Instructions: Hard Cover for Dos-A-Dos Binding

"I thought you'd done every binding!"  a friend exclaimed recently when I mentioned a structure I hadn't made. Somehow, I was never, until this point, inspired to make a dos-a-dos binding. With three hard covers and two spines, it has never been one I've needed for a personal project. A dos-a-dos artist's book that comes to mind is a lovely letterpress book made in 2005 by Ellen Knudson called Self-Dual: How to Walk a 30,000 Mile Tightrope about her weekly commute between Mississippi and Alabama as she left her husband and young son to complete an MFA. She writes that the text were her "driving thoughts." It's a book I ask to see each time I take my CCA students to Mills College library to look at their book art collection. You can see it there or read more and see photos of it at the Vamp & Tramp website at the link, above.

It was finally time for me to make my own dos-a-dos. As I scrounged for scraps to make a model to show here, I ended up with Niddegen, a textweight paper, for one side, and watercolor paper for the other. A perfect travel book for drawing or writing on one side, for painting on the other. The covers are made of book board/Davey board/binder's board, the spines are 4-ply 100% cotton museum board. The covering papers are from a frottage-style paste paper I made from Arches Text Wove/Velin Arches (instructions in Painted Paper). Book cloth spine covers. All boards and cloth parallel to the spine. I learned quite a bit while I made this first duo, which means I also made mistakes.

(2) 4-ply museum board spines: 1/2" x 5 3/4"
(3) Book boards: I used 3 1/2" x 5 3/4" for all three.
I recommend instead: (2) 3 3/4 x 5 3/4" & center board (1) 3 1/2" x 5 3/4"
This is so top and bottom boards align with spines on both sides when closed.
(2) Book cloth strips to cover spine pieces (one face up, one face down): 2" x 6 3/4"

(2) Covering papers: 3 3/4" x 6 1/4"
Recommend instead for wider boards: 4 1/4" x 6 1/4"
(2) head and tail strips for center board: 1 1/8" x 3"
(maybe 1 1/8" x 3 1/8")

Find the centers on the backs of the book cloth spine covers
and on the museum board spine pieces.
Apply glue to the backs of the book cloth
and press the spine pieces into place.

Measure and mark 1/4" from the edge of the spine piece
or use a 1/4" spacing bar (should be three board thicknesses).
Apply glue to back of the book cloth again.
Press boards into place.
Remember that once you have two boards attached on
either side of the spine piece, you will turn that section over
to attach the second spine cover and third board.

Apply glue to the head and tail of the spine covers and turn in.

Apply glue to the head and tail strips, center side-to-side, and attach to
the center board.

Measure 3/4" from the center line, head and tail, and mark the board or book cloth.
Apply glue to one covering paper and align the edge with the marks.
Trim the corners, leaving about 2 board thicknesses between the corner of the boards
and the cuts.

Apply glue and turn in the head and tail edges.
Push in at the corners, then apply glue and turn in the fore edge.

What's wrong with this picture? My book cloth turn-ins
and my covering paper turn-ins are different widths and don't align here.
Turn-ins should make an even frame all around the edge.
Even though you won't see them, you will be able to see a slight ridge under the endpapers.

My two book blocks, complete with purple endbands.
To sew book blocks see Making Handmade Books, pages 155-158.
I left the spines flat and did not round them since they were under 3/4" deep.
Recommended size: 3 1/2"w x 5 1/2"h x 1/2"d
(with folded papers 7"w x 5 1/2"h)
Endbands on page 147.

I describe a method of attaching the book block to the hard covers (case), 
but instead of ripping the last pages, I decided to try something different. 
(I knew my watercolor paper would be too thick for the method I described there.)

I glued a strip of mulberry paper under the mull/super and the tapes (ribbons, in this case).
then glued all three parts to the boards.

Attach separate endpapers by applying glue to 
just a tiny bit over half of them, (about 1/4"-1/2")
using the bone folder and pressing down to the board and onto 
the edge (that 1/4"-1/2") of the book block, but
leaving the rest of the paper nearest the book block to fly.
(In this picture, the arrows point to the endpapers 
that are aligned with the head and tail strips, hooray!)

(2) Endpapers (for the larger size recommended): 7 1/8" x 5 1/2"
Measure and fold at 3 1/2" on one side. This will be the side closest to the book block.
Once the book block is attached, check the endpapers before you glue them. You may need to trim the endpapers so they align.

Swing your partner!

Next time I would make my book blocks wider as well, so they reach almost to the edges. I'd also like to try different color covers front and back, possibly white and black with gray in the center and bright-colored book cloth.

You could also try this format with Coptic (p. 181), Secret Belgian Binding/CrissCross (159), and even a softcover Crossed-Structure Binding (150) made with an extra long cover. For the simplest of all: fold a three-panel accordion and sew a single signature (95) into each valley fold.


india flint said…
a "pushmipullyu" book. enchanting! [if pushmipullyu is not a concept, please refer to Dr Dolittle books]
Alisa said…
India, that's funny! I hadn't made that connection before, but I do sometimes talk to animals. ;)
Thanks so much for sharing this tutorial.

This is so clear!
Carmen Cru said…
Muchas gracias por compartir 😊