Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How To make a signature for a hand bound book

Last time I showed you how to find the direction your paper grain runs in your paper to optimize for the best fold for a hand bound book. now that you have a stack of precut pages all ready for folding, with the grain of the paper parallel to where you are going to fold I'll show you how to fold your sheets and get them ready for sewing.

What you'll need:

Precut sheets (cut to the height of your book and double the width)
Bone Folder
paper clips or alligator clips
Awl or a Long needle or pin
Rubber Mallet

Measure for your score
The best way to fold a sheet of paper is to score along where your fold is going to be using a bone folder. A bone folder is generally made of pig bone and has a pointed end and a rounded end, the bone is smooth for burnishing down your paper once it's scored.

To start take your ruler and measure out where your fold is going to be. My book is going to be 5.5" x 7" so my precut sheets are 11"x 7". Measuring in from the edge along the 11" length of the page I will make small pencil marks at the 5.5" length on my ruler. Remember to measure down the sheet in at least three places so that you are in effect measuring twice (or more) and scoring only once. Because the edges of my paper are deckle edges measuring in more than one place is even more important since the edge of my paper isn't even.

Scoring for your fold
just as you would if you were cutting along your measure, take your straight edge and line it up along your pencil marks. Run your bone folder along the edge remembering to keep your other hand pressing down on the ruler and moving it so that your bone folder hand and your ruler hand are at approximately the same place. It helps to have some extra scrap papers under where you are scoring to act as a cushion. This will give you a deeper score in your page making folding even easier.

Making the fold
Now that you have a scored line in each sheet you can create your fold. Using your scored line as guide, fold your sheet along the scored line and press down using the flat of your bone folder to finish the fold.

Make your signature
A signature is a collection of folded sheets that make a booklet. one or more signatures can be sewn together to create the pages of a hand bound book. A signature should ideally be made up of no less than three folded sheets of paper or leaves and no more than ten. The paper I have used is fairly heavy; 200lb so I am opting to create two signatures of four leaves.

Collect your leaves together and make sure that they all line up. At this point you can make sure your leaves stay aligned by clipping them together with paper clips or alligator clips.

Since this a small book I plan on measuring for two bindings (the straps that will hold the signatures together when the book is being bound). I'll measure out and make a pencil mark on each signature starting 3/4" from the bottom of the signature and 1/2" from the top of the signature.

The next step involves some math. I apologize but sometimes a little arithmetic is necessary. take your ruler and measure the space between the top measurement and the bottom. Divide this by the number of bindings for your book. In my case four. Measure down from your 1/2" mark with the number you have just calculated and with your pencil make another mark and repeat for each number of bindings.

A second mark should be made under each of these measurements to match the width of your binding tape or ribbon. My binding tape is 1/2" wide, under each of my measurements I will make a second mark that is a distance of 1/2". These marks are where I will punch a hole using my awl.

Getting the signatures ready to sew
making sure the leaves in your signature are aligned, take your awl and place the point on each of your markings where your bindings will be placed. Gently hammer the awl into your signature on each point. It is helpful to have something underneath where you are hammering so that you don't damage your awl tip. I've used an old magazine but an old phonebook would work too.

Next time Sewing your bindings onto your signature

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