Simple Bookbinding

This post is in response to a friend of mine (Hi Jennifer!) who is about to start Robinson Curriculum. Robinson Curriculum comes with several CDs full of books. Several years ago, when we originally started this, we bought a laser printer from Costco. Is is a Brother HL-5250DN. I have never regretted this purchase, even when we switched away from Robinson for a while. It has a toner saver mode and is far more economical than an ink printer. However, we do still have an ink printer for those occasions when we need something in color.

Let me say that one of the wonderful things about the CDs that come with the Robinson Curriculum is the layout of the books. I have taken a picture of a book that I printed from a free book site on the internet. I printed the book out as I would from a Robinson CD, and learned the advantage of the CDs right away. I had to sort of fold all of the pages together in the middle. While it is still readable, it makes for an awkward binding job. 


(Please remember that you may click on any image to enlarge it.)

When I first started Robinson Curriculum, before I owned a printer, a kind lady sold me the first few books that she had printed to hold us over.  She printed them out duplex which made the print much larger and that made each standard sheet of paper have 2 book pages on it.  This is probably a good option for some.  She comb bound them.   The two things that I don’t like about this binding are that you have a hard time writing what the book is on the spine (not that my way is much better for that) and the binding likes to come out of several of the bottom pages.  

When I am ready to print a book from a Robinson CD, I click print and select “Toner Save” mode.  I then go and click duplex and booklet.  This allows there to be 4 book pages on one sheet of standard size paper.  Then I print them out.  

  I then turn the book over and find out how many end pages need to be folded together.  Usually 5 pages at a time make a little “booklet” within your book, but at the end this number varies.  If the book has page numbers, which I am finding that most do, you can see which book page numbers are in order on the same sheet of paper.  If the book does not have page numbers, you need to start from the front of the book, take 5 pages and turn them over.  That is where you should see the page numbers being in order.  I don’t know how to explain this very well, so I took some pictures:

  and five sheets later…

So, now every 5 sheets gets folded together until there are many “booklets” depending on how long the book is. 


   When the booklets are finished, I take a blank sheet of paper and fold it in half for the bottom and the top.  On the top sheet, I write the title, author, and the Robinson number that it is.  After that, I take two sheets of cardstock and fold them in half.  I place one on the bottom and one on the top of the book.   Again, I write the title, author, and number on the top cardstock sheet.      I then stack it pretty neatly, put a rubber band around it and it goes out to the garage for my husband to do the next step.   

My husband tells me the tool he uses is called a jig. It is some kind of a drill and he has a skinny bit to go in it.  He has also made a frame out of wood to keep the book together while he drills the holes.  We have two guides, one for the half-size and one for the full size books.  I’m hoping the picture will show this clearly.  You can tell I’m not really drilling and only taking pictures because the guide that is on the book is backwards!  That is why he does the drilling and not me!


At that point the book comes back to me, being held together by that rubber band.  I then take the sewing things out.  I use heavy-duty thread.  I must admit, I’m looking for something better because there is a difference in quality between the heavy-duty thread that I bought years ago and that which I’ve been able to find recently.  The first thing I do is make a knot in one end to hold the book together until I get a little more sewing done. 


After that I bring the thread to the next hole, put it through and then wrap it around the spine a time or two before moving on to the next hole.  I use a pretty large piece of thread because I want to be able to go up and down the side of the book at least twice. 

This is what it looks like when I’m finished: 


That is all I do.  I had planned on trying to figure out how to put some kind of real cover on one day, but have yet to get around to it.  I wanted to show one of the books that I did two or three years ago.   It has been through 2 boys now and this is what it looks like:


I’m sure there are better ways, but this system works for us so far.  Hopefully this will help someone get an idea of how to simply bind some of the Robinson Curriculum books.

Edited to add…  Monday is our day out.  We have Mass and then class.  The boys are required to spend our long trip in the car reading.  At one point, while we were eating in the car, I looked over and saw how John was keeping his page in his book.  This is the handle on the front dash.  The binding is still holding up, which is a very good thing.  It only has 5 more children to go through!


6 Responses to “Simple Bookbinding”

  1. Jennifer Says:

    Hi Kristen!

    This is a great post! Thank you so much for your time to share this with us. I really like how you can write on the spine. Very cool. I have a spiral binding set up, but I can’t write on the spines like that. Hmmmm . . . .

  2. mrstreasures Says:

    I can’t believe it can hold up like that. Great job.

  3. mary lou Says:

    Loved the pictures! For the book binding, what about nylon fishing line instead of heavy duty thread?(Although it looks like the thread holds up pretty well…)

  4. donnamarie Says:

    Thank you for the pics! FWIW…I remember a link I used to have…they covered books with wallpaper using a thin cardboard that they covered over for the front and back covers. They said to ask wallpaper stores for their left over books and rolls. I don’t know if that is something you are interested in or not…..

  5. Laura Thornton Says:

    The book binder is really cool! I can’t wait to see some book cover designs by the kids…!

  6. Denise simon Says:

    HI, thanks for the great binding help. I am just starting to use this curriculum this year and was looking for ideas like yours.

    I saw on another website a woman who uses dental floss as her thread, for durability.

    God Bless,

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