How to bind a book in leather

Updated April 17, 2017

Leather is one of the oldest known coverings for books. Libraries are full of the big, old, volumes with yellow pages and frayed edges. Learning how to bind a book in leather isn't as difficult as it looks. The pride of craftsmanship that comes with hand making a book is worth the effort. Leather-bound books are often used as journals or personal gifts, and be can be used for any document.

Place the book on the leather hide and wrap the cover tightly around it. It should be one piece and large enough to wrap completely around the book's front cover, spine and back cover. The top and bottom edges, as well as the sides of the cover, must be four times the thickness of the book board (the actual book). For example, if the book board is 1/4-inch thick, allow 1-inch of leather hide all the way around.

Mark the outline of the book's front cover, back cover and spine with a pen on the leather hide. Use the ruler to measure four times the width of the book board all the way around.

Cut the shape of the book cover out of the leather hide using the utility knife.

Attach glue to the backbone. This is made out of the book board and is the piece that will support the spine. Place the backbone at the centre of the leather hide, between where the front and back cover are marked.

Cover the backbone with a sheet and press it down on the leather cover with a bone folder.

Apply glue to the front leather cover, the entire surface area where the book will go.

Place the front cover of the book onto the front leather cover. Place a sheet over the book and rub the bone folder over it to work the glue in.

Apply the glue to the rear leather cover, the entire surface where the book will go.

Place the rear cover of the book onto the rear leather cover. Place a cover sheet over the book and rub the bone folder over it to work the glue in.

Cut the corners of the leather cover at 45-degree angles.

Glue the top edges of the leather book cover then fold the edges onto the book board.

Apply weight to hold the leather cover on the book until it dries.

Things You'll Need

  • Manuscript
  • Utility knife
  • Ruler
  • Bookbinding board or hard paper board
  • Leather hide (bookbinding size if possible)
  • PVA glue
  • Bone folder
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About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Ty Wright has written professionally since 1993, working primarily in film and television. His articles have appeared online at MadeMan. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in film and electronic arts from California State University, Long Beach.