Binding the Pages Mini Tutorial

DISCLAIMER

I am not a professional bookbinder. The methods outlined below come from trial and error.

The method below will yield a sturdy prop book, that will last you awhile, but I make no guarantees about the binding lifespan etc.

Also, since were working with some pretty strong glue it would be wise to work in a well ventilated area and to protect your workspace.

Also, Also, regrettably I did not take pictures of my actual 9 Gates when I was working on it.  The pictures below of the book with the curved spine were taken of a large custom journal I bound.

This binding tutorial WILL NOT yield the binding shown in the picture at the Nine Gates tutorial page.  That book was professionally bound.

Return to the Ninth Gate Page

supplies.jpg starting.jpg 1. SUPPLIES

Get your starting supplies together. At a minimum you will need leather for your cover, an old binder (or hard cardboard) for the boards, some paper to cover the inside of the boards, some rubber bands and/or clamps, and for this technique, some Gorilla Glue. You will also need some kind of glue to glue the leather to the boards. I find that superglue or CA glue with  some accelerant works very well.

For a curved spinecurved_spine.jpg<-Extra step for curved spine

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For a straight spine

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2. BINDING THE PAGES

Hopefully, you’ve got your bundle of pages printed out and aged before this step.  Aging the pages after this step becomes a colossal pain, so trust me, if you haven’t aged your pages yet, go do so now. I have pictures here for doing a curved spine (screen accurate) or a straight spine (folio).  Except for the initial step with the curved binding, both methods are identical.  Also, the pictures of the curved pages being bound are from a journal I was binding but which is much larger than a 9 Gates, so don’t use those pictures to scale your replica.

The first step (and the only one which is different for a curves spine binding) is to actually cut out the curved spine.  Then you must fit your pages to the curvature of the spine in order to ensure that your pages will fit when the pages are bound and glued into the boards.  This step is obviously not required for the flat (what I call ‘folio’ style) binding.

Although the pictures are fairly self explanatory, I’ll write out some text to clarify.   After getting your pages aligned the way you want them bound, clamp them between two stiff pieces of wood.   I used two spare pieces I had.   Make sure that there is no room to move among the pages and that the page bundle is extremely tight.

Next take a piece of wet tissue or expendable cloth and run it across the spine of the page bundle.  Gorilla Glue works best when the medium is slightly damp.  So you want to just barely dampen out the spine of the pages.  Then I’ve found the best way is to apply a line or several beads of glue down the middle.  Keep in mind that Gorilla Glue expands, so a little goes a long way.   You don’t need to ladle it on.  Use a moist q-tip or damp tissue to spread the glue along the spine.  Then wait till it dries.  Voila!  Done!  The binding will hold up reasonably well, as long as you don’t manhandle the pages.

cutting_tube1 cutting_board2Binder1 fitting_boardsfitting_spineboards_curved 3. MAKING THE BOARDS

This is actually a pretty easy part.  I find it easiest to start with a binder.   Then cut off the outer covering so that you’re left with the just the cardboard.  Take the bundle of bound pages and lay them against the cardboard and measure out how big you want the covers to be.  Be sure to give yourself at least 1/4 inch to work with around the edges.   Then cut out what will act as your book’s spine.

I find the best thing to use for the curved spine is a  paper towel tube.  Cut it down to the degree of curvature you need for the spine.  You can firm this up with a coating of PVA(wood) glue if you need to.  Just paint it on and let it dry.

boards_flatboards_flat2boards_flat_leather 4. CUT THE LEATHER

Lay out the boards on the leather and measure out what you need for space.  Again, give yourself some room to glue down the leather and make sure that it will fold.   Also, you want to give yourself some leeway for the raised bands on the back of the book.

boards_flat_spine spine_buildup.jpgspine_buildup2.jpgcurved_sping_buildup 5. MAKING THE BANDS

Both the film and the novel talk about the 5 raised bands on the spine of the book.   So, since we’re not doing the bands the real way, we need to fake them.   There are several ways of doing this.  Find a material with a little give in it and glue it along the spine where you want the bands to be.   Even though you see foam pieces being used in the picture, I’ve actually gotten excellent results using bits of styrene tubing (like a thick straw).  I cut them to size after splitting the “straw” in two, and then glue then with the ‘arch’ side up.   (This is what is shown in the last picture).  Don’t worry if they compress, it will still be enough to act as a raised band.

glue_leatherglue_leather1p1010021.jpg 6. GLUE THE LEATHER

First rule of doing this, go slowly.  If you don’t, you’ll regret it.  Start with some CA glue and accelerant, or some super glue and glue down the edges of the leather first,  At this stage you still want the leather to  be able to move around a bit.   Then I work towards the center, putting in sparse amounts of glue (Gorilla Glue or CA) to get the result I need.   Make sure that the leather is remaining tight.

For the spine, I find it is easiest t o glue down one end and then add glue (CA glue with accelerant works best here) and press down the leather.   Do this all the way up the spine until you are done.   Keep in mind throughout this process, you may want to keep test fitting your pages.

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7.  WRAPPING THINGS UP

Once your leather cover is dry enough to be stable, glue your bound pages onto the spine of your leather-glued boards.   Then use clamps, weights, presses, rubber bands, whatever you need, to keep the whole thing in shape while it dries.   Shown here is Folio 9 Gates replica being bound and my completed bound journal.