’s all that fillth?


affected machines

do you have a title yet?

cyber ruins II

bog zine


go back inside