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Homeschool Hack: Rebinding Old Books

rebinding old books

Nicholson's AlgebraThis is one of my favorite homeschool hacks – rebinding an old book so that we can keep on using it. Let’s face it, sometimes the new stuff is restrictively expensive and it’s cheaper to get something used. Assuming you’re not trying to maintain the monetary value of the book, this is what I do. I love finding old books, and I get a special thrill about making them usable again. This is old Algebra book that I wanted to save by repairing the binding. The book was published in 1888, and the binding was so bad that the front and back cover was loose, and the spine itself where the title would have been was gone. We find curricula in the most unusual places, and I thought it would be good to show everyone how you can actually buy that torn up but excellent book to still be able to use it.

This little book was very delicate, and I was terrified of damaging it before I had a chance to repair the binding. So it sat for a few days while I researched options for repair. I found a post on Wikihow – How to Repair a Book’s Binding and set out to find the supplies I would need. The cleaned up spine, ready for GlueingThe signatures(groups of pages sewn together) were mostly intact with a few loose pages. I glued the loose pages back in their place with a little PVA Glue that I bought at

Next, I took that same glue and spread it along the spine and sandwiched the book between several heavy books with the spine sticking out just a little 2014-06-06 14.08.07ways to hold everything together while it dried for several hours.

After it was dry(although still a tiny bit tacky), I started work on the cover. I used binding repair tape to re-attach the cover. I couldn’t find the single stitch stuff the WikiHow article referenced, 2014-06-09 17.57.26so I used 2″ wide binding repair tape.

After all that was done, I needed to repair the cover and spine. For this, I used bookcloth and the PVA glue to attach and wrap the corners like little presents. The result is a book that’s solid and usable, even if the pages are still a bit fragile!

2014-06-06 18.47.21I let the final bits that I had attached sit overnight in the book sandwich, and I’m looking forward to using it.

Update 12/13/2017: I have done repairs on dozens of books now, some large and some small, some extensive and some minor. We have also collected close to 1,000 books of varying ages. They’re treasures, but treasures we would like to share. We started a GoFundMe to help raise funds to rescue more books and one day, move to a permanent location where the community can visit and read them in person. You can also donate to this project with Bitcoin or Litecoin using one of the following QR codes.


Scan to donate Litecoin to this project! Not tax-deductible, just a great project.


Scan to donate Bitcoin to this project! Not tax-deductible, just a great project.