DIY Perfectbinding

Not long after I finished my first novel, I decided to have a few printed. I formatted the work in MSWord to simulate a paperback that I had on my shelves. I copied the margins, typestyle and general look of my sample. I was able to fit 3 books up on a legal-sized sheet with a little extra room to spare. I generated a PDF of my 3-up book and took it to the printer.

I had the printer trim out the job so that I had three unbound books. The layout was such that I had additional paper margins on the top, bottom and leaf side of the stack. The bind edge was trimmed to the finished edge. I now had three stacks of paper.

Perfectbinding utilizes an adhesive that is forced into the edge of the book block to hold the pages together. A wraparound cover is applied before the glue cures. Once it has set, the other three edges of the stack are trimmed along with the cover to produce a nice neat squared-off product.

Equipment designed for perfectbinding utilizes hot glue, a process that lays the adhesive in a thick, even coat across the spine of the book. It solidifies almost instantly, which works in a production environment rather well. However, I needed a glue which would allow more working time. After all, I was only binding three books, and I wanted to be sure the pages would not fall out. Also, I would probably have to attach the cover in a separate operation.

I chose Goop, a silicone-based shoe repair adhesive. After clamping the bookblock so that approximately 1/4″ of the binding extended beyond edge of the boards. I was able to work the glue down into the space between the pages sufficiently using a very stiff brush and a putty knife. After working the adhesive well into the spine, I let it cure for a few hours before removing from the clamp.

Goop levels out in a pool as it cures, leaving a smooth rubber rubbery surface. Then, by creasing the cover stock to allow for the spine thickness and applying more of the cement, I was able to attach the wraparound cover to the spine.

When all the glue had cured overnight, I took my three books back down to the printer and had the three sides trimmed for a nice clean job. The result was a professional looking book every bit as good as the mass produced ones.

Next time I will talk about hardcover binding and what it takes to produce one yourself.

Michael Faris

About Time Publishing

DIY perfectbinding Diagram

Two step gluing process for DIY perfectbinding.

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  • […] I mentioned using Goop in a previous post. Goop is one of those products that is packaged for many purposes, including shoe repairs and weather caulking. It is basically a silicone sealer. This clear substance comes out of the tube about the consistency of honey. Silicone smells almost like vinegar and is very flammable in its liquid state. It cures to a flexible rubber-like consistency that bonds well to paper. Before I finally broke down and invested several thousand dollars in perfectbinding equipment, I used Goop to bind my first books. […]

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