If you have written a one-off book and printed it on your laser or inkjet printer, you have several choices for binding the pages together. For many office-style reports that contain a small number of pages, comb or wire binding is often adequate. But if your book contains many more pages, such as if you have written your family history or typed a friend's memoirs, you probably want the final result to look more professional.

For years perfect binding has been used to bind hundreds of thousands, if not millions of books. It is a very simple process that uses a special glue that melts when heated so that the sheets of paper sink into the molten mass and are then gripped tight when the glue cools down and solidifies. There are thermal binding machines available, but they are not cheap. Neither are the special binding covers that have to be used. I have found that it is possible to do one-off perfect binding at home, using only a few generally available items. "One-off" in this context means you will be binding only a few copies, say a dozen or two at most. While there is nothing to stop you from binding as many as you wish, there comes a point when it might be cheaper to have a print-on-demand service produce your books for you. It takes me around four hours to produce one copy from the time the paper starts going through the printer to the finished article. However, my LaserJet is a thirteen-year-old model and I have to feed the sheets manually, one by one, then turn them over and fed each one through again. If you have a more modern printer you could cut the overall time required drastically.

Practice makes perfect and you are advised to do some dummy runs first, before you let yourself loose on your actual book. I did a few dummy runs using scrap paper with enough sheets to form the right block thickness. If a trial run fails, you can cut off the spine to free the sheets again, then trim them to a smaller size and try once more. That way you can get several practice runs out of one block of scrap paper.

First, let us look at the equipment and materials you will need. These are what I used. You can, of course, modify or make your own bits and pieces as is convenient where you are.


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