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Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Collected Warhammer Volumes part 8: Step through binding part 4- Fully ReCovered

Well it's been a few years in the pipeline and a good while since the last instalment of this series, but the Encyclopaedia Warhammica is finally all bound up! As you can see (squeezed in between my undead army and glacial lake- projects which I started in November and almost beat the Encyclopaedia to completion!) the 15 volumes look rather splendid in their various shades of leather. In the weeks to come I'll be taking a good look through the pages and charting the progress of Warhammer from 1st through to 8th edition, but first let's finish what we started and complete the rough guide to binding these mighty tomes.
When we left off last time the book was in the 'press' after having its boards glued on. Now, the last stage requires quite a lot of hands-on action, so not a lot of time to pause for photography and I'm afraid I will just have to try to explain the processes as best I can. 

Fixing the leather spine in place is the next point, and the place where it really begins looking like a book. Measure the height and width of your card spine and add about two inches to the width and 20-30cms to the height. This is to give you a good wide surface to stick to the boards. The leather you choose is quite important, it's going to form the hinge of the book so the thicker the book the thicker (stronger) the leather will need to be. Too stiff though and it will be hard to get it into shape. I got my leather from a local scrap store so couldn't be too choosy. Some of it was pretty hard to work with and I had to use bulldog clips to hold it while the glued dried. I don't recommend doing this as it marks the surface. The tan leather in the picture was a bit too soft on the other hand and loses its shape a little because of it.

The technique is to glue one edge of the leather onto a board. I choose the front one because this line you'll know will be even and it's more important for the front to look good. I think anyway. Once this is relatively set glue the spine of the book and the underside of the leather strip and start working the leather onto the spine. IMPORTANT BIT!: Make sure you pull the board away from the spine a bit and get the leather to stick to the edge of it and across a few millimetres of the fabric before it reaches the spine. Otherwise you'll find the board has to crease to open and it will wreck the cover and make using the book pretty hard. Working the leather over the spine pull fairly tight and keep rubbing down as you go. Once you've reached the other board repeat the process as with the front cover. Then use a curved clay shaper or rounded dowel to work the leather down into the corners and ridges, you don't want any voids underneath and the thick strips of leather underneath should be clearly defined. At this point I usually put the book back into a stack to keep it pressed down and wait a few hours for the glue to start going off. If you're feeling brave you can go straight onto the next step...

You should have a few centimetres of leather extending from the top and bottom of the book. This bit is a little fiddly, but persevere with it and don't be afraid to be a bit rough with the leather, it can take it! What you're looking to do is fold over the excess leather so that it lies over the underside of the boards but tucks inside itself on the outside of the spine. This is why it's best not to have the fabric hinge extend right to the edge of the spine, the leather needs some space to tuck through. You might have to prise back the leather from the top of the spine, that's ok, make sure you put a lot of glue down into the gap before tucking the excess in to it.

Return the book to the stack/press and wait for the glue to cure. Now your book is finished. But of course you'll want to make it prettier so we need to add covers, corners and endpages. I used wallpaper with images printed on and a glaze applied to seal as my covers, but you can use fabric, more leather, a poster, whatever you like really. It's just a case of gluing it in place and wrapping the edges around the boards onto the underside. You can use strips of card with a torn edge to blend your cover up to the thickness of the leather for a nice, flush look. I didn't in most cases because the leather I was using was so thick it would have looked sillier having the cover slope up to it than it did having the edge of the leather exposed.

To make the corners slice across the cover at the angle you want the corner to sit on. Don't cut the whole corner away, just remove whatever you covered it with and the top layer or two of the board to help the leather sit flush. Then cut four squares of leather with each side about 2cm wider than the hypotenuse of the corner. Glue these in place and allow the glue to set.

This bit is tricky to get neat. Make two cuts in the leather square so you have a strip which begins about 6-8mm wide at the corner of the board and ends about 20mm at the edge parallel to the hypotenuse. Fold this strip over and glue it to the board, pulling it pretty tight. Then fold each of the side flaps around the board and trim off the excess where they meet the strip you just glued down. Pull these in tight and glue them down, you should have something like this:

With a bit of glue and manipulation you can make the corner less square, it works best with soft, stretchy leather. Allow it to dry fully and trim the inside of the corner to a nice straight line, but allow at least a cm border from the edge of the board before you trim.
Now, endpages. The end of the process. I'm using posters but you can use marbled paper, plain coloured paper or anything else you like. First step is to cut the paper to a size a few centimetres larger than the width and height of your open book. Decide which half of the piece is going to glue to your board and cut this half to the size of the board minus about a cm border all the way around. Make sure you don't trim down the part of the endpages which will sit against the text block. Glue the endpages to the board, working it down into the crease between the board and the text block. Apply a thin strip of glue to the spine edge of the first page and rub the endpages down onto it. Press some waxed paper (or something else that is flat and won't stick to the endpages) into the crease between the board and text block and close the book. Now open it again and check there aren't any creases you need to press out. If everything's ok then close the book, press it and wait for the glue to set.
Once the glue is dry you will have a finished book with the edges of the endpages protruding from the sides of it. The last step is to turn the book so the text block is sitting on top of the endpages you need to trim and CAREFULLY run a scalpel around the edge of the text block to trim the endpages neatly to size. Use a sharp scalpel and place a cutting mat between the text block and the board to avoid cutting into your cover. Then, YOU'RE DONE.:)
Sorry it took a few years. Any questions (I may need to clarify a bit, it's hard without pictures) just comment and I'll do my best to explain. Rundown of each volume coming soon.



  1. This blows my mind mate - seeing some of these mighty tomes in the flesh at last year's BOYL was just incredible, and is just about the coolest hobby thing I have ever seen. No mere photo can do them justice mate, and you should be very proud.

  2. Absolutely fantastic result mate, it's been a long time coming but was certainly worth the wait!

  3. Cheers guys. I have considered bringing the whole library out to BOYL for people to flick through... I think my car would struggle under the weight though!


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