How to rebind a book so it's ring bound, at home
March 12, 2015 7:49 AM   Subscribe

I've bound quite a few printed versions of large books I bought as PDF and that works pretty well. Now I want to try it with bought books, but where I'm stuck is how to remove the glued spines. Has anyone else done this, and how did you do it?

I have quite a few thick reference books that would really work better as ring bound, so I can leave them open at the bit I'm using. I have a small binding machine already. I have a good hand saw, and a multitool with blade attachments, but it doesn't seem like a good idea to start hacking away. These books are expensive! I'm based in the UK (not London) if you're recommending equipment or services. (I've looked at a few previous questions; I don't have a bandsaw, and I'm just terrible at cutting straight lines with a knife.)
posted by danteGideon to Education (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Looks like this video covers it. Not sure what you would do about a hard bound book, though.
posted by dawkins_7 at 7:57 AM on March 12, 2015

If there's a small bindery or folding shop in your area, they might cut it for you. That would give you the cleanest results.
posted by jon1270 at 7:58 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: +1 to jon1270. The printer's cutting tool is called a "guillotine," and they'd probably charge less than five dollars to do one slice. If you can't find a printer, track down the nearest school or university's "disabled student services" department and ask them. They routinely chop off the fabric, threads, and glue in a hardback spine to simplify scanning every page in a book.
posted by Jesse the K at 8:17 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Your neighborhood photocopying shop may well have a guillotine. Mine does, and charges $1 to de-spine a book.
posted by mumkin at 8:22 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

I did this with a favorite cookbook at the local large Kinkos. You could also try soaking the spine and then picking out any threads, but the chop-chop at the copy shop is a lot easier.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:29 AM on March 12, 2015

Well, I'm gonna sound like the backwoods cousin here, but I've successfully done this on a band saw.
posted by summerstorm at 9:08 AM on March 12, 2015 [5 favorites]

Yeah I once had an old out of print book I wanted scanned into a PDF, so I took it to Kinkos and they sliced the binding off for me. They might not even have charged me anything.

I scanned the pages, then rebound it in a spiral notebook thing.
posted by RustyBrooks at 9:14 AM on March 12, 2015

I was going to suggest Kinkos, as well. Many of my classmates have this done with board review books.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 10:13 AM on March 12, 2015

summerstorm, bandsaw was the first thing I thought of!
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 10:47 AM on March 12, 2015

Best answer: Take two pieces of wood, sandwiching the spine from the side of the pages with the edge of both pieces of wood a little over the line of where you'd like to cut. Screw the pieces of wood together with the screws past but close to the edge of the book and away from the line you wish to cut so that the book is squeezed tight. Run the whole thing through a band or table saw. At this point you can even measure and drill holes of the correct size and spacing for your rings.

Taking it to a print shop is less trouble, but that's what I would do and have done for similar purposes.
posted by cmoj at 10:54 AM on March 12, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I tried a combination of two of the answers: I clamped it to my work table with a straight edge across the top, then sawed it with a fairly fine Japanese backsaw instead of cutting with a knife. It was easier to cut straight and left a pretty smooth finish, more than good enough for me. Probably a bit quicker than the knife method, too, although not as quick as a band saw I bet.

I also tried a larger tenon saw but it left a rougher edge and wasn't really any faster (I sacrificed a gigantic book on Java, that I last used a decade ago, as a tester.) Thanks everyone!
posted by danteGideon at 12:21 PM on March 12, 2015 [4 favorites]

I had Kinkos do this for me for a thick textbook. They have a thing that can just slice the spine off and another thing that can punch the holes for the ring binding.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:17 PM on March 12, 2015

I bought a QCM stack cutter for similar archival purposes. It sits on top of my clothes dryer.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:04 PM on March 13, 2015

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