Introduction: Hardcover Leatherbound Book Made From Scratch.
I wanted to make a book that would not only last but have an antique look and feel about it. It had to be hardcover, have marbled page edges, & have a strong binding with heavy pages that would be sure to not only last but not have any ink bleed thru whenever I begin writing inside it. Below is a list of materials I used to construct my book.
Elmer's glue all (dries clear)
Acrylic paints (various colors)
Gold gel pen
Genuine Leather (I used a leather skirt)
Thick paper (for signatures aka groups of pages)
Heavy cardstock (for marbled endpaper to cover)
Faux Cord (to bind the signatures with glue also binding)
Cardboard (for spine & front & rear covers)
Leather (Genuine from old skirt not too thick not too thin)
Step 1: Making the Signatures & Drilling Holes for Faux Cord.
Since I used heavy paper my signatures consist of 2 pages folded in half for each one which totals 4 pages in the book. Trying to use anymore than that with thick paper would result in the foredge being too uneven (which I would later sand smooth) & I ended up using 16 signatures for a total of 64 pages. With thick paper this equates to a fairly thick book. Main goal here was durability so a similar book using printer paper would give you probably 4 times the pages in the same thickness. For this book 64 pages is going to be plenty enough for what I will be writing in the book.
After folding & putting my signatures together I used a couple of C-clamps & pieces of wood to clamp the signatures firmly together making sure they were nice and square. I then proceeded to drilling holes just large enough for my faux cord to travel through spacing them half and inch apart. I used a piece of craft wire to fasten to the end of the faux cord so I could easily start it through each of the holes I drilled. I tied a knot at the beginning & spiraled the cord through each hole tying at each which is hard to explain but should be visible in pictures. I tied the cord at the end just as I did with beginning.
Step 2: Gluing the Signatures & Faux Cord & Sanding the Foredge Smooth.
With the faux cord tied securely, next I used elmer's glue and covered the edge of the signatures & faux cord with an ample amount. After it dried I painted it all with some acrylic paint. I let all that dry for a good 24 hours before removing my clamps & wood & moving it on the foredge being sure to make the wood close to flush with the end pages. I then used some P80 sandpaper to sand the foredge down nice and smooth. I did the same with the head and tail as well. The marbling would only look good with smooth flush pages so this was crucial.
Step 3: Marbling the Foredge, Head, and Tail Using Acrylic Paints.
With the smooth edges now I was ready to begin the marbling process. After some research from mostly youtube video's (which proved quite helpful) I opted to use things I already had instead of taking a trip out. I gathered up the acrylic paint colors I wanted (I suggest no more than 3 - 5 colors) & used shaving cream to spread on a piece of cardboard. I then poured small amounts of each color on the shaving cream & used a toothpick to swirl into the colors. After achieving a pattern that I was happy with I pressed the foredge into the paint and shaving cream pausing a few seconds before removing it. I waited another minute or so making sure the paint had time to soak into the edge before using a straight edge piece of wood (large craft stick) to slide down it getting off the excess paint and cream. I then used a paper towel to carefully wipe off the rest. I proceeded to doing the same with the head and tail. I also dipped the inner spine (faux cord & all) into it as well. Now all my edges were marbled & I must say this method worked surprisingly well.It is a messy affair though but luckily acrylic paints wash off easy with soap and water. I suggest using latex gloves if you use anything other than acrylics for marbling. Don't clean up yet though if you plan on marbling the endpaper (shown in next step).
Step 4: Marbling the Endpaper & Gluing It to Heavy Cardstock.
I wanted my endpaper (inside front and rear hardcover) to be marbled to match the edge marbling. While I still had the marbling paint setup I went ahead and pressed some thick paper into the shaving cream and paint & used a straight edge (large craft stick in my case) to scrape off the excess. I then pressed it onto a paper towel getting off additional excess & allowed it to dry. Next I glued it onto heavy cardstock being sure to spread the elmers glue out smooth all over the cardstock before laying the marbled paper on & placing books on top to keep it held down to where it could dry flat. After drying I used more glue on the edge of the marbled paper to glue it down around the cardstocks back side cutting it to where it did not overlap. I then used clamps to secure the edges until dry.
Step 5: Using Cardboard to Make the Hardcover.
To make the hardcovers and spine I used 3 layers of corrugated cardboard gluing them so as the corrugation of the middle layer was running perpendicular to the outer pieces to provide strength. I used plenty of elmers glue being sure to spread it out evening with my fingers. I did the same for the spine. I used a smooth thin piece of cardboard to make a smooth outer layer that the leather would lay smooth against. I spaced the spine & front and rear covers about half an inch apart which for my book thickness & taking all else into account allowed it to open and close properly. The inner front and rear hardcover cardboard pieces I had to make a bit more narrow than the others to allow my faux cord covered inner spine room to fit to where the book would close straight. I let the hardcover outer layers for the front and rear cover overlap over the spine gluing them together giving the spine additional strength. I clamped it together and sit the book on the spine and allowed the glue plenty of time to dry.
Step 6: Fitting and Gluing the Leather Over the Cardboard Hardcover.
I wanted genuine leather for durability & luckily found a leather skirt at a vendors mall which was exactly what I needed. I cut a piece out leaving about an inch overlap on all sides. I spread elmers glue out smooth over the outer hardcover and spine with my fingers. I centered it up over the leather & placed it down giving all sides of the leather a few firm tugs being sure to get out any wrinkles before adding plenty of weight so as it would dry smooth. I allowed it 24 hours dry time.
Step 7: Gluing the Leather Overlap Inside As Well As the Endpaper & Finally the Hardcover to the Book.
Now it was time to glue down the leather overlap & tidy up the edges & corners. I used elmers glue & clamps to secure it all down tight & let it dry for 24 hours. Before adding the marbled endpaper covered heavy cardstock I wrote a few things on the inner cardboard hardcover just for fun. Only way it will ever be seen is if the endpaper manages to come lose one day. Next I went around the edge of the marbled endpaper covered cardstock with a bead of elmers glue and placed books on top so it would dry smooth. I gave it 24 hours to dry as well before removing the weight.
Step 8: Finishing Up With Button Strap & Gold Gel Pen Cover Designs.
Since I used such heavy paper for my book in order to keep it closed tight I used the leather waist from the skirt with button to go around the middle of the book. I glued it in place & it gives the book a nice unique look imo. I used a gold gel pen to draw designs on the leather hardcover and now the construction of the book is complete. Now I only have to fill it with various facts and knowledge in the world of science, technology, & astronomy.
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