With all the adhesives and glues on the market today, it can be difficult to know what to use for the application of bookbinding, particularly if you’re new to the art. We’ll take a basic look at the different glues experienced bookbinders recommend.
When I first started tinkering with bookbinding, I had no one to mentor me and was just learning from experience. I certainly learned what NOT to do!! I got a book on simple bookbinding and they recommended using glue stick for their step-by-step projects. Lesson one—DON’T use glue stick! It may be quick and easy to use, but over time the glue hardens and cracks, causing the paper to pull away from the book board, ruining all your lovely work. Someone recently recommended Tombo’s glue stick to me, which reportedly does not do that, but I have been unable to find it to give it a try.
Noted bookbinder Peter Goodwin recommends SuperFlex PVA glue by Fuller in his YouTube video, appropriately titled “Glue”. This very basic tutorial shows the technique he uses to apply his glue and some helpful tips.
Cindy from The Paper Studio also recommends a PVA glue and demonstrates the technique of gluing for book covers in this YouTube video, “How to Glue for Bookbinding".
Another product on the market is YES paste found at most craft stores. It won’t wrinkle delicate papers and is water based making for easy clean up, which is important to me because I invariably end up with most of it on my fingers and transfer to everything I touch! I don’t recommend YES paste for use with heavy weight papers though; it doesn’t seem strong enough to hold it and I’ve had the paper pull away from the board when it dries.
There are many recipes for wheat paste, a glue used in traditional bookbinding. Here’s one from Solar Cooking. About.com has a video tutorial on making wheat paste.
I’ve been experimenting recently with Zip Dry paper glue for little touch up areas and gluing down corners. It claims to be acid free but is quite smelly. I made the mistake of saving up all my gluing to do at once. I didn’t realize how stinky it had become in my studio until I left the room and returned 30 minutes later. I had to open a window it was so bad!
What have been your experiences? Please share them with us so we can all master the craft of gluing!