Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spiral Binding Tutorial/Various Musings

This post is a real treat, I think. I'm going to share this little method I came up with for doing spiral binding. It's probably not new. In fact, I bet plenty of people smarter than I am have already figured out even better ways to do it. But I'll share it anyway!

First of all, though, here are a couple of pictures of things I've made recently. I've been writing in this old unruled composition notebook for a long time, filling it with various ideas and sketches from all branches of creative expression in which I currently participate. I had fun using some of my BasicGrey paper (from the Periphery collection) as well as some of the die cuts that came with the paper to create this simple journal cover. I used 1" skinny letters cut from my Storybook Cricut cartridge to spell out the words and added a couple of little rhinestones. I LOVE it! And it makes me laugh every time I look at it. I swear I'm not a snob! LoL. I think we all could benefit from personal pick-me-ups, though.

Below is a glittery snowflake I made while coming up with things to put on the board for my Glitter class at JoAnn. I'm going to give it a new holiday spin to get people into the idea of taking the class nearer to Christmas. It's going to be great, I think! Also, since I'm sort of in charge of doing decorations for the ladies' Christmas event this year at church, I'm thinking there will be about 120 of these on the trees for that event. I've got a lot of work to do between now and then, obviously. But what sweet little decorations/take home gifts! (At least I think they are!)

Okay... and what you've probably been waiting for...

Spiral Binding Tutorial
(I used pages cut from my Cricut Graphically Speaking cartridge, but you could adopt this technique to bind pages that you cut and punch holes in yourself. Although obviously it would take quite a bit longer.)

Cardstock, double sided or single sided (if using single sided, you won't have to glue pages together or make as many pages, but your final piece will feel more flimsy)
20 gauge craft wire in your choice of color

Graphically Speaking Cricut Cartridge (or slide cutter and hole punches)
10mm wooden dowel (or size fitting your chosen amount of papers)
Wire cutters
Round nose pliers
Pen or marker

1. Start off by cutting your pages. Mine are cut at 5.5" from the Graphically Speaking cartridge (shift, "1" button). You'll get four to a 12x12 page this way. If not using the cartridge, cut your pages to the same size and then punch holes evenly along edges. Use first piece of punched cardstock as a template for punching the rest of your pages. In order to make sure the holes will line up if using single sided cardstock, put two pages wrong sides facing (white sides facing) before punching.

2. If using the single sided cardstock, go ahead and glue all of the pages back to back to form the double thickness pages for your project.

3. Line up your paper so that the holes are going straight across the dowel rod. (To choose the right size, look at the size of your paper stack as well as just how far the holes are from the edge of the paper. Your spiral needs to be large enough to accomodate the pages as you open them, so that each page can lie flat. Your wrapped spiral will spring out just a bit, but not by much. Just make sure to get a dowel that's big enough!) Using your marker or pen, mark on the inside of each hole onto the dowel as shown below. This will show you where to wrap your wire.

4. Make sure to make at least three extra marks on each end of the page. (Move the page and line up the holes with the marks already made.) This will ensure that you still have enough wire after it springs, but also give you some extra wiggle room at the end.

5. Leaving a long tail at one end, and holding the dowel tightly, begin to wrap about 3-4 feet of wire (for a project about 6" tall... mine is 5.5") around the wood, meeting each wrap at a marked point on the rod. If you need to, move your hand up as you wrap, but keep in mind that the wire will spring out a bit from the wood when you move your hand. Just move it into position along your marks and continue. Wrap until you've wrapped wire around each mark, including the extras. When finished, carefully slide the wire coil off of the dowel.

6. In order to bind your piece smoothly, you'll need to clip an end of the wire coil so that the end is going with the natural curve of the coil, as shown in the picture below. You don't want a long tail. This will not work unless your end is curling with the coil.

7. This is the exciting part!!! Stack all of your pages together, facing the front cover towards you. Before messing with your wire, take a second to look through the holes and make sure they're all unobstructed. Working from the back to the front, insert that curved end of the coil into the top hole of your pages.

8. Turning the coil clockwise, begin to thread it through the holes in your binding. Mine went through surprisingly easily! If you hit a place where it's not quite going through, just wiggle gently and check again to make sure the holes are clear. Just continue turning the coil clockwise until you have the coil through all of the holes on your project.

9. Go ahead and clip the wires so that you're left with almost another entire coil at each end. (It may be helpful to clip only one end at a time.)

10. Take your round nose pliers and form a loop with the wire end, facing towards the outside of the book. Repeat on the other end. If you left enough wire at each end, you should have no problem with opening and closing your book. Just make sure your wire loop is big enough that it won't slip through the holes in the papers.

The finished open book: (I just had to show off these gorgeous papers from the DCWV Indian Summer collection!!!! It's not the BasicGrey Indian Summer collection... but I'll take what I can get. ^_~)

Also, after binding, you may notice certain spots in the wire spiral that aren't quite even. It's easy enough at this point to go along and pinch certain parts together or pull certain coils apart. Just don't get too paranoid about it or you might end up ruining your coil. You're just aiming for a smooth opening and closing.

Other ideas:
You could make these and punch only three or four holes in either end of your paper in order to save time and wire. Use a shorter coil and follow the exact same procedure at the top and bottom of your pages. You'll end up with two little pieces of spiral holding together your finished project, but it still looks cute!

Hang beads or other charms from the loops you formed at either end of your coil.

Match the color of your wire to the theme of your project. For instance, green or red for Christmas; or red or white for Valentine's Day; or silver or blue for Hanukkah.

Here it is all finished and closed up and ready to be embellished. I have no idea what it's going to become. Well, it's a mini album. But I'm not sure what it's about yet. I'll have to wait for a while and see. ^_^

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Make sure to leave comments if you have questions, and if you appreciate the post, become a follower! ^_^


  1. Thanks for the tutorial. I appreciate the time you take to do them.

  2. Hey! finally today I made it! It is looking so good man! I just love my scrap book! Thank you very much for giving a very great idea to us.

  3. This is a great overview of how to do spiral binding without a binding machine. Very interesting.