Punching Cradle for Handbinding

I bind hardback books by hand, and part of that is punching holes in each signature to sew them together.  I’d been doing this either awkwardly freehand, or using another book as a cradle, and had not been pleased at all with my results, so I decided to build a punching cradle.  Here’s the finished result with a signature placed for punching:


the halves of the cradle do not meet at the bottom, allowing for the punching awl to pass through.  The cradle is built with simple dowel joinery, and serves its purpose very well.

Using the cradle is simple.  Once your signatures have been folded and grouped, they are placed one at a time in the cradle along with a punching template.  An awl is then used to punch through the crease at the locations marked on the template, to allow for sewing.  Click through for an example of a template in action, and more photos of the cradle Continue reading