DIY Bookbinding Punching Cradle | Chris Carter | Skillshare

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DIY Bookbinding Punching Cradle

teacher avatar Chris Carter, artist, illustrator and explorer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

7 Lessons (47m)
    • 1. Introduction to Making the Cradle and Punching Holes for Bookbinding

    • 2. How to Cut Book Board for Punching Cradle

    • 3. Materials for Punching Cradle

    • 4. Drawing Cradle Pattern onto Book Board

    • 5. Punching Cradle - Use and Construction

    • 6. Hole Punching Method No. 2

    • 7. Conclusion and What's Next

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About This Class


In this class you'll learn how to construct and use a bookbinding punching cradle to use when you're stitching together your own sketchbooks and journals using one of many binding techniques.  You'll also learn how to punch holes in your signatures without using the cradle.  The hand-held technique is what I use to make stitched books when I'm traveling.  This class will also be included in all of my bookbinding courses that require careful alignment of holes when stitching book signatures together. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Chris Carter

artist, illustrator and explorer


Welcome to Skillshare. I'm Chris Carter.

I love exploring the world with pen and brush whether it be by land, sea or air! Here on Skillshare, in tiny bites, I present tips and techniques I've learned over a lifetime of sketching, drawing and painting. My classes are designed with two purposes in mind: to present tips and techniques that help you learn new skills and master current skills; and as quick reference for those of you who have attended one of my live workshops.

I create large, abstract watercolors and oil paintings in my studio.  When traveling, which I do for more than half the year, I work realistically, mostly in sketchbooks.  I sketch from reality daily to keep my eye, hand and brain coordination well-honed.See full profile

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1. Introduction to Making the Cradle and Punching Holes for Bookbinding: Welcome to another class in this wonderful series on bookbinding and making books for yourself, sketchbooks, illustrated journals, and making books with your family, with your friends, with your children. I have had a lifetime passion for making books. I made them when I was little. I made them all through elementary school, high school, college. After college, I just, I love stitching paper together, putting together thoughts onto paper, whether they be drawing text, poetry doesn't really matter. I just find holding a book is sort of a magical experience. And when you make your own, it's even better. Though I have been putting off this series for awhile because I found it very, very hard to learn Coptic binding when I tried to follow tutorials, part of the problem was that I was trying to learn single needle Coptic binding. And that for me is very difficult. When a friend of mine taught me how to do double needle Coptic binding, it changed my world. So I have been teaching double Neil Coptic binding for probably the last ten years. Whenever I give live workshops, I do a little bonus class for those who want to stay later and learn how to make their own sketchbooks. And I've taught people how to do it on a train, on a plane. I always made books with my children and with other people's children. I would go into the schools and volunteer making books with the kids in the class. We're all different ages. And I just think that it's a way of reflecting on who you are, what you do in life, what you love. It's like vision boards, I guess in todays world. So this class is a class of its own, but it also will be included in the other classes where stitching is involved because you need to put the holes in the right places in the signatures. And the signatures are the sections of folded paper that went stitched together. The book, Mind the book together. And there will be several different courses showing you Coptic stitching and single, double, triple sections ditching. And a lot of classes that don't have any stitching at all. But this class is about making a cradle that makes it easy to get your holes in the right place so that you can stitch them. And also how to use the cradle. And then another lesson on how to get your holes in the right places when you're on a train or a plane or you don't have your cradle around. So let's get started. I'm going to show you first how to safely cut the book board because that is an important step. Book Board is what you make your create a lot of. So if you're not interested in making a cradle, you can just skip to the lesson on putting, not punching the holes method to OK, if you don't want to use a cradle, It's fine. I would say take a look through it because it's really handy thing and you can make it yourself. You don't have spent a lot of money on it. It's just you have to be careful, please. Cutting the book board. I don't want to get right. I'm Chris Carter. Welcome to this fabulous series on bookmaking. 2. How to Cut Book Board for Punching Cradle: In this lesson that I'll be showing you how I cut book board. Book board is very dense and it's not that easy to cut. When you're making your cradle. You'll have to cut notches. See if you can see these notches. You'll have to cut notches out of your book board. And you'll also have to cut the slots out of the blackboard. So that can be tricky. You also of course have to cut these pieces out. And the key is to go slowly with a little pressure. Because if you put too much pressure on your mat knife, you're going to break the blade. You're going to slip with the ruler. You might cut yourself. I will show you what I do to cut my book board. I use a metal ruler. I generally use this heavier square. But this works fine. Not everybody has big heavy metal square. So this will be fine. And I'll use this as an example. If you're making a long cut such as this, say you have a line and you need to cut that after you've measured it for just a straight line like this, I'll use my utility knife, makes sure the blade is sharp. I put pressure on the metal ruler and very lightly, I score the board. I also work on cardboard so that I don't know in a table or mat board of whatever it is that I'm cutting on. And I just go back and forth gently so that I stay in the track. I don't worry about the number of times that I have to score it. I'm not pushing very hard at all. My plan is to just cut a little deeper with each cut. Set to see how far I've cut. Cut about halfway through. You can also get once you're that far, you can just go through slow late without the metal ruler because you have a groove. Make sure you have a deep intimate group that see how far we are. We're almost there. You don't have a sharp blade. This would take really forever. And I'm not showing this sped up. This is real time so that you can see that this is not quite like cutting mat board or regular cardboard. The reason this cradle is so substantial is that it is made out of this thick compressed book board. Okay, now I can see that I've cut through there. So I'm almost done with this cut. And I can hear the cardboard. Whoops. I see that. I slipped out there. That's not very good. And so he starts slipping out us about Murat. Now. Now that I can bend it. Also, probably want to use the ruler hears that I don't go off base again. And then we r, you can file that down if you want. And so it's a little trickier. Cutting a notch. Cut a notch. So the notch is this. Okay? And making the Nazi little bigger so that you can see, I would be right over the top of this. But for the film, I wanna keep my head out of the way. So I'm going to mark, I'm gonna put the top the line where the three is so that I can have my head off to the side. I'm gonna go a little bit past the three little bit past the line. I haven't cut all the way through there yet. And i cross i over cut a little bit so that this will just fall right out. Let's see if my exact same MMC executive blade is a little bit sharper. I used the exact overlaid to cut into here, but these are over cuts also. I'll cut that way, that way, and then that way. And then I'll make little cuts with the point. It's not really easy. And it's worth keep your fingers out of the way. You can see that I am putting more pressure on this time because they don't have this full sweep to go. But I'm not pushing down and pulling hard. I'm pushing down hard and pulling just a little bit. Starting to go through. This seems to be really hard part there. And there's your notch. You can file that off too. Okay. 3. Materials for Punching Cradle: Here are the supplies that you'll need to make your punching cradle. You will need book board. I will show you that there are different kinds of book board there is booked for. That is much flimsy or that's not the kind you want. You want the stiffer book board for this is Davie bookbinding board. And that's what I've used here. You don't have to use Davey bookbinding for it, but I suggest you use 1 eighth inch thick book by Nick board. You can make a cradle with this one. I've made a cradle with it before, but it didn't last very long. You can also use the back cardboard of the watercolor blocks. Sometimes that is basically book board. So you can recycle your, the backs of your pad to the backs of your watercolor blocks. You will need enough book Board to make these two pieces. And these two pieces, the dimensions are all on the PDF file document that you can download from this class reference area. You will need a ruler so that you can get the right sizes of both the pieces to four pieces, 1234 of book board that you need. And also to measure your slots and the distance for your notches. You will need a pencil so that you can mark your pattern out on your book board. You will need a utility knife so that you can carefully, carefully cut out the book board. Again, I warn you, keep your fingers out of the way. When you cut. If the line is here, you're going to be cutting like this. Make sure that your thumb isn't there. Thinking that you're going to stop before you get to your thumb because you may be putting too much pressure and you've captured them. So make sure that your thumb is out of the way and that you just go gently. Pay attention, please, to the less than I have on how to cut book board safely. You will need a metal straight edge in order to make your cut safely to. Now at 1, you're going to be making these notches and cutting, not this, but at least marking it so that you know where your notches are. This is the part where these two form a v. They hinge like that and they slip into these two like that. Okay? So you're going to have to get this angle and you don't have to be exact with the angle. I used 80 degrees. You don't have to use 80 degrees. You also need the duct tape in order to hinge this. Okay. This faults only one way. This one I've used a lot, so it's a little bit more flexible. This where I'm going to have to replace the deaf tape soon. So those are the materials that you need to make your punching cradle. In the next lesson, I'll show you how to create your templates so that you know where to notch it and you know where to cut your slots. 4. Drawing Cradle Pattern onto Book Board: In order to create the pieces for your cradle, you'll have to transfer the information from the PDF file, the paper in your documents section of the class. You'll have to transfer these measurements onto your book board. And I will show you how I did that with my measurements. And I will use this paper rather than book board. I think that you're going to be able to see it a little bit more clearly. You're not going to be doing it onto paper. You will be drawing your measurements directly onto your book board. The first thing you will do is to draw two rectangles. Two of these that are 7.5 inches wide by 15 inches long. That's going to be for these two pieces. This piece and this piece. You will also draw two rectangles. Are these two pieces? And these rectangles will be six inches wide by 12 inches tall. Okay. To now I'm just going to go through on one of each and you'll just do it twice. Here's your PDF file. Your dimensions may be slightly different if you're using a thinner board. Let's work on this 1 first. I'm going to go down one and a quarter inches. Now this is a very thick line, so it's not going to be exact one and a quarter inch. And I'm going to go up one and a quarter inch from their one and a quarter inch from there. Okay. And then what I'll do is say this is going to be 1 eighth of an inch thick board. Let's make this three eighths of an inch. That's what mine is 123. So this is going to be three-eighths of an inch thick. And this will be 12338. That now you'll want this to be parallel. So if you don't have a parallel ruler or something, just measure over here. One and a quarter. Same thing down here. You're not going to cut along this line. You're just making this parallel. This is four inches. Four inches. Four inches, four inches. Alright, there are my two slots. You will be more precise than this with a pencil going to cut out the rectangle, you'll locate the slots and you'll cut out two of the slots. Now let's see, I estimated to be about 12 inches between and that's about 12 inches between. So we came out pretty well on the right. That's one of them. Now let's go to the smaller one. And to do the similar kind of thing, I'm going to go three inches, doesn't matter what order you do this, but let's go three inches from here. Three inches. Three inches there. And that's my three inches. I'm going to come down to three and a quarter. 123 and a quarter. Three and a quarter. And then I have 12 inches. I'm going to split this in half. Okay. So this is 12, this is six inches. Six inches. And where this crosses where my six inches crosses my three inches, that is going to be right there because this is halfway between o I'm going to go from where my, the beginning of my notches. Right there. And right here. You can see I've switched to another drawing. I've duplicated what I've done up until this point. What had happened is that these two points were confused in my head. So I ended up drawing the line to the wrong point. So I want to correct this and I also want to mention that because it is so easy to do. So make sure that you know which is your line that's three inches up. Okay. And which is your line that is halfway six inches and six inches. And where the 3-inch line crosses the six inch line, that is this point right here. And that is the same point that is right there on your template. Okay, so this is the point that you are going to connect to the beginning of your notch. So here's the beginning of your notch, and here is the bottom. Okay? Here's the beginning of your notch on this side and this is the bottom. Your angle will be similar to this. It will be the same depth as you have here, will be three eighths. So in looking at the notches, you'll see get another color. Do the cut-out part in blue. So you're going to angle this down and this is going to be parallel. This line is parallel with this line. Parallel, parallel. Right here, the inside one, okay? The inside, not the outside one. The n-side marking of your triangle will be parallel to these edges. So this line continues over to where it meets there. And this is what you cut out for. You're not you don't cut these. You cut this. And this is how it will look, okay, so be very, very careful. Even in doing this demo, even though I've done this before, I was paying attention to this point and I drew the line over there that was incorrect. It's the crossing over of the three inch and the six inch. And this way, you don't need to use a protractor or gadget like that or a compass. This is much, much easier. So you will cut two of these. 5. Punching Cradle - Use and Construction: This is the bookbinding punching cradle that I made for myself. You can purchase wooden ones. You can purchase all sorts of bookbinding, punching cradles online or in stores. I prefer to make it for myself. There, there a little pricey. And why not make something that is really easy to transport? It folds up like that and I can put it in my suitcase and take it with me. Not that I do because I don't use a cradle when I'm traveling. I'll show you that method of punching holes do. And I do have the pattern for this cradle as a PDF file that you can download the download section of this class, you will see in the PDF template that I indicate cutting two of 12 of another. These are parts a and B. These are part C and D. So the only thing you need is book board. This is eighth inch book board. I've also made these out of the back cardboard of a watercolour paper block. But it's just as easy to buy book board. And I used a utility knife and a metal straight edge to cut these because they're very, very dense boards and, and they are a little tricky to cut. Alright, so all you need is some duct tape and the book board. Then you're going to cut to pieces the size that I indicated and then notch them out. That notches will be the thickness, just a little bit more than the thickness of the board. And the way that this works is that you leave a tiny, tiny gap between the two. Alright, and I, what I did was I used duct tape on both sides and I put it smoothly on one side. And then I fold it like this and put it across this way. Otherwise you won't be able to hinge the board. See it doesn't hinge this way because this is straight across. It hinges this way. The way that this all fits together is it this slides onto there and it's held by the notches. Okay. Sometimes you have to replace the duck tape when you've punched it so many times that it's not holding it together anymore. As an example, I'll use three signatures. Each of these signatures is three. Three folded sheets. I put them together as a signature. It's important to indicate the top of the signature. So I'll put a tiny little t. You probably can't even see it. But I put a tiny tea on the top so that I'm always punching the holes from the same direction. For our Coptic bound book. I usually due to holes up here and two holes here. If it were a little bit longer this way, I would do a third section. But for this, I'll just do two. So I'm going to start at here. That's three squares down. And I will make it 1234 squares wide. So we'll go 123, the same here. 1234. Right? Now this is my T. I don't know if you can see the T. So I'm also going to mark that as my T and this as my B for bottom. Okay? So this is top, bottom. Fold this in half. This is my guide. There are many kinds of hole punches. And these are all hole punches. This is more of an all. But that works too. I use just plain ol to begin with. I've used ice picks. I use an embroidery needle when I'm traveling. And these are all different hole punches. So this is the top. I want to be able to push this. This is also the top. Push it all the way against this board. That way it's always lining up. And in order to keep that the same, I've folded over where my top is, and I only use this for the first section. So again, here's my top. I always check that it's the top, going to the top. Open it up, push it all the way against. Put my guide in there. And holding that steady, I will punch the holes right where I have marked them. Can you see that? I'm punching there and I'm punching there. So this is, it's going through the tiny space between the two boards. Now that my first signatures done, I will use the top page from this. Makes sure that I have the top again open and against the edge. Keeping it square. Then I will punch unfold once again. Take my talk one. Makes sure that I'm piling bees up correctly. The top, the top, the top. I'll put this back where it belongs. Now at the top, top, top. And now you can see, I think, that the lines are in the same places. So the stitches on my Coptic bound book will be nice and straight. And even if it's not Coptic bound, if it's a two section or three section, the technique is the same. You mark the holes off on a guide, and then you punch them through. And that's how you use your do-it-yourself, bookbinding, punching credo. Thank you for watching. This is Chris Carter. 6. Hole Punching Method No. 2: This is a book that's being made from recycled materials. These are all file folders that I cut and piece together in signatures. Each signature has 1234 folded sheets. And I determined the number of signatures, 1234567 by the box that I used. This is a fly of London shoebox that I'd cut and I actually got three or four different books, different book covers from this shoebox. I wanted to make it thick enough so that this is a foldover. The result will be a Coptic bound sketchbook. For the stitches are showing here and here. And the front. We'll loop over. And then I'll just put a tie around to hold the closed. I just thought it would be fun when I'm traveling and I find things that I wanted to turn it into a book like the shoe box and the file folders. I can stitch it right there because I always have needle and waxed linen thread with me. If I don't have waxen and thread, I can use dental floss even when I'm on the go making Coptic bound sketchbooks, I do like to have nice straight lines. And the way I do that, when I don't have my cradle with me. This is the portable fold up bookbinding cradle where I make the holes as close to perfection as I can. I just do it by hand. The first thing you wanna do is mark the tops. I mark them with a little t. So you want to mark all of your signatures to indicate where the top is. And on a piece of graph paper, I usually carry graph paper with me, or really any paper. You don't really have to make it the same distance, but it's easy enough to carry graph paper. So I'll mark the top. And I'll mark the bottom. And I've got 12341234. Now these are going to be the holes that I punch. And I'll do the same for the bottom 1234. This will be my first full pencils. Great for this, because you can just mark the edge 1234 and the four is just arbitrary, but it's, it's a nice distance. 12345671234567123456. Okay? So I have four here. I have a distance of six there, and the distance of four there. Now, if you want these to look the same, then I could just bring this down one, then I'd have four. But I'm going to do that just for fun. Maybe I'll change the color of the thread there. Alright, so 123456 holes have to pump. Now there are several different tools for punching. These two are called All. I've often used an ice pick two, sometimes a kebab skewer. Ok. Now these two, our specificly for punching holes for bookbindings, these will make thicker, wider holes and sometimes if I'm binding with leather, all you wanna use that. However, if I'm traveling on a plane, you can't very easily take these because they're, they're looked at as weapons. I will use a normal embroidery Needle. I'm making a template out of the top, the top folder that I just mark. And I want to make sure that I indicate that this is the top of the rest of this signature because I'm going to be moving this template through all of the signatures. So at the top and the top, I'll put this in the center. And even though it may seem like it would be easier to use something like a piece of cardboard and punch it down when you using an embroidery needle, it really is not. It's easier to hold it. This, this is the line that has to be folded the opposite way so that I can see the lines and take your time. It's not really an easy task with file folders, kinda thick. Des euro if you do two or three at a time. But because I'm making a thicker book, I'm using a thicker signature. Okay. There's the first so this is my first signature. I'm going to put it over here with the T on the top. Now I'll move on to my next signature. Makes sure that the T is on the top. The t is on the top. Put it in the middle. Sure that it's squared up. So you can see that this can be kind of tedious. But it can be done. And if you're sitting on an airplane, you can do it while you're watching a movie. And before you know it, you have a book ready to stitch. Okay, now I want to show you the difference between punching or with the embroidery needle and with a regular piercing needle. And there's my second signature. There's my top, there's my talk. My top. My top. All right. Here's irregular piercing needle and this goes through easily. It's much easier to grip. And it goes through the file folders. Much greater ease than the embroidery Neo. And the further you push it, the bigger the hole gets. Ok. You can also get these in different thicknesses. Notice that this nervy and see it. This one is thinner than this one. And look at the difference there. These are the two methods. You can do it by hand or you can do it with the bookbinding cradle of flight about the covers. Here's my template. And I want the holes to be about that far and about a quarter of an inch in. Okay. That was easy because they just punched it through with the pencil. I want these to be in the same place. Six here, six here. And for that, I'll mark it with the needle. Now this is where you can use either a drill press if you're at home or a dremel. So now I have the holes in my cover and I have the holes in my signatures. 1234567 signatures. This is the cover here and this is the cover there. So they're a little bit wonky but not too bad. That's gonna be my book. Next step is to stitches. 7. Conclusion and What's Next: That concludes the class on making your own cradle and punching your holes in your book and your cover. There will be other classes that show you all different ways to make covers. There will be classes that show you how to make books without stitching. But this, this class is specifically for those of you who want to stitcher books. And this class will also be included in its entirety. Or any of the other classes in the series we're stitching is included because this is an important part on getting your holes in the right places. So you can either refer back to this because you know that this covers the cradle and the handheld punching. Or you can just go ahead and take one of the classes, and this class will be part of it. You can skip through it if you've already seen this and already made your cradle and you know how to do your hand held punching. So when that comes up to you can discuss, scatter through them. So thanks for watching. Please. Please post your project, post your cradle. And if you didn't make a cradle, fine, post your cover with holes punched in it and your signatures with the holes punched in them. And remember for every project that you post and you can keep posting new ones on your page, you will win an entry into the current contest. And the drawing is always on the first of the month at 04:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time or Eastern time, New York City time. On Instagram. And that's slash chris carter art. So thanks for watching and please come back. Enjoy my other courses. I teach a lot of courses on watercolor techniques and drawing techniques. And then there's this whole new class. Have a great day.