Bindery Machine Operators

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Bindery Machine Operators

Bindery Machine Operators - Overview

Bookbinders and bindery workers cut and glue parts or run machines to bind new books or magazines.

Binding is the process of joining printed sheets into finished products, such as pamphlets or books. It involves cutting, folding, gluing, stitching, trimming, and many other processes. Bindery workers operate the machines that perform these tasks. Those who work in large shops usually perform only one or a few processes. Workers in small shops may perform all these tasks. Some bookbinders work in hand binderies. These skilled workers design bindings for books that are printed in small quantities or have unusual binding needs. They also restore and rebind rare books.


In hand binderies, bookbinders fold the printed sheets into groups of pages called signatures. They assemble the signatures in numerical order to form the body of the book. They attach endpapers to the front and back, and glue signatures together along the spine. Bookbinders compress the book to reduce it to the right thickness, and glue a cloth backing to the spine. They trim the book edges and apply color using a brush or spray.

Bookbinders make the book cover from binder board and cover material. They cut these to specified dimensions and glue the cover material to the binder board. Bookbinders glue endpapers to the cover. They imprint designs onto the cover, using colored foil and a stamping machine. Most of these tasks are performed by hand or by machine.

Bindery workers

Bindery workers may perform one or more of the above tasks. Bindery workers usually set up and run the equipment. Bindery workers read work orders to determine their work instructions. They set up their machines for operation. For example, they install devices such as knives, guides, and clamps. They fill glue pots and load cloth, paper, or other materials onto machine spindles. They position clamps and set machine controls.

Bindery workers make trial runs to check product samples for defects and make adjustments. When the run is complete, workers remove the products and stack them for shipping.

Bindery workers record the time they spend on specific tasks and the number of items they produce. They also may clean and lubricate machinery parts and make minor repairs. In addition, they may train other workers to set up and operate binding machines.

Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.