Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Bookbinding 101: Binder's Board

Binder's board is what puts the hard in a hard bound book. Also called book board, Davey board, grey board and chip board (although chip board probably isn't what you actually want, but it is sometimes used as a synonym for binder's board).

Some types of binder's board are smoother than others. Davey board is a higher standard of board and has a smoother finish many other brands of binder's board.


Like paper, binder's board has a grain. If you buy large pieces, it's helpful to mark the grain direction across the whole piece in several places so that when you cut it down and have leftover scraps, you'll know the grain direction of those smaller pieces.

We have made some very large books that required extra thickness for the cover so we glued two pieces of book board together and pressed it overnight. Too large for any press, we placed a wooden board on top with heavy stuff, whatever we could find, on top of the wooden board. When gluing the two book board pieces together, we made sure to cross the grains, so that one board's grain went one way and the other board's grain ran the other. This helped the cover board to not warp after gluing them together.


For box making, smaller books, and some rounded spines, we like to use a thinner book board that's .059" thickness (or about 1.5mm or 1/17"). For most of our other books, we like using thicker book board as it give our books a bit more heft. Also, with larger books, the thicker board lends more support and sturdiness to the book. The thicker board is .098" thickness (about 2.5mm or 1/10" thick). For books in the range of about 4"x5" (10.16 x 12.7 cm) to about 8"x10" (20.32 x 25.4 cm) we like .080" thickness of book board (about 2mm or 1/12").


Binder's board also comes in black and white. These are especially useful when using a thinner paper for your book's cover or end sheets if you do not want the typical grey binder's board to show through, but instead prefer either a black or white background behind the thin paper.

Black or white board can also be handy when making board books, the kind of books for toddlers with the heavy duty, no tear pages, which typically have white book board as the core of each page. Usually, board books have rounded corners, perhaps to make them safer for kids, but also because the rounded corner is more durable -- if the book had a ninety degree corner, a toddler would smoosh it out of shape in no time -- the rounded corner takes the wear and tear better. When making your own books, if you happen to drop a cover piece you are working on and it squishes just a bit, don't despair. Try using your bone folder to shape it back into place. If that doesn't work, consider turning the book's corners into rounded corners.

Anything to add to the discussion? Please leave a comment.


Lizzie said...

Hi, very useful information. I don't think we have "Davey board" here in UK - at least, I haven't come across it. I often use artist's mount board for book covers - it is a good thickness and weight and also comes with a white or coloured top, which is good for thin papers. I used it for a large box that I made last week and it was very good.

Interested by your description of glueing two sheets of board together and crossing the grains. I was told "never to cross the grains", as the board/paper "would warp and bend, never to be straight again"... so can you explain this a bit more please? It's obvious that it works well for you, but I don't understand why, since it conflicts with all the other advice I've been given.
Yet another case of me finding that there is so much more for me to learn!!

Thank you for this post - the whole series is wonderful!

Karleigh Jae said...

The artist mount board is a great idea. We once used mat board, the stuff used to mat a picture when framing it. It was a long time ago, but it seems like it worked well. It was a bigger book, and lacked the heavy feel that we expect in a larger book, which the denser book board provides.

Don't know about the Davey Board brand being in the UK, but has book board. They are located in London. On their website, click on the materials link, then on the left hand side of the next page is a link for "Boards for Books and Boxes."

Claire Taylor said...

Hey Karleigh,

It's Claire Taylor. I've been looking for .059 binders board for the Book Arts Program. I'm having a difficult time finding anywhere that sells it in large quantities in sizes smaller than .070". Hollander's sells it, but in small sizes. Where do you purchase your .059 binders board from?

Thanks so much!!


Unknown said...

Hey Claire,

To my knowledge, the only place currently selling the thin stuff at .059 is Hollanders. It can be expensive so we just use it for our miniature books or really small books. Most of what we do with the large books is a .09 and we get that from Gaylord or Talas.

One place you may want to try is LBS. If you have the ability to store a lot of board and purchase a lot at once, it's the cheapest way to go and they would probably be able to supply you with large sheets. There website is:

LBS is super friendly and professional and I do recommend them. I'm not positive they have .059 but they might have something rather close and I know they do custom stuff. Good luck!


Unknown said...

So I'm trying to frame my own book for my friend, she really loved the story I wrote, but it's turning into this huge mess and I don't want to make any more mistakes. I already have to reprint all the pages because of an editing mistake. anyways, I want it to be a hardcover book, I already have the leather for the cover, needles and twin to bind the pages together, but I'm concerned about the physical outer layer of the book. I originally wanted to use thick cardboard (about three layers thick) to make the hardcover, but now I'm concerned it isn't good enough. the bound-together pages are about two inches thick now. I would love to receive some advice, I've never done anything like this before.

Erica said...

Hello. I’m new to bookbinding. I just received an order of Dave’s Binders board. Many have damaged corners and/or are warped. Is this normal and bookbinders have workarounds or should I be contacting the seller about the quality?