Best Binding Machines in 2020



Fellowes Binding Machine Star+ Comb Binding (5006501) Review:


I have been trying to convince my hubs that this would be a great investment for our homeschooling adventure, well he finally saw the light! I ordered this wonderful Fellowes Binding Starr Plus Machine about a week ago and have already made a dozen books. I've used it to make our children's planners, e-books and curriculum. I received my binder and supplies pretty quickly and it was packaged very well. I ordered the Fellowes brand plastic combs in 2 sizes, 1/4" and 1" in the same order. This binder was described as a 19 punch machine but is fact a 21 punching machine. It also says (in the literature that comes with the binder) that the maximum comb size is 18mm (150 pgs) but I tried a 1" comb and made it work. It's a bit of a pain because the comb doesn't open up as much as a smaller size but if you are patient you can make it work. I also ordered additional combs, 5/16" (21-40 pg) & 3/8" (41-55 pgs) and they work just great! I will probably try out some off brand combs eventually since I need to try out a few more size combs for various projects. This binder has many great features like the storage tray with built in comb sizer. It is located on the right side of the binder and has been handy for me a time or two. There is also a small window on the top side of the binder so you can see how many punches are in the dump bin, you want to empty this out several times in a session if you are a heavy user, found out the hard way so trust me it's important. Another feature I like is the adjustable edge guide. You can adjust the edge marker quite easily and it makes punching you papers so much easier and faster. I also love the portability of this binder and its compact size. Sure there are smaller binders out them that can be stored in a drawer but I wanted one that would last me for years to come. I also recommend watching the video on fellowes.com about this binder since the instructions on inserting the comb are very precise. I would totally recommend this binder to anyone who homeschools, it has been a blessing to us.



YoWin Binding Machine, 450 Sheet 21 Hole Comb Binding Machine with Starter Kit 100 PCS 3/8'' Comb Binding Spines, Comb Binding Machine Perfect for Office Documents Review:


I took a chance on this after reading reviews about 21 vs 19 teeth combs. The price was great and since it came with 100 21teeth combs, I figured I'd cross the bridge of finding more 21 in a few years when I used up the included 100 combs. BUT this DOES do 19 holes in a normal letter sized paper!! The 21 holes is for longer paper. So I can bind 9x12 construction paper!!! This makes the teacher in me so excited! So you can very easily line it up to just make 19 holes and then trim the last two teeth off the combs it comes with. It punches 12 pages at a time. The whole arm and machine are metal. Except for the tip of the handle (that wraps over the metal arm), and part of the area that you lay paper on, that has a carrying handle, I see no other plastic on it. The punchers, the comb things, the arm, the casing... it's all metal. The arm is sturdy. I don't know if they redisigned this since other reviewers complained about a flimsy arm? It's really easy to line the combs up to open and put paper in. It's just absolutely perfect for making workbooks out of my kids loose leaf worksheets that come with their curriculum. We can also make books now and art portfolios. So many options. How have I homeschooled without a binding machine before now? This is amazing!!



Fellowes 5006801-99 Binding Machine Pulsar+ Comb Binding (5006801) Review:


I’ve had this binding machine for about two years, and I’ve used it for at least 100 different books on family history and genealogy topics, ranging in size from 20-500 pages. It’s sturdy and works flawlessly. And, it’s saved me a LOT of money and time over going to an office supply store to have them do what I can now do myself.

I’ve only had two problems:
(1) not fully learning how to use it in the beginning - I am NOT crafty in any stretch of the imagination, so I needed to read the instructions and play with it at the beginning before I figured out how to use it. Once you figure it out once, though, it’s quite easy every time, even if it’s been awhile between uses.
(2) very occasionally the pages / covers don’t get punched properly, but every single time it’s been because I’ve been in a rush; it’s never been the machine’s fault.

Just make sure you keep paying attention to each step as you make each book, have a few size combs as options, and, have back and front covers if you need an extra level of niceness, and you’re good.

After trying lots of different methods for books, these are my recommendations for great covers and paper, all of which work great with this binding machine. Genealogy and family history books are great, but when they're printed on garbage and put together like garbage, it takes away from the information I've put together. It's awesome when you put together something for someone and they're blown away the second they see the book, before they've even opened it.
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COVERS
Note: the covers suggested here are thicker than the flimsy samples that come with the machine
General cover suggestions:
- get thicker covers (8 mil) these bend but are not at all flimsy, and they work great with this machine
- get oversized (8.75" x 11.25" vs 8.5" x 11") it just looks tidier, and covers your books better
- get them in bulk: the price drops significantly when you get larger quantities in a package, so go with the 100 sized packages if possible
- only put one cover in your binder at a time - you'll have less mistakes that way.

Binding Front Cover recommendations:
(1) Fellowes 52311 Crystal Clear Presentation Covers with Round Corners, 8mil Oversize Letter, Clear (Pack of 100)
https://www.amazon.com/Fellowes-Binding-Presentation-Covers-52089/dp/B0015ZXIL2
I'm not crazy about how the Crystal Clear covers feel. They feel like they'll scratch up like crazy, but then they really don't. You can't beat them price-wise. Right now 100 packs are about $18, which comes to .18 a cover.

(2) Fellowes Futura Premium Heavyweight Presentation Covers, Oversize Letter, Frosted, 25 Pack (5224201)
https://www.amazon.com/Fellowes-Binding-Presentation-Covers-52089/dp/B0196JUY7Y
The Frosted ones are amazing. They're see-through yet frosted just enough to give them a much more professional look and feel than the crystal clear ones, in my opinion. Unfortunately I've only been able to find them in 25 packs, where they cost about .90 cents to $1 each. If you hunt around a little you can find a bit better of a deal, but no where near as low as the clear ones. If the costs were closer between the two types, I'd only use frosted.

Binding Back Cover recommendation:
Fellowes Binding Presentation Covers, Oversize Letter, 200 Pack, Black (52138)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000Y9FB0G
At about $22.50 for 200, these are a fantastic deal at less than .12 each.
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PAPER

If you want great paper, this is the stuff to get:
Hammermill Paper, Premium Color Copy 8.5 x 11 Acid Free, 28lb, 100 Bright, 5 Reams / 2,500 Sheets (102450C)
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005EO3QHG/
If you get it on the Subscribe and Save deal, it's currently about $40.50 a box, which comes to about .0162 cents per page. SO worth it. It feels fantastic, is wholly opaque, prints great in an ink jet. Absolutely hands down the best paper I've ever used. People WILL comment on it, and will think you spent a crazy amount of money on it.

Note!! Because the paper is a lot heavier than most kinds people use, you have to account for that when choosing a comb / spine size. I made a little chart that I taped onto the binder itself to remind me what size comb to use with the 28 lb paper. If you have less comb sizes, use the next size up. The chart is attached as an image to this review.



TruBind Coil-Binding Machine - with Electric Coil Inserter - TB-S20A - Professionally Bind Books and Documents - Office or Home Use - Adjustable Hole-Punching and Paper-Size Settings Review:


If you are thinking about getting this for high-volume commercial use, it may not be the best choice. For home use or low to moderate volume commercial use, I don't think you can go wrong for the money. There are specific aspects of this machine that probably deserve separate attention:
Packaging
One reviewer pointed out that the electric coil inserter and the silver drum underneath came damaged. While I’m sure that Amazon will make good on this, I was a little bit concerned since I have on occasion purchased marginal quality devices online without realizing it. One of the key markers of this type of inferior quality is its frequency of arriving broken. The outside box that my machine came in was pretty beat up. I think this may have been because our 4 fairly large dogs met the deliveryman in the driveway and I have a feeling he just tossed it out of the truck. Nevertheless, I found that Amazon, as usual, had done an excellent job of packing. The outer box contained cushioning material which surrounded an inner box. The machine itself was very securely packed with foam inserts. I found absolutely no damage or malfunction to the device whatsoever.
Documentation
Thank goodness for YouTube. The documentation with this device was practically nonexistent. It came with an 8.5 x 11 sheet of card stock which was folded in half as its full user manual. Something like what you normally would see for a “quick start guide”. All it really said was basically you put the sheets in, you punch holes and then you put the coil in. There is a small tab sticking out of the left side of the machine with no indication whatsoever as to its purpose. It actually turns out to be an adjustable guide so that you can switch from a 4 ½ mm border to a 6 ½ mm border if you want the holes a little bit further away from the edge of your sheet. There is a fuse holder in the back of the machine which is also ignored in the instructions but if your electric coil inserter seems like it’s “dead”, this is where to check the fuse. Right below the fuse is a removable tray where the little circles go that are punched out of the paper. It pulls out towards the back. This is also something that was ignored in the instructions and is not immediately obvious.
Construction Quality
The housing and work bed are plastic. This is okay though because the working parts of the machine are quite heavy and appear to be quite sturdy in construction. Some of the individual punches appeared to stick slightly on retracting but I’m sure this will improve as it “wears in”. By the way, the punches are lubricated and will stain the first few sheets that you punch. If it is an important presentation, you definitely want to cycle the machine a dozen or so times with scrap paper before you use it on important work. It is rated at 20 sheets punch capacity with 20 # stock. I think this may be a bit of a stretch. I did do 20 sheets of 18 # stock successfully but I would not want to do it on a repetitive basis both for the amount of effort involved and the strain on the machine. 15 sheets at a time is probably more reasonable. I really like the full handle design on this device. Many of the machines out there have a single crank type handle on one side. I can’t imagine punching holes in 15 sheets of paper with one of those devices without having it twist from the torque.
Features
As mentioned above, you can adjust how far away the holes are from the edge of the paper. Any of the punches can be disengaged so that you do not have any holes overhanging the edge of your sheet. It is not necessary to disengage all of the ones you’re not using, just the last one at the edge. (The last job I had “professionally” bound at Staples completely ignored this and all of the books had holes hanging off the edges of the sheets. Did not look very professional at all.) There is a gauge printed on the front bed of the machine that you can lay your sheet on to see exactly where the holes are going to fall and which, if any, punches you need to disengage. There is also a printed guide that tells you what size coil to use depending on the number of pages you are going to bind. This is handy but it would be nice to have a feature like I saw on another machine where you simply slide the document that you want to bind into one of several slots to see how thick it is and what size coil to use. You’ll notice that the tabs which are used to disengage the punches are not straight across, they arch upward. This is because the punches do not engage simultaneously but rather the edges engage first and then work their way to the center. This is an excellent design feature. It eliminates having to exert a huge amount of force to punch all of the holes simultaneously.
Ease of Use
The hole punching part is pretty straightforward. You line your pages up with the adjustable guide on the left-hand side, check to see if you need to disengage any of the punches using the circles printed on the bed and if you do, you simply pull out the silver knob of the punches that you want to disengage. Slide the pages all the way to the back, press down on both sides of the handle and you’re done. I have seen a lot of comments with regard to the electric coil inserter. Yes it does run fast. Yes it probably would be easier to use and just as effective if it was half the speed and yes it does take a little bit of practice. Unfortunately, here once again the instructions give you practically no guidance. The most important part is to manually insert the coil through the first 3 or 4 holes. Then gently press the coil against the rotating rubber drum engaging the loops of the coil in the grooves of the drum. Rest the coil on the silver roller for support. It is important that you press gently and evenly on the rubber roller. You may have to put a little bit more pressure on the left side of your document. If not, the tip of the coil has a tendency to slide under the last few pages on the top of your document instead of coming out the hole and going around again. Obviously it is also important to keep the pages of your document lined up as evenly as possible so the holes line up evenly and don’t snag the coil as it’s going through. I generally put a binder clip on each side of the document to keep the pages lined up while I am inserting the coil. If you follow these tips, you shouldn’t have any trouble after you get a little bit of experience. The machine comes with a crimping pliers that simultaneously cuts the excess coil off and crimps the end so that it doesn’t come out of the book. It is extremely easy to use, just make sure you have it oriented in the proper direction otherwise you will crimp the part that you cut off instead of the part that stays on the book.
Final Thoughts
Plastic coil binding is a very cost-effective and functional way to bind loose papers semi-permanently. The cost of the coils ranges from $.13-$.25 apiece when purchased in quantity and depending on the size of the coil. It is possible to reuse them, so long as you don’t cut them too short when you put them in. If you are getting ready to throw the book away, simply snip off both crimped ends and place it against the spinning drum and it will spin the coil off in a couple of seconds. (It is actually faster and easier to remove them than to put them in) Coil binding is more functional than comb binding because it allows you to fold the book over on itself and lay it flat. It is as cheap or cheaper than using plastic report covers and the pages are much easier to read. I definitely recommend this machine for the intermittent user.



Binding Machine, 21-Hole, 450 Sheet, Paper Punch Binder with Starter Kit 100 PCS 3/8'' PVC Comb Bindings, Comb Binding Machine for Letter Size / A4 / A5 Review:


At first, I was looking for more expensive binders, thinking they would serve my needs better. The expensive machine I get didn't have the ability to increase the margin depth, so I took a chance on this one. I was quite impressed that such an inexpensive contraption would meet my needs. With this little apparatus, you can adjust the margin width and depth. At first, I found that the machine would create unfinished holes on the ends, but I thought there had to be a way for it not to do that. What worked best for me is to slide the knob on the front all the way to the left. That solved the problem of the unfinished holes on the end. The machine punches 19 holes, so the plastic combs would not work for me, but the extra length could be cut to make use of them. for the price, you really can't go wrong. You even get a 2-year warranty.

Some people found this machine difficult to use, but that's because binding takes a bit of practice, no matter which one you get.



Binding Machine, 21-Hole, 450 Sheet, Comb Binding Machine with Starter Kit 100 PCS 3/8'' Comb Binding Spines, Comb Binding Machine Perfect for Daily Office Documents Review:


Update: Customer service on this binding machine was great. A new one was mailed to me pretty quickly, and the new one has been working well so far.

Old review: I got this because I am a homeschool mom and wanted to be able to bind some books and things. The reviews were all glowing, and the price seemed right.

First, the instructions aren't actually very clear about how to attach the comb. I figured it out... I think? But was punching out sheets, 10 at a time (maximum is supposed to be 12, but 10 was easier for me to keep count of) when the handle bend completely out of shape and I was unable to finish punching. I was able to punch one set of 10 sheets and it broke in the middle of bunching the next set. That set is actually stuck in the machine right now, halfway punched. I didn't use a ton of force - certainly not enough to do this if it were better quality! I was punching 10 sheets of COPY PAPER too, so nothing thick.

Unfortunately, I can't return this for some reason, so I'm stuck with a useless hunk of medal. Most expensive 10mm combs ever?

I've attached photos of the squared part the handle attaches to, and the NO LONGER SQUARED handle attachment.



YaeKoo 21-Hole 450 Sheets Paper Comb Punch Binder Binding Machine Scrapbook Review:


I was worried by reviews that said you couldn’t avoid half cut holes when using US letter paper but as per photo if you line up the US letter paper with the white line between the inch/mm columns on the table it works PERFECTLY!! :))

Do note that it can’t punch more than 6 sheets of paper at a time and 1 sheet at a time for clear covers. It did not handle the Fellowes black plastic binder cover very well & even when punched one at a time I had to hand trim several of the holes that were not fully punched. However this was the back cover (clear was the front) and it still delivered a very polished result that got lots of compliments! :)



Fellowes 5218301 Galaxy 500 Electric Comb Binding System, 500 Sheets, 19 5/8x17 3/4x6 1/2, Gray Review:


I thought for the amount of money this cost, it would be somehow far more heavy duty and that it would more easily bind paper into books, but after using it, I can’t fathom any reason why it needs to be this large to do the job it does. It is essentially just a big hole puncher, that also will slightly pull apart a plastic comb spine--and you have to do the threading of the plastic comb yourself. It’s not super easy or fast to do that last part. I’d hoped for the extra money, I could just feed the pages into the superior machine and it would do the work of binding, but not really so. Nevertheless, I was quite pleased with the bound copied I made with this. Just wish it wasn’t so large if it didn’t have to be, because I have to store it. I’d gladly store it if the large size contributed to the ease of operation; it does not.



Kenley Binding Machine Paper Punch Binder with Starter Combs Set - 21 Hole / 450 Sheets Review:


Works perfectly! If you don't know how to use this machine, get some paper and combs and practice. Some of these reviews say the machine doesn’t cut well, or you can't put the combs on or the handle doesn't work. Do not listen to them. I was able to put 3 books together in less than an hour, 1 had 200 pages and the others 20. This machine is probably worth more than the asking price if you know how to use it! I believe majority of the bad reviews on this machine are based on user errors and not the machine itself. I ordered it then read some reviews, now I am glad I didn't cancel my order because there is nothing wrong with the machine. Make sure you push the paper in all the way to get a perfect cut and if you don't put the comb in the right way, of course it won't open silly people!



TruBind Coil-Binding Machine - TB-S20 - Professionally Bind Books and Documents - Office or Home Use - Adjustable Hole-Punching and Paper-Size Settings Review:


So far so good! I like to purchase PDF versions of textbooks and print/tab the chapters that I need. Makes studying much easier in that you can fold the pages back flat. If you don't need to make more than 10 coil bound books in total, save the money and go to an office supply store/Kinkos. If you're doing more than 10, it's cheaper to buy this thing and do it yourself.

This thing appears to be built well; it's heavy and feels solid. It definitely feels like it will last for years. It's quite large - forget about trying to keep it in a desk drawer. It's about the size of 4 reams of paper stacked on top of one another, and about a ream and a half wide. If you have more than a few pages, it takes a bit of effort to get the handle down. Hardly herculean strength, but just a bit more than a normal hole punch. The wide handle lets you use both hands to accomplish this easily.

I'd recommend practicing on a few sheets of scrap paper to make sure everything is set correctly. There is a guide you can adjust, as well as a tab on the back left corner of the machine that adjusts how far away from the edge of the page the holes are (see photo). That's pretty much it. Your first 20 pages or so will have some oil residue on them from manufacturing - make some punches in scrap paper to soak up the excess and you won't have any issues on your finished product.

The only con - if you're making a large book it's going to take a few minutes. I spent about 10 minutes to punch and insert the coil in a 250 page book. It's mindless work though - so you can watch a video, take a phone call, or listen to a podcast while punching holes.