The foundation of every handmade book is its bookbinders’ boards—those essential front and back covers that protect a book’s pages. The first hardcover books had vellum pages and covers made from wood, but after the adoption of paper and the invention of the printing press, it became standard to use pasteboard (an early cardboard) for covers. We’ve come quite a way since then. Today, if you’re creating your own book covers, not just any cardboard will do; the boards need to support paper, fabric, bookcloth, and whatever media you apply without warping, bending, or deteriorating. For serious bookmakers and artists, it is imperative that the boards be acid free, stable, and versatile; for beginners and educators, boards need to be easy to work with above all else. Below are our picks of the best binders’ boards for variety of project needs.
1. Lineco Acid-Free Book Binders Board
Lineco is known for its high-quality bookmaking materials, and its bookbinders’ boards—sold here in a four-pack—are no exception. Strong and acid free, this board is great for all kinds of bookmaking. At .07 inch thick, the dense, single-ply board trims fairly easily and resists warping. The board is long grain, with the grain running parallel to the longest edge. Its gray/tan color does not show through paper, fabric, or bookcloth. The board withstands heavy use: If dropped or bumped, corners and edges do not dent. Ideal not only for covering books but for making boxes, game boards, and sculptures, these 15-by-20.5-inch panels will give all your creations good, solid support.
2. We R Memory Keepers Bookboard
Are you a bookmaker who doesn’t enjoy cutting down large sheets of board to the right cover size? This gray board, sold in a two-pack, comes in three different sizing options, including 8.5 by 11 inches. This versatile board is not just great for basic book and model construction, but also for scrapbooks, albums, and maquettes. Plus, at 0.13 inch thick, it’s the thickest board on our list.
3. Grafix Medium Weight Natural Chipboard Sheets
Those who teach the art of bookbinding need a plethora of durable binders’ boards. At 8.5 by 11 inches (with other sizes available too), these natural-colored sheets, sold in a set of 25, require minimal cutting but are easy to trim down if desired. They’re made from premium acid-free materials, so they won’t deteriorate over time or discolor paper. About as thick as a penny (.057 inches), these are slimmer than our other picks but sturdy enough for collaging, stamping, painting, gluing, and sanding or as supports for mixed-media projects. And they come at a great price for group use.
4. Kling Magnetics Brown Chipboard
Do you need a thick, heavy board for your art project? These are nearly as thick (0.1 inch) as our runner-up pick and are a composite of two thinner boards glued together. The boards are stable, but due to the manufacturing process they may not be exactly 12 by 12 inches as advertised. Bookmakers will need to measure the boards and may have to trim to the precise size. Great for mixed media work, these boards receive paint, glue, and ink without warping, bubbling, or bending. In short, though they are not professional-grade, they are fantastic for everyday art projects. Sold in a set of 16.
5. Things Improved Chipboard Sheets
Here’s a solid, affordable option with plenty of added perks. These 0.05-inch-thick chipboards are manufactured in the United States out of recycled materials and are cut true to size (8.5 by 11 inches). They can be trimmed easily with scissors, paper cutters, and razors; just avoid using with craft cutting machines. Available in 10-, 25-, and 50-count packs.