I make a LOT of little pamphlet sewn books. This is the rig I set up to make it easier to punch the holes consistently the same distance apart without using a jig.
- 3 corks (synthetic works great – if you use natural make sure they’re in good shape)
- 3 bookbinding needles – sturdy shafts with an eye that does not bulge out
- duct tape
- wood glue
- block of wood same width as corks and length 3x as long as the corks are wide
- x-acto or other sharp knife
Three point awl directions:
1 – Measure your needles. They should be at least 2 inches long – the ones I like to use are 2.5 inches long. You want the needles to be about an inch longer than the cork. Cut the corks down so they are an inch shorter than the needles.
2 – Glue the uncut side of the corks to the piece of wood with glue on the wood and between the corks. Make sure they are snugged up, touching sides, and lined up evenly.
3 – Allow the glue to dry and set for 24 hours. No, really. I know it’s hard and you just want to move on to the next step, but slap yourself on the wrist and go do something else.
4 – Use the ruler to mark a line down the middle of all three corks so the needles will be inline with one another then measure and mark three points with an equal distance between them for the needle placement.
5 – Carefully push the needles in to the marks in the cork; about 1/2 inch. Keep the needles perpendicular to the wooden base and parallel to each other.
6 – Turn the whole rig over and push slowly and firmly down on a piece of wood or cutting mat to drive the needles into the corks until they stop (hit the wooden base)
7 – Cut a piece of duct tape wider than the width of the corks and long enough go up the sides and onto the wooden base. Push the needles through the middle of the tape and press the tape to the cork tops, pulling it up the sides and onto the wooden base. Push the tape into all the corners on the way up and over onto the sides of the cork.
8 – Cut more pieces of tape and push the needles through wrapping around the wooden base meeting the ends on the side of the corks so the top ends up wrapped without loose ends.
9 – Cut some more pieces of tape to wrap around the corks and secure them side to side. The goal is to support the connection to the base, and the connection to each other and prevent side to side wiggle.
Note for use:
In the beginning, it will take a little more time placing the multi point awl than a single awl. Make sure all needles are all lined up on the fold. Practice a few times with some paper you don’t care about until you get the hang of it.
See above illustration for sewing diagrams for 3, 5, and 7 point pamphlet stitches.
6 John James #18 Bookbinding Needles
18oz Gorilla Wood Glue
Scotch 1110-C Multi Use Duct Tape, 10-Yards