Book Binding Secrets: Part 2 - Sourcing Short Grain Papers & Paper Math

Book Binding Secrets: Part 2 - Sourcing Short Grain Papers & Paper Math

Hi Friends! I'm here to share how I utilized the 18" x 24" long grained paper to gain short, grained sheets. And I also promised to share other sources I have for short, grained book binding papers. Let's start with the easy part, the papers.

I will preface this by saying that I have not purchased any of these papers myself. I'm just gathering resources I have found for you. If I purchase any in the future, I will update the post with a review. (Also, as of this writing, none of these sources are affiliate links.)

First up, Talas. They are a source for all things book binding and more. I have not personally purchased from them myself. But, they all the buzz in the book binding community. They now offer a short grained, book binding paper. Per their web site: "This acid-free paper is grain short and ideal for creating your own bookbinding signatures. Sheets are all 80 lb. Text Weight (118gsm) and packed conveniently into 100 and 500 sheet packs and available in two colors. These papers are perfectly suited for printing, drawing, writing, and more with a pleasant smooth surface." Here's a link:

Next up, a personal favorite, Hollanders. I have purchased many book binding supplies from them, but not their signatures; for obvious reasons. They also sell large sheets of papers suitable for book binding, beautiful decorative papers and book cloth. They offer unsewn, lined, blank and graph, book binding signatures. Here's link:

Lastly, I also found another Etsy Shop, Bookshell Bindery, located in the UK, that sells printed lined papers as well. Here's a link to their shop:

Now, on the the fun stuff, Paper Math!
If you've never heard the term, paper math is not something I made up. It's used by paper mills and designers alike. It's just a term used to describe how many sheets can be achieved by dividing up "parent sheets" for printing.

In traditional printing, paper grain isn't always an issue. But for us book binders, especially in glue bound books, it's very important. All the information I show you can be used with any sized sheet of paper. But, we'll use the 18" x 24" sheets for reference. Notice the diagram below:

Nicole Nikolas 18 x 24 Paper Math #1

This is exactly how I utilized the sheets in my shop. By cutting the paper this way, I was able to get short grained papers in a variety of sizes, from a long grain original sheet. 

You can use this strategy whenever you buy large sheets of paper for book binding, no matter the size. It just takes some time and planning to gain the best results. Here's another example of how this same 18 x 24 sheet could be used.

Nicole Nikolas 18 x 24 Paper Math #2

 If you like making smaller books, in sizes like 5 x 7 and 4 x 6, this is a great way to gain a large amount of signatures with just one ream of paper.

You can get your papers cut at any commercial printer in your area, or a chain store like AlphaGraphics. The cost at a commercial printer will be by quote, so call ahead. Be ready to explain exactly what you have and what you are trying to achieve.

Also, stores like Staples, OfficeMax/Depot and even the UPS store have large paper cutters in house. They charge by the cut, so the price is minimal. Again, be ready, preferably with an illustration of how you want the paper cut. Otherwise, they won't pay heed to paper grain and may cut the paper the way they see fit. (Ask me how I know this.) Also, very important note: Call before you go, some places only have 17" cutters and they won't work for papers over 17" wide.

I know what you're thinking though - What type of printer do you use? I'll answer that and more in my next post - The Ultimate Guide to Printing.

Happy Book Binding!

Questions?? Feel free to comment below or contact me via the web site.

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1 comment

What great information Tadara! Thanks !


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