Carved notebook cover

Following on from my recent bird carving on a notebook I was asked to make a cover for three field notes notebooks with a more complex carving. it is a monogram as you can see.

This is my practice at the carving it went a little bit off around the stem and the “V” in the bottom left looks more like a “U” I am pretty sure I can correct these on the actual cover.


After the practice piece I started to make a template for the outer piece of the cover.


These measurements were then transferred to a piece of 2 mm veg tanned leather I used a coin to round the corners and an edging tool to round the edges of the leather.


I also cut a grove for the stitching 2 mm in from the edge this will allow the stitching to lie flat and resist wear.

As the leather is to have a carving on the front it needs to be prepared which involves soaking the leather in cold water for some time. it is then wrapped in plastic overnight to allow the water to soak into the leather.


Now the leather has soaked and rested in plastic overnight I have started to prepare it for marking out. This involves a layer of plastic then the printed monogram fixed in place on a granite slab.


All of the pieces that will be used to make the cover have been through the same process soaking and resting. I do this because in the past I have found that pieces that have been soaked will  take dye differently to pieces that have not been soaked.

When the leather reaches the pint where it can be carved you need to carve it all of the leather seemed to be drying out very quickly this morning so I just got on with it.


That is the first stage of the carving completed the “M” is not too good so I may have to scrap this cover if I cannot make it better at a later stage.

All of the parts were drying out quickly so I used a screw crease to make a crease along the edge of the inside pockets it gives some strength and adds detail to the edge of the thinner leather. Then I applied the first coats of oxblood dye.


I have my own method for applying dye I wet the leather actually I apply the dye after moulding or carving before the leather has dried out. Before the dye has dried I apply some carnauba wax which reactivates the dye and helps to give a balanced colour.


Here the leather has been dyed and waxed and is starting to dry out I will decide on the if I am going to start again once it has dried out fully.

In response to Plume145 s question about corners here are some pictures that may explain it better.


Lots of thin cuts to give a clean radius it also means you do not put too much pressure on the coin and leave marks on the leather.




Nice clean corner 🙂

Having considered this cover and the “M” that I was unhappy with I decided to start again.

Everything was done in the same way right up to the “M” which I was much happier with


The edges were all glued with contact adhesive and rounded with an edge rounding tool and then sanded. After this the edges were dyed and polished with beeswax the front edge had three pieces of leather.


Thanks for looking




4 thoughts on “Carved notebook cover

    1. omg, you use a coin to round corners? wow, I just think I had my mind blown, hehe.

      See I’m a paper crafter, so I use corner rounder punches a lot and have them in several different radiuses (radii? anyway) You know, .25″, .5″ etc. But they’re bulky, heavy tools so if I’m away from home with just my small portable crafting kit, the only way was to *gasp* freehand it. With the sloppy results you might expect. But now I just tested this coin trick, and holy cow it works! Still not as perfect as a punch, but MUCH better on both shape and repeatability, woo hoo!

      Anyway, ahem, sorry, took over your blog for a moment! Got a bit overexcited. Carry on!

      The carving looks great to me, even with the v/u problem. Which makes me wonder: do you get to use your practice pieces somehow?


      1. Hi Plume
        My friend Pete showed me the coin trick early in my leather working adventures. Don’t try to cut around the coin use a sharp knife and cut a series of straight lines following the edge of the coin. you will find these overlapping cuts will give you a good curve.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I’ll say ‘thank you Pete, even though you don’t know me’!

        I think I know what you mean, about the straight lines along the edge of the coin. But, if you feel like it sometime, would you demonstrate the technique in your usual style? It would definitely be great to see it to make sure I got it right, and also to link to for other people!


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