Introduction: Custom Leather Harry Potter Books
- Utility knife (stock up on fresh blades, the chipboard and leather will dull them fast!)
- Super Glue
- Glue Stick
- Paint Brushes (small, for detailing)
- Safe surface to cut on
- Optional: 3D Printer
- Leather of your choice (I used this)
- I needed 10 square feet to complete 7 books
- For one book, you will need 2 square feet (with some left over)
- Leather can come in many different thicknesses. Most will work, but you might be better off getting your leather from a craft store where you can see it before you buy it. Online shopping can be a bit random!
Step 1: The Story Begins! Prepare Your Chipboard.
- Start off by grabbing two pieces of chip board, a ruler, and utility blade and begin to measure out your cover based off of the book you are using.
- I based mine off of the paper back Harry Potters, and ended up cutting this at 5 by 8.25 inches.
- As you cut, make sure you are stocked up on plenty of utility blades. I think I went through two blades per book.
- After that is cut, do it one more time, for a total of 4 rectangular pieces of chipboard.
Step 2: Make a Border
- This first layer of board is going to form the border of the cover. Cut yours however you’d like, I happened to have some scrap cutout from the previous 6 books, and I used that as a template.
- After the border was removed, I went back and rounded out the corners just by eyeballing it, no precision measurement here. And repeat.
Step 3: Make a Logo
First off, my books are based off of Harry Potter, but yours don't have to be! Come up with your own logo/art based off whatever book you are using!
- Now for the HP logo, I decided to 3D print it off at the same thickness of the chip board (OPTIONAL).
- I actually cut out the logo by hand for the first 3 books and it took forever and left me with very sore fingers.
- 3D printing saved me a ton of time.
Step 4: Glue in the Borders and Logo
- I then added super glue all around the edges of the other set of chip board, placed the borders, weighed them down, and waited about 10 minutes.
- Then do the exact same thing with the logo.
- I didn’t measure it right to the center, I just eye balled it until I thought it looked good.
Step 5: Glue in the Borders and Logo Continued
- Now for the back of each book, I wanted to make something that was unique to each story. I thought about the deathly hallows symbol, but my leather was so thick that I didn’t think it would come very well or with much detail.
- Instead, I chose the elder wand.
- I printed off a picture and glued it down to some scrap chip board with a glue stick and then very slowly cut it out.
- This chip board is thin, but surprisingly, very tough. Each cut would take me at least 3 passes with the blade.
- After it was cut out, I glued in place.
Step 6: Create the Spine
- The next step is to measure the spine of your book.
- The deathly hallows came out roughly 1 and 5/8s.
- From there I added a half inch and cut that out on a piece of card stock. This new spine needs to be a bit thicker to account for the thickness of the chip board and leather.
- From there I lined up the covers, face down, with the new spine and carefully laid down some tape to hold things in place.
- As you do this, be cognizant of your cover positioning! When face down, the front cover should be on the left!
Step 7: An Important Note About Buying Leather
I have a lot to say about leather, so we should probably pause. First off, I did not do a great job conserving my leather as I worked on each book, which left me with a pretty wonky piece for the last one. I did a decent job salvaging this, but I still wish I had a better piece to work with.
That being said, if you end up ordering more leather, you might not get a piece that matches the quality of your original. Makes since right? Not all cows are the same! I ordered a new piece and got some incredibly thin leather that actually looked great and was super easy to work with, but it was completely inconsistent with the rest of the books, which were thick and soft.
Luckily, customer service was very helpful and allowed me to call them and describe what I was looking for. They shipped me some new leather which was pretty darn close to the original. So keep that in mind and plan your resources accordingly.
You might be better off buying it in person from a craft store!
Step 8: Measure Out the Leather
- I then tried to line up my covers on the leather in a way that would give me the most to work with, then cut off the excess.
Step 9: Begin Gluing
- From there, I laid out some foil to help keep excess glue from sticking to anything it shouldn’t.
- Then on the front cover, I spread out a layer of PVA glue and used my finger to cover as much of it as I possibly could.
- Try not to go overboard with the glue because if you use too much, it could leave little bubbles under your leather or just take forever to dry.
Step 10: Attach the Leather
- I then placed the cover back onto the leather and started pressing the leather down as hard as I could.
- This step can be pretty difficult based off of the thickness of your leather.
- Mine was very thick, so I really had to work it down to get the the details underneath to pop through.
- I ended up using the end of a pen and the rounded edge of a paper clip to really press down around the logo and the border.
Step 11: Attach the Spine and Back
- Next, I spread glue on the spine and the back cover and using the same technique, began to press the leather down.
- It can be tough to decide how much time to spend on this step. For the most part, you’ll find that the cover dries into place pretty quickly but you may have some spots that just don’t want to hold their shape.
- For those, just take your time alternating between pressing down with a utensil and pressing down with your hand to hold it in place.
An important note I learned: Anytime you put a lot of glue on paper, like the spine here, it can get soggy and lumpy. The next time I did this project, I first covered the spine in masking tape before gluing, which worked much better!
Step 12: Trim the Edges
- Next, we can begin to trim away all of the excess leather into neater lines.
- I found that a good spot was about an inch away from the edge.
- It just so happened this architect’s scale was an inch, so it made for a great straight edge.
- Obviously, because of this wonky piece of leather, some of the edge was closer than an inch.
Step 13: Trim Corners and Remove Tape
- After that I cut away some of each corner right at 45 degrees. Luckily my cutting board already had measurements built in!
- Then go ahead and remove the tape, you don’t need that anymore.
Step 14: Glue in the Edges
- Run a bead of glue all the way across the bottom or top edge.
- From there, you can tightly fold the excess leather over and glue it down.
- Again, I was very surprised at how fast the glue would bond and keep the leather in place.
- I then used a piece of scrap wood to help evenly flatten everything out.
Step 15: Trim Up the Corners and Fold in the Other Sides!
- Next, I trimmed away a bit more of the corner to make the sides easier to fold.
- This was because my leather was so thick, this might not have been necessary with thinner leather.
- Then repeat and glue in the sides.
I know, I know... Things don't look wonderfully even in the fourth picture here. But again, this was because this was my last piece of leather and it was just barely big enough to work with. Hopefully things look better when you try it! Even if it's not perfect, it will later be covered up!
I did go back and try to clean up the edges as you can see in pictures 5 and 6.
Step 16: Reinforce the Spine
I once again measured out the spine and glued in a matching piece of leather. This just helped the finished spine be a lot more durable.
Step 17: Remove the Original Cover
- The next step is to very, very carefully remove the cover from your paper back book.
- As you do this, you are going to feel like a monster. And ya, well… you are! ;)
- Go very slowly as you remove it!
Step 18: Paint the Edges of the Book (Optional)
- My wife is a big fan of books with colored edges so I decided to spray paint these black.
- Use a clamp and some scrap wood to press down on each edge as much as you can, this will help prevent paint from seeping further into the pages.
- I then used some standard glossy black spray paint for each edge.
- Don't over do it here! Just lightly spray in bursts until you are satisfied with the coverage!
Step 19: Level Out the Inner Cover
- While I waited on the paint to dry, I wanted to level out the inside of the cover by gluing in some more chip board.
- So I did some more measuring, cutting, and gluing!
- I really only needed to do this because my leather was so thick. If yours is pretty thin, you can skip this step!
Step 20: Create a New First Page
- After the book was dry, I wanted to make a nicer first page that I could later write inscriptions in.
- So I folded some card stock in half and cut it to fit the front page of the original book.
- I then ran a very thin bead of glue down the spine edge of the book and pressed down my new page.
- I also did this to the back of the book.
Step 21: Adding a Little Extra Support
- From there, I wanted to add a bit more support to the book just to make sure it wouldn’t fall apart after losing its original paper back spine.
- I took some crafting fabric, color didn’t matter, and cut a piece that was about 3/4s as long as the book and then glued it center on the spine.
- After that, its obvious that the orange didn’t look great, so I cut out some strips of black card stock to glue over the top of the fabric.
Step 22: Add the Headbands
- Next for a real nice finished look, I added some black and white head bands to the top and bottom of the spine.
- Simply measure and cut out what you need.
- Attach the headbands with the PVA glue and hold them in place for about a minute.
Step 23: A Tip for Assembly
These pictures are from a different book that I did better, but in 1-5 below, I am talking about the book you've been following throughout this project. Sorry for any confusion!
- Next, what I am about to show you is "technically" wrong.
- This is not how a real leather book is bound.
- A real leather book is bound by gluing the outer most pages to the backside of covers, leaving the spine free and unattached.
- I tried that, and I just couldn’t get it right. So I thought, hey, these are for display, it doesn’t need to be perfect, I’m just going to glue the spines together. So that’s what I did, and I have no complaints.
- But if you want to see it done right, you’ll have to go somewhere else.
- HOWEVER! I later redid this project and was able to do it right! (as seen in these pictures!)
- My original problem was that so much glue on these outer pages was causing the pages to become damp, lumpy, and unappealing.
- So like I said in step #11, I covered the back side of these pages with masking tape, protecting them from the glue and it worked perfectly!
Step 24: How I Actually Assembled It
- To help everything stick together, I scored the spine as much as I could, I don’t know how much this helped, but it didn’t NOT help!
- I used a lot of glue on the spine of the book and spine of the cover and lined them up as best as I could.
- I then placed some books on either side for support and let it sit all night.
- Like I said, it's not the exact way, but I think it came out really great!
Step 25: Decorate!
- Now how you decorate the cover is up to you.
- I almost just stopped here because I thought it already looked great with this very minimalist design but I went ahead and used some leather paint to add some outlines and details, which still came out great!
- But you need to be insanely careful with this part! The last thing you want to do is screw up your paint job after spending so long just to get to this point!
Step 26: Finishing the Inside
- We are almost done, but I still wanted to preserve what was left of the paperbacks and make them into the very inside cover of the book.
- So I carefully cut them out and glued them into my final book.
- With that, each book was finally done!
Step 27: Decorate the Spine
- I couldn’t let it end right there because like I said, these books are for display!
- They needed something on the spine worth displaying!
- I clamped the books together and laid down a print out of the Hogwarts silhouette, traced it, and painted it on.
- In retrospect, I wish I had also added Roman numerals at the top of each spine, but oh well!
Step 28: Done
I threw a quick box together to put the books in and everything was finished!
This project was a lot of fun to work on and I learned quite a bit through the experience!
If you are doing this for the very first time, I'd say it might take a week to complete one book. After you know what you're doing, it takes about two days. Not too bad!
I'm very proud of how these came out and of the video I made! Thank you so much for checking out my Instructable and good luck with your own projects!
Participated in the