Monday, August 27, 2012

How to make a piano hinge book

My latest creation: a piano hinge logbook.

Here is a cute special book that I've made before for some of my letterboxes. It's called a "piano hinge" because of how the spine works - take a look at a piano hinge on a door sometime and you'll understand.  It's really nice to look at and feel in your hands because it moves differently than a regular book, but if you hate sewing signatures together for logbooks, this makes an interesting alternative which involves no sewing.

Anyways, here is what I needed to make it:
  • Paper all the same size to be used for the signatures – I used 6.5 x 4.5” cardstock because I want really good impressions for stamping
  • To decorate my cover, I have this replica map that I will be using to make the cover
  • Bamboo skewers – I used 11 for this project
  • Matching embroidery thread

Tools I needed:
  • Scissors, 
  • ruler, 
  • bone folder, 
  • double sided tape (I hate glue sticks – you can use that instead if you like), 
  • and super glue.

The first thing I did was fold my signatures. Because I was using cardstock, I only used two sheets per signature. For 11 skewers, I need 10 signatures – however many signatures yours is, use one more skewer than there are signatures.  Use your bone folder, but don’t worry about getting the creases tight, you’ll see why later.

All folded and ready to go!

Next, making the covers: take a page of card stock and fold it over and tape it shut...
...making sure that the folded edge is folded over a skewer which is then removed.

After that, I covered mine with the reproduction vintage maps that I have, but decorate any way you like so long as you still can put a skewer down that folded edge.

Next you need the magic number for all the cuts we’re going to be making.  Measure the edge of the signatures/cover that will be the spine – then divide by 5.  The result is your magic number.

Using that magic number, measure along the hinge of your covers marking dots every measure.  You should have four dots.  Then cut in perpendicular to the spine at each dot making five tabs, essentially. 

On the front cover, cut off the first, third and fifth tab.  On the back, cut off the second and fourth.

Make sure you use pencil for these dots – they’ll show if you don’t erase them after.
Next make these dots along each of the signatures you made – you will not be cutting tabs off of these, but at each dot just cut in about one centimetre at each cut.
Next, time to weave with the skewers.  Take first the front cover and the first signature.
When you put the cover and first signature together, you'll see that the tabs align and there are doubles at the second and fourth place.
What you’re trying to do is to insert the skewer and weave alternately signature then cover tab, then signature, cover, back and forth again until you’re out the other side.  It’s a little tricky forcing the skewers through and it’s sometimes helpful to take another skewer to help open up the hinge holes a bit from the opposite end as you go.
When you’re done, two tabs will be stick out from the first signature – take the second signature and do the same thing again…
And again...
And again...
And again... I think you get the point.

Almost done...
Voila! The binding is all done and the book is complete.
Next, you're going to have to weave the skewers together then clip the extensions off with the scissors - don't use your good scissors.

Do the same with the other side.  I then used a touch of glue at the skewer and thread at each skewer to hold the binding together.
And it's complete!

Done and done!

 Finally, finished with a celebratory adding of chocolate to milk.

Happy book making!


  1. I'm usually lurking through google reader, so I thought I should stick out my neck and say 'hi' for a change. I am always in awe of your multiple talents.

    1. Why thank you! However, you have the creative talent - I just reproduce the nice stuff ;)

  2. i'm going to have to try this. . .

    1. You should definitely give it a go! I would caution you however that although this kind of binding is fun and really interesting, it's difficult to stamp into given the spine - mostly because it won't open flat, per se.

      I've been thinking of trying this one again but with cord or something to give it a flexible spine... I guess this is the kick in the butt I need to give it a try :)