Book Binding Question

I know there are a few book binding glowfolk out there, so I’m hoping for some guidance.

I’d love to use my GF to bind little books. That will involve making covers from leather or wood (and now I’m intrigued by kraft-tex which someone recently posted , stitching the text block together, and then attaching the text block to the cover.

I own a Thermal Binding machine and have gotten a lot of use out of it

Thermal binding sticks the leaves of paper together this way: cut the sheets to the same size and hold them in the configuration you want; warm up the machine, attach a flat sheet of cool-glue-stuff to the side you want bound; put that into the thermal binder to melt the glue to the sheets, and soon, you’ve got a nice little text block. (Though, it takes a bit of skill to get one that isn’t a sticky mess of glue all over the place… I think I mentioned once that I’m like a 3 year old with craft supplies :confused: )

I’m hoping that the GF will replace my need for thermal binding. I imagine putting a stack of paper (probably gently held together with masking tape to keep the sheets aligned) into it, and lasering through a line of little holes that I can then stitch together.

my questions:

  • are my assumptions ok wrt having GF laser in a row of holes into a (small) stack of paper?
  • where can I find some good instructions for how to then stitch the text block together?
  • how would I attach a text block to the binding?



I have heard mixed things about laser cutting stacks of paper I have never tried it but apparently smoke gets trapped in the layers and causes the smoke discoloration. It would be nice to be able to do though! Maybe someone else’s has tricks to make it work?!


I’m thinking that the smoke may make the paper look aged…hmmmmm !


all good points - though, I see plenty of laser cut paper pretty things like wedding invitations which don’t seem discolored. Is the worry that a 1/4 inch stack may produce more smoke than just cutting a pretty design into a single sheet?

1 Like

Wish we could but it’s a bad idea. I wouldn’t even try it for fear of damaging the machine.

Unfortunately, trying to laser a stack of paper would create the perfect environment for a fire that might get out of control. The air trapped between the sheets would feed it, especially if you are trying to laser along one side next to an open edge.

When I first started researching whether to buy a laser, the only stories I saw that dealt with fires that had to be put out were those where people were trying to laser paper and corrugated cardboard in quantity.

There’s another reason or two why you wouldn’t want to do it…

Laser beams are not straight up and down. They are shaped like an X. You’re going to get different size holes in the sheets in a stack, making for a sloppy book.

Also, the burned edges of paper are going to crumble more readily than if you had punched the holes.

(Sorry to be the bearer of bad news though - it would be really cool if we could.) :confused:


You’ll probably have to see how many sheets you can zap at a time. Also, if the sheets are firmly compressed when you zap, that might avoid some smoke/flame issues.

Here’s another thought: since many hand-bound book sizes are made by folding, can you zap first and fold/bind later? Or even print/fold/bind later?

No apologies needed - I’m really glad to hear this before I tried to do it!

1 Like

What if you cut an over sized acrylic “cover sheet” for front and back an used bolts to hold everything together? You would still have burned edges but would reduce the fire hazard


Yes, that’s my understanding.

good idea - I may give that a try, starting with just a few sheets of paper at a time then adding in a few more each time to test, all while standing by with a fire hydrant!

I think that the best way to explore the potential of your idea may be to start small and simple.
I give you the Japanese technique of Stab Binding. It’s quite simple to learn and should mitigate some issues with the weaker charr areas around your holes.
Here is a nice (tasty) tutorial on how its done.



1 Like

A complete pleasure.:grin:

1 Like

If you master the book technique @bridget posted and like it, I have written a number of tutorials of even fancier patterns for Japanese stab binding on my blog!

There is a bookbinding method called sewing single sheets where you can use much thicker material, as the sewing creates more of a hinge than a traditional bind. I’ve used it to make “books” with 1/4" acrylic. And those holes can be laser cut! :sunglasses: check out Keith A. Smith. He’s written several tutorial books on all kinds of binding techniques and styles.


Just checked out your blog.
As a professional fine binder and book conservator, I just wanted to say.

WOW, really nice work!
I’ll be bookmarking this.


Thanks! :blush:


my thoughts exactly (though, I’m not a pro) - bookmarked! thanks so much :slight_smile:


The only tutorial that made me hungry! :yum:


The gold foil work at the end… so good!

'Tis a class job.:grinning: