Down and Dirty Perfect Binding

Recently, I discovered a manila envelope full of old song fragments and scraps that I want to go through to get into a digital format for my records. However, they’re not easily accessible in their loose-pile form and they are cluttering up my work area.
Solution? Make a perfect-bound book out of them.

Materials for this venture are as follows:
Two manila file folders
One old map
Cardboard from old FedEx envelopes
Strip of cloth from an old T-shirt
Elmers glue
Mod podge
Two Plastic binder shields and two large binder clips

Using two plastic shields from some old three ring binder’s, I sandwiched all of the loose sheets together insecure them with the binder clips and painted the future spine with Elmers glue. I took extra care to push some of the glue between the sheets. After the first layer glue had partially dried, I apply more glue then laid the strip of old T-shirt as a spine Steffner and painted on more glue to make sure it adhered fully to the partially dried glue spine.
Step two was to cut down the manila folders to make thick “end papers” (the white, colored or patterned papers at the front and back of the book block that cover up the unsightly edges on the inside of the book cover and help attach the book block to the cover.)

Since they folders are pre-folded I only had to remove the excess material before gluing the folders to the front and back of the book flock using Elmer’s glue spread into a thin, 1/4″  glue strip.
The cover is very simple and quick. It is not very durable since the cardboard material is very thin. Also there’s no spine. Since this is a perfect-bound book (flat sheets glued together, not sown signatures) I was concerned that making a cover that was slightly larger in dimensions then the page size would cause unnecessary strain on the spine. For that reason the cover is 8.5″ x 11″, just like the page size.

A quick recap of my quick and easy book cover method using a large sheet of paper (in this case an old AAA map):

  1. Glue the cardboard cover pieces to the middle of the map
  2. Fold the top and bottom of the map in word gluing them down.
  3. Before folding and gluing in the sides, cut a 45° angle for each corner.
  4. Glue down a piece of brown craft paper to strengthen the spine area of the cover.
    I finish the whole thing off by gluing the T-shirt flaps down to the cover flaps and then gluing down the Manila and papers. While a little rough, the final product is serviceable, will sit nicely on the shelf within reach and use, clears off my cluttered workspace, uses up some scrap materials I’ve had on hand, and enabled me to create a book with some 7250 pages without punching holes and sewing signatures. Although I made the book over the course of two days, not counting drying time the project took only about two hours from start to finish.

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