Bookbinding topics and skills integrate well across main lesson blocks and specialty subjects throughout the grades. Lower grade students learn a series of individual skills that are appropriate to their age. In the middle grades, the projects gradually increase in complexity and require a combination of the skills learned in younger grades. By eighth grade, students are able to create a beautiful, high-quality case-bound book using professional methods and archival materials.

Why teach bookbinding

  1. Many bookbinding skills and topics are already taught in a typical school curriculum.
  2. Integrating various skills into a unified curriculum that culminates in an original work increases student interest.
  3. Many Waldorf teachers and parents already bind main lesson book pages at the end of each year.
  4. Bookbinding tools and materials are easy and inexpensive to find or make.

Why bookbinding matters

As the Internet grows in importance and previous versions of dynamic information are revised or erased, large sections of our cultural heritage are no longer easily available. Custom bookbinding is recognized as a vital method for preserving valuable parts of our disappearing literary and visual heritage. A well-designed book can last many centuries, while CD-ROMs have a typical shelf life of five to seven years. For these reasons, and despite—or because of—the digital age, the craft of high-quality bookbinding is seeing a gradual resurgence.

Why classical bookbinding

Classical European “case binding” is the most advanced form of bookbinding, and is the international standard for binding excellence. It is superior to other methods because it makes use fo the best archival quality materials and maximizes the usable area of each page resulting in minimum waste, and it achieves an optimal balance between flexibility and durability.

The construction details of a case-bound book are hidden (and protected) by design. This makes the analysis of case-bound bookbinding more difficult. To learn this method from scratch, well-built books must be carefully torn apart. A better option is to share the art from master to apprentice, as has been done for hundreds of years.

Overworked teachers often choose a simplified version of Japanese bookbinding, primarily because the construction method is more obvious and seems easier to learn. This results in typical problems, including weak bindings, wasted paper, and incorrect page orientations.

Making case-bound books

A brief outline of the basics steps for making case-bound books.


  1. Collect and sort all internal page content
  2. Create front matter, back matter, etc.
  3. Complete book design (dimensions, unique details and constraints)
  4. Complete materials list

Signature Construction

  1. Sew pages into signatures
  2. Sew signatures together and glue spine
  3. Attach endpapers
  4. Trim edges, especially top and bottom
  5. Gold foil page tops (optional)

Spine Construction

  1. Curve spine to final shape
  2. Glue on super (or crash)
  3. Add bookmark ribbon (optional)
  4. Glue on headbands and liner

Case Construction

  1. Measure and cut all case materials
  2. Glue case boards to case cloth
  3. Glue end paper to case and press
  4. Add additional elements, such as leather trim (optional)
  5. Add gold foil lettering
  6. Glue the spine to the case using the end papers.
  7. Press until dry

Box Construction (Optional)

  1. Measure and cut all materials to fit book
  2. Glue box boards to box cover material
  3. Add inner protective material, such as archival felt, and press
  4. Add gold foil or other decorative elements
  5. Fold and glue box together