Communion Of Dreams

Making “French” corners.

This is a small bookbinding lesson to share with some friends, which I am putting here for lack of another good place to put it. Eventually, I plan on doing a video of this and some other techniques just for reference.


Making “French” corners:

There are a number of different techniques to form a corner from covering material, such that the corner is fully covered and protected. Each has advantages & disadvantages, and not all are appropriate for all covering material. This is one common technique which will work with most covering materials. It is called the “French” corner.

For purposes of illustration and clarity, I’m first going to use a large block of wood to represent the overall board material. At the end I’ll demonstrate the process with actual bookboard.

OK, we start with the block and a piece of paper which would be our cover material. Keep in mind that both of these are supposed to be just the little corner bit of a much larger board and piece of cover material:


Same block and paper, but now with guide lines drawn. The lines just represent the continuation of the lines of the board edges:


Now we draw a parallel line along the ‘bottom’ of the edge of the board. This line is the same distance from the edge of the board as the board is thick:


Now we remove the board, but I have marked the paper to show where it would be. Then I cut an approximate 45 degree angle off the corner of the cover material like so:


Remove the triangle of superfluous material, and cut along the line as indicated to create “Tab A”:


Reposition the block of wood, then fold the cover material along the lines indicated:


The first fold positions the cover material up the side of the board:


And the second fold brings it over onto the top surface of the board:


Then fold “Tab A” at the corner, so that it extends up the side of the board like this:


Then fold up the remaining cover stock over the side of the board where “Tab A” now is:


Then fold over onto the top of the board, covering the first piece of cover material:


Got it? This results in clean edges, with the entire corner of the board protected. There is a double thickness of covering material on one edge and on the ‘top’ of the board (which would typically be the inside of the book cover).

Here’s the same process using actual bookboard and one piece of paper. Please note that this just shows the bottom of the cover.

Boards mounted to cover material, with the corners cut as needed:


Turn in the bottom edge of the cover material. This leaves the little tab (darkened with pencil for contrast) ready to be pasted and mounted to the side of the board:


Here’s looking at the whole bottom structure, with both tabs ready to be pasted and mounted:


Mount the tab, then paste out and turn in the side strips of the cover material:


And you can also see how the finished corner looks on the inside. Done.

Jim Downey

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Thank you!

Comment by cwjbrown

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