Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Zine Machine

I had a bunch of orders today, and I realized that I was out of #5 and #6. So I had some already printed, and I started making a bunch. Then I realized I haven't shared my zine-making technique that I promised to share a while back. So I pulled out my cheap Fancy-Phone and took pics.

This is how I make the physical zines.

I do things factory style, which means I don't make each zine one at a time, I systematically do all the steps in batches. It's faster, it becomes mindless work, so you can watch TV, even read, or think about other things while you crank out a zillion zines.

1. First I collate everything, so I have covers and pages all in the right order.

2. Staple. Staple first! It keeps the pages straight. I staple them all, and put them all in a pile.

3. Fold using my Zine-Fold-o-Matic(tm) (see below.) It's easier than eye-balling, and it gets a basic fold in pretty much the right spot, and it's not going to cause carpal tunnel syndrome from folding, pressing. Again, stack them all.

Zine fits between the flaps. Not exactly, but close. You need some play.
I bow it like this to make sure it's centered. This is the most important part.
Fold! I use my whole hand so I don't get cramps or RSI.
4. Hard fold with something that's hard, that doesn't stain or scratch. A bone-tool is nice, I guess. I use a little shot-glass. Done.

Shot Glass for a harder edge
The Zine-Fold-0-matic is a piece of corrugated plastic that I stole off the street. I hate those signs, they're all over my neighborhood. Most are taking advantage of the low income folks and those on the brink of foreclosure, vultures I tell you. I steal them all, and use them for other projects. I took this one, cut it in half, lengthwise. I measured out a zine, and scored where they'd fold side so it folds easily.

Rule for scale, I used a physical zine for the measurements. Four scores. There will be a gap between the edges of the zine and the plastic-folder-thing. This is OK.

This is to show the scores. I cut through one side, and only one side. You don't want to make the flaps too big, or it won't fold. Or too small, it'll kinks the pages. 

That's it! Let me know if you have any questions.

P.S. #7 is in layout. 

Bonus Tips: Get a stamp for your return address and use address labels for the recipient. Writing out addresses separately sucks. I did hand label a few, but if there is more than 1 or 2, I always cut and paste their address into a template, and print.


  1. Very neat, I would never have thought of the Zine-o-Matic!

  2. Great folding idea! Also, I love the address labels you use on your envelopes. I save them along with my 'zines in comic book boards/bags.

  3. Awww. Pealing back the Veil of Mystery on your methods is somewhat disappointing to me. I had always pictured "lovingly hand-crafted" being the basis of your production process.

    I am, however, the recipient of a handwritten label. Behold me and weep with envy those of you relegated to the tender mercies of the machine-god labeling method.

  4. Interesting use of a shot glass. It might affect zine quality control, but dammit, there's a drinking game in there somewhere.

    1. I did fail to mention any kind of drinking, but if you look at the Shot Glass pic, there's a can of Tecate. Yes, it's open. Yes, I was drinking while taking pics. There are also coozies on the table, one for Lone Star and another of Bud Light.

  5. Can you get Zine-fold-o-matics(tm) in other styles other than the HOMES FOR SALE one? I'd quite like one: maybe in a different colour...

  6. Love the zine-o-matic; many happy memories of my childhood with dad & I driving around the neighborhood with razor blades to slash those signs off the telephone poles.