Does your "Boy Scout Handbook" look as though it has been read by a grizzly bear? Are pages falling out of your favorite novel? Has the cover come off of your copy of "The Hobbit?"
You don't have to buy new copies. It's easy to repair paperback books using Japanese bookbinding techniques. Just punch four holes through the book near the spine and lash it together with needle and thread. You can make sketch books, scrapbooks or blank books this way, too. To make smaller books, fold several sheets of paper paper carefully into halves or quarters, clamp the stack together and punch and bind it, then slit the pages apart with a sharp knife afterwards, being careful not to cut the binding threads.
To rebind a paperback you will need an awl or thin wire brads, heavy thread (eight times as long as the book 's height), a needle, pencil, and ruler. Use carpet thread, strong nylon thread, or waxed dental floss. If you use wire brads instead of an awl you'll want a small hammer. Binder clips are useful, too. For a scrapbook or blank book cut covers from card stock or a file folder.
Here's what you do:
1. Usinga ruler, draw a line from top to bottom of the front cover, about 1/4"from the spine. Make two marks on this line, one 1/4' down from the top of the book, the other 1/4" up from the bottom. Now divide the distance between these marks into thirds and mark the two middle points.
2. Even up the pages and clamp the book together with binder clips, or weight down the front edge to keep the pages from moving. Protect your work surface with a piece of scrap wood or an old phone book as you punch a hole at each of the marked points using the awl or wire brads.
Making these holes should not damage the text in the book. Most paperback books have an inner margin of 1/2" to 3/4", leaving plenty of room for rebinding.
3. Thread the needle and tie the ends together with an overhand knot. Open the book a few pages and, next to the lower middle hole, push the needle through about twenty pages. Pull the thread through until the knot is snug against the pages. Go back out to the front cover by pushing the needle up through the awl hole. This step anchors the thread.
4. Now sew the rest of the book as shown in the accompanying illustrations. Pull the thread tight each time you go through a hole.
Go around the back and back up through the starting hole, then down through the other middle hole. Pull the thread tight after going through each hole.
Around the back again, then up through the top hole.
Around the back, then...
...around the top of the spine and up through the top hole again. Keep going, down through one middle hole, back up through the next, and down through the bottom hole. Keep the thread tight.
Around the back again and...
...around the bottom of the spine and back through the bottom hole. Go up through the starting hole again.
To finish, tie off the thread so the binding won't come loose. Do this by slipping the needle under two of the top threads coming out of starting hole and back through the loop to form a tight knot.
Run the needle back down through the starting hole and cut the leftover thread flush with the back of the book.
For more information on Japanese bookbinding, including decorative bindings, how to make cloth covered hard covers, making cloth covered boxes, and other useful techniques, check your library for Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman, by Kojiro Ikegami (published by John Weatherhill).