DIY Bookbinding cradle


I can’t even recall where I first saw a bookbinding cradle. I just recall thinking What a great tool! because it looked like it would solve the problem I always seem to have getting the holes for a pamphlet stitch signature right in the crease and all in a straight line. Maybe you are better at that than I am, but I can confirm that since I started using it my signatures are much better aligned.

And since I made it using stuff I had hanging around my craft room, it cost me nothing.

A bit about the stuff hanging around – I have hoarding tendencies. I freely admit it. But the number of times I have seen something and thought Wait. I have that or Wait, I can MAKE that far outweigh the times I stumble over something and think I should bin that.

One of the things I have hoarded forever is blocks. My kids had big bins of wooden blocks. I’ve used them as stamp mounts (back when I mounted stamps on wood) as levelers or supports – like this TV table that sits suspended in the space between my two desks:

Apologies for the blur but you get the idea.  Anyway, I still have a massive tub of blocks, and they came in handy for this little tool. The other things I used are some 1/2 inch thick fun foam, a couple of pieces of mat board and some glue.  

As you can see I ALSO have blocks supporting the small drawer unit on  my window ledge, propping up the overhang. Anyway, I used four half-square triangles, one flat rectangle and two mat board/chipboard pieces.

If I made one change, I think it would be making the chipboard sides LONGER, for when I make a taller art journal, but I was limited in that I only had this one piece of thick foam.  But it’s easy enough to sort that on the fly. I used the thick foam as a base for the cradle – this means when I poke the holes in the signatures, the pokey tool goes into the foam and not my desk.

The triangles-with-a-gap work as supports for the chipboard and the flat rectangle works as a backstop. Once I had it laid out as above, it was just a glue job! The triangles get stuck to the foam, then the backstop to the blocks and the foam on one side – leaving the second end open allows for a larger signature to extend past the cradle.

Adding the chipboard to create the valley is the last step

Maybe hard to see but I have a metal ruler in the middle to leave a very small gap between the two sides. This is where you poke thru. into the foam below.

Yesterday you will have seen (kinda) how it works.  Line up the signature with the creased edge inside the cradle.  Make a paper template to ensure all the holes line up.  Poke thru the template and thru the signature

To punch a longer signature, I just added some extra foam under where the hole will be (if it is just slightly past the chipboard side supports) and poke thru the guide, OR flip the signature and the guide around so the last hole(s) is in the cradle support.

Easy peasy.  If you want to make one, just put diy bookbinding cradle into your YouTube search bar and you will see PLENTY of options, from plain old chipboard versions to proper woodwork ones.  I like my version cause it cost me nothing, took about 10 minutes to make (+ glue-drying time) and works pretty darn well!

3 thoughts on “DIY Bookbinding cradle

  1. Thank you for brilliant use of leftover building blocks. As good as anything for sale if not better as not interlocking MDF. Could not afford to buy, your idea is superior.

  2. Very clever! I think the kid’s blocks are in a tub in our storage unit (I couldn’t bear to give them away), save one round one that I use as a nostepinne for winding yarn.

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