The US Constitution turns out to be a fairly succinct document and can be printed in a 4×5″ pocket notebook quite readily. Even with all of the ratified amendments, it’s easy enough to put on 48 printed pages.

As a reference for the text, I use the version published 25 July 2007 by the US House of Representatives, though I am considering updating that to the version kept by the National Archives. At first, I laid out the text in OpenOffice, then LibreOffice, and finally upgraded to a proper publishing program with Affinity Publisher 1.9. I produce the printer’s sheets on my inkjet printer and then fold and tear them into signatures…usually 2 signatures of 24 printed pages, each.

After the first 500 or so, I decided to start piercing the signatures with this homemade device.

After folding, tearing, and piercing, I sew them up with linen thread and cover the spines with a light kozo tissue. Most of the free versions include a printed endpaper which gives the source of the text and the reason for the project. Those are tipped in with PVA and pasted down with rice starch to a light-weight card stock cover.

The final assembly is pressed between boards for several days and then trimmed on a stack cutter. Each gets a quick inspection before being numbered. Only the “free” versions are numbered. I make a more elaborate linen covered version with a stenciled cover that I sell for $5 or $10. In total, the free versions take about 15 – 25 minutes of direct labor and about $1 for printing and materials.

I have a lot of fun leaving them on a table in a busy coffeeshop and sitting nearby to see what the reactions are. A lot of people react cynically. An equal number are curious but too afraid to take one. It’s no problem to give them away at various protests where they’re very much appreciated.