A Simple Book Repair Manual: New Spine

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New Spine with Original Spine Remounted

Suggested Equipment & Supplies:

  • Scalpel
  • Straight edge ruler
  • Scissors
  • Bristol board or .010 acid free Hollinger stock
  • Cotton-linen book cloth
  • Adhesive (PVA & methyl cellulose mix)
  • Bone folder
  • 2" dowel or broom handle
  • Book press
  • Microspatula
  • Paper cutter (optional)


  1. Using the scalpel and straight edge ruler remove the original spine by slicing through the book cover cloth just 1/8" past the hinge. Do this to both the front and back covers. Remove the spine from the book and gently peel the paper spine piece away from the cloth spine.
  2. Trim all frayed edges on the removed spine but not so much as to damage the appearance of the spine.
  3. Cutting along the grain cut a new spine piece from bristol board the height of the book's boards. The grain must run parallel to the spine. The width should be cut exactly to the width of the spine.
  4. Cut a strip of matching book cloth 2 inches wider than the spine piece and 1 inch longer than the length of the spine piece.
  5. Glue the spine piece with adhesive, center it on the book cloth, and bone in place.
  6. Fold the head and tail ends of the book cloth over the newly adhered spine piece and make a crease.
  7. Trim both sides of the head of the new spine piece at a 45&degree; angle up to the crease. Repeat for the tail.
  8. Make a cut at the center of the bookcloth at each end (head and tail) just up to the spine piece.
  9. Apply adhesive to the tail up to the crease. Fold over and rub with a bone folder. Repeat for the opposite end.
  10. Shape the new spine piece around a dowel or broom handle until it curves slightly.
  11. Using the small spatula, gently lift the book cloth on the cover approximately 1 inch away from the book hinge.
  12. Glue the exposed cloth on the sides of the new spine piece and attach to the book to create a new spine. Center and bone the new spine in place under the lifted cover book cloth.
  13. Nip the book for a few seconds.
  14. Put paste on the lifted cover cloth and press down.
  15. Mount the original spine onto the new spine.
  16. Press the book between book boards in a book press for approximately 15 minutes.