We bound a book as a wedding present for our friends C & C. We used Pentland Goat leather in crimson for the cover, with an inlaid ring design. Read on to see how a leather book is bound.
A single book we stitched and bound
Pages are folded in half and divided into signatures. The sewing holes are measured, and an awl is used to make the holes in each signature. The book is sewn together on tapes one section at a time, with a kettle stitch on each end forming a chain of thread. When the book has been stitched, it is rolled and hammered to give the spine a rounded shape. Glue is brushed onto the spine, and mull is placed on top and rubbed down. The book is then clamped into a press.
One of our table trestles turned out to be an excellent piece of bookbinding equipment. We used it as a sewing frame to bind the book and also as a clamp to press the book. Woven headbands are glued to both ends, and the book is left to dry overnight.
Preparing the Leather
The leather is cut to size and guide marks are drawn on the inside to mark the placement of the boards. The leather is pared down along the edges, so that it can be turned in easily over the edges of the book boards.
Making the Cover
The book boards are measured and cut to size. We wanted to add a decorative ring design to the front cover, which was done by cutting a circle pattern into one piece of board, then gluing it to a second piece of board to create a relief. Glue is brushed on the leather, and the book boards are carefully placed in position. The leather is turned over the boards, and rubbed down with the help of a bonefolder. The cover is then turned over, and the circle pattern is pressed in with the bonefolder. The cover is flattened under weights and left to dry overnight.
The cover and inside of the book are now ready to be bound together. The mull attached to the spine is glued to the front and back covers of the book, and pressed down. Loose paper is placed between the inside pages and cover, and the book is pressed under heavy weights until the glue has dried.
Finally, the decorative end pages are measured and folded. Glue is brushed on the back of the endpapers, and they are placed between the cover and first page of each side. The book is then closed and pressed until completely dry.
As a finishing touch, the leather is polished to highlight the grain.