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how to bind a board book

How to Bind a Board Book?

Board books are a popular choice for young children because of their durability. The thick, sturdy pages can withstand chewing, tearing, and repeated readings. If you want to make your own board book at home, binding it properly is key to creating one that will hold up over time. In this guide, as a professional board book printing manufacturer, I’ll walk you through the entire DIY board book binding process step-by-step.

how to bind a board book

How to Bind a Board Book

Gather Your Board Book Binding Supplies

Before we dive into the binding steps, you’ll need to gather a few basic supplies:

  • Heavyweight paper or cardstock. Look for 80lb to 150lb paper. You can use plain white paper or choose colorful/patterned scrapbook paper.
  • awl or other paper piercing tool
  • waxed thread or embroidery floss
  • embroidery needle
  • PVA glue
  • bone folder
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • bookbinding tape (optional)
  • fabric for a book cover (optional)

I recommend practicing your board book binding techniques on scrap paper before moving onto your final project. Having some extra materials on hand allows you to test things out and make adjustments as needed.

Cut Paper for Board Book Pages

Most board books have sturdy pages made from thick paperboard or cardstock that’s folded in half. This folded structure makes the pages extra thick and durable.

To start, determine how many pages you want in your book. Board books generally have 12-40 pages.

Using your paper cutter, cut pieces to the finished size of your board book pages. For example, if you want 5×5 inch pages, cut 10×5 inch sheets that you’ll later fold in half to 5×5 inches.

Be sure to cut the grain of the paper so it runs parallel to the spine for extra strength.

Create the Book’s Signatures

In bookbinding, a “signature” is a group of pages folded together. Grouping your pages into signatures before sewing them together makes board book binding much easier.

To make signatures:

  1. Stack your cut pages with the largest sheets on top and smallest on the bottom. This ensures your pages end up in the right order.
  2. Jog the stack to align the edges perfectly.
  3. Fold the stack in half along the grain direction. Use your bone folder to crease the fold.
  4. Repeat these steps to create all the signatures needed for your book. A 12-page book would have one signature, while a 40-page book would have four signatures.

If desired, you can also nest smaller signatures within larger ones. Just be sure to adjust page ordering so everything ends up in sequence.

Mark sewing stations on the spine

The next step is marking stations along the spine for stitching. Spacing stations evenly means threads don’t loosen over time.

How far apart should sewing stations be? As a general rule, allow 3-4x the page thickness between stations. For example, my 60lb paper is about 1.5mm thick. So I’ll sew stations 5mm apart.

To mark stations:

  1. Stack your signatures.
  2. Measure and mark stations using ruler and pencil. For durability, extend station markings ~1⁄4″ onto front and back covers.
  3. Use an awl to pierce holes where each station is marked. Apply just enough pressure to create a hole without tearing paper.

Sew Signatures Together

Now it’s time to sew! Using a basic stitch like the kettle stitch ensures your binding is secure.

Kettle stitch steps:

  1. Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end of thread.
  2. Push needle up through bottom signature from inside to outside.
  3. Insert needle back through next station down to inside of signature. This anchors the thread.
  4. Continue pushing needle up at each station and back down at the next station. When you reach the last station, loop thread from outside to inside.
  5. Tie ends together on inside with square knots. Trim excess.

If desired, you can sew your board book signatures together with variations like a Coptic stitch too. The basic technique remains the same.

Adhere Endsheets

An endsheet is a reinforced paper attached at both the front and back. Endsheets protect and hide stitching, giving a clean finish.

For board books, thicker paper works best to prevent tearing. Good options includes 120lb cardstock, bookbinding paper, or even thin cardboard.

Steps for adding endsheets:

  1. Cut paper to height of signatures and width of covers plus 1⁄2 inch.
  2. Apply PVA glue to 1⁄2 inch section.
  3. Attach endsheet over sewn signatures, lining up the edges. The extra 1⁄2 inch glues to cover lining.
  4. Smooth with bone folder to adhere tightly.
  5. Repeat for back endsheet once front glue is dry.

Create the Book Cover

To finish your DIY board book, you’ll need to add a durable cover. Here are two good options:

Self Covered

With this method, pages and cover are wrapped in the same paper. To create:

  1. Cut paper for cover to fit around signatures with 1″ overlap on all sides.
  2. Apply glue to paper overlap.
  3. Wrap around signatures and press to adhere. Cover front, back, and spine.
  4. Smooth paper after wrapping to prevent bumps and wrinkles as glue dries.

Separate Cover

For a more structured cover, create one from binder’s board or thin cardboard. Then wrap in fabric.

  1. Cut boards for front, back, and spine ~1/16″ thicker than text block.
  2. Wrap fabric around boards. Adhere fabric to inner surfaces of boards only using glue.
  3. Glue attached fabric-lined boards to book signatures using PVA.

No matter which cover type you choose, press firmly while glue dries to ensure paper and fabric bond tightly.

And that’s it – you now have your own handmade board book! Personalize it by adding color, textures, photos, or even interactive elements like flaps. The binding methods above allow pages to lay completely flat for fun reading and play.

Board Book Binding Tips

Making your first board book? Here are some extra binding tips to ensure success:

  • Use bookbinding tape on signatures for a flexible reinforced spine. Just apply 1″ wide strips before sewing.
  • Go slow piercing holes – rushing can tear paper rather than piercing it cleanly.
  • Check page order thoroughly before sewing signatures together. It’s hard to fix mistakes later!
  • For thicker books, sew signatures together with embroidery floss rather than standard thread. It’s stronger.
  • Press signatures, endsheets, and covers well while glue dries for a tight hold and smooth finish.

With practice, board book binding becomes quick and fun! Don’t be afraid to experiment with different stitches, mixed paper types, and interactive book elements. The whole process lets you flex your creativity and crafting skills.

In Conclusion

Binding board books requires some specialized materials and methods compared to other bookbinding techniques. But with the right supplies and some practice, you can create durable, interactive board books that withstand everything curious little readers throw at them!

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