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Topic: working with leather  (Read 445 times)
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Rio_Supreme
« on: March 05, 2008 10:15:18 AM »

Well, I made a notebook a while ago for a freind and I was using this black imitation leather for the cover. It turned out quite well except it didn't really like bending around the corners of the cardboard and the glue couldn't quite hold it.

In the end I had to staple them down to make sure they wouldn't spring up. I painted them black so that you couldn't really see them and the recipient didn't mind, but it bugged me soo much cos I knew they were there. Cry

Does anyone have any tips for making the leather more workable? Maybe scoring or distressing where the folds will be??
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SpottedFrog
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2008 06:00:58 PM »

I'd hit the library for general leathercrafting info (or google, but my eyeballs get tired reading off my screen for extended hours). Yes, leather needs different glues from regular paper crafting stuff, mallets are often involved & I know you can shave down the back side to create certain effects. Unfortunartely that's where my knowledge ends as it's been too long since I messed with any of it and didn't get too far in my initial forays into leather crafting.
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Rio_Supreme
« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2008 03:03:08 PM »

Thanks penlowe, I still have some of that stuff left somewhere. I shall set about finding something on leatherworking in the library. And shaving off some of the back certainly sounds like something that would make it more malleable to my will!!  Wink
Thanks again!
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« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2008 07:25:11 AM »

I do leather working and there are several ways that you can handle the corner issue (as I have experienced it in the past).

1) There is a tool that will allow your to score the back if the leather and creates a small crevice in which the bending will occur.  This is best and if you obtain some leather weld to hold it to the surface you are trying to attach to you will get nice results.

2) Another method that I use (mainly for holsters) is to wet the leather along the "bend line", fold it, and then gently bang it into place with a mallet.  You must you a wide head rubber or rawhide mallet, if you use a hammer you could very easily leave hammer marks in the leather.  Then place something heavy on the folded leather until it dries.  It will generally dry with the bend intact.  Then just put it into place with leather weld.
   The two problems with this method is mallet marks and the surface of the leather might break if you pound the leather too hard.

For best results would be a combination of 1 and 2 above.

If you are looking to make a notebook in the future I would recommend a removable book cover.  The patterns are relatively easy to find.  You can whip stitch the sides together, and then just replace the book inside from any of those cheap notebooks you can pickup at a local book store.
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« Reply #4 on: June 15, 2008 05:11:32 AM »

I'd avoid bonded leather and imitation leathers, if you can.  You'll get better results if you go with a good quality real leather.  Good leather is expensive (as in $10-20 a square foot, and you usually have to buy a whole skin) but it makes a huge difference.  I usually buy my leather from Talasonline.com.

Generally, in my conservation practice I use wheat starch paste when I'm working with leather.  And I have a French paring knife that I love for thinning the leather out. Whenever you're paring leather, make sure you work on a very smooth surface (I use a pane of tempered glass) to make sure that you don't end up with any divots in the leather.

If you're really interested in working with leather for bookbinding, you can't go wrong by reading Bernard Middleton's super book Restoration of Leather Bindings.  It's more about conservation than new binding, but the chapters on handling leather are top-notch.
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