Introduction to Olde-School Bookbinding

Magazines aren’t really built to last, but isn’t your copy of MAKE worth keeping around for generations? That’s a particularly tall order for a paperback periodical that you’ll dog-ear, refer to often, and keep open on your workbench (as much as its original binding will allow) as you work your way through its many detailed projects.

When you’ve completed this project, though, you’ll have a durable, attractive hardcover copy of MAKE that will last forever and lie flat as you follow along with the rest of the articles in the magazine (so, I of course recommend starting with this project before moving on to the others ;-).


Like most thick magazines or paperback books, MAKE is perfect bound: individual leaves (a leaf represents two pages, front and back, on one sheet of paper) are collected and glued directly to the spine, where the front and back cover (a single continuous wrapped sheet) meet.

Shorter magazines are often saddle-stitch bound (longer sheets, representing two leaves each, are folded and stapled at their spine), which actually cuts out a number of steps for hand binding. If you’ve decided to bind a saddle-stitched magazine (or several into a single book), you’ve saved yourself a lot of trouble and can skip ahead to stitching the signatures.


  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