Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
Step 1: Placing the first two pieces of cardboard to the cutting mat.

Hello. I hope I am back: Today was my first pain free day in five weeks. I am still taking some medication but less and less, and I have mostly come free of those that made me dizzy and confused. (Well, I do have some withdrawel symptoms, but they are bearable. Mostly I just feel like I am craving cigarettes although it has been seven years or more since I smoked). Anyway, I thought it was time to write about book binding again. And since that is what I did today, I thought I show you how I set up and use a cutting jig.

As you know I made a couple of covers to make some jeansbooks (like this one for example). My intention was to make L, M and S sizes, but for now I ended up with four in what I imagined would be size M and three in size S. The M-sized books have a format of 23cm x 21cm which is not a power-of-two-fraction of my paper sheets (like half or fourth, or eigth…), and thus cannot be cut by doubling the paper and cutting through the fold. But cutting the pages for four thick books individually by measuring would drive anyone crazy. Those who are lucky enough to have a paper guillotine are off easy. But everyone else would want to set up a cutting jig like I did this morning.

Step 0: Cut a couple of cardboard pieces with straight edges. I find an even width very helpful but that is not strictly necessary. You can see them lying in the middle of my worktable in the photo above. Next determine Paper grain. My paper was long grain (except the brown sketching paper but that is another story) which helped a lot. I’ll remark further down how I dealt with the short grained paper.

Step 1: First I put my ruler down vertically on my cutting mat on the very left like you can see in the photo above. (I guess if you are left handed, you want to put it to the right) such that the edge matches with one of the lines of the grid.  Next I put down two pieces of the cardboard right to the edge of the ruler (as snug as possible without moving anything). A piece of masking tape on the outer side holds it in place while the ruler is removed, then I put a thick piece of tape over the whole thing, making sure to smooth down the right edge very well, so that the paper can be pushed right up to these markers.
You want them quite far apart, but of course their distance must be small than the width of the paper.

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
This is how a sheet of paper is put down when everything is in place.

Step 2: Do the same for the place where you want to cut, but this time, be sure to space them further apart than the width of the paper: Put down a ruler where it will lie when you are cutting the paper. On either the cutting edge or the other side, put down the cardboard markers like you did before. (I put them on the cutting side which has the disadvantage that the cardboard pieces can be in the way of the cutting knife, and the tape holding it down gets hurt while cutting. Still I found this easier to use than the other method which I used for the short grained paper. I guess it is a matter of preference.)

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
Step 3: Cutting

Step 3: Place a sheet of paper on the table such that it comes to lie right up to the first set of cardboard marker. Then put the ruler down at the second pair of markers. Then cut. Repeat.




And an hour later I had this:

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
A pile of coloured paper, destined to end up as pages of a couple of books.

Now, for the pages I am going to use a mix of different papers, and one of those I am going to use was short grained. However, I couldn’t fit the sheet in my jig the other way around, so I had to make another cut first, which brought the paper to a little more than twice the width if the book. But in principle I just built anothe rig, reusing the first set of cardboard markers.

And so, about another hour later, I had this:

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
Ready for building signatures! (Collating)

On the lower edge here you can see the second marker I made to cut the brown paper a little shorter before cutting to height.

So this is the end of my little cutting jig tutorial. I continued my work a little.

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
My prepared covers.

Next I built signatures. I decided on one book using just sketching paper in creme and brown. Two have a mix of white and coloured drawing paper and sketching paper. And one comes solely with beautiful Clairefontained coloured drawing paper. The sheets are 160g/sm which sound quite thick, but a rag content of 30% makes sure the pages don’t get stiff. Very beautiful paper. I thought I had made a photo of the built up books and unbound signatures, but it turns out I havn’t. I did snap a shot at the first one, though:

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
The first book with unbound pages, using alternatingly creme and brown sketching paper, with 7 sheets per signature this let to alternating colours on the spine.

Right now the pages for the four larger books are resting under weights. Next I’ll have to cut the signatures to size, and I’ll probably use a similar jig again.

Work in Progress - Making Jeansbooks
These signatures need to be cut to size

I still have to cut and collate signatures for the smaller books. Unfortunately they differ a little in size ( the jeans are from four years). I hope to finish them some time soon, or at least bind those M-sized books some time this week. – But you know how I sometimes suddely can’t find the time to proceed with one thing. So wish me luck with this!

3 replies on “How to Make and Use a Cutting Jig or Jeansbook Work in Progress”

  1. I’m so glad you’re starting to feel better. Weeks of pain and heavy-duty meds… UGH!!!

    This is a terrific tutorial — jigs are so important in bookmaking, yet, oddly, this is something that tends to not be covered often in tutorials or how-to books. It was good of you to take the time to document and post this.

    And I am so glad to see that you are managing to have some productive time! What fun-looking journals!

    1. Hello Ellen,

      thanks for your kind comment. Jigs are indeed so helpful! The first time I saw someone mention and use it was like a revelation 🙂

  2. I am so pleased that your back is getting better.
    Students are always stunned when I talk about using jigs and templates. It always seems to be a great revelation. ; ]

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