I have several book covers drying after I varnished them, so there’s wasn’t much else I could do on them until the finish dries properly.

Today I experimented with accordion folds. I made a little city scape by cutting out one accordion.


I also made a little “create your own monster” book by drawing several beasties on another accordion so you can match up the halves.

Wax Off

I think the wax test seems to be fine. There’s no marking or discolouration on the paper of the waxed covers. Once I take some photos, I’ll list that book on etsy.

Wax on

I just finished another mini book.

This one is a bit experimental. I varnished the wood (all the wooden books I’ve made so far have a raw wood surface). Once the varnish dried, it looked a bit shiny so I burnished it with steel wool, but it still didn’t look right. So I rubbed it with wax.

I’m a little concerned the wax might stain the paper, so I’m going to let this one sit for a few days. If the paper is ok, then I might start doing more like this. In fact I have the blanks for two slightly larger books (about A5 size) that I think will look great when finished this way.

I make because…

It seems to me that most of the posts I write here are very factual. I haven’t really talked about why I enjoy making books.

Actually, I don’t know. I don’t know why I specifically like making books. I love making stuff, and I’ve found that making books exercises a number of different skills I have. In fact the actual book making part seems to only take a minor part of my time. Most of the preparation takes longer than the binding process.

I think that if I actually worked out how long it takes me to make the books I’m selling, I’d find that I’m selling them for much less than it costs me to make them, at least in terms of my time.

The wooden books I’m making take ages. I cut the stock wood down to size. I split it by hand with and axe or Froe. I match the front and back cover pieces of wood, then hand shape them using a chisel. This all takes a long time, but I really enjoy the process. I love the fact that I can see the book taking shape in my hands. I can just block everything else out and be in the moment of making something. I even love the feel of the wood in my hand. The final book is a very tactile thing to me. it has to feel good in the hand.

Machines would help me make things faster, and maybe one day I’ll get a band saw, and a panel saw, or a buzzer, or linisher, and I’ll be able to make the book parts faster. But for now I just enjoy working with my hand tools.

Maybe I’d enjoy making other things. I know I’d like to make furniture again, but here and now, I don’t have the space to make full sized furniture. Maybe books are a compromise. Its something I can make with a minimum of space and equipment. But there’s more to it than that. I like books in their own right. Maybe I can explore that more in another post.

Books Gone Fast


I only just listed those books and they are sold already. Now I’m out of stock and need to make some more books.

Now such a bad problem to have 😉

Post Holiday Books

It was a while coming, but 3 weeks after getting back from my holiday, I’ve reopened my Etsy shop with 2 new books for sale.


I closed the shop before I went away, so I guess it’s been closed for about 6 weeks now.

I have a new guillotine for cutting paper and that’s definitely improved the quality of the books. I can make even, repeatable cuts now.

Also, I used some of the new thread I bought while I was away. I think the orange colour (the label says “rust”, but I think it’s orange) works well with the colour of the wood.



I finally got around to finishing the bone folders.


Lessons learned:

  • bone is hard
  • bone can hold an edge

I thought I could just shape this stuff with a file, but damn it’s hard. I got out a belt sander and used that to shape it. That worked a treat, but the bone dust stinks so I used a filter mask. Once they were shaped, I sanded them by hand down to 280 grit. They are now very smooth.

I can see why bone gets used for tools as well. Not only is it hard, but it can be sharp. I had to deliberately sand the edge off these tools. They were too sharp to comfortably handle, and I think that if I left the edge on, instead of scoring paper, they would probably have cut it. Hmm, now there’s an experiment I could try.

This is my first attempt at making a bone folder, so I’m going to have to play around with them a bit to see if they actually work like they are supposed to. I may need to modify my design.

I used the beef bones, as the lamb bones I had prepared were too thin.

I bought a new bone folder while I was on holiday, and it’s dead straight, and quite a bit longer then the ones I made. I don’t think I could make mine any longer with the bones I had, so I wonder what kind bone is commercially used. I here Elk is popular. I don’t know where I could get Elk here in Australia.

I’ve kept some smaller bits of bone so I can make buttons and the like.

Jog the tail

I’m back from Holiday.

It’s time to start making books again.

There was a couple of book related highlights on the trip:

  • Art shops
  • San Francisco Center for the Book
  • Paper shops

First off, I was able to pick up some book binding supplies in Blicks art store in San Francisco. I’ve been having trouble finding a bone folder in shops here in Melbourne, but I was able to get one in Blicks. Also found some linen thread and some supplies for codex binding, even though I’m no where near ready for codex stuff, but I figured that I’d need it some day and I might as well buy it while I could.

We were fortunate that while we were in San Francisco, the San Francisco Center for the Book was running an introduction to book binding course. Run by Jennie Hinchcliff, the course was a blast. I’d tried a few of the binding techniques before, but it was great to have somebody so knowledgeable to show tricks of the trade. We made the books in the following picture.


From front to back:

  • single page folded
  • single page folded with cover
  • accordion fold with cover
  • 3 hole saddle stitch
  • 5 hole Japanese stab binding

The centre itself was amazing.
I’ve never seen such a well appointed workshop for printing and book binding. Of course I only have my own shed to compare for book binding, but the printing supplies were better than the print making studio from my undergrad study (I did a minor in printmaking).

The other place I fell in love with was a paper shop in LA; Hiromi Paper inc. This place had the most amazing collection of Japanese papers. I was a little overwhelmed by the selection, and had no idea how I’d get any of the papers home without destroying them (we were backpacking). In the end I found some book binding supplies they had and bought a Japanese screw punch and some hand dyed indigo thread.

That’s enough for today. I’ll probably do a more detailed post for each one of these topics later.


I put the bone bits in the shellite to degrease. I’ll just leave them in there for a while and see what happens.


In the mean time, I’m about to go on holiday for 2 weeks and I think all my free time between now and when I leave will be taken up with getting ready stuff, so I don’t think I’ll have any time for book making 🙁


Here’s two more books I made this weekend.


The wooden mini book is coptic bound with thread that used to belong to my grandfather. I never met him, he died nearly 70 years ago, but he made fishing flies as a hobby (as well as actually doing fly fishing as a hobby). When I showed my mom the books I’ve been making, she gave me some of my grandfathers old threads to use. There was a large spool of this black thread. I assume it’s linen. It isn’t as heavily waxed as the other stuff I’ve been buying, but it’s nice and thick. I also got some old silk thread from her, but it’s quite fine. No where near heavy enough for the coptic binding, but it might work for some stab binding. Is 70 years enough to call the thread “antique”?

I made two of these wooden mini books with the black thread binding. One will go to my mom as thanks for the thread. The other one got donated to cancer fund raiser for them to use as a silent auction item. I haven’t heard yet if it sold or not.

The Lego book is my sons idea. He saw me making the wooden books and came back with some Lego and asked if I could make a book out of it, so I did. I may look into making some more for sale.