Leather Book Bindings




Introduction: Leather Book Bindings

Here are some hand embossed leather book binding I did as a commissioned work. What follows are some photos of various steps in the process that mainly focus on the embossing and leather working elements. At a later date I will look to put up a more detailed instruction on the actual binding.

Step 1: Mount Leather and Apply Boarder

Started with a standard sheet of backer board cut to size and a sheet of 3-4 oz vegetable tanned leather glued to the surface. Step not show but I then stained it with a light tan dye.

Next applied a full sheet of snake skin stamped leather and cut out a center square leaving a 1.5 inch boarder. Repeated this step for a back cover as well.

Step 2: Image Transfer

Using a sheet of carbon paper overlaid with the image I want to transfer to the leather. Using fine tipped tools I go over the image transferring it to the leather.

Using adds a clean up step to remove carbon smudges on the leather but a simple eraser will remove it and I find it to be a clearer transfer to the leather rather than just pushing an impression into moist leather with an awl.

Not shown - I then go over the transferred image with a blade making a shallow cut careful only to cut the top layer of the leather. Common tool of choice is a swivel knife but when working with thin leather I find I have more control with a simple exacto knife.

Step 3: Embossing

Using various round and flat metal tools I push the leather down around the cut lines raising desired the image up. I do one occasion use leather stamps to add texture or to manipulate larger areas but for the fine detail work I fine small fine flat tools give me more control to bring out extremely detailed images.

Step 4: Dying

Last step is to dye the leather bringing more visibility to the lines and images. I use a wide range of dyes and paints to achieve the final looks I am going for but I often find a single stain works best letting the embossing do the heavy lifting in defining the image.

Step 5: Stitch It All Together

As I said at the start I am not going to go into detail of the binding process but I included a images of steps I took and the final product. This is a Japanese or Stab binding.

Tandy Leather Contest 2016

Participated in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016

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    3 Discussions


    3 years ago

    This was informative. I would love to see your follow up tutorial on the actual bookbinding.


    4 years ago

    Beautiful work, Thank you for sharing your creativity!