Book Binding Courses

Book and box made at the beginners course
Book and box made at the beginners course

The Guild runs regular courses and workshops on how to make books and boxes. These are very popular, and often fill quite quickly. As of 2018 there are nine types of courses: beginners, intermediate and advanced, stitched photo album, introduction to finishing, coptic bindings, bradel bindings, box making and box making 2. We will be introducing more in the future.


The beginners course shows you how to make three items: a single section pamphlet style stitched book, a multi section square back stitched book, and a slip case to fit the square back. These three projects give you the underlying skills to allow you to make a wide range of books, and address cutting, gluing and general bookbinding tasks. No prior experience is required for this course.

The image shows an example of the final book and matching hard case made during the beginners course. The book is A5 in size.


The intermediate course, introduced for 2015, goes through two projects: a paperback style book, with a soft cover, and a hollow back book that is sewn onto tapes and is rounded and backed. This gives a very strong book that has the more traditional shape and makes a great looking book. It is recommended that you have done the beginners course or its equivalent, although this is not required.


The advanced course delivers a single project that is half bound in leather and is sewn on cords with hand sewn headbands. This course shows you how to pare leather and produce a really fantastic looking book with all the skills for doing book repairs and making books. There are a number of techniques in this course that will require you to have had previous experience. Either the beginners or intermediate course is recommended before attempting this one.

Box Making

The box making course makes two boxes, the first is a shoe box style, where the lid and base are separate. The second is a Sollander style box (also known as a clam shell) where the lid is attached along one side. These are very strong, elegant boxes and are great for providing a really professional finish to a hand made book, or indeed for anything that you want to put in it. No previous experience is required.

Box Making 2

This is a single box made in the box-in-a-box style with matching lid. You will also learn a number of decorative techniques and how to correctly apply covering materials. This is a style that can be easily adapted for a range of applications and variations.


A single coptic style book is made, and you cover a number of traditional copting stitching techniques, as well as sewing headbands and shaping boards. This style is mostly glueless, and can be adapted to display a wide range of different sewing styles and decorative finishes. Starting in 2021 this course will also include the Japanese 4 hole style of stab binding.


The Bradel style is a split board binding, and we make a single hollowback book, quarter bound using the Bradel techniques. This provides a very smooth cover where all of the internal construction of the book is hidden from view. It is also a very strong book that when done properly will outlast you by generations. It is useful to have at least our beginners course under your belt.

Introduction To Finishing

This is a one day course run at Roleystone. It gives you an opportunity to work with gold lettering, blind tooling and other finishing techniques. You experience the difference between cloth, leather and artificial leathers, as well as learning how to cope with each. You get to make a small A6 pamphlet style booklet that you decorate.

Hand Made Headbands

This is a one day course run at Roleystone. It gives you an introductiion to a number of techniques for making your own headbands, those strips of coloured thread at the top and bottom of a book. Traditionally they were hand sewn, providing lots of strength to the book, but also giving the book binder some scope for individuality and customisation.


A springback book is a technically superior and very sophisticated style of making a book. Traditionally used primarily for account ledgers, the spine is made with a spring that causes the book to snap open and lay flat, allowing entries to go accross both pages. The spring then also causes the book to snap shut again. This course is spread over two weekends so that the very complex spring mechanism can be accomplished during the single course.

Photo Album

A photo album needs to be constructed in a way that allows the book to expand properly when photos or other material is added to the pages. A Japanese stab binding style photo album is made in this course. No previous experience is required.

The beginners, intermediate and advanced courses run for four weeks, with one evening per week scheduled. As these run on the same evenings as our monthly meeting, there is no course on the same night as the meeting. The photo album and box making courses run for two and three weeks respectively.

The weeknight courses are run at McDougall House, in Como. They start at 6:00pm on Monday evenings, and run until about 9:00pm. See the list of events currently scheduled to see when the classes are running. You will need to attend from the first class in each course. 

The weekend courses are run at the Roleystone Family Centre and are on Saturdays and Sundays. The weekend courses start at 9:00am and finish at 4:00pm on each of the two days.

The fee for each course will be listed on the course schedule. This fee needs to be paid prior to attendance. All materials and equipment are provided.

You do not need to be a member of the Guild in order to be able to attend the classes.