Aug 28, 2012

How to: A Quick and Easy Way to Reattach a Book or Notebook Cover

created at: 08/28/2012

Last week, the unthinkable happened: the pages of my notebook separated from the cover.

Okay, well, it's not really unthinkable...I'm pretty tough on it. It goes everywhere with me, falls off the workbench daily, gets covered in sawdust and paint, regular interacts with power tools and sharp things, and I'm pretty sure this is the one I threw across the room when I just couldn't get the math right for a project.I've had this one for nearly two years, and it's spine has been covered and reinforced by layers of duct tape for more than half its life. So, unthinkable? No, but discouraging, nonetheless. This thing still has at least 20% of its pages left, plus all kinds of little corners and half-pages left for quite sketches, not to mention the notes for all my current project.

So, there's no way I was going to retire it, and move on, especially since this particular one is becoming increasingly hard to find now that all the Border's bookstores have closed. (Amazon doesn't even sell them [!?]) So, I figured out an easy way to fix it, in, like, five minutes.

Note: bookmaking and binding is an incredible craft tradition in its own right, and seasoned experts could do this much better than me. This post is intended for those without any experience with the process, who are looking to do some easy, DIY repair.

created at: 08/28/2012

Begin by fully separating the pages and the cover, removing any ripped paper and half sheets, etc. Use a utility or craft knife to remove any existing glue.

created at: 08/28/2012

As it turns out, one kind of paper doesn't really like to be glued to another kind of paper. Who knew? So, book bindings use a fiber cloth to attach the two, which is where my notebook failed. So, the idea is to replace this strip in the binding. You can buy bookbinding tape, which has the adhesive attached, at the craft or art supply store. My sweetheart happened to have some around from a previous project, so I opted for that. Otherwise, you can just use a piece of cotton fabric, or an old piece of clean clothing.

created at: 08/28/2012

Cut your piece of bookbinding tape or fabric 1" longer than the height of the book, and fold it down the middle. Place in your spine, then cut it to be just under the height of your pages. (I'm sure there's a technical term for the sewn set of pages. If you know, please share in the comments below).

Then, use water to wet the adhesive, or use an acid-free PVA glue (also at the craft/art store) to glue one side of the tape/fabric to the pages, folded side down. Press and secure firmly, and allow to dry for a few minutes.

created at: 08/28/2012

Then, glue the tape to the spine. I found that using a piece of wax paper cut to the height of the book allowed me to keep the glue where it needed to be, and not glue other parts together.

created at: 08/28/2012

If you're cover is only loose on one side, you're done! If it's completely removed, you need to now glue the tape/fabric back to itself to keep things from flopping around. So, just spread a thin layer of PVC glue along both sides, and press them together, using some force, and hold for a minute.

created at: 08/28/2012

And...there you go. Good as not new...just the way I like it.

Seriously though, if anyone has suggestions for a notebook that 7x10"ish, all grided/graph paper pages, and has a hardback cover, please let me know. I can't find one anywhere.





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Aya on May 08, 2019:

The fabriano grid notebooks are amazing and come in all different sizes from what I remember! Also may want to try the Rhodia grid notebooks. Hope this helps. My all time notebook since I was a kid fell apart and hoping i can fix it this way, thanks for the tips!

Anonymous on Dec 15, 2012:

The waxed paper is brilliant.  Simple, but brilliant.  Thanks.

nancy on Dec 15, 2012:

If I were you I would make my own hardbound book.  There are grid "composition books" everywhere.  Let Kinkos (or whoever) cut it to the size you want then find an old book the size you want, gut it out, and put the grid paper in as described in this post....or just glue the front and back pages to the front/back of the book

Chris on Aug 29, 2012:

Ali - Great idea! I happen to live blocks away from biggest university in the U.S., and they just started the fall semester, so I'm sure the bookstores are stocked. I'll definitely check it out.

Ali on Aug 29, 2012:

If you live near a university or college with any kind of technical classes (architecture or engineering, even some maths) then you can easily get lab books that size with the grid lines inside.

Chris on Aug 29, 2012:

Sean! - Thanks so much for the suggestion. I think you're exactly right; will order this afternoon.


sean! on Aug 28, 2012:

I think your best option for a notebook will be the Leuchtturm1917 Master hardcover dot grid. At 5.75x8.25 the dimensions aren't quite what you're looking for, but from all my research it seems to be the Moleskine-killer. It's the next notebook I'm planning to turn to when my current Moleskine fills up.