I have a large quantity of veg-tanned 2-3mm (5-8oz) leather, and I would like to try bookbinding with it. One thing that concerns me is that this is much thicker than the leather I normally see used for binding, so I'd like to know whether this leather is suitable, and more generally which thicknesses of leather are suitable for book binding?

  • 1
    Look at old books, from the time when real leather was the most common option, and go with that. It will depend on what kind of layers are under your leather or whether you would use the leather on its own.
    – Willeke
    Apr 15, 2018 at 13:47
  • Good idea; I'll have a look - it was my understanding that you needed something under the leather to give it a bit of rigidity.
    – walrus
    Apr 16, 2018 at 8:55

1 Answer 1


Traditionally leather should be about 1.00 mm thick for bookbinding. I have used leathers that are much thicker as well as leathers that are thinner. The thinner leather poses its' own problems. It can tear quite easily.

Years ago I did some bookbinding with some rather thick leather. Probably something comparable to what you have at the moment.

You should be able to use the leather at hand, but there are a few things one needs to be aware of first.

You need to learn how to tapper the edges of the leather with a sharp paring knife to finish the turn-ins and corners. It takes some practice and patience. The paring knife must be sharp at all times.

Paring Knives

The paring knife (third from the left) is similar to the one I used to use for tapering the leather.

Paring Knives

More Paring Knives!

Basic Paring Stages for Leather

Basic Paring Stages for Leather

Do the leather tapering (paring) in five stages and practice on some old pieces until you feel comfortable working with the knife.

PS. Be very careful.

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