Best Binding Machines

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

28 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
191 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best binding machines

Last Updated August 2019

A binding machine serves several purposes. You can use one to publish your own works, make promotional materials, compile reports for business meetings, or add an extra dash of pizzazz to a school project. If you've never used a binding machine before, it can be hard to know which features are essential and which are merely options.

The best binding machine is the one that can meet your specific daily usage needs. It is durable and powerful enough to make your workload manageable while offering you the ability to adjust edge and depth margins for special projects. Manual binding machines are suitable for light-duty work, but an electric binder may be a better option for heavier usage situations.

For information on how binding machines work and which features to look for while shopping, keep reading. If you are ready to purchase a binding machine, consider one of the options we've spotlighted in this guide.

Paper thickness can drastically reduce or increase the maximum page capacity of your chosen comb size.

Defining your needs

To find the best binding machine, carefully consider your short-term and long-term goals. Answering the following questions can help you define your needs.

How many pages will your booklets be?

You will be disappointed if you purchase a binding machine that can’t handle your required page count. For instance, if you are going to be binding 200 pages and the machine you purchase maxes out at 150 pages, it won't be of use to you.

What size booklets will you be making?

If you are going to be making booklets that are a variety of sizes, it is possible to create them on most binding machines. However, that doesn't necessarily mean it will be an easy process. If that is your situation, it would be best to purchase a binding machine with features that facilitate flexibility.

How automated do you want the process to be?

Even though binding machines are meant to make the punching and binding process as effortless as possible, some exertion is still required. If you will be performing a great deal of manual binding work, over time, that repetition could cause injury to your wrist or hand. Electric binding machines are considerably more expensive, but if that's what you need to avoid injury, that's what you should purchase.

What is your budget?

Your budget is also an important factor to consider. Only you know what you can comfortably spend. However, if paying a few dollars more would make the difference between getting a binding machine that you constantly complain about and getting one that is up to the task, it is better to save up for the binding machine that would make you happy and allow you to achieve a smooth workflow.

Versatile electric binding

The Fellowes Galaxy Binding Machine features a vertical document loader to make it easier to align papers for both punching and binding. With a 25-page punch capacity, you can double the production of many lower-end binding machines. The binding tines can accept up to 500 sheets at a time for larger projects. And, the durable design allows this binder to become a regularly used tool in your office.

Features and options

Now that you've determined how you will use your new binding machine, it's time to consider features and options.

Binding capacity: As noted above, a machine that cannot do what you need is not going to be of much use to you.

Punching capacity: How many sheets your binding machine can punch at once may not seem like an important factor, but it is the biggest consideration when it comes to production rate. If you have a machine that only punches 10 sheets at a time, it will take twice as long as a binder that can handle 20 sheets at a time.

Manual or electric: Since there are two steps — punching and binding — needed to create a book, there are two places where you could benefit by automating the process. Some binding machines only offer electric binding, while higher-end models may also offer electric punching.

Removable binding: Some binding machines come apart so that one person can be punching while the other is binding. This feature can double your production rate. If speed is important to you, look for a binding machine with this capability.

Edge guide: The edge guide allows you to center your sheets, so the position of the holes is consistent on all pages. This is an essential feature that is available, in some way, on all binding machines. However, pricier machines offer greater flexibility and control.

Disengageable dies: The dies are what produce the holes. With disengageable dies, you can select which pins punch and which do not. This is helpful if you have a half-punched hole at the edge of your paper that can't seem to be fixed by adjusting the edge guide. Disengage that die, and the pin will no longer punch that bothersome half hole.

Adjustable depth margin: This controls how deep into the sheets the holes can be punched. This is important when creating books with larger page counts because punching too close to the edge allows the pages to tear out more easily.

Built-in comb guide: If you need help figuring out what size comb you need for a project, look for a binding machine with a built-in comb guide to help you get it right each time. ("Comb" is the name for the plastic strip that binds the pages.)

Vertical feed: Some machines use gravity to help ensure that the pages are fully loaded into the machine before punching. You can easily distinguish these models because the pages load from the top.

Storage drawer: Some binding machines have a built-in storage drawer where you can keep your extra combs. This is a nice feature, but it is not a necessity.

Materials: Because of the nature of the work, your binding machine is going to take a lot of pounding. Look for one with all metal parts if you want it to last. Also, rubber feet may help keep the machine from sliding.

DID YOU KNOW?

The plastic combs that you use to bind your books can be printed with your name, your company logo, or any other text or artwork that can fit on the comb.

Binding machine prices

If you just need something for light-duty manual binding, you may be able to find a binding machine in the $35 to $60 range. However, the $60 to $120 price bracket is where you will find binding machines with a better build quality that are more durable. Between $120 to $300, you will find heavier-duty machines with bells and whistles that make them suitable for any binding job. In this price range, you will also find machines with electric comb inserters.

Once you move into the $400-and-above realm, you are looking at the heaviest-duty machines, some with electric punching, that will hold up to rigorous use.

EXPERT TIP

If you have a booklet that is starting to wear and come apart, you can simply replace the comb and make your booklet as good as new.


Staff  | BestReviews

A step-by-step look at the binding process

Using a binding machine to create books sounds like a long and intimidating process. However, it is a remarkably simple process that you can quickly master. To help you understand just how easy it is to make a book, we've outlined the basic steps below.

  • Gather your pages. Whether they are blank or printed, assemble the pages for your book.
  • Put your pages in order. It is best to place your pages in the proper order before starting, so you decrease the chance of making a sequencing mistake. Don't stress too long over this; the order can be changed even after you complete the book.
  • Prepare and punch. Line the pages up, set the edge and depth margins (if your machine has them), and begin punching the holes. If you are making a 100-page book but your machine only handles 25 sheets at a time, you will need to do this four times, making sure you do not change any of the settings between punching.
  • Choose your comb. Some machines have built-in guides to help you choose the right comb size. If yours doesn't have this, the box of combs will tell you the comb's capacity.
  • Open the comb and place your pages. Slip your plastic comb into place on the binding machine, pull the lever to open the comb (if your machine is manual), and slip your pages on the comb.
  • Close the comb. Raise the handle (on a manual machine) to bind your book.

450-sheet manual binder

Kenley's lightweight manual binding machine has a high-leverage arm that allows you to punch up to 12 sheets at a time. The margin guide helps you line up the pages so all the holes will be in the same location. The tines will accept up to 450 pages, but this machine is better-suited for smaller work, school, or keepsake projects.

Other products we considered

If you would like a few more quality options, the following machines are also worthy of your attention. At the lower end, Fellowes has the Star+ 150-sheet binder that can punch up to 15 pages at a time and bind 150 pages by using a 3/4-inch comb. It offers some of the features of higher-end models but is designed for lighter-duty work. The Rayson SD-220B Binding Machine can manually punch up to 22 sheets at a time. It is fully adjustable up to 21-hole/400-page capacity. If you would like a heavier-duty option from Fellowes, the brand's Quasar+ can manually punch up to 25 sheets at a time, and when using a two-inch comb, the machine can bind up to a 500-page project.

Comb binding is one of the most flexible, affordable, and popular binding systems available.

FAQ

Q. I don't work in an office. Why would I need a binding machine?
A.
The uses for a binding machine are only limited by your imagination. It is an incredible tool that can help you create keepsakes, personalized calendars, and photo albums. School tests, awards, artwork, important documents, ideas, affirmations, warranties, and owner's manuals can all quickly be punched and assembled to make permanent booklets of vital documents that you place on a bookshelf for easy storage and accessibility. Never misplace an important sheet of paper again.

Q. What other materials do I need?
A.
Other than the printed sheets, there are only two materials you will need to create a booklet. You will need a durable front and back cover to help protect and preserve the inside pages, and you will need a plastic comb that is the right size for your project.

Q. What if I want to change my project after I bind the pages?
A.
With comb binding, that is not a problem. If you would like to add pages, remove pages, or even just reorganize a few pages, simply slip the booklet into your binding machine to open the comb and remove the paper. You can then adjust your project however you'd like and close the comb to have a brand new book.

One of the drawbacks to using a comb binder is that combs are flexible, and, over time, they may come undone.

The team that worked on this review
  • Aila
    Aila
    Writer
  • Allen
    Allen
    Writer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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