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 7×10″ish, all grided/graph paper pages, and has a hardback cover, please let me know. I can’t find one anywhere.

Chris
I write for manmadediy.