japanese stab binding tutorial: arrows

I’ve been asked recently about tutorials/how tos, so I decided to give one a try. My appreciation for Keith A Smith has gone way up…it was pretty difficult! My first diagram was so complicated even I couldn’t follow it, and it was my own binding! If anyone attempts this, leave me a comment as to whether you were able to follow it or not. (If you have ever tried Japanese stab binding before, even the simple ones, this shouldn’t be too difficult for you).

I suggest that you practice with a scrap of foam-board first…it’s simple to punch holes in, and easy to pull the needle through. Plus you can get a feel for the rhythm of the pattern.

I only had room for 3 ‘arrows’ on my paper…but you can expand the pattern and repeat the first two arrows until you have enough to fill your spine. Don’t forget to wrap the edges! Also, you should never have doubled thread on either the top or bottom covers. If you do discover that instead of one unbroken ‘—-‘ line you have a doubled “====” line, pull it out. It might not seem like a big deal, but it will be a problem later on.

You will need only one needle, and one color of thread. I suggest that the holes have at least .25″ or 7mm between them…otherwise you run the risk of your holes ripping. Place your book on the edge of the table, facing up.

**click on the image to make it bigger**

EXIT = needle pointed DOWN and ENTER = needle pointed UP
enter 1 (leave a tail of thread, but don’t knot it)
exit 2, wrap around the edge
-exit 2 again
enter 3, wrap around the spine
-enter 3 again
exit 2
enter 1
exit 5
enter 4, wrap around spine
-enter 4 again
exit 5
enter 1
exit 6
enter 5
exit 7, wrap around spine
-exit 7 again
enter 5
exit 6
enter 9
exit 8, wrap around spine
-exit 8 again
enter 9
exit 6
enter 10
exit 9
enter 11, wrap around spine
-enter 11 again
exit 9
enter 10
exit 13, wrap around the edge
-exit 13 again
enter 12, wrap around the spine
-enter 12 again
exit 13
enter 10, wrap around the edge
-enter 10 again
exit 6
enter 1, wrap around the edge
-tie off at 1 with beginning tail

13 thoughts on “japanese stab binding tutorial: arrows

    • How many lengths of thread about do you use for this one? For doing a tortoise shell binding my teacher said around 8-9 lengths the width of your spine.

  1. Becca, how much should I charge for a japanese binding or coptic binding book, with about 50 pages of good quality paper and hard covers? Can you give me an idea of pricing for this kind of job?

    • You shouldn’t use to hard of covers on the Japanese bound books unless you crease them or they won’t open…

  2. Crystal: I’m not sure how many lengths of thread…it would depend on how many arrows you decide to use, and how large they are. I’ll try to give a ballpark length on my next tutorial.

    Marcelo: I would add up the cost of the materials, and then how much time it took you to make the book, and how much you would (ideally) like to be paid per hour. Then you have to take a look at the total and evaluate whether or not someone would actually pay it!

    • Did you get lost in the written instructions, or in the picture instructions? I need to update my earliest tutorials to be digital renderings instead of drawings, just haven’t dont it yet.

  3. The written, kept losing my place because I was concentrating too much on threading it through the right hole! This was the best guide I’ve found on the internet so far though! :) Thought the drawing was actually really helpful :D

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