Case Binding

in Knitting Tutorials by

Case binding, also known as hard cover, is a bookbinding method commonly used to make hardcover books.  The text block is created, then glued to the cover.  Case binding is suitable for larger books that consist of 60 to 400 pages.  


  • text weight paper
  • graph paper
  • awl
  • piercing cradle
  • sewing frame
  • cloth tape
  • waxed linen thread
  • PVA glue
  • glue brush
  • scrap paper or wax paper
  • bone folder
  • headbands
  • ruler
  • cutting mat
  • utility knife
  • mull cloth
  • book board
  • decorative paper for end papers
  • book press



Make the text block.

  1. Fold each sheet of paper in half making a folio.
  2. Stack folios inside of each other in sets of 3-5, depending on the text weight, to make a signature.
  3. Mark holes on graph paper as a guideline for piercing.  Make holes for each side of each
  4. Punch holes in each signature using piercing cradle and awl.
  5. Set up sewing frame with cloth tape aligned between holes.
  6. Measure thread equal to the length of each signature plus 5”.  Thread needle leaving a 3” tail.
  7. Begin sewing by taking one signature and going into first hole from the outside to the inside.  Continue going in and out of the holes and around the cloth tapes.
  8. At the last hole pull almost all of the thread through leaving a 2 ” segment remaining at the first hole, then sew into the next signature.
  9. Continue by sewing the second signature as the first except at the last hole.  At the last hole, tie a double knot using the thread and the small segment left at the first hole of the first signature.  This will connect the two signatures.
  10. Continue by sewing the third signature as the second except at the last hole.  After the last hole, insert the needle inside of the previously connected signatures and loop the thread under needle. This will connect the two signatures.  Repeat this process for all remaining signatures except the last.  After connecting the signatures, insert the needle in the opposite direction of the previously connected signatures and loop the thread under the needle to reinforce the connection with a secure knot.
  11. Tip:  If you run out of thread, just make a knot in the existing thread and connect it with a knot tie the new thread.  Trim excess thread and continue where you left off.
  12. Trim excess thread.  Remove from sewing frame and leave 2” of cloth tape on each side of text block.
  13. Secure text block with book press.  Add two coats of glue to the spine.
  14. Optional:  Once glue dries, glue ribbon on top end of spine as page marker, and glue headbands on each end of spine.
  15. Measure two end papers so that each is equal to the size of one full sheet of paper, then fold in half.  An end paper folded should be same size as a folio.  Apply 1/4” line of glue along the text block edge next to the spine.  Place one end paper, press and smooth with bone folder.  Flip text block and repeat with the other end paper.  The end papers should be placed under the cloth tape.
  16. To strengthen the spine area, add a piece of mull cloth.  For width, measure the width of the spine plus 4”.  For length, measure the length of the spine minus 1/2”.  Apply glue to the spine, then place the mull cloth on the spine with even amounts on each side.  Then glue the sides of the mull cloth to the end papers covering the cloth tape.  If the glue is messy, place a piece of scrap paper beneath it.
  17. Place text block in book press and allow it to completely dry.

Make the case.

  1. Make the covers and spine.
  2. Measure for each cover and cut book board.  For width: measure width of the text block, subtract 1/4” for area by spine, and add 1/8” for area by cover.  For height:  measure height of the text block and add 1/4” for areas by cover (1/8” each side).  Cut board on cutting mat using utility knife.
  3. Measure for spine and cut book board.  Width is equal to the width of the text block spine area and height is equal to the height of the cover board.  An alternate method is to simply trace the spine of the text block on the board.  Cut board on cutting mat using utility knife.
  4. Measure book cloth.  Width is equal to total width of both cover boards, plus 2 1/2”, plus twice the thickness of the board.  Length is equal to the length of one cover plus 2”.
  5. Optional:  Make a decorative spine cover.   For width: measure the width of the spine, plus twice the thickness of the board, and the amount of the decorative spine cover that will be shown on the front and back cover.  This is a personal preference.  Typically, I use 1 1/2” on each side.  For example, if the spine is 1/2” in width and the board is 1/8” thick, then the total width of my decorative spine cover would be 3 3/4” (1/2 + 1/8 + 1/8 + 1 1/2 + 1 1/2).  For height: the decorative spine cover should be the same height as the book cloth.  Glue the decorative spine cover to the outer book cloth.
  6. Layout the covers and spine on the inner side of the book cloth.  Arrange them so that there is 1” book cloth around the perimeter and the spine is in the middle with a gap on each side between the spine and cover.  The measurement for each gap should be 1/4” plus the thickness of the board.  Glue the covers and spine into place.  Use the bone folder to smooth out any glue bubbles on the reverse side of the book cloth.
  7. Let pieces dry, then cut excess book cloth so that there is 3/4” remaining around the perimeter.  Cut book cloth corners at an angle, leaving a gap at the corner tips.
  8. Glue 3/4” of the bottom of one side of the inside cover and spine.  Press the book cloth flap onto the glued area.  Use the bone folder to smooth it out.
  9. Glue the next side.  Pinch the corner gaps so that they fold over and cover the exposed corner tips.  Then Press the book cloth flap onto the glued area.  Use the bone folder to smooth it out.  Repeat this step until the book cloth is completely glued to cover.
  10. Glue the end paper to the inside cover by positioning it next to the text block so that its aligned against the spine and the end paper has an 1/8” border of the cover around it.  Use the bone folder to press and smooth out end papers after gluing.
  11. Place book in book press until glue is completely dry.


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