Leather Eagle Book

Introduction: Leather Eagle Book

Here I'll show you all my take on book making using this Eagle Book as an example. (This design is actually based on an armour design I'm working on.)

Just remember that the book shown is the example i'm using for demonstration purposes and some aspects, such as measurements can be varied, I'm aiming more for explaining how I make my books and letting you alter the design yourselves.

Also please be gentle, I've never written one of these before XD, I'm a very practical worker and teacher, if I could physically be there it'll be fine, Hopefully :S So I do hope I've made everything clear enough to follow.

Best of luck guys XD



Thin wood


Deer Skin

Milled Leather

Wood Glue

Leather Glue

Thick Thread


Leather Shears


Crocodile Clips

Ruler/Measuring Tape

Straight Edge

Stanley Knife

Glue Brushes

Hole Punch

Stud Setter

Paint Brushes

Leather Dye: Dark Mahogany, Dark Red, Gold

Embossing Tools: B202L, B202R, B197, F976, U855, F941, Z-P217, A98, Hair Blade Tool

Alphabet Stamps

Small Spoon Modelling Tool






Swivel Knife


Step 1: Prepping Paper Block

To start with simply count out the number of sheets you want for your book. For this one I'm using 200 sheets.

Now if your paper is already the size you want, fantastic! If however like me, you're using paper different from the size you want, then you're gonna want to pin the sheets together down one side.

Taking two straight edges (I tend to use steel rulers) clamp them on both sides of the of the paper right on the edge, then sandpaper the pages down until it's all level and smooth. Repeat for the other sides

Step 2: Finishing Paper Block

While having all the pages pinned securely you're gonna want to punch holes along one edge.
(Since I'm using old fax paper, I already have holes punched but I'd say 8-10 holes evenly spaced would work.) This will form the spine of your book.

Now along your spine add some glue to help keep the pages together. (I use Eco Weld)

When the glue is dry, stitch the spine. Start from the first hole hole, making sure to leave an inch of thread to tie off at the end. Then continue to go in and out until the end. Before stitching back, go over the spine and back through the same hole from the back side, then with each back stitch, go over the spine until you reach the start again. Then simply tie the ends off in a double knot.

Finally you want two pieces of card twice the width of your pages, fold them in half and glue one to each side of you paper block. These pieces of card will later attach the paper too the cover.

Step 3: Optional: Coloured Edge

If you want to colour the edges, simply re-clamp your paper block as tightly as possible and get started.

Ink is what is recommended but different paints may work with varying results, so experiment at your own risk!

As shown, I only have acrylic paint right now which does stick the pages together, though they can be carefully separated. However some paint may flake off.

However if you do have ink/paint that'll work be sure to apply a little bit at a time and to cover quickly as inks and some paints will soak in, as shown in the above picture.

Step 4: Embossing the Eagle

To emboss the design I have you'll need some milled leather measuring 6.5 inches by 20 inches. (I used milled leather as its very flexible, though other thin veg tanned leather would work.)

I've drawn my eagle out on paper first, as its easier to correct mistakes on paper than leather. Once you're happy with the way it looks trace it out then transfer it onto the leather. Remember that we'll want the eagle on the front and the back, so the overall picture only needs to be half the length of the leather cut.

To start embossing you must first dampen the leather with a sponge but be careful not to get it too wet or you won't get a clean, clear impression. (You might want to practise on a scrap piece if you're new to embossing leather.) Next you want to got over the lines with a swivel knife, cutting about half the thickness of the leather.


For the wings you'll want to start with using the B202L, tooling the right edge of each feather on the left wing. (Remember that the feathers over lap)

Also with the B202L go along the line at the top of the wing. With the B202R go along the edge of the face.

For the bottom feathers (where the feathers don't over lap each other) I used a B197 beveler, though any edge beveler will do.

For the top of the wing use a U866 with the curve pointing down.

Finally I used a F976 to add more definition to the points between the feathers.

Do all this again on the opposite side, just remember where you used the B202L use the B202R and use the B202R where you used the B202L.


For the head I used my B197 and a F941 to tool the bottom of the head, the B202L and B202R on either side of the beak.

I used a Z-P217 pear shader, 'Walking' the tool down in lines from just below the eyes to the tips of the feathers.

For the eyes and mouth I simply used a sculpting tool along the lines.

For the marks on the beak I used the back end of an A98 backgrounder.

Finally using a hair tool and a few cuts with the swivel knife, I made lines flowing from above the eyes to the edge to add more texture.

Don't worry if your tooling isn't perfect, (Mine certainly ain't) as we are going to dye the leather a dark colour later on.

Step 5: Spine and Title

For the 'title' and spine I simply used alphabet stamps. The stamps I have are about 1cm by 1 cm, meaning I had to cut two pieces of leather, one 2 cm by 11.5 cm, the other 2 cm by 12.5, for the front title and the spine piece about 1 cm by 32 cm. If you have a strap cutter, cutting these pieces will be much easier but if you don't have one a simple straight edge and stanley knife will work.

If you don't have stamping tools for the lettering you could carve out the letters and emboss, similar to the way we used the edge bevelers when embossing the eagle or, if you have one, use a pyrography pen, whatever works for you.

Step 6: Dying

For the eagle I used Dark Mahogany. Simply pour a bit of of the dye onto a sponge then wipe across the surface of the leather in swift motions. You don't want the sponge to rest in one place for to long or you'll have patches that are darker than others.

For the spine and title parts I used a Dark Red with Gold for the lettering. If you're having trouble painting the letters you might want to try painting each letter gold, wiping the excess off then very lightly wiping the dark red across the top so as to only get the red on the top, not in the indentations.

For this design I also edged the title pieces with gold.

Step 7: Finishing the Cover

For the rest of the cover I used deerskin. You'll want to cut a piece about 10 inches by 20 inches.

In this design I cut around the top half of the eagle we tooled earlier, then applied leather glue to the top half inch of the back, then carefully affix to the deerskin. Be careful not to stretch the deerskin too much but be sure to keep it flat. I also glued the spine in place along the centre of the overall cover and the title pieces in the centre of what will become the front cover, for me, about 7 cm from the top and 7 cm from the right edge.

(Since this book is designed off of another piece I've designed I chose to have the two parts of my title over lap slightly.)


For the studs we need 15 of them, one for each corner, front and back, about 2.3 cm the point of the corner. Three will be used on the spine, one in the middle the other two on either end of the spine about 2.3 cm. The final four I've used on my title pieces to keep uniformity with the spine.

Setting studs

To set studs, if you've never set one before, you start by placing underneath your leather a piece of rubber or other type of soft material that doesn't matter if loads of holes get stabbed into it. The idea is when you punch the studs in place with the mallet, the pins go straight into the material underneath as opposed to bending.

Start by placing a stud into the setter, then place into position and whack it in place with a mallet. Once the studs are all in place, flip the whole cover over and place a stud in the anvil, then using the setter, placed over the prongs, smack once again with the mallet. I find it helps to give the prongs an extra tap after you remove the setter just to really flatten the prongs.

Step 8: Hardback

To stiffen the cover I've used some thin wooden board, the type you'd get in the back of picture frames, I've often used thick card in previous books. You'll want to cut the front and back of your wooden cover to be ever so slightly bigger than your paper block, we're talking 1 mm, on the top, bottom and one side. The spine needs to be the same length as your cover pieces and the same width as the spine of your paper block.

With the wood cut, flip your cover and on the back line up and outline where the wood will sit.

For this you'll want the spine in the centre, with approximately half an inch of deerskin/leather above and below the piece.

Measuring from the edge of the spine piece, place the front cover about 1cm out, being sure to keep the top and bottom edges level with the spine, then mark its place with a pen. Repeat with the back cover piece.

Once all three pieces are marked remove them and brush glue over the marked areas. Then carefully place the wood pieces back being sure to keep everything smooth but not to stretch the deerskin.

Next put glue along the edge of your cover then start folding them over. Here you may want to hold them in place with the crocodile clips but be careful not to leave them on too long or they'll mark the leather. (A good trick is to have a scrap piece of leather/fabric between the clips and leather.)

For the corners I simply fold everything and cut the excess as shown in the picture.

Once the corner pieces are cut, just touch up the dye on the milled leather.

Step 9: Combining Paper Block and Cover

The final step is easy. On your paper block glue one side and line it up with the spine edge of the appropriate cover half and carefully adhere the too together, as always making sure to keep everything smooth. Repeat with the other side.

All going well you should have a functioning book that not just looks, but opens beautifully. Remember I used my design as an example piece but you can alter all parts of this walk through: Size, colour, even the material used. Go forth and design!

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    2 years ago

    Nice work! : )