Building a Blank Bible (part 2): The Failure

The impending arrival of my precious wife’s birthday in April is what started this all. I had been kicking around the idea of the “Karalee’s Blank Bible” for the special occasion.

Since my wife and I are in the process of transitioning into a Sovereign Grace Ministries church, I decided the blank bible would need to be an English Standard Version. I chose the hardcover version with fairly thick paper.

The first step was to cut the cover off with a utility knife so all that was left were the pages and a thick line of plastic glue on the binding.

Cutting off the binding is the next step is really the key to the entire project. For a carpenter, I chose to use my table saw. I sandwiched the pages of the ESV bible tightly between two boards and set the guide on the table saw to take just 1/8th of an inch off the binding. This was enough to get the glue off completely. Without the boards pressing the binding tight, the saw would mangle the binding edge pretty badly. So it’s critical to tighten the binding down when it’s being cut off.

You can see from the following picture what the binding looked like when I was done cutting (bottom stack – bible; top stack – blank pages).


I have also tried bringing books to Kinko’s to have them cut the binding with a knife. This does not work because the knife only works with paper that freely moves (like a ream of paper). The binding of a book holds and binds in the knife causing the knife to stair-step cut the book. Sadly, I had a Greek interlinear mangled this way.

Okay, once the binding is off I go to a local office supply store. I pick out a ream of acid-free paper and show them the exact size of my bible (now cut and with loose pages). The smiley attendant behind the counter uses a big paper knife to cut the new blank pages to the exact dimensions of my bible. Then I go home and in about 45-minutes insert blank pages where I wanted them in the bible. (It does take a little concentration to keep the pages in order.)

Be careful not to forget pages or you will end up with a Jefferson Bible and not an Edwards Bible. Big difference. More about how and where I inserted blank pages tomorrow.

For “Karalee’s Blank Bible” I clamped all the pages together so the binding edge was easy to work with. Here is where my regret begins.

I chose to work with a 2-part epoxy mix that would glue the binding of the pages together. It’s a very strong mix and for a few days did a great job holding the binding together. Two days after the birthday I noticed a few cracks beginning to develop and after four days, the bible had completely split in two areas.

There were two prominent problems:

1. The binding was too stiff and the bible was simply not comfortable to use.

2. The binding was too risky. The bible could crack at any place depending upon how well each piece of paper was glued. Most books are bound as several little books and then bound into one big book so the demands from each page are minimal. With this binding each page must be glued well and must hold well over time. Too much to ask from paper.

I was certain I had figured out the best way to remove the binding and a good process to get blank pages cut and a good plan for where to insert blank pages in the bible. But the “Karalee’ Blank Bible” was not an heirloom-worthy project.

So back to the drawing board I went …

9 thoughts on “Building a Blank Bible (part 2): The Failure

  1. Tony, I love the project! How did you create the tension to hold the pages together so that you could saw off the edges?

    Soli Deo Gloria,

    Bryan

  2. […] I was first made aware of Tony Reinke’s excellent blog (The Shepherd’s Scrapbook) after he had posted some kind words about Graphe (which, by the way, has been shrunk down so that it should download a bit easier now). Tony shares with me a healthy appreciation for our Puritan forebears. In the past couple months, he’s taken on two fascinating projects. The first (parts 1, 2, 3) is his attempt to show how to recreate Jonathan Edwards’ Blank Bible. […]

  3. […] In August we ran a short series on how to make a Jonathan Edwards blank bible – how to cut and rebind a bible with blank pages interwoven for note taking (see part 1, 2 and 3). I was hoping at least 10 of my friends would find it useful. At least a few readers would be entertained at some hombre loco who took a table saw to new bibles. […]

  4. Did you know that they make loose-leaf bibles for you to insert your own pages. Zondervan makes one, and i have one called, The Welverst Wordkeeper that is a smaller, normal-sized bible 1-888-WELVERST. Mine is NIV. I’m not sure what other versions they make like this.
    Does anybody know of a Greek interlinear Bible like that?
    There is also an online Bible project to study Greek and make your own translation online. Its called the Greek Resurgence Project. I haven’t delved into it much, its a pretty extensive site, but it seems absoultely wonderful!

  5. I have made many (>40) blank books over the years, mostly out of my childrens’ homeschooling texts. Kinko’s has always come through for me.

  6. you can take a hacksaw and cut a line about an eighth of on inch down across the spine and do that down the spine of the book every inch and a half or so. then run some glue down the fresh cut lines and then weave string through the lines to the end of the binding your pages should hold. once that is done cover the whole spine of the book with glue and let it dry overnight. I’m probably not explaining this that well so if you have any questions let me know.

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