Over the past year I have made a selection of notebooks all bound with Coptic Stitching. The first book I made was with a cover that I cut on a scroll saw. I have recently started to use a laser cutter to make even more detailed cutouts. This machine is also excellent for engraving and the range of covers have extended to include some very nice and detailed engravings. Many of the books are currently for sale here: Induku on Etsy.
In the future I will also make some kits with all the items (wooden covers, needle, thread, wax, bone folder etc.) to make your own Coptic Stitched book (excluding only the paper). Without the paper the weight will be low and the shipping cost will be much much less (I may even provide free shipping). The cost of the components and absence of labor (it takes me around 2 hours to bind one book) will also mean the price for a kit will be around 1/4 of the price of a book. Follow me on Facebook to see when the kits are available.
Here is all the Coptic Stitched notebooks that I have ever made (click on any image for a larger version):
Some of the items that I really enjoy to make are notebooks with wooden covers, bound with Coptic-stitching. The front cover often have an image cut with a scroll saw. In this post I make notebooks with the image of the Guy-Fawkes mask, currently associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous:
Completed notebooks – 3 different colors
There are three parts to making these books. The first is making the covers, the second is making the signatures and last part is binding everything together. I start making the covers. For this book I use A6 sized pine covers.
Blank A6 covers and pattern
I use tape three blank covers together, to make a stack to be cut at the same time, and stick the pattern on. I add clear tape over the cover to kelp with lubricating the blade while cutting and also not to smudge the printed image (I need a better quality printer…). The next step is to drill the entry holes.
Drilling the entry holes
After the holes are drilled, I can begin with cutting the image. I use a #5 reverse tooth scroll saw blade for this image. This image is quite easy to cut since it is reasonably big and it takes approximately 40 minutes (at some stage I hope to be a faster).
Before I remove the pattern I add the back covers to the stack and tape them in place. I drill the holes for binding through all 6 covers before removing the pattern and all the tape. Using masking tape (painters tape), before sticking on the pattern makes removal easy. The next step is sanding. I sand the covers to 400 grit and use several small strips and emery boards on the inside of the image.
Sanding – one constant in woodwork
I made three notebooks and decided to make each one slightly different in color. The first I kept natural pine cover. The second I painted with a diluted, water based, acrylic paint to give a slightly white wash appearance. The third cover was stained with a home made stain of vinegar, steel wool and coffee. This gives the wood a grayish aged look. After the stain and paint dried, I added 4 layers of glossy lacquer.
Painting with diluted white paint
Drying after staining
Painted, stained and lacquered – from left – White wash, Natural, Stained
After the covers are done I make the signatures. For each book I make 9 signatures with 12 pages – 108 pages per book. To make each signature I take three A4 pages and fold in half 2 times. I stack the 9 signatures together and place between 2 pieces of sacrificial wood. I tape the wood together and cut approximately 5mm from three outside sides on the scroll saw using a #9 blade. While bound I also cut the slits in the back of the signatures through which they are bound (see here for more information).
Cutting the pages to size
I roughly paint the first page of the first signature black. This is to give a nice contrast to the image when the book is closed.
Painting the first page – note the slits for binding
The last item to prepare is the thread. I use black thread that I pull through beeswax to make my own waxed thread.
All the items ready for binding
The final step is to bind the book. I use Coptic stitching since it makes a nice pattern on the spine. It also allows for the notebook to open completely. Currently it takes approximately 50 minutes to bind each book (if no mistakes are made).
The completed books turned out very close to the image I had in mind when starting this project.
Inside front cover
Spines with Coptic stitching
I currently have several notebooks and will continue to make more with different designs (I also take requests for custom covers). These three notebooks are however the only “Anonymous cover notebooks” I have and are available here.
I have tried other binding methods and plan to try a few more in the future. I am however working on several other projects that are not notebooks and I will write about these soon…