Book Binding

We are a Robinson Curriculum family.  This is a self-teaching course of study that employs an incredibly rich treasure of wonderful, old books – so old that they are out of print.  So we, like many Robinson families, are learning how to make books.  I have four goals in mind:  supple binding, durability, fast to make, and zero budget.

Before I go any further, though, I should mention that I have a spiral binding machine, I have tried sewing the binding (but am not that patient), and have tried a heavy duty stapler.  I thought I would try a home grown version of perfect binding, and so far, so good!

Tutorial for Home-grown Perfect Bound 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ Books

Materials for book binding


– Printed pages, long stapler, bone folder.

– Paper cutter (or scissors), card stock, rubber band.

– Hot glue gun, popsicle stick, duct tape, Sharpie, clear packing tape.


PROCESS | Approx 20 minutes

Batches are stapled booklet style.

Fold batches...

...then crease with the bone folder (a spoon works great, too).

Cut the card stock for your cover.

Table tap the batches and covers to line them up flush

Table tap the batches (and covers) on their spines to line them up evenly.

Rubber band the whole stack, closer to the open pages.

Tear duct tape for binding cover, and lay on table sticky side up.

Table tap once more before gluing (staples down).

Ready now for gluing: staple side UP.

Thoroughly hot glue all of the batch spines.

Smooth hot glue with a popsicle stick. Apply some pressure so that the glue is pushed down in between the batches a bit for a more secure binding.

Immediately apply a second layer of hot glue; smooth again with popsicle stick.

Set glued spine onto the duct tape strip; press into place and let cool about 30 seconds.

Press tape into hot glue, then trim excess duct tape from ends (not sides).

Press sides of duct tape onto front and back covers.

Label spine and cover with clear packing tape.

Finished binding.

Binding is flexible and stays open easily. Less hand fatigue = more reading joy.

A happy customer. : )


22 Responses to Book Binding

  1. krisvog says:

    OK, I’m going to have to try this. I might add it after I sew it for extra durability. It is also great that you can label it easier. Thanks for the tutorial. Oh, it never occured to me to crease the pages with something other than my fingernail. I could have spared my thumb and fore finger nail had you posted this sooner! 😉 God bless!

  2. Lee W says:

    Wow Jennifer,
    This looks great. I can’t wait to try it out. You didn’t even have to iron the hot glue afterwards. Now, I would just need to find something other than duct tape, since duct tape has latex in it, and my son is allergic.
    Thanks for the great pictures and written directions. Very impressive.
    Love the little red-head. He’s adorable.

    • Jennifer says:

      Iron hot glue? Not in this life or the next. 😉

      For the tape, do you know if strapping tape has latex? The kind of tape that’s as wide as packing tape, translucent white, with the white strings going through it through the length of the tape. I wonder if that would work for him. You don’t want sick books, that’s for sure. Poor bub.

      • Lee W says:

        That might work. I’ll have to check. Many tapes have latex, especially anything waterproof.
        Anyway, thanks for the suggestion. I also realized that if I am putting the clear packing tape over it anyway, the latex may be a non-issue, as he would not come into contact with it. At this point, we are mostly using e-books on a kindle for him, but for his younger brother, this is a good option. I like to have the boys self-publish a few books of their own writing and illustrations to encourage their love for reading and writing, and show their accomplishments.

  3. Sherry says:

    Oh, my! You make it look so easy! I have used Robinson for at least 13 years now and have yet to bind a book. I have always either bought them or put them in folders. I will have to try binding after looking at your pictures! I have a few books that are worn out and have lost pages over the years so there is no time like the present. Thanks so much!

  4. Jenni Evans says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this on the RC Yahoo group site. I have been trying to decide how to bind my books and this looks GREAT!!

  5. Darrell says:

    Wow! Looks easier than I imagined-my plan was to use 3-ring binders as long as I could but this actually makes booklet form look attainable:)

    • Jennifer says:

      It was unbelievably easy. Too easy. Makes me wonder if I forgot something obvious…like remembering to put the pages in… ; )

      I hope it makes great books for you, Darrell!

  6. Molly says:

    Alright Jennifer, I am obviously craft-challenged beyond compare! The glue was drying in clumps before I could even put the glue gun down and grab the craft stick! Maybe I have a really cheesy (Rose Art) glue gun? Just hoping it’s not me. 😉

    • Jennifer says:

      Hmmmmmm…I’m not sure, Molly! I did treat myself to a new glue gun, but it wasn’t anything high speed. I grabbed it at Walmart ($10) when I was buying new glue sticks. It does both high temp and low temp; I always make sure it’s on High, but I do have to work fast, and work in thin layers.

      Maybe that would be helpful to know? LOL

  7. TattyTeddy says:

    Cool. I finally found a way to bind booklets, because I’m stuck being a High School student who has to hand in assignments and stuff, but this great — thanks for sharing this!! 😀

  8. Beverly says:

    Very cool! I will have to try this. We’re a homeschooling family, too, and I’ve listened to 50 Famous…on Libravox. I’m a friend of John’s from high school.

  9. Donna Marie says:

    How did I miss this?
    Duct tape comes in custom colors so you could color-code your books in a way that works for level, perhaps?

    I want to print my own books but I am afraid it would be rather spendy with my printer. I use refills from Walgreens (best place to get your ink for coupons) and the cost has gone down…I have soo many oop books I want a copy of. …hmm… Now I think I know how I am going to spend my convalescence…watch out dh! ;o)

  10. Donna Marie says:

    BTW…love your little man’s eyes! :o)

  11. Tracy from Australia says:

    This is great! I’m new to RC but have tried binding myself using only wood glue (PVA).

    Your book “Fifty Famous Stories” looks like it’s printed on something smaller in length than A4 paper? Did you cut off the end of the A4 before you printed? How did you print double sided in small groups? How many double sided pages in each stappled group?

    Sorry about all the questions but I’m really wanting to try this out soon.

    • Jennifer says:

      Hi Tracy! Thanks for visiting all the way from Oz. : )

      Here in the States we have what’s called “letter” size paper. It’s 8 1/2 inches x 11 inches; using it, I didn’t need to trim anything before I printed.

      So glad you asked about how I printed in the small groups – I never even thought to mention that! {insert lightning bolt here} I have what’s called a “duplex printer”, meaning that it prints on both sides without any help from me. Mine is a Brother HL5370DW (Digital, Wireless). From the RC software, you can tell it how many pages you want in your bundles – it’s got a great printing utility. A little learning curve, but not bad at all. I think I have 3-4 double-sided pages in each group; the books read much better when the bundles aren’t so thick.

      No problem! Love the questions. Thanks!

  12. Tracy from Australia says:

    One more question…
    Can you print that size from the RC CD’s?
    Thanks again.

    • Jennifer says:

      There may be other size options in the RC software, but I’m not aware of it. I just put in my regular printer paper, made my choices for how many to print and where to start printing from, clicked OK and that was it.

      Best of luck – let me know how it goes! : )

  13. Tracy from Australia says:

    Hi Jennifer,
    I’m having a great time binding my books (using A4 paper in Australia) with no problems. Just have to iron the cloth tape as it’s winter here and the hot glue goes cold really fast and needs a little extra heat to help bond properly. I did find in the options (next to the dark D function) to print in 20 page lots, 4 pages per sheet of paper, which is 5 sheet batches which you staple together before you glue. Took me a while to work out this. The first book I had to print manually in 20 page lots but it is sooo much easier with the automatic batches!
    Thanks for this.

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