08. Taking Care of the Last Few Details

Finishing Steps, Turnins, Folding Cover Sheets

You have now reached the final phase of the bookbinding process that involves mitering the corners, turning the edges of the cover page inside the book, and pasting the end sheets. While you proceed with these steps, make sure that your work is still slightly damp because it would provide you with better results.


If you miter the cover material and turn it over the corners of the boards, it would produce a neater finish and a more professional look. This means that you have to fold and hem the raw edges of the cover material before you stick them down onto the inside of the board. If you use cloth as a cover material, mitering would also prevent it from raveling.


07. Attaching the Mull, Creating and Fixing the Boards

Pasting Up Mull and Attaching Board - Bookbinding

The mull is a strip of cloth that is attached to the back of the sewn signatures and the tapes, and is also affixed to the cover boards with tapes. Cut a piece of cloth in a size that can conceal the top and bottom kettlestitches along with the tapes in between them; make sure that your chosen length is at least three inches wider than the back of the signatures so that it can be extended onto both sides.

Place waxed paper on both sides of the signatures and keep them in the press such that their back edge is about half an inch above the equipment. Adjust the screws of the press so that it can hold the signatures in place. Ascertain that the alignment of your signature is proper. This can be done with the help of a square; use it to make sure that all the corners form a proper right angle as depicted in figure 66. Also inspect the back edge and ascertain that the surface is even. When satisfied, adjust the press again and tighten it up.


06. Sewing / Stitching the Book

book binding signatures

The 6th part of our book-binding series on how to craft a book from scratch.

Stitching the First Signature

Take a piece of thread that is almost 30 inches in length; a smaller size can cause inconvenience. If your book is thick, you may need to use an additional piece of thread, which will be discussed in detail later. For right now, apply wax (available here on amazon.com) onto your thread with beeswax; pinch the thread against it at least two or three times as shown in figure 48. This makes it easier for you to sew the signatures, prevents the thread from knotting and increases its life. Once you have waxed, tie a knot at about three inches from one end of the thread.

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At this stage, you would have already placed your signature on the platform with the marks and the tapes aligned. Open your signature a little bit at the centre as shown in figure 49. Now pass the needle through the hole you made for the bottom kettlestitch until it reaches the open centre. Hold the needle in your hand and pull the thread as shown in figure 50 until there is no space between the knot and the signature edge on the outer side. Pass the needle through the hole near the bottom tape as depicted in figure 51, and pull the tread once again to tighten it. Let the thread pass onto the tape, and then insert the needle into the hole above the tape. This has been illustrated in figure 52. In this same manner, pass the thread in and out, sewing the signature along the folded edge. When you reach the top kettlestitch, bring the needle on the outside edge, and straighten out the thread such that it aligns with the signature’s side as demonstrated in figure 53. Snug up the thread, but make sure that it does not become too tight.


05. Collating the Signatures

Signatures after holes have been punched

Following on from the previous chapter on folding the sheets, collating is the process of inspecting and ensuring that all the parts of a book are complete and arranged in their proper order. Once this has been verified, the signatures can be sewn together. For blank books, collating plays no role. However, in all other cases, this step is very important. If you mark your signatures properly you can easily get this done.

A short 14 minute video from Lee @ CraftyLoops that will talk you through this entire process. Thank you Lee

Marking the Signatures

This stage involves drawing black marks onto the signatures. The marks would help you in fixing the tape at correct places, and would serve as a guide when you make holes for piercing the thread.