It seems there are two main approaches to bookbinding, as well as any other craft. Some masters prefer to measure everything to a fraction of millimeter, other are more inclined to eyeball things. It doesn’t really matter what you do: sharpening a knife, measuring the distance between the cover boards or cutting corners. However, I think the truth is somewhere in the middle.
I show off a bit almost always when I’m teaching a new group and have to cut the corners of the covering materials before turning in. I tell my students they can use a 45° triangular ruler, or follow the lines on the cutting mat. However, I wouldn’t use any instruments besides knife in that case. And would ask them to check how far my angle is from 45°.
That wasn’t the case during my last class. I gave all of the students new 3d-printed corner cutting jigs and decided to use one myself. I can easily work without it. And I understand the concern of some of bookbinders, who would advise to master the precision of cutting, folding and other processes. Using jigs really make you soften. But it is also good thing to have a choice – to use a jig, or not to use it.
Some time ago I started to collect links to different corner cutting jigs. Some of the links point to tutorials, other will lead you to shops that sell these jigs. It seems there’s a vendor almost in every major region of the world (however, not on every continent). Some of the jigs are very elegant, other are plain simple and efficacious.
Why Would I Use the Jig?
Corner cutting jig allows you to cut the corner of the turn in material at some distance from the corner of the cover board. This is needed to cover the corner itself accurately. Usually corner cutting jig allows you to make an offset equal to the thickness of the board or a bit wider. With a perfectly matched tool you would have turned in material meet perfectly on the inside of the board without any bumps, overlays, or, on the contrary, gaps.
Let us start with the most expensive and finish with the cheapest. All prices are without shipping.
Tools for Sale
Corner Cutting Jig from Jeff Peachey – $150 (United States)
As it often happens with things Jeff makes, this small jig is stylish and versatile. Unlike any other corner cutting tool it allows you to fine tune the distance between the angle of the cardboard and the location of the cut. The only problem is its price.
Photos by Jeff Peachey
Outer Corner Cutter from the Andersen’s Bindery – 50 AUD (Australia)
Simple brass corner cutter from an Australian company. Available in three sizes: 1.5 mm, 2.3 mm and 3 mm. They also offer an inner corner cutter for $40.91: https://bookbindingaustralia.com.au/product/inner-corner-cutter/
Cortador de esquinas merceditas – 12.90 € (Spain)
I think this is the most elegant corner cutting tool you would ever find. Made with wood, its edge is reinforced with brass. And the price is quite reasonable. It seems that the offset is 3 mm.
Corner miter tool from ColorWayArts – $10.50
Simple steel corner cutting tool from a US based Etsy shop with highly positive ratings.
Universal Corner Gauge from J. Hewit & Sons Ltd – £5.50 (United Kingdom)
Small extruded plastic tool from a renowned British supplier of leather.
Kunststof snijmal voor hoek from the Boektotaal – 5.25 € (Netherlands)
Another plastic corner cutting tool. This time from the Netherlands.
3D-Printed Corner Cutting Tool – $4.90 for 1; $9.90 for 3; $11.90 for 4 (Russia)
Finally, we have reached our own 3d-printed corner cutting tools. I have written about the idea behind the original design before. Currently iBookBinding offers three variations of the corner cutting jig:
- With a high wall – may be useful for kids or just as a safety tool in an ordinary workshop;
- With a low wall – just if you prefer it that way;
- With an angled wall – I was taught that leather corners should be cut at a 45° angle to allow the ends to overlap a bit when turned in to make a perfect and smooth seam from the top point of the cardboard angle inside.
And here are some of the reviews from our customers:
How to Make a Corner Cutting Jig?
Below you will find three tutorials on making corner cutting jigs. They all are a bit different, as were the jigs in the list above. I suppose you may want to try different approaches and decide what suits you better.
Corner Cutting Gizmo from CaiLun.info
My favorite cardboard corner cutting jig. It’s design is unlike any other jig, and it is extremely functional and gives you full understanding of the relation between the thickness of the cardboard you use and offset of the cut you have to make.
Сorner-matic from the Design Loft
This tool is quite easy to make and sturdy enough to serve you for a long time.
Corta-Esquinas from Cinderella’s Scrap Room or Fio de Cabelo from Artes Manuais com Kika Florence
I’m not sure that this structure is the best choice if you use cardboard. One of the tutorials has an image of a plastic version of the tool – it seems to be a much reasonable choice. However, it is easy to make in just a few minutes and should serve the purpose at least for cutting all four corners of a book cover turn-ins.
If you know of any other makers of corner cutting jigs, please share the links in the comments below.