The Zutter Bind-it-All is easy enough for my kiddos to operate, but not if I want a really nice-looking result, since there is some measuring involved. The details of measuring and centering your project enable to you create a very personalized and creative project with a professional look, but it’s also possible to wing it a little, or let a kid use it, and end up with the fine-looking books that we’ve got.
There’s a learning curve to using the tool, mostly involving wading through the extensive manual, but unless you want a specific result on a specific project, the gist is to punch the pages, thread on the o-wires, and press them shut, adjusting the machine to the correct setting for the punching and pressing before you begin.
The best part of this process is the freedom to choose your materials to be bound. We’ve used a variety of store-bought and upcycled papers–brown paper bags, wrapping paper, newspaper–for the inner pages, and we always use old cardboard record album covers for the front and back book covers. Zutter claims, however, that you can also punch and bind acrylics that are up to the thickness of a CD-Rom (which means that you can make upcycled CD books!), metals up to .025″ thick (which includes aluminum soda cans!), and soft woods up to 1/8″ thick (I’ve got nothing for this one. Any suggestions for thin woods to upcycle?).
The result is a perfectly nice, perfectly bound book, sturdy enough for a kid to flip through a million times a day, attractive enough to give as a gift. I wouldn’t personally use this system to make an upcycled book to sell, but perhaps I just don’t have a steady enough hand with the pressing to end up with impeccably even closures.
My only gripe about the Zutter system is that both times that we’ve ordered something from their site–my mother when she bought the original system, and myself when I stocked up on o-wires–our order came with a bunch of free crap. A lot of people probably squee in happiness at getting free stuff, but I look at several packs of scrapbooking embellishments and a big scrapbooking-themed tote bag as unwanted stuff that now I have to figure out how to dispose of properly. Fortunately, I dislike buying online and having things shipped to me enough that I try to stock up the first time, cutting down on having to order again, but if I need to make another online order through their site, I will specifically request no freebies, and I’m assuming that will solve the problem.
Final conclusion: We use the heck out of our Zutter Bind-it-All, it works well for us on various materials, and the results are outstanding for personal use, if not quite of professional quality. Request no extras if you have to buy it online, unless you look forward to finding someone who really wants a tote bag screen-printed with an adorable scrapbooking saying on it.
Full Disclosure: The Zutter Bind-it-All was a Christmas gift from my mother; I bought the o-wires with my own money.