Punching Cradle Tutorial

Many handmade books are sewn with a needle and thread and before the pages are sewn together, holes are pre-punched into the paper to make sewing easier. Often a template is used to ensure that the stitching and pages are all perfectly aligned. A sharp awl is used to make the holes and oftentimes a punching cradle is also employed to hold the signature (group of pages) and template in place.

Alpha Stitched Book Tutorial

You can purchase wooden punching cradles but it’s easy and inexpensive to make your own at home. Here’s how:

Materials & Supplies

  • Large piece or scraps of book board or stiff cardboard (back of a drawing pad) at least 1/8″ thick.
  • Book cloth
  • PVA glue & brush
  • Ruler & utility knife
  • Bonefolder

1. Cut Pieces

Carefully measure and cut bookboard or cardboard to the following measurements:

  • 2 pieces @ 12″ x 4.5″ (cradle bed)
  • 2 pieces @ 6″ x 4.75″ (end pieces)
  • 4 pieces @ 3.25″ x 0.5″ (braces)

Carefully measure and cut 2 pieces of book cloth measuring 12″ x 7″. If you don’t have book cloth, you could use several layers of masking tape, but keep in mind the cradle won’t last as long.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 1

 2. Attach Book Cloth

Cover one piece of book cloth with PVA glue and place the 2 large pieces of book board in the center leaving a 1/4″ gap.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 2

Apply glue to second piece of book cloth and glue to the other side of the 2 boards. Smooth with bone folder, especially along the gap. Trim any excess book cloth from the ends.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 3

3. Add Ends

Fold the hinged boards to 45 degrees and dab a generous amount of glue to the ends.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 4

Attach the glued cradle body to the top corners of one end boards – the 6″ edge. Repeat at the other end.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 5

 4. Add Braces

Apply glue to 2 braces and attach them underneath the cradle to support it. Repeat at other end.

Punching Cradle Tutorial 6
5. Finish Project

Stand the finished cradle on its side and press with a small, but heavy book. Leave to dry overnight. Your punching cradle will last for years!

Punching Cradle Tutorial 7


Now go make a project with your new cradle. You could try my Chain Stitched Notebook or  Simple Gelli Notebook. You might also like to read about My 10 Favorite Bookmaking Tools.

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5 Thoughts on “Punching Cradle Tutorial

  1. cool! thanks for sharing this. Love anythign DIY

  2. Michele on June 18, 2015 at 10:27 am said:

    Thanks so much for this tutorial!

  3. This is just what I need to make. I have recently been bitten by the bookmaking bug and one of these will be so handy. Thank you so much for sharing!

  4. Thank you so much for this brilliant tutorial, I really need to make one of these now!

  5. patsy monk on September 29, 2019 at 10:04 pm said:

    Wow, I think I can do this ☺️
    Thanks for sharing it

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