So you want to become a bookbinding apprentice? I don’t mean a real trade apprentice, but you could if you want. What I mean is you want to learn about bookbinding as a hobby or pass time. The DAS Bookbinding YouTube Channel is the perfect starting point for learning bookbinding. It covers foundation skills, simple projects, technical methods, materials and more advanced bookbinding projects. The videos are presented in a tutorial or lesson fashion, which I hope are easy to follow. The knowledge presented is based on traditional techniques which can be used to create traditional books or as a foundation to quality journalling or creative artists’ books. The best way to find what you are looking for is the DAS Bookbinding YouTube Channel guide. But before you head off there, let me give some advice about where to start.
The first question is what type of book do you want to bind? Do you want to bind your own journal or sketchbook or do you want to print your favourite classic from Project Gutenberg, or maybe you’ve written a family history that you want to bind. Maybe you’re finding there is a huge array of types of bindings you’d never heard of before, and tools, materials and equipment that are outright confusing.
If you want to make a journal or sketchbook, then let’s pick one of the favourites that uses easily obtained materials and can be made with improvised tools, and that is the Coptic sewn journal. This book has an exposed spine and uses very little adhesive and it opens very flat which is great for writing or drawing in.
Maybe you don’t like the look of the exposed spine, or you’re ready for a step up. Then the next project I’d recommend is the sewn board binding. This book can be sewn in a similar fashion to the Coptic sewn journal, or sewn in another style. Don’t forget to look for parts 2 and 3 on the DAS Bookbinding YT channel.
Now would be the perfect time to start to learn more about the materials used in bookbinding, especially paper. Paper, card and board has a property known as grain that has to do with how the fibres are aligned in the material. It is extremely important to understand grain to produce books that work well and will last a long time. Bookbinders generally use 3 types of adhesives, glue, paste and mix. Glue used to mean some sort of animal protein adhesive, but these days it means PVA. Paste is a starch based adhesive which can be made yourself or bought. An adhesive commonly used for wallpaper, called methyl cellulose, can also be used as paste. And mix is a roughly 50/50 mix of glue and paste, which gives the benefits of both. And finally, what’s the deal with the knots?
But I haven’t forgotten about you wanting to bind a printed book. Just as an aside, traditionally trade bookbinding was broadly divided into stationery binding, books to be written in, and letterpress binding, printed books. If you wanted to dive in the deep end, a rounded and backed cased binding is a solid binding for a printed book. And I have taught this as an introduction to bookbinding and I have a series of videos on this. But maybe a better starting point would be a stiffened paper binding. Right after this I’d recommend a square-back binding such as the Bradel. And if you have a stack of single sheets to bind the no-brainer is the double-fan binding.
These are just some ideas to get you started. I have almost 100 videos about many aspects of bookbinding, including more advanced projects such as leather bindings, 19th century library bindings, and my favourite, the springback. Browse the DAS Bookbinding YouTube Channel guide to find what you’re looking for or contact me if you can’t find it. Maybe it will be a future video!
Darryn A Schneider (aka DAS Bookbinding)