How to Make a Hand Tooled Leather Bible Cover

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Holy Bible
Holy Bible (Image: Hand and Bible image by Lucid_Exposure from Fotolia.com)

Bibles are often important items to their owners, and may become treasured family heirlooms. Because of this, protecting them from dirt and damage is a significant consideration. A handmade leather bible cover will not only accomplish this task, but can itself add to the beauty and family history of the book.

Things You'll Need

  • Leather
  • Pen
  • Measuring tape
  • Craft knife
  • Leather stamps
  • Mallet
  • Leather dye
  • Sponge brush
  • Leather needles
  • Linen thread

Select an appropriate leather for the cover. Ideally, you should use a thin, flexible tooling leather, usually available at craft stores.

Lay the leather flat, with the smooth side down, and lay the closed bible on it. Excepting the spine, trace all sides of the bible onto the leather with a pen.

Roll the bible up so that only the spine is resting on the leather, and trace the top and bottom of the spine onto the leather. Then roll the bible so that the other side is resting on the leather, and trace all sides but the spine.

Remove the bible and connect the traced lines on the leather with the pen. They should form a large rectangle. Measure a half an inch outward from all sides of the rectangle and mark them with a pen to form a larger rectangle.

Cut out the larger rectangle with a craft knife and flip the leather over.

Carve any designs, images or lettering you want on the cover into the leather with a craft knife by making angled cuts halfway through the leather, then making cuts in the same places at the opposite angle so as to remove a V-shaped portion of the top of the leather. You may alternately stamp any designs, images or lettering you want on the cover into the leather by placing leather stamps on the leather and striking the back of the stamps firmly with a mallet.

Lay the leather face-down and place the bible open in the middle of it. Measure the distance between the left and right edges of the bible and the respective edges of the leather (both measurements should be the same).

Cut out two identical rectangles of leather. The long edges of each should be as long as the short edges of the large piece, and the short edges of each should be half an inch longer than the measurement between the edge of the open bible and the edge of the large piece.

Lay the small rectangles face-up on the large one. Each small rectangle should be lined up with one of the short edges of the large piece. These two pieces will form pockets to hold the cover of the bible.

Sew the top, bottom, and outside edges of the small rectangles onto the respective edges of the large piece with linen thread.

Dye the cover by brushing leather dye onto it with a sponge brush, letting it dry overnight then wiping off any excess.

Open the bible and slip the outside edges of the cover into the pockets of the new leather cover.

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References

  • "The Leatherworking Handbook: A Practical Illustrated Sourcebook of Techniques and Projects"; Valerie Michael; 2001
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