Hard Cover for Multi-section

A step-by-step guide to making a basic hard cover for a multi-section book.

This one will have a bookcloth spine and paper sides.

1. Start by measuring the pages accurately – the width….
2. …and the height of the pages.
3. I use a scrap of paper to calculate the size of my cover boards. The width of the board is the width of the pages minus 2mm and the height of the board is the height of the pages plus 6mm.
This calculation will create a slight overhang of the cover boards - in this case 3mm - and a space at the spine edge to allow for movement and easy opening of the book. In this calculation I have allowed for a gap of 5mm at the spine but when you get more experienced at bookbinding, you could make this gap smaller, say 3-4mm.
4. Cut two boards for your cover. Here I am using 2mm grey board and I have marked up a right angle in the board to measure from. See this page for tips on cutting board.
5. Place the two boards either side of your pages and squeeze gently whilst you measure the total thickness – boards plus pages. This will give you the measurement for the width of the spine piece in the cover. (The height of the spine piece is the same as the two boards you have just cut.)
6. So now you have three pieces of board ready to glue to your covering material. Before you do this you will need to know the size of the gap between the boards and the spine piece. The calculation is 5mm (size of gap) + 2mm (thickness of board) + 1mm (for movement) = 8mm. So the gap either side of the spine piece is 8mm. 
7. For this style of cover I am glueing a strip of fabric (bookcloth) around the spine first. I have already decided where I want the edge of the fabric to come and drawn a pencil line on the board. I cut the fabric to the right size before sticking the boards down. (I also marked an arrow on the board so that I didn’t stick them down the wrong way round – easy to do when the boards are nearly square.)
8. Now stick the paper sides down. There are different ways to go about this. Here I have cut the paper to size before glueing up so that I can complete the step in one go. But you can slow this step down by just glueing the board first to stick to the paper, then trimming out edges and corners and finishing the turn ins.
Bookbinders usually overlap paper on top of bookcloth where they meet on a cover board like this. Just a small amount say 1-2mm. This is so that the rough edge of the bookcloth is hidden underneath the clean cut edge of the paper.

Press the cloth at the spine to make a good shape:

The finished cover, ready to stick to the book block.
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