Binding machines aren’t just handy at the office but also excellent tools for home crafters.
Whether you want to create custom scrapbooks, photo albums, left-handed notebooks, or bookbinding projects, a binding machine will help you get the job done quickly and effectively.
With the right device, you can bind a few pages or hundreds, and create long-lasting, clean-cut documents for both work and leisure.
We’ve compiled a list of our favorite binding machines and buyer tips below to help you find your match!
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The perfect match for crafters looking for wire binding machines to create journals, scrapbooks, and more, on a budget.
Guide to binding machines
Types of binding machines
Before diving into the best binding machines, it’s important to have a basic understanding of what sets them apart, how they function, and what purposes they’re best suited for.
Comb binding machines: These devices use plastic comb spines to bind pages together. The curved shape of the comb’s teeth allows pages to be turned easily and can be opened and closed for editing (adding or removing pages). This is the cheapest and most popular style of machine binding.
Coil binding machines: These machines incorporate a plastic coil spine for page assembly. This option tends to hold a greater amount of pages and is ideal for booklets that need to lay flat open. Additionally, this type of binding allows for easy page-turning.
Wire binding machines: These models work with spiral wire spines (similar to coil binding machines), allowing documents to be folded easily and lay flat. However, note that wire binding machines are best suited for smaller projects with fewer pages, like planners and small calendars.
Thermal binding machines: Best for professional purposes, such as presentations, reports, and more, these devices use heat and pre-made adhesive strips to bind pages together. Pages cannot be removed or edited once bound. While also used for creative hobbies, these are primarily found in offices and schools.
How to choose a binding machine
Whether you need a binding machine for office tasks or are interested in bookbinding, stationery, or papercraft hobbies, we suggest taking the following into consideration before purchase:
- Look into the different types of devices and their pros and cons. Review each machine’s features to ensure that it meets your specific needs. Do you want the option to edit documents? Bind work reports? School projects for your child? Or will you mainly use it for crafting?
- Keep the machine’s capacity in mind; be aware of how many pages you can bind (and the paper weight or cardstock you’ll use). This will help you narrow down your pick.
- Punching capacity is also vital. This refers to the number of sheets a machine can punch in a single go. A higher punching capacity tends to bind thicker documents more efficiently.
- Margin depth should be considered, too. This refers to the distance between the edge of the paper and the punched holes. Some devices feature adjustable margin depths, best suited if you work on different project types or sizes.
- Opt for a machine that is easy to operate, with straightforward functionalities, instructions, and versatile binding options. Selecting a manual vs. an electric model will do the trick if you’re searching for something simple. However, an electric device will be best if you’re looking for something to speed up workflow.
- Consider your space; do you have enough room for your machine? Is it easy to store? Small enough to keep on your craft desk? Some models are more compact and more accessible to store than others.
- Check if your device includes additional features such as measurement guides, adjustable holes, built-in cutters, crimping tools, disengageable die pins, etc. These may benefit you and provide a better experience. On the other hand, a machine with many features may not be worth the additional cost if you intend to keep things simple.
Best binding machines
Our picks for the best binding machines include options for professionals and creative hobbyists alike, especially for first-time binding machine users looking for excellent value for money.
Best overall: Star+ by Fellowes
If you’re looking for a quality, fuss-free comb binding machine to achieve professional-looking outcomes, the manual Fellowes Binding Machine Star+ is a reliable, affordable pick.
Ideal for light to medium-weight projects, this machine incorporates 19 punching hole slots, an edge guide for enhanced accuracy, a compartment to store materials, and a measurement guide to help select the best plastic comb size per project.
While plastic combs may not be as resistant as metal coils, the advantage is that they’re cheaper and allow for editing, such as adding or removing pages from your booklets without disassembling your entire project. This is particularly helpful for students!
Keep in mind that the Star+ by Fellowes is designed for more straightforward projects with fewer pages, so we don’t recommend it for punching plastic covers or binding large amounts of paper (stick to approximately 100-150 sheets with this model).
However, it’s an excellent option to create everything from business presentations and school projects to creative endeavors like journal making, scrapbooking, and binding music sheets, all on a very reasonable budget.
Best value for money: Comb Binding Machine by Makeasy
Looking for a cost-effective solution for your crafting and home project needs? The Makeasy comb binding machine is the perfect choice for creatives on a budget.
With the ability to punch through 10-12 sheets at a time (80g /≤20lb), this manual model offers excellent value for money and a whole lot of versatility. It features an enhanced accuracy edge guide (3mm and 5mm) as well as different hole punch variations: 19 holes, 21 holes (A4), and 15 holes (A5).
In addition, these sets include 21 PVC comb bindings to ensure you get started immediately! While this machine may not be the best for punching through plastic covers or large quantities of paper, it’s lightweight and easy to transport due to its convenient built-in handle.
This machine is perfect for putting together school projects, class notes, recipe books, customized photo albums, manuals, and business reports. If more heavy-duty work is what you’re after, a thermal binding machine like the Fellowes thermal binding model at the end of our list is the better pick.
But for an affordable binding solution for your crafting and home project needs, we highly recommend the Makeasy comb binding machine.
Best electric comb binding machine: Galaxy E by Fellowes
We highly suggest Fellowes’s Galaxy E binding machine if you’ve been searching for a high-grade electric model. With just a quick touch of a button, this advanced machine can bind up to 500 sheets with a 2-inch comb.
Its sturdy make and top performance make it ideal for larger, more dense office or creative projects. One of its standout features is its removable binding system (operated manually), allowing two people to work simultaneously for enhanced productivity.
The Galaxy E offers vertical document loading for accurate punch alignment, an enhanced accuracy edge guide for pinpoint punch alignment, a storage tray, and a document measuring tool. It is, however, a little larger than most models, so keep this in mind before purchasing.
It’s perfect for serious crafters and convenient to meet office demands, as it can punch up to 25 pages at a time. Know that the noise level coming from your machine may vary depending on the paper thickness of your choice.
That said, we advise experimenting with different paper weights to determine what works best for you. Note that this is a pretty pricey item. Therefore, unless you’re working in bulk and taking on binding projects frequently or are looking for speed, this may not be worth the investment.
Best coil binding machine: Coil Binding Machine by TruBind
If you’re a left-hander looking to make notebooks that lay completely flat and turn at a 360-degree angle, then coil binding is the perfect method for you.
To that end, the TruBind Coil Machine is our top pick for the best coil binding machine. It combines electronic and manual features, offering top performance and versatility. It can punch up to 20 sheets at once, and its sturdy grip lever is comfortable for both right and left-handers.
With its versatile margin adjustments, hole punch guide with removable pins, and the ability to bind through thicker materials, it’s an all-in-one machine that can do it all. However, the star of this machine is its electric insertion mechanism, which electronically inserts plastic coils for faster binding!
Additionally, your package will include a cutter crimping tool to manually seal coils for clean finishes. Though more expensive than other models, this device is designed to last and is worth the splurge if you’re serious about your bookbinding projects.
We highly recommend the TruBind Coil Machine for its ease of use, efficiency, and professional-looking results. However, if you’re looking for a slightly cheaper option, the fully manual version of this model is also a solid choice.
Best wire binding machine: The Cinch by We R Memory Keepers
The We R Memory Keepers Cinch binding machine is an ideal tool for crafters who enjoy creating personalized gifts and handmade projects such as notebooks, journals, and albums.
This versatile and user-friendly machine enables you to bind up to 20 sheets of paper simultaneously and customize hole spacing to meet your project’s needs. Being a wire binding machine, it’s best suited for smaller, lightweight items.
Desk calendars, notepads, planners, pocket notebooks, and more can all be made with this device. The Cinch binding machine comes with a set of wire bindings in various sizes and colors, which will have you making stunning items in no time.
If you’re a stationery or papercraft fan, trust us, you won’t regret adding this to your craft station: it’s affordable, compact, and works like a charm. Additionally, it’s very convenient to store and transport. Note that you’ll need to source pliers separately to apply finishes.
Overall, the Cinch is easy to use, durable, and visually appealing, making it an excellent gift for any craft enthusiast. Check out our guide to learn more about other fun We R Memory Keepers products!
Best thermal binding machine: Helios 60 by Fellowes
For a professional-grade thermal binding machine, the Fellowes Helios 60 is our top choice. It delivers exceptional results for heavy-duty tasks and uses heat to bind documents in just a few minutes.
The Helios 60 features a mechanism that automatically selects the appropriate heat settings for your projects, making it perfect for first-time thermal binding machine users! You can, however, also regulate this manually. It also incorporates an auto shut-off safety feature to prevent overheating.
This device also includes a shield safety barrier to prevent accidental contact with the heating plate. This medium-weight thermal binding machine can bind up to 600 sheets in one cycle: note that you won’t be able to edit your document once bound vs. comb binding machines.
However, this is the ideal pick if you’re looking for sleek, professional-looking, permanent binding. Compared to other models, this is a smaller, more compact device, with the capacity to bind projects up to ~11 inches — it’s slightly more limited than most manual devices.
On the other hand, the Helios 60’s high-quality, impeccable outcomes and convenient size make it a great solution to achieve elegant book-style finishes and long-lasting binding.
How long does it take to bind a document with a binding machine?
The amount of time it takes to bind a document with a binding machine depends on several factors, such as machine type and capacity. Binding a document with a desktop machine (electric, thermal, or manual) can take anywhere from a few seconds to a couple of minutes.
Are binding machines expensive?
Binding machines vary in cost, with some models priced under $100 and others costing several thousand dollars.
Do binding machines require maintenance?
Yes. Like any other device, binding machines require some level of maintenance. This includes everything from overall cleaning and lubricating of moving parts to replacing worn-out pieces. Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance and operation.
Which is the cheapest type of binding machine?
The cheapest type of binding machine is the comb binding machine. It’s ideal for basic binding needs and is easy to use. These machines punch holes in documents and bind them with a curved plastic comb spine that can be opened and closed for editing.
Are binding machines easy to operate?
Some binding machines are more user-friendly and easy to operate than others. However, most are pretty accessible and can be mastered quickly with the proper instruction and practice, whether manual, thermal, or electric.
How many pages /sheets of paper can you bind with a binding machine?
On average, most comb binders can handle approximately 80-400 pages, wire binders 75-100, and coil binders 85-440. Keep in mind that this may also depend on the size of the spines you use and the thickness of your paper.
That’s all for this binding machine buyer’s guide! Which machine will you be getting? Let everyone know in the comments below!