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I watched a couple of videos on YouTube regarding book binding with hot glue: in short, they were presenting that the pages should be put together in a press and then hot glue is applied on the side.

However, I am not confident in this method, because I don't think that simply applying hot glue on the side will keep all the paper sheets in their place.

I haven't tried this method before, but I am looking for suggestions (in case I missed something).

What is the best method to bind books using hot glue?

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  • Well, try it then you may see what you have to pay attention to. – Solar Mike Aug 4 '20 at 8:30
  • This style of binding is called a perfect binding but you may already knmow that. – Jasen Aug 4 '20 at 8:55
  • This can also be done with PVA ("white") glue (liquid that dries, not hot.) Glue intended for bookbinding will possibly last longer than glue intended for woodworking, though they are similar - the bookbinding product may be formulated as an "archival" product, but that does not matter much unless the paper is also archival. – Ecnerwal Aug 4 '20 at 10:53
  • If you're not comfortable or confident in the material presented in the YT videos, you may want to do additional research on book binding to see if and how often that method is actually used and how long it usually lasts. It may well be that your thinking hasn't yet caught up with a century (or more) of experience that says it's a perfectly acceptable and long-lasting solution. (Which is, of course, why you're a learner, and not yet an expert.) Unfortunately, this is off-topic for a site called "home improvement". – FreeMan Aug 4 '20 at 12:34
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    Fair warning: The videos you saw may be clickbait or a scam and not work at all. Especially tacky titles like "Hacks with hot glue" or "You won't believe" or "Must see" are red flags. These types of videos are produced by content farms simply to entain as many viewers as possible, not to educate. If you actually try to replicate the results, it either doesn't work at all, the result is not practical or the method is outright dangerous. – Elmy Aug 5 '20 at 6:27
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Book binding with hot glue?

It is true that professionals do use hot glue on paperbacks, but they do not offer better results than other methods.

EVA (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) Hot Glue

I have experimented with hot glues, but don’t recommend them for beginners. They are harder to work with and don’t offer any long term benefits over the cold glues I have mentioned. The drying time is faster, but I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get smooth even coverage (often resorting to using an iron to re-heat the glued book spines making the glue workable again.) I have seen people create wide flat custom nozzles for their glue guns that deposit the glue in a wider pattern, but don’t have the tools required to copy the idea. The Surebonder PRO2-100 gun has interchangable nozzles that include a wide flat one. It’s not super wide, but it is better than the standard nozzle on most glue guns.

It may be possible to create some sort of heated glue pot that keeps the glue warm enough for you to brush it on before it hardens and then quickly fold the cover over (or later run a hot iron over the cover to re-melt the glue underneath and bond it to the cover.) I have seen a demonstration by one person who used a hot plate to melt a bunch of EVA glue in a pan and then dip the book spines into the glue. He was able to make a lot of books fast, but there was a considerable amount of setup involved in the process. Another person quickly laid down a fat line of glue over a book spine and then used a metal spreader tool to distribute the glue across the book spine and press it into the paper. This approach wastes a fair amount of glue and requires working at a brisk pace. You also need a pro-grade glue gun capable of laying down a lot of glue fast.

Professional bookbinding machines use a heated glue pot that travels across the spine to deposit the glue evenly. There is also an electric binding tool that uses special covers with pre-formed strips of hot-melt glue on the inside of the spine. You place your pages in the cover, place the spine edge into the device, and wait for the heating element to melt the glue into the pages. The covers aren’t much to look at, but the bindings are strong.

My hot glue experiments were very time consuming and I wasn’t happy with the results. While I haven’t completely given up on EVA hot glues, I still recommend contact cement or PVA glues. The dry times are longer, but the results are nicer and more consistent. - Glue Options For Perfect Bound Paperback Books

When I use this method, I generally use a hacksaw to roughen the spine of the book as well as making three very small grooves into the spine in order make the glue adhere somewhat better.

As for myself, this is a great method for paperbacks that are meant to turnover rather quickly. Those meant to be of very long duration, I would still recommend the standard stitching involved. This is my practice. Books that are intended to be around for sometime should be manufactured in a way that reflects that in their binding, in order to withstand the ware and tear of time.

Both methods remain quite good.

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  • If you go the hot glue route, a trick is to lay down some hot glue and spread it with the hot nozzle. Then go back and forth over the whole spine with a heat gun to melt all of the glue. If you get it a little hotter than it comes out of the gun, it gets more liquid. It will self-level into a smooth surface and soak into the edges of the pages better. It also provides a little more working time. – fixer1234 Aug 14 '20 at 19:25
  • "I generally use a hacksaw to roughen the spine of the book as well as making three very small grooves into the spine." Can you give more details please? Do you use the hacksaw to saw the paper sheaf, or to scrape the dry edges of the pages once they're pressed together? And do you cut the grooves into the surface made by the pressed page edges before or after there is some glue on it? – ruffle Mar 1 at 19:55
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This appears to be one of the methods used to manufacture paperback books.

However the pages in a paperback have a rough back edge, not a clean cut, this allows more surface for the glue to bond to.

Some binding machines also use hot glue.

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  • Once clamped, roughing with a file can help... – Solar Mike Aug 4 '20 at 9:12
  • ah, yes, or a rasp. – Jasen Aug 4 '20 at 9:36

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