Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gold tooling with jigs

This post shows tooling on a full leather binding using gold foil. I used my tooling box that I made based on a box used by Michael Wilcox when he did a gold tooling demonstration at the Bookbinding 2000 Conference. The box gives you a flat and firm surface to support the cover while you are tooling and holds the rest of the book inside.


My box is made from 1/2 inch birch plywood and is lined inside with felt to protect the book when it is placed inside. 

The top panel of the box is beveled back so that you can slide the cover over to the joint. I filed down the edge about an inch and a half along the length of the opening.

Here is the book placed in the box with the cover on top.To begin tooling I used a second jig to start the the design which I then put on three books.  Using a piece of 3-ply Bristol Board, I cut out the curve at the corner of the design base with the curve of one of my gouges. 

 I used a small weight to hold the jig in place and slipped a piece of foil under it, then began tooling. After you're done, you can remove the foil and if you leave the jig in place, you can slip another piece of foil in and retool if there are any breaks in the line.

Here are the four corners tooled.

Next I used a line jig made from two pieces of book board that I taped together. One piece is about an inch and a half wide and the second piece is about five to six inches wide and both pieces are 11 inches tall.
I used a clear plastic ruler so I can line up the jig using the edge of the the cover.
To make the jig, I laid the thinner piece on top of the other larger piece and wrapped the packing tape around the edge of the two pieces. Then I folded the thinner piece back over and put a piece of tape on the other side. This allowed the thinner piece to fold up so I could slip a piece of foil under it while the larger piece was held in place with a weight. 

I used pieces of low tack masking tape to show me where the line should start and end because once the foil is placed under the jig I cannot see when to start and end without  those markers. I used a line pallet to make the line because it glides across the foil. I have also used fillet and patterned wheels with this jig. When I am doing tooling with gold leaf, this jig helps with the blind tooling.

 In this photo, I am lining up for the second tooled line.

I do occasionally have to remove the jig and touch up the corners where the lines meet but by using the jigs I can have the lines and curves or other small decorative tools in the same place on both covers.


  1. I love your jig system. Seems to take a lot of the grief out of tooling.

    here is a link to info and photos of an exhibit of book covers at Rochester Institute of Technology. Beautiful.
    thank you for sharing so many details of your craft, most interesting and admirable.

  3. This is gorgeous work. It's amazing that a simple box like that would help so much in the binding process but sometimes the simplest things are the best. You can tell how well it works however. Thanks for sharing. wire binding

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