Build Cover Boards

You’ll need to cut three boards for your hardback case: the front cover, the back cover, and the spine. Your local craft store should stock binder’s board (a durable, yet flexible board, about 1/8″ thick) for this specific purpose, but in a pinch, chipboard or illustration board should also work.

Using your carpenter’s square and utility knife, measure and cut the cover boards. Each cover should be 1/8″ longer on the head, foot, and fore edges. Every board has a grain, which usually runs the length of the board. Make sure to cut every board with the grain; otherwise, if any stretching or warping occurs, the error will be much more obvious when two boards stretch in different directions.

The edge on the spine side of the front cover should be reduced by the thickness of two boards (in my case, 1/4″), to accommodate the hinge. Altogether, then, the front cover should be cut to 1/4″ taller than the height of the book (1/8″ added to the head and foot) and 1/8″ narrower than the width of the book (after adding 1/8″ and subtracting 1/4″).

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Cut the spine board to the same height as the covers. Normally, the width of the spine board should be the width of the book block, plus the thickness of the front and back cover boards. But since our book is significantly thicker at its spine than at just 1/4″ further in, cutting the spine board to the same thickness as the width of the spine edge of the signatures is more appropriate and will slightly reduce the unwanted effect of a thicker spine than fore edge.


You now have your rough boards. Before attaching them to your book block, use a medium-grit sand paper to smooth out the rough edges. Otherwise, over time, these edges might catch on shelf edges and wear through the cover paper.



  1. Introduction
  2. Strip the Existing Cover
  3. Create Signatures
  4. Prepare Signatures for Stitching
  5. Stitch the Signatures
  6. Glue the Spine
  7. Build Cover Boards
  8. Attach the Cover Boards
  9. Cover the Cover
  10. Finish Up