Monday, April 11, 2016


I'm teaching a class on coptic stitch bookbinding at Known World Heraldic and Scribes Symposium this month. Since we only have 55 minutes to completely construct a book, each student will need a full set of the tools needed, as there will be no time for sharing.

An important tool in bookbinding is an awl, for punching stitching holes in the signatures (bundles of folios). There are many kinds of awls, from scratch awls, tailors awls, punch awls, and more. For bookbinding, pretty much any will work so long as it's straight and not a tapered awl (you want your holes to be of a consistent size).

I'm not rich, and awls can get expensive quickly if you're providing a dozen or so of them. So this was my ghetto-fab fix.

I used 3" roofing nails. They're not as sharp nor tapered as smoothly as a proper awl, but they'll work. I then made little handles for them using Sugru. Sugru is an awesome mouldable glue. It acts like clay, and when it cures, it's a hardened rubber plastic. These little handles will help my students push and pull their awls through signatures.