Maybe it’s not something you think of when you pick up a book, but every book is sealed with some kind of adhesive. Let’s find out what type of glue works best for this important task.
The unique challenges of Bookbinding
Bookbinding traditionally involves sealing paper together with waxed thread first of all and securing both the spine and the top of the pages with glue.
The spine of books needs to be a little flexible, and any bookbinding glue needs to be able do deal with the constant opening and closing of the book.
Paper is delicate, and especially for older books it’s important that whatever glue you decide to use is PH neutral / Acid-Free.
Aesthetically, the glue should dry as clear as possible with minimal yellowing over time.
Although there are several options available which meet the requirements, your best option is to pick up a specialist PVA glue for bookbinding. Lineco PH Neutral PVA Adhesive was designed especially for bookbinding and works for bookbinding pages as well as on the spine.
How they used to do it – Animal Glue
Bookbinding glue has changed a lot over the last 2000 years.
Traditionally, the glue of choice for book binders was animal glue, created from the collagen found in animal products.
This method is somewhat frowned upon nowadays for many reasons including the inhumane treatment of animals during the production process.
That being said, Animal Glue does still have its place, especially if you are working on an old book restoration project or an antique, where it’s important that the new glue looks identical to the historic glue.
I’ve used Titebond Hide Glue for antique wooden projects in the past. It works well, and gives your finished piece that old-time look.
I really would only recommend this for antique pieces though. The new synthetic PVA glues are better in every way. They dry quicker, they are stronger, they dry clear, and they are cheaper.
Nowadays, we have excellent synthetic glues which are more durable, flexible, and humane than the old animal glues of the past.
In a rush?
No time to read? The best glue for most bookbinding, book repairs, and book restoration projects is a special PH Neutral PVA adhesive created especially for Bookbinding. It’s cheap, durable, and won’t damage your paper like some other household glues would.
Best glue for Book Binding:
You have a few options for bookbinding glue, depending on your project.
In most cases, the best glue is going to be an acid-free PVA glue, like this Lineco PH Neutral PVA Adhesive.
If this one isn’t available for you, simply search on Amazon for Acid-Free PVA Glue, or use some household PVA after carefully checking the label to make sure it meets the requirements. (PH Neutral, Acid Free, Non Toxic)
Using Household PVA or Craft Glue for Book Binding:
You can use some household PVA for bookbinding, although you may need to dilute it a little with water to get it to the consistency you need. If you’re gluing the pages you will likely need a less viscous solution than if you’re doing the spine.
Bookbinding glues also MUST be acid-free, simply to maintain the paper that they’re binding. You might have heard about how vintage comic books have to be kept in acid-free plastic bags, and it’s the same with paper, especially in old or antique books. This will help prolong the life of your books, so make sure you check the bottle before use.
Some common glues which are suitable for bookbinding:
Regular White/PVA/School glue
Most Wood Glues (Although some of them don’t dry clear)
PVA Glue Sticks (Not suitable for book spines)
To sum up, you can use regular household glue for school projects or non-critical bookbinding projects.
However, if you are creating something important that you want to last a long time, pick up some cheap PH Neutral PVA Adhesive from Amazon. It dries clear, is acid-free, water-soluble, and bonds well to paper, card, and leather, making it great for work on book spines and covers too.
Hope this was helpful for you. If you have any questions please feel free to let me know in the contact page.
Thanks for reading!