Bookbinding 101: Glueing and Clamping Tools
For applying glue, just about any kind of brush will get the job done. However, we find that foam brushes work better to pick up extra glue than they do for applying it. For getting started, nothing beats buying a bag of cheap artist brushes of varying sizes. Choose a size depending on the surface area you are applying glue to. Some book binders prefer a traditional round glue brush, and we've also heard of someone who likes using a shaving brush. For the flat surface of a book cover, you can also use a scrap piece of book board to lay down or smooth out the glue, using it like a squeegee or putty knife.
In time you'll develop your own preferences, but to begin, just grab a cheap brush, or a piece of book board, and you are all set for laying down your glue.
Wax paper is a great shield to keep glue from dripping and sticking to the pages of your book. Tear a sheet off, and place it inside the front cover before you begin glueing, making sure it is large enough to hang over and protect your pages. When applying any glue inside the cover, the wax paper prevents the glue from sticking to your first page, and peels off fairly easily after the glue has set. Waxed paper also acts as a moisture barrier, preventing your pages from warping while glued down end papers are drying.
Clamps can act as a third hand to hold a book up while you work on it, or they can be a cheaper and more portable alternative to a press for smaller books. Spring clamps are fairly inexpensive and we use them frequently.
We also occasionally use a wooden handscrew clamp or two. A bit clumsy, and a bit heavy, but being something we have on hand it works pretty well.