This is the final part in my series on how I make my own hand sewn notebooks. This part will show you how I assembled the individual components into the beauty you see above. To see more examples of the notebooks I have made click here.
I've shown most of the materials we'll need to assemble the book below. A couple of items I forgot to include are a spreader for applying the PVA glue - I use a leather key fob because it's nice and soft and can work the glue into all the creases. I also have a wad of damp kitchen towel to hand to wipe off any excess glue. You'll need a few A4 pages of clean scrap paper and 2 sheets of plastic film/acetate slightly larger than the notebook size.
You'll see that I've stuck two pieces of folded ribbon as decorative end stops to the bookblock spine - not necessary but it does give a nice finishing touch to the final item.
The first thing to do is offer the bookblock up to the cover and bend the cover into position to check that everything lines up and fits. This also places creases into the cover spine making it easier to locate and glue the bookblock later. You may have to "massage" the cover to get it to fit exactly as you want. When you offer the 2 together, make sure you push the bookblock spine firmly into/against the cover spine.
Next I stick a ribbon page marker to the hard spine of the cover. You can of course omit this stage if you don't require a page marker. I used Prit Stick to glue the ribbon but was very careful not to leave any residual glue that would stick the bookblock spine to the cover spine. We'll come back to this in a little while.
We'll be glueing the bookblock flyleafs to the cover sides. We do not glue the bookblock spine to the cover spine. Tips:
- We stick one flyleaf to a cover at a time.
- Apply the PVA glue to the cover first. This reduces the time that the PVA glue has to warp the thinner material of the flyleaf.
- Apply the PVA glue very thinly and evenly using a spreader.
- Place a scrap sheet of paper between the flyleaf that is being glued and the rest of the bookblock to prevent glue from going where it shouldn't.
- Make sure the glue goes right up to the edge of the flyleaf. This is not so important for the cover.
Now offer the bookblock spine up to the cover spine and align as carefully as you can. Take a deep breath, press the spines firmly together and smooth the glued flyleaf down onto the glued cover using, at first, your hand to smooth the flyleaf from spine to edge. If you get this stage wrong and the 2 don't align correctly, you won't be able to pull the flyleaf off to reposition without damaging it.
Then apply further smoothing using a craft bone or soft cloth. Any excess glue that works its way from under the flyleaf should be wiped off with a damp cloth/kitchen towel.
Then repeat for the remaining flyleaf/cover. Remember to use scrap paper inserts to prevent glue from going where it shouldn't.
Now that the book is glued, with excess glue wiped off, remove the scrap papers and replace with the plastic/acetate sheets. When the book is dried under pressure (see later), the liquid from the glue will try to warp/buckle the writing pages of the notebook. The plastic sheets prevent this from happening. Don't leave these sheets out, as I did for one of my earlier books, as the glue really will spoil the writing pages otherwise.
At this stage you can also gently massage the book into proper alignment if it is not already.
Then place under some heavy books on a flat surface and leave overnight.
Finally, admire your handiwork. Your book will not be like the mass produced ones that you buy. It will not be perfectly symmetrical, it will have signatures that show (because we haven't trimmed them flat), it will be as plain or as decorated as you like, it will have the paper you want to use, it will be cheaper to produce, it will be yours.
I get a real pleasure from using a fountain pen. And it is only enhanced by using one of my notebooks.
I hope these articles have been informative and inspiring. I like to see comments so please feel free to add your thoughts.