Sunday 18 March 2012

Tutorial: Japanese Stab Binding (DIY bookbinding)

Today I'll show you how to bind a book the Japanese way. It's a very simple technique once you get the hang of it. Enjoy!


— Paper, of course. Size doesn't matter yet.
— Cardboard for the covers
— Wood glue. It's a really friendly glue because it doesn't smell and it doesn't stick to your fingers. Bookbinding glue is probably even better but you can get by with this.
— A ruler
— Brush to apply glue
— Paper for the decoration of the cover (I used some old wallpaper that I found at a thrift store. It's great and strong paper for this purpose!)
— An X-acto knife or something similar in my case
— Thread to bind the book, you could use ribbon if you want to make it fancy
— A needle big enough to handle whatever you're going to use to sew
— An awl or a drill
— You also need some things that are so natural that I forgot to put them in the photo: a pencil and something to hold the pages together like a paper clip)


STEP 1: Cutting the boards to size.

First, decide what size you want the book (and thus the covers) to be. As you can see I took A4 boards and cut off 9 centimeters in step 1 and 2. Then, cut a small piece of 2 centimeters approximately (step 3 and 4). Do all of this for both covers. This is the part where the holes will be and this will allow you to neatly hide them when the book is opened.

STEP 2: Decorating the boards.

Cut the paper to size, but leave some space around to glue it. Put the two pieces of each board on the paper and leave 1/4 inch space between them. You can use a ruler to make sure they are aligned. Spread glue all over the pieces of cardboard and turn them around when ready. Then, cut off the corners (don't cut right next to the cardboard, otherwise your corners will look rubbish). Glue the sides of the paper to the boards.

STEP 3: Covering the insides of the boards.

Get some colored paper that fits your cover design. Cut it to size by leaving a few millimeters on each side. 

I like to get it as straight as possible by stroking it with my ruler. You can see some bumps in the paper but they disappear after you've let it dry for a while.

STEP 4: Cutting the paper to size.

Once that is done you can leave the boards alone for a while. The next step is to cut the paper block to size. As you can see I didn't have to cut off a lot of it. You can see my one hand pushing down the ruler and the paper beneath to make sure nothing moves, and my other hand pushing and cutting with the knife at the same time. It's important to use a lot of pressure here because you will fuck up your paper if you don't. You don't want to end up with ugly feathered edges!

This is what you should have by now. 

STEP 5: Punching the holes.

For this part you will need to view full size because you can't see those little holes. Draw a line 1,5 cm from the edge, and draw some holes on it. Watch out before you start punching. I ended up punching holes on the wrong side the first time because this book is almost a square. Draw/punch 4 holes, all beautifully spread over the whole thing.

Now punch away!

Using the first page as a guide, draw the holes on the boards. Be careful before you punch because I have made the fault before not to check if I was punching the holes in the right order (again -_-). The board for the back of the book has the same holes in reversed order, keep this in mind and you'll be fine.

STEP 6: Sewing.

Start sewing in the second hole from the left. Once you're through (this can get a little while), make a loop around the back of your book and go through the same hole again, like you see in the second photo.

Turn around, and move to the next hole to the left. 

Do the same as you did in the first hole, get through the same hole twice in order to make a loop around the back.

Turn around again and go to the next hole on your way. This time, you'll go into the same hole 3 times. First make a loop around the back again and then a loop around the side of the book, like this:

(you can see that I made a mistake before with the extra hole)

Turn around again, to the side where your needle got out. You'll see what you need to do as you probably have the hang of it by now. From now on you won't have to make loops around the back anymore, it's just a question of filling up the gaps that are still missing in the row of thread.

Just work your way through. When you reach the last hole (the one you didn't touch yet), you will see that you also got to the last gap.

Which is good news, because here you're basically finished! The hole where you ended is the one next to the first, so you just need to make a knot with them:

And tadaa, there is your book. Congrats!


Candice Windham said...

I was loving this post until you used obscene language. It was not needed.
I won't be coming back.

Heather Hutchinson said...

Thanks for the tutorial! It was very informative. I'll be back despite the "obscene language". Lol! Her comment made me giggle. I'm easily amused.

Caroline Vermeir said...

Internet is creepy sometimes. I'm sorry, I didn't realise that 'Japanese', 'Stab', or 'Bookbinding' is considered obscene. Thanks Heather.

Unknown said...

It is very original you are a genios.
I love this blo. Look my blog for laught:

Julia v. said...

One f word and everyone freaks out, took me several reads to work out what she was on about. Anywho, that's for the fab tutorial.

Eleuterio Ignacio said...

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Margaret said...

Most informative. Thanks. And it took me five, yes five times, to read through and find the "obscene" word!

Heather said...

Lol... Oh my eyes are burning from the one f-word... Lol clearly "Candice" does not get on Facebook or read any other blog/forum posts. Cuss words are only in the minds eye. Lol

Unknown said...

Thanks for the tutorial. Looks easy and fun. AND a big thanks for the tips on punching the holes. I would probably screw up as well. I'm planning to bind a book after summer is over - to put our summer pics in..

Alexander Danner said...

I just used your tutorial to complete my first bound book, and found it tremendously helpful--the project was a success!

I do think you have one small mistake in Step 6: Sewing--you say to start with the second hole from the left, then continue moving left, which put me at a dead end. On checking your images, I realized that you were starting from the second hole from the *right,* then proceeding to the left, and then it made sense. I pulled out the one mistaken stitch and finished the rest of the book without a problem.

Thank you for the helpful tutorial--I'm looking forward to binding my next book!

Anonymous said...

Hello Caroline!

A fantastic tutorial, thanks for taking the time to make it. Just a quick one to let you know that I've added your tutorial as a resource in our latest 'Top 10 Japanese Stab Binding Tutorials on the Internet' -

Thanks again and keep up the good work!

~ Paul

The Vinegar Man said...

Thanks for your work. I found it thanks to the post on iBookbinding. Thanks Paul.