Cross structure binding "linked"

Photo walkthrough of how I used CSB "linked" to bind my comic.

Cover Image

When prototyping HWA comic printed copy I did a bunch of research on non-adhesive book binding. I happened upon Carmencho Arregui's cross structure binding (CSB) information page and wanted to try it out. I ended up going with CSB "linked".

There were more end-photos online than WIP-photos, so I've documented WIP below in case anyone wants to try it out for their own DIY zine/book/project some day! The flexibility and customization of this book binding approach is super cool!

Printing and folding each signature

I load the paper and print it off of my Brother HL-22700DW b/w laser printer. This part is pretty time consuming because of the waiting and paper stock swapping. I also shake the toner when it starts getting patchy (IDK if this helps or makes it worse) and reset my printer toner sensor a bunch because the printer lies to you about toner levels!

Poking sewing holes into each signature

I lay the signature open and overlay a hole "template" (a regular piece of paper with measured hole spacing) to punch through. I've used my carpet or a thick sweater underneath to do the stabbing.

Scoring and cutting slits into the front cover

I designed my CSB to have 9 slots for the arms to pass through. I don't think there's a set rule for how many to have, though I assume that more "cross linking" you have, the more stability/structure you'll have.

Score where the spine will bend

Scoring and cutting arms on the back cover

For the backcover I score it first where the bend points will be.

After a lot of trial and error, I learned to put 1 more score in the arm part to relieve bending stress later on. Though this has its pros/cons.

The back cover has the "arms" that will link into the front cover. I have 3 arms, which correspond to the "slots" in the front cover.

Linking the front and back cover together

Slot the back cover into the first column of slots (the bottom edge of the book spine)

This is what the cover ends up looking like when flat. CSB is a no-glue bind but I ended up applying glue to the left-side where the back/front cover overlap (for extra stability)

This is what it looks on the inside.

I bend/pull the arms up because I have to sew the signatures to it.

I followed sewing 4 instructions from Carmencho's website. I used lineco's linen book binding thread since I had a bunch from a previous project. I've also used floss before as well (but did manage to tear up some thinner signatures when I used floss).

Lots of kettle stitch videos online for folks to follow. IMO the hardest thing about the sewing is to keeping my thread taunt without the thread tearing the signatures. This became easier with more practice.

After sewing the signatures to the arms, I tuck the arms into the next closest column of slots in the front cover's spine. This is where the arms tend to bend/crack, or slots tend to tear. My rec is to go slow and ease and pull gently.

The arms poke out at the top edge of the spine. Keep gently adjusting and pulling to get the closest/flushest fit between the cover/signatures. I found it easiest to do this with the cover flat on the table, signature perpendicular "in the air."

Finally I pass the arms through the final column of slots on the front cover.

The arms now end on the inside of the cover. I taped these down with washi tape, but you could leave them as.

Now we have a bound book (that still needs to be trimmed)!

Trim the book

I invested in a Durodex 200DX based on Wai's recommendation/research. The cutter also leaves some indents from compression, so stack some extra paper above/below to decrease the indents. My book barely fits in the cutter, so it was hard to see where the laser cutter-line was hitting the book for accurate measuring.

Here's the final bunch! Wabisabi DIY scraggle!!!! It probably takes me ~2h to make each one.

You can get a made-to-order copy at Love Love Hill, read most of it online for free, or get the digital copy.

Reflection

  • The coverstock I chose was extremely unforgiving! If I had the time I would have done more prototyping/testing with different paper stocks.
  • When linking the arms into the slots there was a lot of unintended creasing, tearing, etc. to contend with. Adding an extra score in the arm was a good hack, but sometimes that extra score line would get "caught" in the slots when I was trying to thread it through.
  • This method would be really nice to put a "softcover" wrap on any signature to make it look a bit fancier and more protected. If not for my need to have different coloured signatures, I'd condense signatures together so that there's less sewing to do.
  • Since there is no glue on the spine (it's like... a floating spine?), I found that my spine would get crushed in trimming. C'est la vie!
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