Introduction to Boxmaking: Drop Spine/ Solander Box

Learn to make sturdy boxes for the protection of books or other items: drop spine boxes (also called Solander or clamshell boxes) are constructed of binder’s board and book cloth to fit the object inside. They can be modified, once you understand the technique, to fit a variety of objects, including multiple objects with shelves and pull-away compartments. You will learn to measure the object and how to work with board, cloth, glue, and the board chopper to construct an archival box

Course Content

Students can either bring their own book for which to make a box, or use the dimensions of a book provided. Examples will be shown of both the simple box we will construct and more complicated options, then students will see through demonstrations how to carry out each stage of the process with time to work themselves with assistance as necessary.

The box is built in three stages: first an inner tray is built based on the book’s measurements, then the outer tray is built based on the inner tray, and finally a case, as for a hard-back book, based on the outer tray, connects the two trays. We will also discuss how to make inset labels with the option for those who work more quickly to do so. A small booklet with notes and diagrams will be provided for reference.

Entry Requirements

No experience necessary although any bookbinding experience is helpful

First Class Requirements

If you want to, a small book/other object to box. If not a book, it must be square and straight to make your life easier! It should be about A5 in width/length and 1-2” thick. Please feel free to email to ask if your object is suitable.

If you have them already:
Small breakaway knife like Olfa silver or scalpel with extra blades
Set square/triangle
Glue brush or small very stiff brush like a stencil brush
Bone folder
(If you don’t have them, you can use the college tools, but it’s always easier to use your own if you can)

Additional Information

• If you require further course information or advice & guidance that is not answered in this outline, please email

• If you would like general information about the college, for example, fees & finance, funding, term dates or opening times please email or drop in to our main reception area.