DIY: Blank Bible (part 2) Cut, Rip, Clamp, Saw

DIY: Blank Bible (part 2) Cut, Rip, Clamp, Saw

[Read part one first]

“Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures.” (Acts 18:24)

So you are standing there, your arms criss-crossed over your precious bible pressed against your bosom looking at the cold table saw as if it were a monster about to eat your child. I’ve been there.

Deciding to take apart a precious bible (or a new one you spend good money on) is a difficult decision. But if you are faithful to go through these eight simple steps, you will produce a very useful tool in your pursuit of being “competent in the Scriptures.”

Let’s get it started…

1. Cutting

Like I said, for our purposes we are using the ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament. Since it’s a hardcover we will need to cut the cover off first. Using the utility knife, find where the boards are connected to the book pages, usually in the crease of the front and back cover. With the knife, simply cut down the crease. The boards (hard covers) should come off after this cut.

2. Ripping

Once the cover is off, you will be holding a brick of paper, still bound together on the spine. Put the cover aside or throw it away (it will not be needed from here out).

I have noticed (especially with Crossway bibles) there is a layer of glue on the spine you can rip off by hand. This will make the cut much easier and you will have less glue stuck to your table saw blade.

Here is what it looks like once you have the cover cut off and some of the binding ripped off …


Here is where you can take two different options. The most daring (but the most fun) is to get the table saw ready. The second option is to take this brick of paper to the local office supply store to have the binding cut off. (I first recommended people not do this because I once had an NAS-NIV interlinear mangled by one of the Kinko’s cutters. Because the binding holds it’s not like cutting a ream of paper, but can actually bind and stair-step cut the book.)

Since the first series of posts on the “Jonathan Edwards Blank Bible” I have been assured by those in the field that if the book is clamped tight enough you can cut the binding off very cleanly with a paper cutter knife. So that is one option I give to you.

But for the rest of you, put on the safety glasses and head out to the garage.

3. Clamping

Critical in cutting the binding off is clamping the bible tightly. I use two boards (one on top and one on the bottom) screwed together to sandwich the bible. I use plywood that is cut a little larger than the bible itself. The boards and the loose side of the pages should all be lined up flush against the guide on the table saw. I used one screw to hold the leading edge of the pywood and bible together while holding the back end down as I sawed.

[Note: on paperback books, as I will show you in the future, you leave the binding on and just use a board on the bottom side of the book you are cutting.]

This clamping ensures the bible is tight. If the bible is not firmly fastened, the blade can really mangle the biding edge. And secondly, having the bible clamped is useful when you are transitioning from a one-piece bible to 600 individual sheets of paper.

4. Sawing

Now we are ready to cut (insert Tim “The Toolman” Taylor grunting here).

Make sure you have a new blade because the sharper the better.

Line the guide on the saw to remove roughly 1/8” – 1/4” of the binding edge. I set the blade high enough to cut through both the top and bottom boards. Slowly, run the clamped bible through the saw until all the way through.

Don’t take the clamp off yet. First, check to make certain you have all your fingers and then look at the binding.

Look at this picture (to the left) of one of the bibles I cut. Something is wrong.

Can you see where part of the binding edge of the bible is white and part is yellow? The white part is where the binding glue has been removed but the yellow is existing glue. Trust me, you want to get rid of the glue now, otherwise you will be pulling each page apart in the future (and this is no fun). Simply set the saw guide to take off another 1/8” and check again.

When the binding is white, the pages will be loose.

There may be some slight roughness to the cut binding but that’s okay. All that will be inside the binding coil.

Take the clamp off the bible (making sure you don’t drop the loose pages) and you are ready for steps 5 and 6…


Coming up next … DIY: Blank Bible (part 3) Slicing and stuffing


9 thoughts on “DIY: Blank Bible (part 2) Cut, Rip, Clamp, Saw

  1. More like “Tony (The Toolman) Reinke”, if you ask me!

    But question for you: you don’t actually provide a picture of the clamping that you use when running the Bible through the saw. I have trouble picturing how this might work! Doesn’t the clamp get in the way of moving along the “table”?#

    Anyway, thanks for an entertaining (!) series!

    David Reimer

  2. David,

    Funny …. Great question. The boards and the screw from board to board is the ‘clamp.’ You are right, a typical clamp would not work.

    Tony the T.M. =)

    If they don’t find you handsome at least they will find you handy, right (Red Green)

  3. Doh! Of course, you described that. Still would be nice to have pics! Did you pick up your “screw/clamp” technique in any shots?

    I guess, too, this accounts for the bowing in the ply that you can see in the middle photo of #4, above. And makes a good reason for using fairly hefty ply, otherwise the bowing would be unacceptable, I reckon.

    You also wrote above: “…on paperback books, as I will show you in the future,…”: OK! You’ve promised!

    David (who lives “around the corner” from the Banner of Truth warehouse in Edinburgh!)

  4. I’m making one of these myself, but I still am not understanding your clamping method. Could you please elaborate a little more on what it is exactly you did?

  5. Dan, I hope you will post your results here when you get it done. After reading Tony’s description above, I would think he used a flat-head screw, maybe a 1/4″-20, on the leading edge, set back from the saw edge, maybe 1″.

    He probably countersunk the screw so it was flush with the wood, with that side of the clamp/board being against the table saw surface. And the nut/washer would be on the top, the side away from the table saw surface.

    Then, he probably adjusted the nut so the bible is held very tightly when he presses down on the other end of the “clamp”. A drawing would help here, but I don’t have time right now. Maybe later. I plan to do one myself soon.

    Blessings from God to you.


  6. I wonder if it would be possible to clamp the hardback book and run it through the saw as a way to take the cover off and cut the glue off in one step?

  7. You can also take this to a copy shop like Kinkos, where they have those large guillotine devices. It’s less than $1 /cut and will do beautifully!

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