Monday, May 28, 2012

Piano Hinge Book

Someone on pintrest has been posting instuctions on bookbinding which are really well done. But stupidly I didn't pin them. In any case I felt like making a book today. Bookbinding is one of the artforms that get great pleasure doing. To do traditional bookbinding takes many stages and days to do. Today I wanted to play not make a more traditional book. So I went into the office and found some Astrobright paper, I have a lot stashed because it is over 100 miles to a paperstore. I had just gotten a copy of Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz, which is a fantastic book on bookbinding, So I got the instuctions to make a piano hinge book from it. The book suggests 50 piece of paper folded in half. So I chose 10 pieces of five colors, yellow, pink, red, orange and green.

Astrobright paper

Next I put them together in sets of 5 pieces of folded paper, the sets are known as signatures. The way that a piano hinge binding works is to weave the signatures together with a strong material like wood or metal. Chopsticks or corndog stitcks can make really nice books. I had some 1/8 inch dowels which is easier to use because they are flexible. So to keep with the brightness of the paper, I painted the dowels bright purple!

Painted dowels drying.
Next I created a template for cutting slits in the signatures on the fold. I roughly marked the template in about 1 inch increments. Then cut wedges on two signatues (using the template) and tried to weave them together using a dowel.

Notches cut into signatures.

Signatures being woven together with a purple dowel.

Signature open to the middle page so it is easier to weave the dowel.

The first try I had the notches to shallow. So I decided to cut deeper triangles and it was still hard to weave but I was able to do it. That is important to this kind of binding, it has to be tight to hold together, but not so tight that the dowel breaks or the paper rips. So every time you change materials you have to make a new template. When making your own books I suggest openning the signature to the middle page while weaving it makes it easier fit the dowel in the triangle while weaving. Also the notches don't have to be exact but they do need to be consistant from signature to signature. If you decided to use round dowels, turning them while pushing the dowel helps to slide them though the signatures easier. Also be aware that it is easy to damage the corners of the pages while weaving. Piano hinge books are work but they look great and are fun. After weaving the first two signatures together you then weave the third signature on top of them pulling up the triangles that were not used on signature number 2. You continue adding signatures so that the whole book holds together.

You can see how the purple dowels show up woven though the signatures.

This is as much as I was able to do today because of time, hand strength and I need to paint more dowels. Tomorrow I will post the rest of the project i.e. putting on the covers and decorating the book. Hope everyone has enjoyed a day of

This was not meant to be a tutorial, if you found my instuctions are incoherent here is a tutorial for making piano hinge books.


  1. Came here from Crafters. I love your tutorial, I must try it some day. It looks so funny,and your book sure looks great.

    1. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoy making the book.