I've read The Perks of Being a Wallflower countless times. It's one of my favorite books. My copy is pretty beat up and falling apart from wear, so I decided to redesign my own special copy. You could also make a cool cassette tape journal for yourself or as a personalized gift for someone's special day.
copy of Perks of Being a Wallflower, your favorite book, or a blank journal with soft cover
leather (the thinner the better)
quick dry tacky glue
sandpaper (range of grits from very course to very fine)
leather sculpting tool
book board or backing from used sketchbooks
Dremel with engraving bit
small sheet of metal (My metal was about an 1/8" thick, so I needed the jeweler's saw and files to work with it. If you use a thinner metal, you may be able to cut it with scissors or metal shears instead.)
stiff bristled paintbrush
binder clips or clamps
Step 1: Cut Cover
Cut two pieces of book board that are the same width as the book and 1/4" taller.
In the case of Perks, it was 5" wide and 7 1/4" tall.
To do this, measure and mark the book board. Lay your ruler along the cut marks and use an X-acto knife to cut along the edge of the ruler. No need to cut through the whole board on the first pass. continue to cut along the ruler firmly as many times as it takes to cut through.
Measure and cut a piece that matches the width of the spine and is 1/4" taller.
When you've cut the board, the edges will be curled up a bit. Use a low grit sandpaper to sand off the bumpy edges.
Put your front and back pieces of book board together and make sure they match up. If they're off a bit, you can sand any offending edges. If either is too far off, cut a new one. It's important that they match well and be cut straight. Small issues early on will be obvious later.
Step 2: Prep Cassette Tape
Take out the screws in the cassette tape and pull it apart.
You need half the tape to lay flat, so remove any pieces that stick out beyond the edges. On mine, there were two tabs at the bottom that I was able to cut off with scissors.
Step 3: Glue Cassette to Board
Apply generous amounts of glue around all the edges of the cassette and use binder clips of clamps to hold the tape on firmly while it dries. If there is excess glue oozing on the outside of the cassette, wipe it off before it dries.
Note: I had originally melted down the spools to be flat enough to fit under the cassette, but I couldn't get the leather to stretch far enough to make them visible, so it ended up being a waste of time.
Step 4: Leather Front
Sand the cassette with a course sandpaper to give the glue more to hold onto.
Apply a generous amount of glue to the board around the cassette using a paintbrush to spread the glue evenly.
Make sure you can place all three pieces of your book board on the piece of leather side by side with at least an inch all the way around and about a quarter inch between each piece. If your book board is very thick, you may need more like a half inch between.
Press the leather over the cassette and use a leather sculpting tool to press the leather into any grooves. Continue to sculpt the leather around the cassette until the glue starts to dry. You'll know it's drying when the leather stops bouncing back.
Once you're done gluing the leather around the cassette, go back and make sure the leather is glued well around all the edges of the board.
Step 5: Glue Spine and Back
Apply glue to the spine and place it about a little over a quarter inch from the edge of the front piece. Apply glue to the edges of the spine piece and press the leather on firmly so it sticks to the edges. allow to dry.
Do the same on the edge of the front piece that is next to the spine.
Glue the back piece on in the same fashion.
Trim off excess around the edge to about an inch.
Step 6: Cutting Corners Part 1
Fold up the leather at each corner and mark the thickness of the book board.
Cut a straight notch at the corner with an X-acto knife and then cut slightly diagonally away from the corner.
Step 7: Cutting Corners Part 2
Fold the two edges over the corner and lay your ruler over it diagonally lining up the two corners.
Cut along the ruler through the overlapping edges of leather.
When you're done, the two edges should line up perfectly.
Step 8: Gluing Edges
Apply glue around the edges of the book board.
Start by pressing the corner. Hold it for a few seconds until it sticks, then fold over the edges.
Repeat for each corner. Allow to dry.
Use your ruler and an X-acto to cut the edges evenly as shown in the last image. Don't worry if some of the book board peels up with the excess leather.
Step 9: Cassette Embellishment Part 1
My cassette had an insert that I was able to use as a stencil for this step. I used a sharpie to mark the holes and edges.
Cut out around the edges with a jeweler's saw.
Make sure it fits well.
Sand the edges with course sandpaper so they aren't sharp.
Step 10: Cassette Embellishment Part 2
Drill a hole near the edge of each of the sections to be cut out.
Thread the blade through the hole and re-tighten it.
Cut out each section in this fashion.
Sand the edges with jeweler's files and the surface with sandpaper.
Sand it first with a low grit sandpaper around 150 and slowly scale up to around 600. This should produce a high shine.
Use an engraving bit on a Dremel to etch detail lines. With a piece of masking tape, you can mark a straight line and engrave along the edge.
Step 11: Quote Embellishment
To engrave text onto this piece of metal, I first created the text in a file on my computer.
Print the text, and make sure it's the proper size.
Tape a piece of wax paper onto the print over the text and run it through the printer again. The ink will stick to the wax paper but will be easily removed when you lay a piece of tape over it. It's like picking up a fingerprint. I used some semi-transparent washi tape, but scotch tape would have been better since it's completely transparent.
Once the text is on the sticky side of the tape, apply the tape to the metal.
Use the Dremel with engraving bit to trace the letters.
Peel off the tape and sand in the same fashion as the Cassette Embellishment.
Step 12: Glue Embellishments
Use the engraving bit on the Dremel to rough up the bottom of each of the embellishments and the top of the leather where the embellishments will be applied.
Glue the embellishments down.
The label for the cassette was so old that it wasn't sticky anymore, so after writing the title of the book on it, I glued that down as well.
Step 13: Inserting Book
Sand the cover of the book or journal if it has a glossy coating. My old copy of Perks was too damaged to use, so I bought a new copy.
Put a piece of wax paper between the cover and the rest of the pages to protect the pages from the glue you're about to apply to the cover.
Use a brush to spread the glue evenly across the whole cover.
Press the front cover of the book into the leather bound cover about an 1/8" from the edges. Press in firmly using the leather sculpting tool to press the cover into the grooves of the edges of the leather.
Press firmly until dry. Because of the cassette on the cover, you may need to hold it with your own hands. Thus, the quick dry glue is a must. I put it under my thighs and sat on it on the couch for a half hour.
Once dry, repeat on the back cover.
Step 14: Enjoy
Put your new book in a place of honor.
Runner Up in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016