How To Use A Coil Binding Machine / Spiral Binder
Learn how to set up, use and operate a coil binding machine!
Why Use A Coil Binding Machine?
Coil binding machines use spring-like coils, often referred to as spirals, to bind sheets of paper together. The end result looks very similar to the old spiral notebooks you used to use in school. The biggest difference between coil binding and the old spiral notebooks is the binding element itself. Coil binding elements are now made from PVC plastic rather than metal.
PVC plastic coils are highly durable and do not bend or stretch with use. These coils are also available in a wide selection of colors, lengths and diameters. Coil binding supplies are available in two different formats, depending on the machine being used. These formats are 4:1 pitch and 5:1 pitch. The 4:1 pitch (hole pattern) is designed for machines that punch four holes per inch. The 5:1 pitch (hole pattern) is designed for machines that punch five holes per inch.
Once a coil binding machine has been purchased, the user will have to be sure and purchase the right "pitch" supplies for the machine. Be aware that 4:1 and 5:1 pitch supplies are not interchangeable between machines. A 4:1 pitch coil binder has to use 4:1 pitch supplies and vice versa. A 4:1 pitch element can bind more paper than a 5:1 pitch element due to the holes being spaced farther apart.
Coil / spiral binding is growing in popularity. A big part of this is because coil binding is so easy. Once the holes are punched, the binding element is literally spun through the holes. Coil bound pages, unlike many other binding formats, allow the pages to wrap around for easy access and reading.
Different Types Of Coil Binders
Coil binding machines are available in several different shapes and sizes. The model you purchase will depend entirely on what you will be doing and what your preferences are. The first thing you will want to get sorted out is the "pitch" or hole pattern you want for your machine. As mentioned earlier, coil binding machines are available in 4:1 and 5:1 pitch punching patterns.
Once you have your hole pattern sorted out, you will need to check out what the punching capacities are. Different machines are designed to punch different amounts of paper. Most coil binding machines sit between 15 and 25 sheet punching capacity. If you will only be binding a few books a day, the punching capacity will not be as big a deal.
Coil binding machines are also available with an electric or manual punch. A manual punch is more than adequate for low to medium volume binding. If you will be binding dozens to hundreds of books per day, an electric punch is recommended. Electric punches are nice, but most manual punches are easy to use and operate
Some coil binding machines feature disengaging dies. Disengaging / selective punching dies are very nice if you will not be punching 8 ½ x 11-inch paper every time. When punching slightly smaller or slightly larger paper, sometimes a hole will end up on the edge of the paper, creating a half hole. This problem can be very annoying and looks bad. Selective punching dies allow the operator to disable the problematic die.
Some spiral binding machines also feature an electric coil inserter. This dramatically speeds up the binding process. An electric-powered wheel or roller spins the coil through the punched holes. This can also be done manually for low to medium-volume jobs.
Coil crimping pliers are a must-have item for spiral binding. These pliers clip off the excess coil and prevent the coil from spinning back out the holes. Some machines include coil crimping pliers, but most do not.
1. Make proper adjustments to the machine. This includes adjusting the settings and plugging in the machine (if electric).
2. First you will want to gather together the paper you will be binding. This includes any covers or end sheets.
3. Grab a set of sheets to be punched. The maximum amount of sheets that can be punched depends on the machine being used. Try to only punch 80% of the maximum amount.
4. Once all the paper has been punched, line up the holes. This can easily be done with the use of a paper jogger.
5. Now spin the coil binding element through the punched holes. This can be done manually or by use of an electric coil inserter.
6. Crimp off the excess coil using a pair of coil crimping pliers.
7. Now you are done and are ready to move on to the next book!
Coil Binding Supplies
A binding machine is useless without some supplies. Here is a list of supplies you will need to begin coil binding.
You can find binding covers here.
You can find 4:1 pitch supplies here.
You can find 5:1 pitch supplies here.
You can find coil crimping pliers here.
Coil Binding Video Demos
Still dazed and confused as to the spiral binding process? Perhaps viewing a video demo will help.