Introduction: Simple Leather Book Binding Using Power Tools! BSG Edition.

About: I am a British Graphic Designer and Photographer, when I am not working, I spend my time making an array of projects. I used to make a lot of props, but now I spend most my time building crazy cameras and shoo…
This is my Monday -ible, as part of my 5 ible 5 days bet with fungus amungus - Ive published it a day early just in time to sneak it into the craft contest!

Ok, so i decided i was going to make a replica book like out of the new Battlestar Galactica.
Firstly, i knew absolutely nothing about book binding, i vaguely remember seeing an ible on it before.

All i remember from it, was that it involved poking lots of little holes in paper, i wanted quick and easy, so heres my method (i completed the entire book in the space of one day, with about 6 hours work, not bad for my first book bind?)

Secondly, it had to have two corners missing just like in BSG, this actually made it easier to cover the item in leather.

Materials used
  • About 50 sheets of 250gsm vanilla coloured paper (size SRA4 - 225 x 320mm)
  • Pva glue, (elemers glue/wood glue)
  • Some thick mounting board, or dense card (the gmjhowe special)
  • One large piece of leather
  • Some white thread
  • Some off cuts of fabric
  • a couple of sheets of wrapping paper, or parchment paper (normal paper can be used.)

Tools used
  • A dremal, or drill (the higher speed of the dremal makes for an easier job)
  • A couple of clamps, and/or a desk clamp(vice) - You can manage with a stack of hefty books.
  • A needle
  • some scraps of card
  • A stanley knife
  • Metal rule
  • set square
  • your finger (the best glue spreader you can get)
On with the show!

Step 1: Folding

Here were going to make the actual pages for the book.
As usual, due to the complexity, im gonna run by the pictures.

Picture 1 - Take your paper (pick which ever size you want) i used SRA4. Now, fold every sheet in half, the more perfect the fold, the better your book will look

Picture 2 - Crease the paper by running a Round Object down one edge, Here it shows a battery, but that quickly started to fall apart, so i ended up using my Apple remote.

Picture 3 - Place the paper in a Vice, or under some books. Just to flatten those creases some more.

Step 2: Drilling

Now we need to make holes in the pages, i opted for using s drill, rather than sitting there poking holes in pages.

The pages don't need to be put inside each other, i just placed one fold ontop of another.

Picture 1 - Create a drilling template for your paper size, Cut a piece of card to the same length as you pages, Mark 20mm from either end, then divide this into three sections to give you two more drilling points.

Picture 2 - Create another piece of card for the underneath (no need for markings on this one)

Picture 3 - Place a clamp on either side of one of the drilling points, make sure there is no movment

Picture 4 - Crank your power tool up to about 3 thirds, if you have it too fast it make cause too much heat creating an 'internal fire' - i used a 1mm drill bit. Drill away, be sure to put plenty of pressure on, but don't rush.

Picture 5 - Another shot of the clamps, and drilling

Step 3: Stitching

This step is made alot easier by the fact that we cheated and drilled our holes!

Picture 1 - Clamp the pages together, i did this by holding on tight to the book, then sliding the card out from the previous step, This helps to keep the pages perfectly aligned.

Picture 2 - Thread your needle, You want a length of thread about 300mm long. The needle itself wants to be the thinnest one you can find.

Picture 3 - Push the needle through the gap, it should practically fall through (if it doesn't, you need a smaller needle). Tie a simple knot to hold it in place.

Picture 4 - Wrap the thread around, and around, until the needle wont fit through the hole anymore, then wrap the thread around it self, and tie it off.

Picture 5 - This shows one hole completed.

Picture 6 - Repeat for the other three holes.

Step 4: Glue the Spine

Now we need to glue the spine.

Picture 1 - Cut out a section of material the same height as your pages, draw on the where the spine will sit (take measurements from the stitching stage) Leave about 40-50mm on either side as flaps.

Pictures 2 & 3 - Take your wood glue (pva), and smear it all over the spine of your book. Leaving the fabric sat on the table, carefully place the book spine down onto the section drawn previously. Run your fingers up and down the spine to get the fabric stuck, add another layer of wood glue ontop of the fabric also.

Picture 4 - Make sure the fabric is tight, and hold in place with the clamps, or under some books (clamps work better, as you can end up with glue all over your books, or the books sticking and causing a mess)

Picture 5 - Leave this to dry for about 30min - 1 hours, you should have a result like this picture.

Step 5: Adding the Cardboard Covers

Now time to add the card, to the book.

Picture 1 - Take off the corners, measure 20mm along either edge from the corner, and mark lightly with pencil, take the stanley knife, and carefully run along the edge of the rule, taking off a few sheets with each stroke - Take your time, and try to keep it straight.

Picture 2 - Using some paper and a pencil, work out what size each section needs to be. Essentially, i added 5mm to the edge of the page. The narrow sections next to the spine i made 6mm thick, leaving me with the 12mm gap. To get the end spine section, measure across once the front and back are in place.

Picture 3 - Cut out your sections, check it all fits in place nicely, and that there is a big enough gap for the covers to open (a gap of about 12mm for me)

Picture 4 - Place the book on one end, and adjust the placement of the covers on the side until the book stands up straight using a set square.

Picture 5 - Run masking tape down the spine, to hold the cover in place, This allows you to remove the clamps, and lift the cover up. Glue the material to the cover using more wood glue.

Picture 6 - Place a sheet of paper inbetween the cover and the first page, and hold it all together using the clamps, or some hefty books.

Picture 7 - Glue the spine sections into place, ensure you get lots of glue in there!

Pictures 8 & 9 - Hold the spine pieces in place with some masking tap, and place in the vice.

Leave the whole thing to dry for an hour or so.

Step 6: Leather Time!

Ok, now its time to add the leather, this adds alot more structure to the covers when opening. You dont have to use leather, a thick curtain fabric will do the job just fine!

Pictures 1 & 2 - Place your book onto your chosen material, and draw out a shape, make the shape about 30mm bigger than the book, do this by placing it on one side, then rolling it over onto the other, this takes into account the spine also.

Picture 3 - Cover the spine with glue, and carefully place it down into the centre of your fabric, press down all over the spine, then place in the vice for about 30mins

Picture 4 - here we see the spine glued to the leather.

Step 7: More Leather...

Ok, now to stick the leather to the face of the book

Picture 1 - Fill the gaps between the spine cardboard and the cover cardboard with some wood glue, then carefull push the leather into this gap, i used a half circle of card to do this. Ensure you check either end of your book, as the glue tends to spurt out.

Picture 2 - With the clamps holding the cover in place, cover half of the side with wood glue, spread it all out using your finger, and carefully place the leather down ontop, using your non gluey fingers push the leather outwards to get a nice flat fit. Remove the clamps, and glue down the section where the clamps were. Repeat for the other side. Ensure you now use scraps of cards whenever clamping ontop of the leather.

Picture 3 - here we see the leather glued in place, you can choose to let it dry or you can battle on, it doesn't make any difference.

Step 8: Wrapping the Edges

Ok, now we need to wrap the leather around the edges.

Picture 1 - At the corner cut in at a straight across angle

Picture 2 - Fold the two side edges inwards, again, push the leather around the edge to get a nice fit, hold for a few seconds, the wood glue should now hold it by itself.

Picture 3 - Cut straight down on the top flap, and fold down and glue into place.

Picture 4 - fold the corners over, feel for the edge of the leather underneath using your thumbnail, and mark

Pictures 5, 6 & 7- Cut down the corner along the marks you just made, and glue into place.

Picture 8 - Repeat for the other side, again, place a sheet of paper imbetween the cover and the front page. PLace under some hefty books, of place it in the vice and clamps again. Leave this for at least 1 hour.

Step 9: Finishing Off

Ok, last few steps now, then were almost done

Picture 1 - Cut the corners into strips as shown

Picture 2 - Cut the strips in the shapes shown, make sure the length is just enough to fold over without leaving any gaps.

Picture 3 - Place a small scrap of card in place to hold it all while it glues.

Picture 4 - Cut a couple of sheets of parchment paper, or wrapping paper to the same size as a page from your book, carefully glue these to the inside of your cover.

Picture 5 - Place a couple of sheets of paper inbetween the cover and first page, using some scraps of card to protect your leather, place the clamps to hold it.

Leave for about 15 mins, take off the clamps and check on the inside cover, if it is all stuck ok, place the book under something heavy overnight - i placed mine under a big box of stones from my rock collection!

Step 10: Completed! - Eat Cake

Well, i have to admit, i impressed myself with this one, the end result is very high quality, considering i've never done bookbinding before.

Now, enjoy your new journal/note book/drawing book.

And eat cake! for me, i had a cream cake and some milk, yum yum.

Hit me with the comments for any advice you could give!

- gmjhowe
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