Hard-cover Video Game Manual

A hardcover manual for the game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes". Lay-flat style binding.

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This project is about book binding, not authoring text.

The video game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes" features one person playing the game, and another person reading the manual. Developing the communication between these two people (or groups of people) is how you get better at the game. I wanted to have a really easy-to-use and durable manual for playing this game. So, I figured I'd make a hardcover book with large margins.

I chose a lay-flat style book because it results in thicker pages, making the book thicker. With a 20-page text, I'll take the improved thickness, harder pages, and easier-to-draw-on pages.

There are a number of binding options available. For this project, I used lay-flat style binding.

In most books, you have a bunch of pages with printing on both sides bound together on one edge (glue, sewing, both, or otherwise). This is an extremely economical way of binding, but there's a "seam" between the two pages the user is looking at, and that can ruin content that is supposed to be continuous across the visible area.

Lay-flat bindings feature sheets of paper only printing on one side, and the blank sides glued in a manner that allows page turning. There are alternate approaches involving clever scoring so the pages fold in a particular manner, but I find scoring precisely unreliable for a maker's budget.

The lay-flat style allows a solid stack of flat pages on top of either cover, and the book to be set on a table and not have any sort of bending pages. This makes drawing on the pages easier, enables using more of the page, and makes it easier to use a large book in cramped settings.

The two major downsides of lay-flat pages are increased construction complexity, and increased thickness. Printing on one side, and gluing pages together yields a book twice as thick as a book printed via conventional means, which feature double-sided printing.

(Yes, it feels like I should be citing a source or two for most of this explanation, but I don't know of one readily).

  • 1 × Sheet metal, 26 gauge, 12"x24" I made a jig out of this. Feel free to use wood.
  • 14 × Ledger-size (11"x17") paper pages Paper for the pages. You can use 8.5x11, but I wanted margins and bigger type.
  • 1 × Spray glue Find something that only sticks to paper if you can.
  • 1 × Wax paper For protecting the jig if your spray glue sticks to metal.
  • 2 × Chip board, 12"x12" Used for the covers

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  • Sorry for the silence...

    minifig40407/16/2016 at 14:25 0 comments

    I finished this months ago, and it works, but I did the binding poorly, and so the book doesn't work very well. I don't have the materials to redo this particular book, so it's going to be left in its present (working poorly) state.

    The mistake I made was that I left too much slack in the spine portion of the cover, and made the chipboard covers go all the way to the spine of the book. Combine that with some rather imprecise alignments while gluing the pages together, and the book is just a total pain to work with.

    Because of the problems listed above, I've had a hard time finishing up the documentation. The process I've used is basically correct, but I didn't execute it correctly.

  • A busy day at the makerspace

    minifig40401/31/2016 at 04:49 0 comments

    I managed to accomplish quite a bit today....

    • Acquire wax paper (local grocery store)
    • Acquire sheet metal (Home Depot)
    • Discover the metal brake is poorly adjusted, turning my first cut into a fold
    • Discover the disadvantages of using tin snips for long cuts through sheet metal (it bends your scrap and creates sharp edges)
    • Locate some help to fix the metal brake
    • Do a preliminary fix for the metal brake, only to discover the machine wasn't holding tension (removing safety guards, tuning distance/tension on brake's blade)
    • Fix the metal brake for real
      • Clean most of the metal brake, via acetone and shop towels.
      • Apply loctite to bolts that need it
      • Tune metal brake distances
    • Construct jig
    • Glue pages
    • Document

    Tomorrow, I'll hopefully be able to trim the text block, and glue the cover on the book. I'll update once done.

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  • 1
    Step 1

    Print pages

    For lay-flat style binding, you're going to print single-sided two-up. Because I don't actually have an 11x17 printer, I had a print shop do this for me.

    Make sure the first sheet of paper only has a page on the right-hand side. This will be your title page, and the left side will be used for gluing to the cover later.

    Similarly, the last sheet of paper you use should (in most cases) only have content on the left side, with the right side being used for gluing to the cover. I cheated on this point because the last page of content is only occasionally useful for me.

  • 2
    Step 2

    Construct jig.

    In the pictures, you'll notice my jig is a two-part system; a three-sided tray for holding pages, and a flat sheet that presses on them, all wrapped in wax paper. Note that the tray only fits the pages once the paper is folded in half. We need the jig for folding, so just use the full stack of printed pages for measuring/test fitting for now.

    Use a metal brake or a bandsaw to cut the sheet metal to size. I prefer the metal brake because it's a very clean approach. Make sure you have 3/4"-1" of space on each side of the tray for folding the walls. Also make sure that all cuts are square with the machined edges and each other. Set aside the piece that's going to be the flat sheet, we'll get back to it later.

    Score lines where you'll be folding the sheet metal to make your tray walls. Make sure the folds are going to be square with the machined sides, the cut edges, and each other.

    Because I'm working with 26 gauge metal, tin snips worked just fine for removing the two corners of the tray that will prevent folding.

    Lastly, I used a metal folder to fold three sides of the tray to walls. If all your measurements came out right, your pages should fit in the tray, and they should have a snug fit in the tray. The sheet metal press should also fit in the tray, on top of the pages, with a snug fit.

  • 3
    Step 3

    Use jig tray to fold the sheets of paper

    Using the tray to make sure that you have the corners and edges lined up, fold each sheet of ledger paper in half, one at a time. The printed content should be on the inside of the fold, and you should have one "printed page on each side of the fold. One of the pictures should have a final result of this folding visible.

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