Harry Potter Style Hogwarts Library Spellbooks




I recently found a huge collection of ruined old books at the local dump and immediatly thought of Harry Potter the Hogwarts library.
This is a tutorial to show how I converted these old encyclopeadias into Hogwarts style spellbooks.

These books are a great way to display your Harry Potter wands or other collactables, and are very cheap and pretty quick to do, all you need is and old book some easily avaliable supplies and a fair ammount of patience!

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Step 1: Choosing a Book

There are two VERY important disclaimers to note at this point, the first is that this is really and adults only project (or adult supervision STRONGLY recommended!) as you'll need to use a very sharp scalpel to cut the new title into the cover of the book. The second point is to be careful what book you use! The olny reason I could bear to de-face these books is because they had been left in the damp and rain for months so they were ruined before I started.
In short be VERY careful that you're not going to destroy a first edition copy of "Peter Pan" or "The Count of Monte Cristo"

Below is a pic of the book as I found it

Step 2: Picking the New Title

To find one of the titles from the Potter universe I used this site...


It's a list of the fictional books that J.K Rowling invented for her Potter series.

Then I typed the title into Word and then Photoshop and played with the fonts and styles until the text looked appropriate. I was basing the style of my book on the "Advanced Potion Making" book pictured on the cover of the adult version of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince"

Once your happy with the way the title looks, print it out and tape it to the cover of your old book.

Step 3: Cutting the Title Into the Book's Cover. Careful!

OK, this is the tricky bit. You have to cut through the printout and into the first layer of the book's cover. You are aiming to remove the top layer of the cover where the letters are, so that the title looks as it it's been stamped into the cover.

First thing to do its put a new blade onto your scalpel. As soon as you feel the blade becoming blunt, change it, a blunt blade only makes the process harder and more dangerous!

Put some music on and get comfortable. Cut round the outlines of all the letters in your title. Take your time and be patient! This is not something you can rush, the more careful you are the more successful the outcome, and the less likely you'll slice through your finger.  

Once you've cut all the letters out from the printout, remove it and your cover should look like the third pic below. The title cut into the cover of your book.

Step 4: Revealing the New Title

Now your ready to peel away the top layer of the cover where you've cut the letters.

Carefully use your scalpel to lift up the cut sections. You may need to finish some cuts at this stage, if they don't meet at the corners for example. 

Step 5: Gold Leaf

Now we need to apply some gold leaf. The first stage of this process is to paint a layer of leafing "size" into the letters of the title. "Size" is a water based glue, similar to PVA but it stays "open" which means it doesn't completely dry.

Use a small brush to carefully paint the size into the letter depressions you have just finished.
Try to keep the size into the holes you have cut, but don't worry too much if it overflows, you can fix that later.

Do the whole title and wait until it's "dry". It will be tacky if you touch it but it won't come off on your finger.

Step 6: Gold Leaf 2

Now apply sections of gold leaf over the letters. I use a scalpel and a fairly stiff brush for this process. The scalpel to remove the leaf from the backing paper, then the brush to push the leaf into the letter's edges.  The leaf should stick nicely to the "open" size.

Cover each letter with a section of leaf.

Step 7: Gold Leaf 3

Once all the leaf is in place, you can begin to reveal the title again. Use the brush to clear away any of the leaf that is not glued in place by the size. This should leave you with just the title covered with gold leaf.

The edges will be a bit messy because of the size overflowing the letters edges in places. All you have to do to clear this up is scrape your scalpel blade over the edges of the letters to clear them of unwanted gold.

The second pic below is of the cleaned up title.

Step 8: Weathering

At this stage, you can stop being careful!

You can go as far as you want at this stage, either keep the book looking fairly tidy, or you can really go to town and make it look like hundereds of careless Hogwarts students have trashed it over the years.

I started the weathering by ripping up the cover on the corners of the book, as well as bending the corners up to add some creases. Then I scraped an old metal ruler over the cover and edges of the book to remove the top layer of paint and reveal the weave of the cover. 

I then used a combination of water and PVA glue, combined with sawdust collected from behind my table saw to really dirty up the book.

Use a stiff brush to really work the grime and dirt into the creases and cracks. The important thing to remember here is to not let it completely dry at this stage! Use an old cloth to wipe away the excess grime to leave a nice aged thin layer of dust and watermarks. 

I think liquid stains are particularly appropriate for Potions books. use coffee dregs or watered down paints to make "potion" spills.  My wife genuinly spilled a cup of tea over one of these while I was working on it, she rushed to clean it up but I told her to leave it as it looked perfect!

Step 9: Staining and Waxing

Once you have cleared away most of the grime, you may find that the gold lettering still looks a little new. If this is the case you can use a dark wood stain to dull it slightly. Paint the stain over the cover, then wipe it off immediatly, it should darken the cover and the title, but not by much.

The last thing to do is to wax the cover. This is the final touch that really makes the book look used. Use a regular furniture style wax and work it into the cover with an old cloth. Let it dry, then buff it with another cloth.

This gives the impression of sleevs polishing the book while it's been under the arm of  hundereds of Hogwarts sudents.

The two last pics below show the cover before and after the waxing.

Step 10: Finished

Here are a few photos of the finished books. 

Please let me know if you decide to make your own, and post some pics!




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    124 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    Hi, sorry to ask a question so late, but could you please tell me if this particular book you used was leather-bound or if it had some other material on the cover?


    2 years ago

    HI! just wondering if the encyclopedias you used were leather bound ones? or if I can use just normal hard back books?

    thanks - Love the idea!


    3 years ago

    Where can I find a book to do this with? Etsy maybe? Anyone have any ideas?

    4 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    You can also ask your local library if they have weeded some older books and are going to put them in recycling.


    Reply 2 years ago

    she said the dump, maybe also the thrift store


    Reply 3 years ago

    maybe an encyclopedia, or any kind of large books like a dictionary ect. you can find them at target big W Kmart and just any local book store.


    Reply 3 years ago

    I have been going to yard sales recently and found old dictionaries and a hunter's encyclopedia. I bet you can find some from yard sales or second hand shops.


    3 years ago

    Awsome! Could coca powder go as a substitute for saw shavings?


    3 years ago

    I made this but a little differently, still cool though. You can check my method at theashblogg.com . Anyways, this looks so realistic!


    3 years ago

    Did you do anything to the spine, aside from the last steps with the wax etc? These are BRILLIANT. I'm dying to make something like this, but with blank pages (antiqued & distressed) to create an amazing one-of-a-kind journal. Any ideas, without ruining the spine? Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    HOW TO CURE THE MOLDY SMELL IN WATER DAMAGED BOOKS: First, I want to say THANK YOU for including the step to carefully choose a book to destroy.... and that is not a job for a youngster to decide! One suggestion I would like to make is concerning using old damaged books that might smell "musty" or "moldy." I have very often caught a bad cold after reading an old book that had water damage and smelled moldy. I recently found a way to kill the germs or molds in the old book to make it safe to read again without getting sick. I just place the book in an oven for a couple hours and bake at a LOW temperature for a couple hours... like 200 degrees. The book will not catch fire because paper catches fire at 512f degrees. But the molds are killed and the book is safe to read again without getting sick. I like your instructable a lot.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Ovens! I have not heard of that one before. Here are three different powders I have heard of for treating mildew damaged books. Sorry I can't say one is better or worse than the other. I don't have that much experience removing mildew.

    baking soda,
    salt (though it may react unfavorably with some papers).


    4 years ago

    Cool idea for the title! Shared.


    4 years ago

    Great idea and execution!


    4 years ago

    Very Cool! I'll do "Tales of Merlin"

    curly gurly

    4 years ago

    Brilliant Pete, just brilliant!!:)