How to Do Perfect Binding

Written by alane michaelson
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How to Do Perfect Binding
Books that are perfect-bound have their pages glued to the spine in a stack. (book image by Kkatka from

Perfect binding is the process by which a book is bound with its pages stacked together and glued to the spine. The majority of books you find in a bookstore are perfect-bound. When a book is perfect-bound, all the pages sit neatly and evenly in the book, making for a clean and professional presentation. A perfect-bound book also takes up less space on a shelf than a book that has been bound by other methods, such as spiral binding.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Clamps
  • Wood blocks
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Glue
  • Metal rulers
  • Waxed paper
  • Razor blade or X-acto knife

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  1. 1

    Stack the pages in the order they should appear in the book. Place several scrap pages on each side of the manuscript pages to protect the other pages from any excess glue. Knock the fore edge of the book against your work surface. The spine of the book is facing up at this point and it is OK if the pages along the spine are of slightly different lengths.

  2. 2

    Place one wood block along each side of the fore edge of the book. Use clamps to secure them firmly in place. This keeps the pages from moving while the spine is glued.

  3. 3

    Sand the edges of the paper along the spine of the book. A light sanding is sufficient to roughen the paper a bit. This gives the glue more surface area to adhere to.

  4. 4

    Fold all the pages at the spine end of the book together gently in one direction, exposing approximately 1/32 inch of each page. Brush glue onto the pages, working in the direction of the fold. Fold the spine in back the opposite direction and apply more glue in the same manner.

  5. 5

    Straighten the book and place a sheet of waxed paper lightly over the spine. Along the edges of the spine, firmly clamp a metal ruler to each side of the book. This keeps the pages in place while the glue dries. The waxed paper prevents the glue from sticking to the rulers. After the glue has dried completely, remove the clamps, the rulers and the waxed paper.

  6. 6

    Allow the book to remain upright and apply another coat of glue along the spine. Allow this coat of glue to dry and repeat this step two more times. Allow the glue to dry completely.

  7. 7

    Remove the pieces of scrap paper from either side of the book. Use the razor blade or X-acto knife to trim away any excess glue from the pages.

  8. 8

    Fold the book's cover over the spine to fit it properly. Remove the cover, apply another coat of glue along the spine and reapply the cover. Clamp the cover in place and allow the glue to dry completely.

Tips and warnings

  • Choose a glue appropriate for book binding.
  • Depending on humidity and other factors, the initial gluing can take anywhere from several hours to several days to dry completely.
  • Wash your hands well before binding the book, as oils from your fingers can dirty the pages.

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