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How to Change or Repair Your Thermal Bound Books

Thermal binding, sometimes called “perfect binding,” is one of the most elegant and professional-looking binding methods available. With a wide range of applications such as reports, portfolios, yearbooks, or even family photo books, and appropriate for use with both soft and hard covers, thermal binding is a great binding method for home, school, office, and professional use. One of the best advantages to thermal bound documents is their longevity—the heat activated adhesive is designed to last for many years to come.

However, that longevity can also be a down-side to thermal binding—when you’ve bound up that expense report for tomorrow’s business meeting only to discover that you somehow left off page 32, what do you do?

Fortunately, in this blog post, we’re going to walk you through both adding and removing pages from perfect bound books, and (bonus!) we’re also going to talk about repairing damaged hard-cover books,* so even if you got that expense report put together perfectly, keep reading!

Adding and Removing Pages In a Thermal Bound Book

So that expense report that you accidentally bound without page 32? Here’s how to fix that:

  1. Get your :thermal binding machine: pulled out again because you’re going to need it again. Now grab your report and whatever pages need to be added (if you’re adding pages). You’re going to use your binding machine to remelt the heat-activated adhesive in your document’s spine and essentially unbind your book.

  2. Now you’re going to need to read your binding machine’s manual at this point. Most machines require a warm-up cycle before actually binding your document; if your machine doesn’t require that, then skip this step. If your machine requires warming, then turn it on and initiate the warm-up cycle now.

  3. Once your machine is warmed and ready to go, place your book spine-down into your thermal binder. Select the correct cycle and temperature for the document that you’re working on and let your machine complete the entire cycle.

  4. Remove your document from the binding machine and open it as wide as you can.
    If you’re trying to remove pages, give a gentle tug on the pages you want to remove. They should slide out fairly easily. If they don’t, you want to reheat your book and try again. Once you get the pages removed, close your book closed again and tap it firmly on a hard service to get make sure your remaining pages are firmly against the adhesive in the spine. Place your book spine-side down back into the thermal binder and run the appropriate cycle again. Tap your pages one more time and let the book cool per your user manual’s directions.
    If you’re trying to add pages, make sure your book is opened to the place your pages need to be inserted. Gather your extra pages and insert them carefully where they go. Flip your book over and tap the pages firmly against a hard surface to align them properly. Place your book spine-side down into your thermal binding machine again and run the appropriate cycle again. Tap your pages one more time and let the book cool per your user manual’s directions.

That’s all you need to do! Now you’ve got page 32 in its proper place; crisis averted! You can show up at that meeting tomorrow looking like the professional that you usually are!

Repairing a Damaged Hard Cover Book*

I don’t know about you, but we have a library-bound copy of The Call of the Wild upstairs on the bookshelves that, quite honestly, have seen better days. Maybe you do, too. If so, keep reading, because we’re going to fix books today! So grab your damaged book and your thermal binding machine, and make sure you pick up a bundle of :glue strips:, too, because you’ll need them!

  1. Get your damaged book ready by carefully removing any extra adhesive that might be lingering on the spine. If the spine isn’t completely separated from the pages, you might want to finish the job using a sharp blade such as an X-acto knife or a razor blade. Make sure you do this delicately—you don’t want to damage the actual structure of the cover or any of the pages.

  2. Get out your thermal binding machine and check your user manual for instructions on whether or not your machine requires warming. If it does (and most do!), go ahead and it get that process started.

  3. While your machine is warming up, grab one of those glue strips you got earlier and lay it down on top of your book’s pages. Grab a pair of scissors and trim the glue strip so that it’s about a half-inch shorter than your pages (you want to make sure you’re measuring from your book’s pages, not your book’s cover, since the cover is typically larger than the actual pages, and you don’t want melted glue dripping out of the spine once it’s melted.

  4. Once your glue strip is trimmed down to size, carefully slip it between the back of the book pages and the book’s spine. Your machine should be warm by now, so go ahead and slip your book spine-down into the thermal binder. Select the appropriate cycle for a hard-bound book and let the cycle run completely. Once the cycle is finished, while the book is still in the binding machine, tap the top edge of the pages to make sure the pages are thoroughly making contact with the glue on the spine.

  5. Since this is a hard-cover book, you’re going to need to re-crimp the spine. If you have a :crimper,” this is the perfect time to use it. Simply remove your book from the thermal binding machine and place it immediately into the crimper and crimp down. If you don’t happen to have a crimper, you can use a flat piece of plastic or metal (a metal straight-edge works great for this!) and press firmly into the divot on the spine where it was previously crimped. Flip the book over and repeat this step in the divot on the back cover. Now let the book cool according to your user manual’s instructions.

And that’s all there is to it. Now your library-bound copy of The Call of the Wild is ready for you to read all over again! If you’re a visual learner, check out Pro-Bind’s video demonstration on the book repair process:

*If your damaged book is rare, valuable, or disintegrating due to age, we recommend that you forego the DIY repairs and take it to a professional, reputable book repair company.