Guidelines and General Information for Students

in the CBBAG Home Study Bookbinding Courses


The CBBAG Home Study Guidelines and General Information (including the Home Study Programme Policy) is also available for download in PDF format by clicking the link above.

Home Study Programme Policy

The Canadian Bookbinders and Book Artists Guild (CBBAG - pronounced "cabbage") is an incorporated not-for-profit, charitable organization of over 500 members from Canada, the United States, and overseas, dedicated to the support and promotion of the book arts. CBBAG has been teaching workshops (one, two, and three days) and courses (five or six days) since 1983, a total of over 900 to an estimated 4,000 students. Instructors are recognized professionals in their fields and have included among others: Betsy Palmer Eldridge, Donald Taylor, Reg Beatty, Joe Landry, Fabiana Mattos, Dan Mezza, Mary McIntyre, Mercedes Cirfi Walton, Rose Newlove, Louise Granahan, and guest instructors such as Louise Genest, James Brockman, Jana Dambrogio, Gabrielle Fox, Hedi Kyle, Deborah Evetts, Carol Barton, Claire Van Vliet, Daniel Kelm, Don Guyot, Christopher Clarkson, Cherryl Moote, and many others.

CBBAG offers Bookbinding I, II, and III as In-Studio workshops of five or six consecutive Saturdays or Sundays, as six-day intensives, and as Home Study courses. It is the intention of CBBAG that Home Study and In-Studio instruction be used to reinforce and supplement each other.

The Home Study courses offered by CBBAG are designed for people who are interested in learning basic bookbinding skills but are unable to travel to centres where such courses are taught. The Home Study Programme is based on the series of courses that CBBAG developed over a number of years to provide an introduction to the bookbinding skills and techniques needed to practice the book arts. Although designed at the introductory level, they attempt to be comprehensive.

All audio visual materials were filmed originally in video and are available on DVDs. The video format was chosen at the time of filming for its advantage of presenting hands-on demonstrations of the various techniques which are difficult to describe. The videos were filmed during In-Studio courses and have certain limitations. Consideration had to be given to the students taking the class. Lighting could not be changed for individual shots and too much lighting could not be used. Viewing the hand-drawn diagrams is occasionally difficult. Occasionally, the instructor became distracted, or material was covered in the afternoon session. The DVDs (from the original video masters) have all of the faults as well as the virtues of real life workshop situations. However, every effort has been made to correct, clarify, or expand the information in the accompanying manuals, as required. Where confusion and uncertainties still exist, students should direct their questions to CBBAG.

The Home Study DVDs, despite their shortcomings, offer a wealth of practical and theoretical material that will be useful to students. Of course it is not possible to include all of the many ways to accomplish the great variety of bookbinding tasks. There are always new methods to learn.

However, viewing the DVDs and using the manuals should provide a good orientation and foundation to basic bookbinding whether the goal is traditional bookbinding, contemporary book arts, modern fine binding, or classic book conservation. The rest comes with time and experience, practice, and patience.

The following information is a guide for students who have enrolled or plan to enroll in a course. It is an outline of requirements.

A Home Study course taken through the Monitoring Stream and completed successfully may be used as a prerequisite for enrolling in a CBBAG In-Studio workshop or course. The Resource & Reference Stream is not acceptable as prerequisite for In-Studio courses.

The CBBAG Home Study Programme consists of five segments: Bookbinding I, II, III, Finishing, and Restoration & Repair. A segment on Endpapers is included with Bookbinding II and Introduction to Leather is included with Bookbinding III. Introduction to Leather is also available for purchase on its own. All courses are divided into units for Monitoring Stream critiquing purposes.

Bookbinding I consists of approximately 12 hours of DVDs, a manual, a lexicon, and a bone folder. The manual includes a short Recommended Reading List and Suppliers List.

Bookbinding II consists of a manual, approximately 8 hours of DVDs, and an Endpaper enrichment segment of two DVDs. The Lexicon is available on request.

Bookbinding III consists of approximately 8 hours of DVDs and a manual, plus the Introduction to Leather segment of two videos and a manual, plus the CBBAG publication, in sheets: Bookbinding, Material and Techniques 1700-1920 by Margaret Lock, designed by Roy Nicol.

Restoration & Repair consists of approximately 10 hours of DVDs including one DVD each by Martha Cole (Colour Theory) and Don Etherington (The Use of Japanese Paper in Book Conservation) and two manuals.

Finishing consists of approximately three hours of DVDs and a manual.

Marbling consists of a 160 page manual (including 63 colour and 43 black and white illustrations) and three instructional DVDs.

Programme Options:

There are two streams available to those interested in the CBBAG Home Study Programmes: the Resource & Reference Stream and the Monitoring Stream. The fee for the Resource & Reference Stream is less than the fee for the Monitoring Stream, as shown on the Home Study Price List.

All courses are available in DVD format.

The stream chosen must be indicated at the time of application.

1) Resource & Reference Stream: The participants in this stream receive all of the material in the course package and use these as they require, but do not apply for comment or critique from CBBAG instructors. While there are no prerequisite requirements for Resource & Reference Stream courses, a student would have difficulty taking Bookbinding II without the having completed Bookbinding I or its equivalent, and so on. It is therefore recommended that students in the Resource & Reference Stream take the courses in order: Bookbinding I, II, and III, and then Restoration & Repair and Finishing.

2) Monitoring Stream: This stream is available for Bookbinding I, II, and III only. The participants in this stream submit projects and models for comment and critique. The dates for submissions of projects are January 31, May 31, and October 31.

Submissions are not to be sent more than ten days before these dates.

The fee for this stream is higher than that for the Resource & Reference Stream since it requires a time allotment by the student's mentor (instructor).

Monitoring Stream Prerequisites:

Students must be CBBAG members during every Monitoring Stream unit.

Students may transfer from CBBAG prerequisite In-Studio courses to Home Study.

Students may transfer from satisfactorily completed Home Study Monitoring Stream courses to CBBAG In-Studio workshops and courses; Bookbinding I is prerequisite for Bookbinding II; Bookbinding II is prerequisite for Bookbinding III. While they are not available in the Monitoring Stream, for In-Studio courses the successful completion of Bookbinding III is required for Restoration & Repair and for Finishing.

The Home Study Resource & Reference Stream courses may not be used as prerequisites for In-Studio courses nor towards a CBBAG "Certificate of Completion."

Submission Dates for Monitoring Stream Courses:

Due dates for the CBBAG Home Study Monitoring Stream course (Bookbinding I, II, and III) are January 31, May 31, and October 31 in the 12 months following commencement of the programme. Assignments should not arrive earlier than 10 days prior to these due dates.

Students may commence the programme at any of these dates and should inform the CBBAG instructor who will be their mentor of which of these dates will be used for their first critique. Students will be sent an e-mail with the name of their mentor when they purchase a Home Study Monitoring Stream course.

Students will be informed by their mentor of any address or date change before assignments are due.

Students must inform their Home Study mentor of any delay in submission of the assignments well in advance. The expectation is that the course undertaken will be completed within one year of commencement.

Late Submissions for Monitoring Stream Courses:

If no unit is handed in for critique within six months, the student will be contacted. After commencement of submissions, it will be assumed that all three submission dates will be met.

If nothing is handed in within one year of enrolment, the student will be automatically dropped and forfeit the fee paid for critiques. Exceptions may be made under extraordinary circumstances, explained in writing only.

Critiques for Monitoring Stream Courses:

Monitoring Stream students will receive a critique indicating whether projects and/or units are acceptable or should be done over.

Each unit will be critiqued by their mentor on the skill/technical ability demonstrated, the suitability of the materials used, the accuracy of the models and comprehension of their requirements, and overall presentation.

Critiques will utilize CBBAG standards established over the past 30 years, based on recognized criteria for excellence in any technique.
Mentors will critique the assignments in a timely manner. Assignments should be returned to the student within six weeks of their receipt, by the same packing and shipping method that the student used.

CBBAG gives a “Certificate of Completion” on completion of all six of the core courses whether taken In-Studio or a combination of In-Studio and Monitoring Stream Home Study. The six courses are: Bookbinding I, II, and III, Restoration & Repair, Finishing, and Paper Treatments for Binders. Note that only Bookbinding I, II, and III are available through the Monitoring Stream of the Home Study Programme; therefore, in order to qualify for a Certificate of Completion, one must complete Finishing, Restoration & Repair, and Paper Treatments In-Studio. The Certificate of Completion is not formal accreditation; rather, it is an acknowledgment that the holder has completed the six foundation courses in bookbinding.


Each Home Study manual includes a course outline, objectives, detailed descriptions of the projects and models required, and directions in written form with diagrams and/or on DVD, of techniques to be used. The location of the subjects in the DVDs is indicated in the manual.

All material is copyrighted and not to be duplicated. Please respect the CBBAG copyright and do not duplicate these notes or DVDs except for your own personal use. Violations of copyright will be prosecuted.

Viewing DVDs:

It is recommended that DVDs be viewed in their entirety at least once. The material in the DVDs will be used in parts, with the written material, while the practical work is in progress. It is extremely useful to review these DVD segments as required. DVD indexing is included in the Manual.


Fees for the individual courses are set by the stream selected and by the length of the course, that is, how many DVDs are included and the length of the manual. These are not necessarily related to In-Studio course fees.

Prices are shown on the Home Study Price List. Postage and handling charges are in addition to the fees shown.

Students must pay for all materials used in models and projects, and for Monitoring Stream students, for shipping completed assignments to and from their mentor.
Purchases of any or all Home Study course, either the Monitoring Stream or the Resource & Reference Stream, are final, with no refunds available.

Support for Monitoring Stream Courses:

After registration in the Monitoring Stream, students will be assigned an mentor and supplied with their mentor's postal and e-mail addresses, For clarification of course content or problem areas concerning projects, models, or supplies, contact the mentor by one of these means.

The mentor undertakes to respond as quickly and as fully as they can possible do so.


Bookbinding I has been designed so that little equipment is required, and suggestions are made as to how any required equipment may be improvised or obtained. Bookbinding II and III require some equipment. Information accompanies the course indicating how this equipment may be made or acquired.

Mailing the Finished Monitoring Stream Units:

The completed units are to be sent to the instructor so as to arrive by an agreed upon submission date (see Submission Dates above). The package has to be trusted to the parcel services and requires a sturdy reusable container. Flimsy cardboard boxes and lots of packaging tape do not make for easy opening or easy re-sealing! Courier services, some stationery stores, and post offices offer sturdy boxes. HINT: if a re-sealable clear plastic bag is attached to the top of the package, the mailing labels can be changed easily.

Each project must have the student’s name and address with it. The package should contain the return address label and fees to cover the return of the package.

Pack your projects to arrive safely and in good condition.

U.S. and Foreign Students taking Monitoring Stream Courses:

If at all possible arrange to send your package with your material for your critiques from within Canada. This makes everything much easier.

If sending your parcel from outside Canada, you will need to state on your export declaration, that this package needs an A29B form and that it is covered under item DB-1-1, Item 17, goods to be tested. It should then qualify for duty and tax exempt status or refundable duty. Do not use the word SAMPLES under any circumstances. If for some reason your package is not duty and tax exempt, then any duty or taxes would be charged back to you by CBBAG. Do not send by UPS. They charge a hefty brokerage fee which CBBAG will charge back to you.

Remember, the insurance value is used as the declared value of the goods. A package of declared value of $20.00 CDN or less is exempt. It is suggested that you mark on the parcel "no commercial value."

Resource Material:

Books, journals, and monographs contain much useful material. Books may be obtained through inter-library loan (ILL) from many local libraries. There may be a fee charged for ILL service by your local library. CBBAG has a small but useful library which may be used only at the bindery in Toronto. If you are planning on visiting Toronto at any time, contact the CBBAG office at well in advance to arrange a time to browse through the library (please note, however, that the CBBAG registrar is only in the office one day a week, generally on Thursdays; however, it may be possible to arrange for a local volunteer to meet you on another day).
CBBAG also has book arts DVDs available for loan to CBBAG members. Information on borrowing these DVDs and the list of DVDs available can be found on the Book Arts DVD Loan Programme webpage.

A Suppliers List, Recommended Reading List, and Lexicon accompany Bookbinding I.

For those in the Monitoring Stream student, after the third submission has been completed, the student will be sent a short Home Study questionnaire. CBBAG would welcome your input. The information is valuable to CBBAG in revising as necessary and in planning for future segments of the programme. Home Study is an ongoing programme of CBBAG and any comments received will be of great assistance.

General Outline of Course Content for Bookbinding I:

Basic terminology

Materials, tools, and basic bench technique

Single section pamphlet

Two-section pamphlet

Picture frame

Four-needle, two-thread, four station sewing, soft cover

Four-needle, two-thread, four station sewing, with full cloth covered German Case

All-along sewn unsupported, quarter cloth and paper covered German Case

Tape sewn, half cloth and paper covered German Case

Concept of grain

Concepts of warp and pull

Concept of swell

Concept of the joint

General Outline of Course Content for Bookbinding II:

Recessed cord lap stitch sewing

Review of tape lap stitch sewing

Invisible hinge and visible hinge hooked endpaper

Simple edge trimming

Simple edge treatments

Traditional two-stripe endband

Rounding and backing to a 45-degree shoulder

Hollow tube

Bradel attachment of boards to textblock

Covering-in on the book

Concept of  natural shoulder

Concept of expansion and contraction

General Outline of Course Content for Bookbinding III:

Raised cord loop stitch sewing

German zigzag endpaper

Christ Clarkson endband

Backing to a 90-degree shoulder

Tight back sanding and lining of the spine

Lacing-in of boards

Back-cornering of boards

Leather paring

Formation of the headcap and leather corners

Raised bands

Opening of the book with tight back covering material

Concept of tight shoulder

Concept of front and back tiedowns of endbands

Concept of natural round

Concept of extension and compression

Concept of inside and outside pivot points

Concept of tight back

General Outline of Course Content for Restoration & Repair:


Photographic documentation

Written documentation:

            Condition report

            Treatment proposal

            Treatment report

            Time records

Chemical deterioration

Mechanical deterioration:  structural problems

            Some solutions - case binding

            Board re-attachments

            Corner repair

            Simple pressure sensitive tape removal

            Guarding folds of sections

            Paper repair


            Rounding and backing


            Spine linings

            Rehinge and reback

General Outline of Course Content for Finishing:

Variables impacting on the quality of tooling


Tools:  rolls, pallets, individual tools, gouges

General information on tools

Care of tools

Heat sources

Heat levels

Cadence count



Protecting the book

Position of the book in relation to the body

Traditional approaches to tooling

Use of  tools:  circles, squares, triangles; pallet, roll, handle letters

General information on multi-step tooling

Steps in tooling

Blind tooling

Gold tooling

Gold cushion, gold knife, gold leaf


One  step methods of tooling:

           Bone folder tooling

            Foil tooling

Spine titling

Inlay and onlay

General Outline of Course Content for Marbling: A guide to the craft of watercolour marbling

Art hazards

What is marbling?



Conditions affecting marbling

Record keeping

Marbling Basics: technical outline, set-up, tools & equipment


Size: types, carrageenan, life span, cleaning off

Other sizes: methyl cellulose, etc.




Other Substrates

Colour: definitions, colour harmony, contrast, theory

Types of marbling divided by media: watercolour, acrylic, oil, gouache, pigments, permanence, etc.

Colour as it relates to marbling: bias, proportion, neutralizing, etc.

Mixing and applying colours for marbling

Variables affecting combing or raking

Patterns: basic patterns and variables

Problems and flaws


Submission Dates are: January 31, May 31, October 31

Submissions for the Bookbinding I Monitoring Stream are:

Submission 1 includes Units 1, 2, 3, and 4. Unit 5 may be included with this submission if desired.

Submission 2 includes Unit 5 if not already submitted, plus Units 6 and 7, and optionally Unit 8.

Submission 3 includes Unit 8 if not already submitted and Unit 9.

Bookbinding I Evaluation/Critique 
Unit 1 Project 1:  single section pamphletCorrect sewing pattern; folding and slitting 
Unit 2 Project 2: two-section pamphlet
Correct attachment of sections
Unit 3
Project 2A: two-section pamphlet with W concertina used as either a soft cover or endpaper
Correct use of W concertina
Unit 4
Project 3: four-needle, two-station, butterfly stitch sewn flatback with soft cover and joint

 Model of textblock, spine unglued

Sewing pattern;
concept of joint

Unit 5 Project 4:  picture frame


Model of board cut by hand, square, sanded

Cutting board; squaring; sanding; covering; controlling warp
Unit 6 Project 5: completed project, full cloth

Model of hanging-together strip with boards attached (German Case)
Correct fit of case to textblock                            Joint well formed
Casing-in technique
Unit 7 Sample of sized cloth
Sample of sized and backed cloth
Sample of backed cloth

Consistent appearance
Unit 8 Project 6: All-along sewn textblock with quarter cloth covered case, cased-in

Models of unsupported French-sewn and of tape-sewn textblock, spine unlined
Correct sewing;
German Case;
Joint/shoulder position 
Unit 9 Project 7: Tape-sewn textblock; half cloth covered German Case; hung-in

Models of hooked and historical endpaper

Sample of lined board: Board stabilized
Correct sewing



Bookbinding II

Submission 1 includes Units 1 ,2, 3, and 4.

Submission 2 includes Units 5, 6, and optionally, 7.

Submission 3 includes Unit 7, if not previously submitted, and Unit 8.

Bookbinding II   Evaluation/Critique 
Unit 1 Model of visible-hinge, hooked endpaper with protection packet

Model of invisible-hinge, hooked endpaper
Correct construction
Unit 2 Model of lap-stitch tape sewn textblock, rounded and backed to 45º shoulder, with endbands
Correct sewing
Rounding and backing

Unit 3
Model of recessed cord sewn textblock with endpaper, rounded and backed to 45º shoulder, spine not lined; with two-stripe endband

Spine pasted up and lined with Japanese paper

Edge treatment 
Correct sewing

Rounding and backing

Unit 4
Model of off-the-book hollow
Correct construction
Unit 5 Textblock with hollow

Model of German Case with corners or fore-edge strips, boards infilled 

Hollow attachment

German Case construction 
Unit 6 Model of textblock with Bradel attachment of boards Attachment
Unit 7 Book 1 completed
Complete critique
Unit 8 Book 2 completed
Complete critique

Bookbinding III

Submission 1 includes Units 1, 2, and 3.

Submission 2 includes Units 4 and 5.

Submission 3 includes Units 5 and 6.

Bookbinding III   Evaluation/Critique
Unit 1 Textblock recessed cord or tape sewn

Textblock with at least one of the following three:
Raised single cord sewing
Raised double cord sewing
Packed raised cord sewing

Both textblocks with endpapers, at least one German zigzag, with a choice of one exposed visible hinge

Correct sewing

Correct endpaper construction
Unit 2 Model of German zigzag endpaper   Correct construction
Unit 3
Two textblocks rounded and backed, spine pasted up, one lined, one unlined, tape or recessed cord marked on waste sheet as Book 1 and raised cord sewn as Book 2

Endbands - at least one being Chris Clarkson endband

Model of laminated/lined boards of the correct thickness for the shoulders, marked Book 1 and Book 2 
Rounding and backing


Board appropriate to shoulder

Lining technique

Unit 4
Tape or recessed cord sewn model (Book 1) with spine pasted up and lined, sanded, with hollow on; Bradel attachment of boards or laced-on; may include false raised bands if so desired

Raised cord sewn model (Book 2) with pasted up spine, linings on and sanded, boards laced-on

Model of leather, edge pared and pared for headcaps 



Attachment of boards

False raised bands if applicable

Unit 5 Models covered-in in leather or Book 1 in cloth and Book 2 in leather

Headcaps and raised bands formed

Boards infilled and stabilized 
Leather attachment




Raised Bands


Unit 6 Models with cover paper on, endpaper hinges attached, board sheets on, both books correctly opened
Cover paper


Board sheets


Final critique

Last updated on February 20, 2015, by JVF, and February 15, 2015, by SVC.

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