Craft Product Review: The Cinch Bookbinding Tool


Image from We Are Memory Keepers

Once upon a time, long ago when I started scrapbooking, I used 12 X12 scrapbooks to put my layouts in. However, it was such a chore to commit to such large pages, such big books, that I grew weary of scrapbooking altogether until I realized that small, theme books were my thing. And the truth is, you just have to make those yourself. Well, my job just got easier with the Cinch Book Binding tool.

I received the Cinch to use as a member of the design team for the CraftsUnleashed blog, and I was eager to try it out. Again, about 4 years ago, I had used a tool that punched slots and bound with plastic coils. However, the plastic spines were flimsy and were prone to cracking, and it looked cheap, too. Plus the punch was a small hand-punch type and I couldn’t punch through cardboard without difficulty.

That being said, I approached the Cinch with gusto! The machine is fairly basic and has three functions: 1) punch holes 2) hold the binding wire and 3) compress metal spine.

So first, let’s punch holes! This machine is pretty solid, so I was confident that this wasn’t going to be a big issue. Because the handle is so big, it was easy to depress it. It doesn’t take a muscle man to punch these holes- hurray! Oh, and I want to point out that when you’re not using it, there’s a handy-dandy strap to secure the handle and keep it out of the way.

So what can it punch? Here’s a picture  showing you my swatches!

I was satisfied with all of the items I punched- especially the luan. I mean, this is fabulous! The only issue I encountered was the actually cutting width. For all the power in the handle, you can only put items up to 3/8 in the Cinch.

I wish it went up to 1/4- I have some balsa wood I’m dying to make into a cover!

So then I moved on to a “real” project- binding an origami book made from watercolor paper. Now, watercolor paper is fairly thick. And with the book all folded up, it was greater than 1/4 inch thick, and frankly it just wouldn’t go in the machine! So I had to punch the holes in two groups. Fortunately, the built-in ruler on the deck makes it easy to be consistent in lining up all your pages just right.

About 1/4 inch thick.

Line up your pages along a center point for best results.

I made some quick covers out of cereal cardboard and more watercolor paper. The Cinch made a quick job of punching through these.

Now to try actually BINDING! To bind, count your holes and then cut the same number of “loops” on your binding wire. Cut ONLY with wire cutters- this wire is tough!

Place your binding wires in the slots along the edge. You don’t HAVE to do this, but it does hold the binding coil still while you load it up with your pages.

All ready to bind.

Next, carefully pick up your wire with the pages and covers strung on, and move to the back of the machine. There’s a little knob there with numbers that correspond to the binding wire sizes (in diameter.) Make sure your knob is set to the right one, then place your wires under the pink bar, so that it looks like a “C.”

Now depress the handle and it will squish the wires!

OK! now you have a book! I actually made 3 different ones in the course of my review:

Kid's nature journal, made of paper-bag pages and Foamie covers.

Retreat Journal: watercolor paper pages and cardboard and paper covers.

And here’s my last one, made with the XL Spellbinders Nestabilities.

I had a quandary with this one- how to bind such an unusual shape? Well, my friend Vicki suggested that I removed some of the middle holes and put in two small spines on either side. Perfect!

So, to change what holes are punching, you simple pull out the pink pegs. I pulled the middle two and then centered the rest. I also had to pull some of the ones on outside so I didn’t get little half-moons in my cover!

But really this is one of the best features of the Cinch- it’s flexibility. Sure, if you’re using the binding coils you’ll need to use every hole, but if you want to use library rings, you can pull all but 2 or three. What a fun idea for making picture cards for baby! (Of course, I’d laminate them first, too. But that’s a post for another day!)

All in all, I like the Cinch. It’s not cheap- it retails for $79.99- but if you own a little business, are into scouts, or are a hard-core scrapbooker, you’ll get plenty of use out of it! And if you’re really creative like my friends Lisa and Vicki, you’ll use them for home decor ideas, as well.


  • Flexible- it’s nice to customize which holes you’ll use
  • Handle is easy to depress
  • Handle secures for transport
  • Easy to use
  • Spines come in multiple sizes
  • “Guide peg” makes it easy to punch larger sizes
  • Nice clean holes
  • Perfect for custom book making!


  • Kinda large- may be hard to store (won’t fit in a drawer)
  • $79.99 price tag makes it pricey for occasional crafters
  • Wish it had a larger opening for thicker media

Well, there you have it. Personally, I’m looking forward to getting back into scrapbooking with the Cinch. What do YOU think?

About Jenny

Chief Craft Test Dummy, Craft Evangelist, Founder, Editor, bottle-washer, trouble-maker, and creative whirlwind.


  1. says

    Great review! As for the balsa wood project… I’ve used my Crop-A-Dile to punch the holes in balsa wood. Not as cool as The Cinch though.

  2. Diane says

    Great information. Just one quibble: you said it uses up to 3/8″ material and you wished it took 1/4″. If I remember my fractions correctly, 2/8 is 1/4, so 3/8 is greater than 1/4.

  3. says

    Diane – you are correct! I’m wondering if I was thinking of punching 2 thicknesses when I wrote that….who knows? But I stand corrected.

  4. Mary Beth says

    I just bought the Cinch for a family cookbook project but cant find ANYWHERE the difference what wire to use. I’m sure it have to do with the finished thickness of the book but with wires going from 3/8″ to 1.5″, I’d like to make the right choice. Ideas??

  5. says

    Mary Beth- you are correct- you will choose your wire based on how thick your book cover and pages are. In the meanwhile, you can estimate how many pages you might need and measure the thickness ahead of time. Good luck!

  6. says

    I haven’t tried that. The answer is “probably” as long as the fabric isn’t too thick and just on one side.

  7. Sharla says

    I am using the cinch for the first time. Punching holes works great. But, I cannot get the wires to form a circle. In other words, the binding wires when squeezed are somewhat flat on the back side. What am I doing wrong? Should they not form that perfect circle that you see on notepads in the stores?


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