Handbound Photo Album

Kimberly Kraichely from Chicago, Ill. makes photo albums for friends when she's not busy with her day job as a photo researcher.

  • A
  • A
  • A

E-mail This Page to Your Friends


All fields are required.

Separate multiple e-mail addresses with a comma; Maximum 20 email addresses.


Sending E-mail

Sending E-mail

Or Do Not E-mail


A link to %this page% was e-mailed

Materials and Tools:

book board
2 styles of decorative paper
book cloth
square origami paper
drill or Japanese hole punch
utility knife
craft knife
glue mix: 60% PVA, 40% methyl cellulose
foam brush
bone folder


1. Cut two 10" x 9" pieces of book board with a sharp and heavy utility knife (this may take several passes of cutting against a metal ruler's edge). Be sure that the grain of the book board runs parallel to the spine. The book board should bend easily in the direction of the grain.

2. On the top main piece of book board, cut a square window hole measuring 2-1/2 inches square. Measure down from the top edge of the book board to 3 inches and mark. Then measure down 5-1/2 inches from the top and mark that point also. That will be the top and bottom of the window.

3. From the left side, mark the points at 5-1/4 inches as well as 7-3/4 inches.

4. Draw the square and then proceed to cut carefully with a craft knife. Set aside.

5. Cut two pieces of additional book board to 1" x 9" along that same grain for the binding area on the left edge of the book.

6. Cut the paper that will cover the outside of the album to 10-1/2" x 11". Cut two pieces of paper that will cover the interior of the album covers to 8-1/2" x 11". Cut two pieces of coordinating book cloth to 3-1/2" x 11".

7. Mark on the papery inside of the book cloth the following important areas: Draw a line 1/2 inch from the left edge, another line 1-1/2 inch from the left edge, and a line at 2 inches. Do this for both pieces.

8. Make the glue mixture if you haven't already, of 60% PVA and 40% methyl cellulose. This creates an archival glue with an extended drying time that is ideal for book binding.

9. With a firm foam brush or book binder's pasting brush, apply an even coat of glue on one piece of book cloth between the line at 1/2 inch and the line at 1-1/2 inch. Place the 1" x 9" piece of book board in this area. Flip the book cloth over and smooth out the glue evenly with a bone folder to remove any lumps of glue.

10. Apply glue to the area of the book cloth after the line at 2 inches to the right edge of the cloth. Place one piece of book board up against that 2-inch mark.

11. With a ruler or straight edge, double check to make sure the large piece of book board is on a parallel line with the first glued book board. Adjust as necessary to make sure these line up for a well-functioning book.

12. Flip over the book board and book cloth and smooth the book cloth again with the bone folder, carefully removing any excess glue that seeps out from the book cloth onto the book board.

13. Repeat this procedure with the back cover of the album.

14. With the front cover of the album facing down, draw a line approximately 45 degrees from the corner on the small section of book board. Do this for the top and bottom edges. Cut along those marks.

15. Apply glue to the top edge of the book cloth on the paper side, making sure to rub glue along the edge of the book board to ensure a secure bond. Fold the top book cloth down, rubbing with a bone folder along the edge of the book board and finally, along the inside of the album's top edge to make sure there is no excess glue.

16. Pay special attention to the gutter of the book edge where the book cloth is glued to itself. This should be pulled as taught and flat as possible. Repeat this step with the bottom edge of the book cloth to glue it to the boards.

17. Spread glue along the left short edge of the book cloth. First fold the cut corners in and then the larger flap to create a neat folded corner. Smooth with the bone folder to remove any excess glue carefully.

18. Repeat these steps with the back cover.

19. Place the paper for the front cover face down on a sheet of newsprint. With a foam brush, spread an even layer of glue on the paper from the left edge to approximately 1 inch from the right edge and top.

20. Flip this paper over and line the glued edge to meet the edge of the book cloth on the front of the album. Smooth out with a bone folder, working any excess glue away from the edge meeting the book cloth.

21. Repeat these steps to glue the paper to the back cover of the photo album.

22. Measuring approximately 3/8 inch from the corners on the over-hanging edges of the paper, draw a line at a 45-degree angle from the corner. Cut along that line at the top and bottom. Save those triangles of extra paper on the side.

23. Glue the top and bottom edges of the paper in the same manner we glued the book cloth. Glue the short edge of the paper to the interior, folding in the corners like we did the book cloth. Smooth out with a bone folder.

24. Repeat the steps for gluing the cover paper on the back cover of the photo album.

25. Place the front cover of the photo album face down on the clean work surface. Draw diagonal lines connecting the corners of the cut window to create an X inside the window.

26. With a sharp craft knife and a metal-edged ruler, cut along the lines to create four triangular flaps. Carefully, with a foam brush, spread glue on these flaps.

27. Fold back the right and left flaps and smooth out onto the interior of the book cover. Then fold back the top and bottom flaps and again smooth out along the interior of the cover. Check to be sure that the corners are nicely squared by running the bone folder along the inside edge of the window and pushing in at the corners.

28. Cut two pieces of ribbon to 12" long. Apply glue to one side of the ribbon or run through a sticker-making machine. Carefully place the ribbon so that it straddles the seam between the book cloth and book cover paper. Smooth and rub firmly to make sure it is securely attached.

29. Repeat this procedure on the back cover of the book.

30. With the book covers facing down, measure down to 3-3/4 inches from the top edge of the book covers. Mark a line at this point on the outside edge of the interior of the book.

31. Cut two additional pieces of ribbon to approximately 10 inches in length. Apply glue to approximately the first 1-1/2 inch of the ribbons. Place the ribbon on the line marked on the interior of the book. This will be the ties for the ribbon closure.

32. Apply glue to two triangles of the paper we saved from the cover paper. Place these triangles over the ribbon on the interior of the book with the straight edge running parallel to the edge of the book. Smooth down with a bone folder. This will add extra strength to the ribbon closures to avoid ripping out of the book. This should be done for the back and front covers of the book.

33. Apply glue to the extra ribbon that spans the book cloth and cover paper along the spine. Fold these ribbons over to the interior of the book and smooth down. Do this for the front and back covers.

34. With the front cover lying face down on the table, place one sheet of the interior lining paper face up on the book. Move the paper so that it is centered in the space (there should be 1/4 inch all around the edge of the paper of exposed interior cover).

35. Carefully flip the book back over to the front, making sure to not move that lining paper. Trace the window from the exterior of the front cover onto the back side of the lining paper.

36. Cut a coordinating paper (or the same paper) to the cover to a 3-1/2-inch square with a craft knife. Glue this square (face up) to the back side of the interior lining paper, keeping the square approximately 1/2 inch over the lines on each side of the drawn square. Smooth this with a bone folder to remove any excess glue.

37. With the lining paper still face down, apply glue evenly to the entire surface EXCEPT the square of paper we previously glued (this square of paper will be exposed through the window on the front cover and should not have glue on it). Carefully center this piece of paper on the inside of the album cover so that it sits inside from the edges approximately 1/4 inch.

38. Working quickly from the edge of the album cover with the ribbon ties, start smoothing out the glue toward the binding edge. Smooth down the paper over the edge of the book cloth. Using a bone folder, rub along the gutter where the interior lining paper is meeting only the interior of the book cloth. Be sure this area is neatly secured. Then smooth down the rest of the paper on the short section of book board on the far edge.

39. Repeat this procedure for the back cover. The back cover has no window so it is a bit easier.

40. After the covers are fully glued, wrap each separately in waxed paper and press in a book press or under heavy books for at least 4 hours. You can leave them to dry overnight under stacks of books. This will ensure the book covers dry flat.

41. Note: It is important to get all of the gluing steps done together. As you glue one side of the book, it wets the book board and causes it to curl. By gluing the interior and exterior at the same time, you reduce this curling of the book board. The wet front will try to curl one way and the wet interior will try to pull the opposite way, helping the book covers to become flat.

42. When the covers are dry, place the front cover face up on the work surface. Depending on what kind of binding you would like to do, drill holes (using a hand drill, a Japanese screw punch, or a real drill) in the narrow edge of the binding.

43. A screw post method is by far the easiest way to bind the parts together. In this book, Kraichely executed a Japanese four-hole binding. After the book is bound, add any decorative element into the window on the front cover. On this project, she placed a Japanese origami crane askew in the window and then hot-glued it in. Add any photos you like to the interior and enjoy!

Web Site: www.ladicakes.com

We Recommend...

Custom Photo Albums

Custom Photo Albums

Learn how to craft a custom photo album to commemorate your trips with friends and family.

Ribbon Photo Album

Ribbon Photo Album

Helen Gibb creates a ribbon photo album.

Scrapbooking: 'Stained Glass' and Torn Paper Flowers, Photo Tinting

Scrapbooking: 'Stained Glass' and Torn Paper Flowers, Photo Tinting

Chris Wasielewski makes two scrapbook layouts -- one featuring tinted photos and the other demonstrating a stained-glass effect.


HGTV Inspiration Newsletter

Create your unique, personal style with advice and inspiration from HGTV.