Monday, November 5, 2012

Bookbinding 101: Headbands or Endbands

If you don't already know about headbands on books, you just might always notice them on books from here on out.

Headbands are found at the very top of the spine of a book. If the book has a covered spine, then the headbands can be found between the text block and the material covering the spine.

Let's talk terminology for just a second. The book has a head and a tail at either end of the spine. Headband refers to only the one side. I'm not sure when the change occurred but some people nowadays call them endbands. I prefer the term "endbands" because we aren't leaving out the tail end. It's more fair that way.

Do you see the endband on this book?

Originally, endbands were created not primarily for decoration but as part of the sewing structure to strengthen the binding of the book, and the endband's good looks were a bonus. So, traditional endbands are actually sewn onto the ends of the text block before the cover is put on, binding the ends of the pages together along the spine. Today though, you can purchase or make your own faux endbands to add to your books. The faux endbands do give added support to the structure, because it is glued in place, acting as a tape to help hold things together, but support might just be secondary to their decorative purpose. Even if people don't consciously notice them, it gives a subtle, finished look.

Faux endbands can be purchased by the foot or yard and
can be cut to the width of the book spine and glued on
using the linen or cotton tape that the endband
is sewn onto.

There are different materials, styles and sizes of endbands. If you are making a small book, like on the "booklace" shown below, then you'll need size 0.
For this 1.5" tall book,
I used a size 0 end band

For a larger book use size 2 or 3.

For this 8" x 10" book,
Daniel used a size 3 end band.

We buy our endbands from because we buy them in bulk and it's less expensive that way, but you can also buy them from

For those of you who would like to learn to sew your own end bands. Here are some great tutorials from fellow bookbinders:

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