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How to use a binder machine

Updated July 20, 2017

Whether you use your comb binder to make one book a week or hundreds a day, by following the basic steps for binding, you will not only avoid problems such as paper jams and un-punched sheets, but you will also maximise the life and usefulness of your binding machine.

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  1. Use the guides on your binder to set the proper margins for your document. These guides are usually a slide-rule style paper guide, or a rotary knob found on the front or side of the binder.

  2. Test the location of the punch on a single sheet of paper before punching an entire book. Be sure all of the punched holes are within the margins of the paper.

  3. Select the pages of the document that is being bound. If the document has more pages than the binder can punch at one time, you will need to punch it in sections. For example if the binder can punch 25 sheets at a time, and the document is 100 pages, you will have to do at least four punches of 25 sheets each. If too many sheets are punched at once, there is a possibility they will either get jammed in the binder or the punching dies will not go through all the sheets

  4. Slide the pages of the document into the binder. Make sure all the sheets are lined up against the paper guide and the back of the binding machine. If the binding machine has vertical punching, double-check that the sheets are lined up horizontally.

  5. Pull down the lever to punch the paper. Be sure the lever is at the bottom of its range of travel before releasing it. Remove the punched paper and check that the punching dies have penetrated all the sheets of the document.

  6. If the document has more sheets to be punched, place the first set of punched sheets facedown on a table and punch the remaining parts of the document. Be careful to keep the sheets in order as you punch.

  7. After the sheets of the document are all punched, use the metal teeth of the "comb opener" to align the binding comb and then pull down on the lever. This will open the comb so that the plastic fingers are pointing up. Leave the lever in the down (open position).

  8. Align the holes in the punched paper with the plastic comb fingers and gently pull the paper down until it slides completely over the combs. Be careful that all the fingers of the comb go through all the sheets of paper or they will have to removed and realigned. Also, if you have any cover sheets, don't forget to put them on first.

  9. After the entire document has been placed onto the fingers of the comb, add the back cover if you are using one, and gently push the binder's lever up. This will close the comb.

  10. Lift the completed document off the binder.

  11. Tip

    If you are using plastic cover sheets, be sure to select ones that are made to be used in a binding machine. Sheets that are not of the right material will jam the punching dies of the binder.


    Do not try to punch more than the recommended amount of sheets for your binder as this will lead to paper jams and premature wear of the punching dies.

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Things You'll Need

  • Binding Machine
  • Completed Document
  • Binding Combs
  • Cover Sheets

About the Author

Eric Rose

After 20 years in New York as a member of the music industry, Eric Rose pedaled his bike to California where he completed a CD of educational songs for children, and a soon-to-be released young adult novel. Rose has designed curriculum for schools and corporations, and written national textbooks in science and math.

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