Spiral Binding in a Hard Cover: An Alternative to Rebinding

by William Minter, Bookbinding and Conservation

Books with plastic or metal spiral bindings can be a problem when they are shelved. The cover is usually not stiff enough to support the volume and the spiral is normally wider than the text block allowing the book to shift or sag as it tries to stand on the shelf.

Many libraries have these books rebound to eliminate the problem. Various styles of binding can be used: fan-adhesive and over sewing are two popular methods. Unfortunately, some heavy or laminated papers do not function properly in these structures. The lack of a gutter Margin is another problem. Another concern that might be overlooked is the original intent of the publisher. We are increasingly aware of the need to save original publisher’s bindings produced around the turn of the century. Consideration should be given to some current spiral bindings that may he unique and should be saved.

My first involvement with this type of project started when a client had fifteen spiral binders that stood in disarray on the shelf. As an alternative to rebinding, I suggested using an enclosure. A simple hard-cover, square-back case was made, and fillers
of acid-free corrugated board were added to bulk out the text area. Since the book was now uniform in thickness, it could stand on the shelf squarely. The square spine also allowed for a label to be attached.

This solution, however, dealt with only one part of the problem. A further refinement involved attaching the spiral to the case. Currently, I am lining the inner joint with cloth that also has a stiffener. The spiral can be attached to that cloth in a variety of ways including sewing with thread, cord, or even linen tapes. I have also experimented with nylon cable ties used in the electrical industry. Further development will lead to a simplified technique.

The case can be made in quarter cloth with bare boards or covered in full cloth. The fillers can be corrugated or foam-core board and covered with paper or cloth to improve appearance.

Attaching an original spiral binding to a hard cover may not be the solution for every book of this type. The hard cover does not solve the problem of pages that are easily torn from the spiral. However, this method does offer an alternative for text that cannot be bound in any other way to retain the original publisher’s binding and format – the best reason for this type of enclosure.

The Spiral Binding in a Hardcover

10pt.acid-free map stock has been adhered to the cloth that will line the inside of the cover. Fold cloth at right angle and position the spiral as shown. Mark cloth with an awl for holes to be punched; two holes at each station; minimum of three stations for attachment. Locate center line of spiral by sewing, cable ties or other method. Note: On plastic spirals, it may be necessary to reverse the spiral so that the attachment is made at the strongest part of the panel.

Make square back case (full cloth and turn-ins optional). Attach cloth inner hinge (the area with the stiffener is attached first with the stiffener flush to the edge of the board; PVA or double sided tape can be used; adhere the cloth across the joint. Attach filler of corrugated board, foam-core board or other to square the finished binding. A label can be attached to the spine.


Figure 1

William Minter Bookbinding & Conservation, Inc.,
R.D.1, Box 99, Woodbury, PA 16695-9516,
Phone 814-793-4020, Fax 814-793-4045
reprinted with permission of the author.