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How to Unbind a Book

how to unbind a book
Unbinding a book gives you an easy way to save your worn-out books. Unfastening them and reorganizing the pages reinvent the book’s form, giving it a whole new life.

Keeping your books in good condition is preserving the story or history that has been chronicled in the form of a book, allowing the artifacts that have been recorded to continue and spread. Aside from that, careful restoration of books also paves the way for intricate conserving of some historical relics.

With that said, unbinding lends a complex approach to saving valuable work that needs to be preserved. As a book lover, it takes a lot of guts to unbind a book. And when it comes to protecting the book, there are easy techniques to try. In this article, I will show you how to unbind a book carefully.

Unbinding a Hardcover or a Softcover Book

Unbinding a book really gets to your heart especially if you are a book lover and love collecting them. But surely this helps you maintain it in a good condition, and here’s how to start:

Things you will need:

  • X-acto blade
  • Knitting needle (small) or tweezers
  • Hair dryer

Step-by-step Instructions:

For Hardcover Books

  1. Cut the seam of the end pages. Once you sliced the end pages you will see the strings that hold the books together. Take note that the seam is the paper that connects the cover to the pages.
  2. Using a knitting needle or a tweezer, pull the strings nicely and easily. In this way, you will not damage the pages. But sometimes when you separate the cover to the page itself, the binding loose easily.
  3. Separate the pages from the cover. However, if the pages are glued together, use a hair dryer to dissolve the glue.
  4. Cut the pages slowly and carefully. The pages connect like a newspaper form when you unbind them separately. Afterward, cut right through the middle in a straight line.

For Softcover Books

  1. Cut the front and end cover using an x-acto blade. Separate the cover from the pages and carefully pull out some excess glue if there is some. By doing so, the paper won’t come off to the sticky part.
  2. Pull out the spine threads that hold the books together. Sometimes when you separate the cover, the thread starts to come off freely, which is a good thing. This lets you unfasten the cover more easily.
  3. Open the book at the middle part, with the text facing you. Carefully cut down the middle part of the book or the binding part.
  4. Detached the pages carefully so you can rebind the book as good as new. Careful on pulling the pages, the paper is sensitive when you detach it to the bind.

Unbinding a Plastic Spiral Bound Book

how to remove bookbinding without damaging

Plastic coil spine is one of the materials for filling papers whenever presenting copies for business presentations or binding school thesis. For many books, it is an effective way to bind a book.

However, plastic spiral binding also wears out over time, leaving the pages loose at times.

Things you will need:

  • A flat surface

Step-by-step Instructions

  1. Lay your book on the surface of the table. Make sure it is flat. In this way, you can unbind it perfectly without damaging the pages of the book.
  2. Using your left palm, lay it flat on the book to keep it in a steady position.
  3. On your right hand, use your thumb, forefinger, and middle finger to pull out the plastic coil. Make sure to apply the pressure on the book and press it down so the pages won’t fly once you remove the plastic coil.
  4. As soon as the book is secure and steady, pull the plastic coil and add a gentle force to the binder. Be careful on unbinding them; otherwise, it might damage the book if you pull it by force.

Unbinding a Metal Spiral Bound Book

A metal spiral-bound book is a bit tricky to unbind because of the rigid metal material. Therefore, one should be careful when unbinding these tough nuts.

This kind of binding is typically present on school projects, filling documentation, or personal journals. Should you wish to unfasten it to redecorate your book, here are the ways how to unbind it.

Things you will need:

  • Needle nose Pliers
  • Gloves (for safety purposes but optional)

Step-by-step Instructions:

  1. Hold the book firmly with your hands to keep the book in its place.
  2. As soon as the book is secure, use needle nose pliers to bend the metal coil carefully. Bend the metal outward. At this point, it will look like a hook but your goal is to form a straight coil.
  3. When the metal coil seems loose, you can wiggle out the pages from the coil. You can use your fingers to pull the coil out of the pages. Continue doing this until the coil is completely detached. If you want to preserve the pages, you can follow this step.
  4. If you are unbinding an old notebook and you do not want to save some pages, you can simply detach them. However, some books or journals have blank pages that can be reused. You can also detach the paper and form it into a new notebook.

Additional Tips on How to Remove Bookbinding Without Damaging the Pages

Reading books lets you embark on an exciting journey or a different timeline. But each time you open the pages to search for a whole new adventure, the pages wear out over time. This is where unbinding books become the ultimate solution to restore your precious books to their pristine condition.

However, unbinding can be a challenging process. Thus, here are some additional tips in removing bookbinding without damaging it.

  • Use a sharper blade for precise cutting to the paper. Keep in mind that paper is a very sensitive material that can rip easily. Therefore, you need to be careful when unbinding it.
  • The price of a paperback book is cheaper than the price of a hardcover book. Paperbacks can get damaged easily, and in order to preserve them, you can unbind them and convert them to hardcovers. In this way, you can prolong its quality for the longest time possible.
  • With stitched binding, you can use a sharp cutter to carefully unbind the thread. Afterward, gently pull the thread.
  • Use a hairdryer or any other hot material as a heating method. Place a baking sheet on the front cover’s first page as well as the back cover. Then, in the middle of the page, open the book and begin heating it (do not burn the paper), and the pages will simply fall off.


In a nutshell, there are easy and effective ways you can try to unbind a book. Honestly, for a book lover and collector, it can be a little intimidating to try, knowing that you have to cut the seams or remove the pages and covers. But with the techniques mentioned, you can preserve the quality of your books and provide the proper care they deserve.

Reviving a book with the solution of unbinding it paves the way for a different level of creativity. It allows you to be imaginative, allowing you to redesign the cover in a more artistic and sophisticated manner. And as you work your way in dissecting the sections to restore the books to their pristine condition, it also helps you reorganize your beloved book collections.

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