Notebooks and journals can be used to record information, hold memories and display artwork - and even exist as works of art in themselves.

York conservators Emma Lloyd-Jones and Catherine Firth explain the basic techniques of how to bind a simple book through an instructional video which can be followed in your own time and at your own pace.

Simple binding skills do require a basic level of manual dexterity, and you will need to provide yourself with a small selection of tools and materials.

You will need:

  • Cutting mat
  • Bonefolder
  • Craft knife or scalpel
  • Scissors
  • Blunt kitchen knife
  • Metal ruler
  • Fine-point pencil
  • Pin vice or thick sewing needles
  • Brush for glue
  • Bulldog clip
  • Kitchen weight (or small tin)
  • 16 sheets of printer paper
  • Sewing thread (preferably linen)
  • Board (e.g. cereal packet)
  • Decorative or plain paper to cove the board
  • Glue

When working with paper, card and most paper-based materials, it’s important to understand the grain direction.

Over to you - watch our instructional video and enjoy.

A Simple Binding (PDF , 1,166kb)


How did you get on?

We’d love to see how you get on, so why not share a video or photo of your book binding on social media using the hashtag #YorkIdeas - or email it across to us to share?

You can join Emma and Catherine for a live online Q&A on Sunday 20 June when you can share your experiences and learn some alternative techniques for book binding. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask any questions you have.  We recommend you follow the instructional video before attending the live event. Please note: Booking required for the live Q&A.


Staying safe online

Please remember to warn other members of your household that you are taking a photo/creating a video to post online, and check what background is going to be visible.  Under 18s should be supervised, and we would recommend that you use first names only and don’t include anything that identifies you or your home address. 


About the speakers

A book and paper conservator with 30 years’ experience, Emma Lloyd-Jones has been employed by libraries and archives in London, Oxford, Dublin, Newcastle, Durham and York.

Catherine Firth has worked in archive conservation here in York for 13 years, and has a particular interest in both historic binding structures and the conservation of parchment.