It was some time ago, back when I was living in Munich when I got my first bookbinding tool. It was a bone folder. I had just joined my second bookbinding workshop and I was looking forward to spending more and more time making books.
Nowadays I am the proud owner of more than 7 different kind of paper folders: and I love each one of them!
Step-by-step, I turned the room next to my bedroom into my little bookbinding studio, plenty of papers everywhere, handy tools and some vintage treasures. So proud of it!
All of my bookbinding workshops start with a short introduction about the basic bookbinding tools and where to find them. Many people ask me frequently about it, so I find some time right at the beginning of my workshops to highlight the most useful tools and how to get them.
Sure, you can improvise at home and help yourself with other tools you might have, but when you are making books on a regular basis or want to give your projects a professional touch, getting the right tools becomes a must.
Here are my top 5 bookbinding tools any book lover should have at home:
You won’t get too far in bookbinding if you don’t have a paper folder. In the western bookbinding tradition, they are known as bone folder, because they are made of cow bones. You will notice by their weight and shiny appearance. Nowadays, you can also find paper folders made of plastic, bamboo, and Teflon. Each of them has its pros and cons. But more about that in another post!
If you follow my work, you know I am passionate about Japanese binding, which is a kind of stitch binding. This means the book is bound together by hand using just a needle and some thread. No glue in action, which I like for many reasons, but mainly because it’s less messy.
A bookbinding awl allows you to punch holes through paper, cardstock or cardboard. Whatever material you are using to bind your book.
Ok, if you have a sewing set at home you don’t need any extra needle, right? You would think so, but indeed, you need one! A professional bookbinding needle. They might look similar, but they feel and work differently. This little investment will prove more than worth its money when you are trying to sew a book and your regular needle breaks in half.
I have seen books sewn with raffia. Yes, that’s possible too. But when working on fine projects you will appreciate having a high-quality linen thread that doesn’t break or makes your life impossible because it keeps forming undesirable kinks.
Nowadays you can find linen thread in dozens of colours and different sizes: the offer is amazing!
A cutting mat is more than just that. It’s a steady surface to work on, a second ruler and helpful resource that will save you some time. You can find cutting mats in specialized art stores as well as 1€ stores. I don’t need to tell you which one is the best option, right? Well, just in case: spend a few euros extra and get a professional self-healing cutting mat. It will stay longer with you and it will make your work easier.
Magical bookbinding tools and where to find them
The big question: where can I buy quality bookbinding tools? With the boom of scrapbooking, bullet journaling, hand-lettering and crafts in general, lots of 1€ stores and stationery stores have been including some bookbinding tools in their offer. However, they are not always the best price-quality alternative. Check your options first and think about the projects you want to make, how frequently you will be using these tools and the environmental cost before you make a buying decision.
If you live in a big city, do a search on Google and look for art supply stores in your neighbourhood. Even the smaller ones tend to have a selection of bookbinding tools.
Buying online is usually the easiest option, especially when you live in an area where there are not so many art supply stores or none at all. But like everything on the Internet, you might end spending hours in front of your laptop trying to figure out which tool is the right option and eventually having to order in bulk, because bookbinding specialized shops are more a business-to-business kind of shop.
I have struggled since the very first day I wanted to buy quality bookbinding tools and I have spent hours and days looking for the right ones. If you are like me and you look for the right price-quality balance, but you are not ready to jump into the hordes of the Internet and get lost in the process… I have got you covered!
Many people asked for it, and I can finally say it: Indigo Craft Room now sells high-quality bookbinding tools for your craft projects!
It took me more time than I first planned because I wanted to make sure I have the very right tools for you. From now on you can get your own bookbinding tools directly from my shop in the “DIY Kits & Tools” category. I have got a curated selection of paper folders, bookbinding awls, thread and more. So keep an eye on the shop, because I will add more and more products!
And if you have any other questions about bookbinding and what are the right tools for your projects, just drop me a message!