Introduction: Leather-Bound Book From Scratch
There's only a few materials you'll need:
-Printer Paper (or whatever paper you want to use)
-Old leather jacket (found one at the thrift store for $15)
-Needle and thread
Step 1: Creating the Booklets
To start, take 8 pieces of printer paper, stack them together, and fold them in half. This is a single booklet. Each booklet is 16 or 32 sides. I made 4 to make a 128 page book but feel free to add more or less to create a however thick or thin book you want!
I chose 8 pages to a booklet because it is the max amount of pages before there's a significant amount of overhang at the edge, where the inner pages stick out further than the outside pages.
Step 2: Binding the Booklets
Next up is the bind these booklets together. There are multiple different ways of doing this, but I have found that sewing the booklets together to be the most robust and durable method.
First start by clamping the booklets together between two hard materials (I used a hardcover book and cutting board).Then make marks every 1 inch down the length of the book about 1/8" in from the edge. Take a Dremel with a thin drill bit attached and drill through the four booklets at each of the marks.
To sew them together, measure out about 10 times the length of the book in thread, and start by looping it around the first hole and making a knot. Then weave in and out of each hole making your way up the book. When coming back down to your starting point, tightly wrap the thread around each hole to tightly bind the booklets together so when you open the book you won't see the thread.
Finally, once you've made your way back down to the hole which you started, cut the thread and feed one end under the first wrapping and tie a knot.
Step 3: Creating the Covers
To create the dimensions for the spine, measure the height of the book and add 1/4" (1/8" for the top and bottom) and add 1/4" to 3/8" of an inch on the width to account for the cover thickness and the thickness of the leather.
To create the dimensions for the covers, measure the width of the book and subtract 1/2" from the width while adding 1/4" in to the height.
In summary we want the cover to have an 1/8" overhang and a space between the spine and the cover to allow the book to open freely. Feel free to use my dimensions if you're making the same size book!
Next, use those dimensions and to cut out the spine and covers out of hardboard. This is the same material that clipboards are made of. I found a big sheet of it at Home Depot for $6. I used a band saw to cut it out, but a hand saw will work just as well.
Then use tape to temporarily attach the covers and spine together. This is where you make sure there's an 1/8" inch overhang all around.
Step 4: Leather Binding the Covers
Next grab whatever material you want to cover the book, and trace an outline of the covers leaving about 1.5" border and cut it out. I used an old leather jacket from the thrift store that I found for $15 and has enough to make 3-4 books.
Then glue the covers to the leather using wood glue, apply pressure (I used a bunch of textbooks) and let it sit overnight.
Use hot glue and to adhere the rest of the leather tho the inside cover of the book. I glued the corners at 45 degrees, and SKIPPED gluing the leather to the inside of the spine. Then trim the rest of the excess leather with scissors.
Step 5: Putting It All Together
Remember how I didn't glue the leather to the inside of the spine? That's because I cut out a slot in the leather for the book to sit flat against the clipboard.
I then glued a piece of paracord to the book's spine to act as a book mark (optional), and glued the book to the cover using a liberal amount of hot glue.
Finally, I took two pieces of fresh printer paper and glued it to the inside covers to make it look cleaner and to cover up the rest of the leather on the inside cover, this is technically called a flyleaf.
Now stand back and take in the beauty of your new book!
There's a lot of room to make this your own, by making different sized books, using different materials for the covers, or converting a paper-back book into a hardcover, the ideas are endless!