A Bookbinding Trick for the Math Phobic

I am sorry to tell you that I am the kind of person whose eyes glaze over when faced with numbers. It doesn't matter whether it's an algebraic equation or the measurements for a long list of soup ingredients. I just don't like to do the math.

book binding examples
Examples of Japanese stab binding.

Consequently, I tend to eyeball it when it comes to creative pursuits. Unfortunately, I'm not too accurate with that method, so I glom onto any trick that will give me the correct results without a measuring stick.

Imagine my excitement, then, when I saw Dea Fischer demonstrate how to make a jig with almost no measuring required.

A jig is a template for where to place the holes when making handmade books with a stitched binding.

How to Make a Japanese Stab Binding Jig

folding the book binding jig
Making the S fold.

1. Cut a strip of cardstock 1" wide and the length of the side of your book where the binding will go.

2. Fold in ½" from each end of the strip and crease the fold with a bone folder. (Stab binding stitches traditionally end ½" from the top and bottom of the cover.)

3. Bend the strip of cardstock into an S shape, so that the edges of the bends in the S meet the edge of the ½" folds (see image). Press the bends flat.

4. Now open your jig and make holes where the creases cross.

5. Line the jig up alongside the edge of the book pages and use it as a guide to punch through the paper with an awl or screw punch.

marking the book binding holes
Punch the holes where the creases cross.

Dea keeps her jigs so that she can use them repeatedly for same-sized handmade books. I like that idea, because it means absolutely no measuring the next time!

I learned a lot of neat tricks from Dea's Cloth Paper Scissors WorkshopTM video, Handmade Book Essentials.

She explains every part of basic book making very clearly; you can tell she has a deep love of the genre and enjoys passing on her knowledge. And there is very little math!

P.S. Are you math phobic? How do you compensate when you need to measure while making art? Leave your comments below. I can use all the help I can get!


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