Teflon Folders vs Bone Folders – which one is better for bookbinding?

Teflon Folders vs Bone Folders - which one is best

I’m pleased to announce I have a limited number of teflon folders available for sale in my online shop at RuthBleakley.etsy.com. Read on for more information about what makes these bookbinding tools so wonderful and different from regular bone folders.

What is a Teflon folder, anyway? Well, a traditional bone folder is a thin stick of polished animal bone - yes, it really is bone! (unless you get an uncommon plastic one) – they look and feel like plastic, but hold it up to the light and you’ll see a fine grain that is the telltale sign of bone. Bookbinders, scrapbookers, collage artists, origami artists and even office workers use bone folders to help fold, crease and burnish paper.

If you don’t have a bone folder (of any kind) in your tool arsenal and you’re taking up bookbinding or paper crafting as a hobby you need to get one as soon as possible! They save your hands- try folding paper with your thumbs for half an hour and you’ll see what I mean- they speed up your production, and they create a beautiful, crisp, finished look to your work. Look how fast I speed through this paper-folding using my teflon folders:

Teflon Folders vs Bone Folders - 2Ergonomic rib folder is a great shape for folding paper

Traditional bone folders are the standard for paper crafting and can be found in every craft store fairly inexpensively, but there are a few drawbacks:

  • They can “glaze” paper – create a shiny spot or line where you press down hard (see video below)
  • They can develop dents in the side if you fold thick card stock
  • They can become glue-encrusted or soak up ink or dye from your paper
  • They are made out of animal bones (could be problematic if you are vegetarian)
  • They can tear glue-soaked paper if you don’t use a buffer like waxed paper when burnishing

I took a video to show an example of my very well-used traditional bone folder (ok, actually plastic) vs a teflon folder when it comes to marking the paper:

Here’s another video:

See how the regular bone folder leaves a shiny mark on your paper when you push hard? That’s really frustrating if you’re using a delicate handmade paper, there’s no way to undo those shiny marks and you could potentially ruin the look of your book!

What’s the answer? TEFLON.

You read that right – like what’s on a non-stick frying pan.

Teflon is a brand name of polytetraflouroethelyne (PTFE for short) an inert polymer (so, kind of like nylon) that is highly is resistant to corrosion and it is extremely slippery – that’s why it’s applied to pans to make them super easy to clean. Teflon is harmless unless you vaporize it at very high heat (like temperatures over 300 centigrade or 572 Fahrenheit), which is why they say you should avoid heating a teflon coated pan with nothing in it – but I digress, unless you’re working inside a volcano, you probably don’t need to worry about your Teflon Folder.

Each of these non-stick bone folders is made from SOLID teflon.

It’s hard to describe what they feel like – very silky, but with a nice weight to them, heavier than a traditional bone folder. Each of these bone folders has gently rounded edges, except for where they are more squared off for creasing or scoring.

Teflon folder side view - essential bookbinding tool

This small teflon folder is great because it has a sharp end to get into nooks and crannies and get your detail work down. Paying attention to the details is what will set your handmade book apart from the rest -and make sure it doesn’t come apart when it’s done!

Use the pointy end of the Teflon Folder for detail work in bookbinding

Teflon Bone Folders the essential bookbinding tool that does not mess up your paper

I created this embossed look by burnishing (rubbing) down the end papers while they were still damp with glue – but if you do this with a regular bone folder, you risk tearing the delicate paper or leaving shiny marks, unless you put a piece of waxed paper down…but then you can’t see where you’re rubbing!

comparing teflon folder shapes - these are the perfect tool for bookbinding

Advantages to Teflon folders include:

  • They DON’T leave shiny marks on paper
  • Glue cannot adhere to them. Basically you just scratch the dried glue off with your fingernail and they’re perfectly clean
  • They can be used to burnish glued paper, without any buffer sheet
  • They don’t seem to develop dents or grooves in the side as much (I haven’t extensively tested this but so far it seems true)
  • They feel great to hold because they’re like the smoothest material in the world

Teflon Bone Folders the essential bookbinding tool - large folder

Teflon Bone Folders the essential bookbinding tool - will not mess up gluey paper

The long edge of the large teflon folder is perfect for giving your book cover a final burnish.

Ok, now that I’ve talked up the benefits of these magical crafting sticks, I hope I’ve talked you into trying one because guess what, I sell Teflon folders in my etsy shop now! I am so excited to share the news that I found a great supplier for my most favorite bookbinding tool of all time. Not only that, I have all THREE sizes available including the wonderfully ergonomic Rib shape that takes the pressure off your thumbs when you’re folding lots of paper. I have a limited number available in my etsy shop but I wanted to let you, dear bookbinding  readers, know about it first.

NOW, I KNOW WHAT YOUR’RE THINKING: $20 for a STICK? Bear with me though!

If you order one, I will send a coupon toward the purchase of the other two, because I’m sure you’ll find that you love them so much that you want all three. Yes, I know they’re pretty expensive, but it’s a solid chunk of TEFLON! So futuristic! This is a solid investment into your crafting hobby or business, trust me. If you don’t think so, you can return it and I will give you your money back! I use these three folders in my studio practice ALL THE TIME. EVERY DAY. (ok maybe not every day, but most days of the year!)

Teflon Folders vs Bone Folders

the Large 7″ Teflon folder is great for:

1. Burnish book covers
2. glue down collages
3. fold signatures
(actual dimensions: 6.75″x.75″)

the Small 6″ Teflon folder is great for:

1. Get into nooks and crannies for fine detail work
2. delaminating spatula (AKA peeling things up)
3. scoring with the sharp flat edge
(actual dimensions: 6″x.5″)

the Rib Shape Teflon folder is great for:

1. Folding signatures or greeting cards
2. burnishing covers
3. really the most multipurpose with one straight side, one rounded side, one pointy side, one flat side and it fits great in the palm of your hand!
(actual dimensions: 4.25″x2.5″x.25 thick”)

A set of 3 teflon folders makes a wonderful gift (to yourself…or someone else!) I have a limited number for sale in my Etsy shop:

Teflon Folders – the best paper folding tool

Thanks for reading my infomercial about teflon folders – but seriously, I bought some extra to sell because I love them, and I think every bookbinder needs one, and I’ve realized that a lot of folks who read my blog are bookbinders, not journalers, so I thought it would be nice to have something in my etsy shop that’s a little treat for you, too, not just folks who write in journals.

Do you want to learn more about bookbinding? I recommend 5 books for beginners in this post: 5 Great How-to Books about Bookbinding

Thank you so much for reading my blog – if you enjoy bookbinding, check out my Pinterest board Handmade Books + Journals (which as of this writing has 10,192 followers!) and don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter :

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this post contains affiliate links…and also straight-up links directly to my online shop!

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