I’m thrilled by all of you who are either picking up bookbinding for the first time or giving it a try again after a hiatus! Here is a short list of some basic tools as well as a few links to where you can purchase bookbinding supplies. Remember, you don’t need all of these tools to get started, but you may consider collecting them over time if you plan to continue making books.
1. Waxed linen thread – (for sewing the binding) Linen is very strong, and the wax keeps it from tangling when you sew your pages together. You can purchase unwaxed thread and wax it yourself, if you like. (shown are turquoise and orange crush)
2. Tapestry needles – (for sewing the binding) The eyes of these needles are large enough for the thick waxed thread to fit through. I like the ones that are blunt-tipped, which save my fingers from much pain! Tapestry needles are available in sewing and craft stores.
3. Awl – (for punching holes in your pages and covers) There are different types of awls. This image is of a “heavy-duty” awl, although I consider it “medium-duty” (this is the only one that I have). There are even more sturdy awls, with a round ball for a handle. These may be more comfortable to use. You can likely find the heavy-duty style of awl at your regular hardware store. (shown is Wooden Handle Awl)
4. Bone paper folder and scorer – (for scoring and folding pages, smoothing edges, smoothing glued surfaces, and more) This versatile tool could easily become your favorite! (shown is size small)
5. Cutting tool – (for cutting pages and covers) I have a light-duty and a heavy-duty knife, both by Olfa. I purchased these in a paint/hardware store. (shown are Olfa Standard-Duty and Olfa Handsaver)
6. Straightedge – (for cutting pages and covers) A heavy-duty straightedge with a non-slip backing is important when cutting thick book board and thick stacks of papers. (shown are Alumicutter and Safety Edge)
7. Book Board – (also known as Davey Board, for covers) There are varying thicknesses of book board for different books. I prefer a thin board for smaller books and thick board for larger books. Book board is acid free and very stiff. It is perfect for covering with pretty papers for your covers. (shown is Lineco Binder’s Board)
8. Adhesive – (for gluing papers to book board, and more) There are a variety of adhesives that you can use for book binding, but I mainly use PVA (polyvinyl acetate). It dries clear and acid free and cleans up with water. (shown is Lineco PVA)
9. Glue brushes – (for gluing papers to book board) I have two sizes of old brushes that I use for gluing. Stiff is better than soft. One tip is to cut the bristles down to about 1 inch so that the brush is more stiff. One of these is an old paintbrush, and the other I purchased from a dollar store.
10. Cutting mat (shown is Alvin)
There are all kinds of other tools and goodies for different types of bindings, but you can always save money by being creative with the tools that you already have. Here are a few links to where I do most of my tool and supply shopping:
Dick Blick (you can find almost all basic tools here)
There is a great list of other online sources at the Bookbinding Etsy Street Team’s blog.
PaperSource (here you will find pretty papers and small sheets of book cloth)