The leather notebook that tried to break me

So the project (s) I’m about to post, tried it’s damnedest to get the best of me, but I was able to turn the tables at the end.

I started wanting to make a Leather notebook cover for my Pastor’s birthday next week. I had a nice roll of leather from hobby lobby and it had all the right coloring and astethic I was hoping for! So I got to work, I grabbed the French punches I had ordered and got to work cutting out the main base of the notebook, the side panels and the extra pocket I typically put into my notebook covers. I grabbed some of the natural medium leather I found at the clearance section of Michaels and score and cut a pretty awesome looking tribal cross, which I then proceeded to tool and make very pretty. I was extremely excited for this one to be put together but this is where everything started going wrong.

The FIRST cross ended up having issues with the edging starting to fray randomly, I think this swaft of leather may have been water damaged or something while in storage at Michaels.

The second one almost cut badly but I was able to save it in time, however later on while I was using my new French punchs, I ended up breaking the small punch
After 5 wacks with the mallet.

I eventually got it setup for stiching and got it fixed to the cover, and then I noticed that I had another issue. The recut was bigger then the original, and gave me very few mm between it and the edge…oh well let’s try and make it work I guess…right?

Well yes and no, I ended up ordering a different set of punches because the French punches were clearly not gonna be working out with them being so fragile. The new punches had those sweet removable tips, so I gave them a go and neither the spiked pricking irons nor the hole cutting pins would go through the 2-3 oz leather I was using for the base of the notebook cover. I also found out that some of the pins had not been machined properly as some of them didn’t have the hole fully drilled through

After using those to punch the holes the needles that should have been perfect size for the 3.38 mm size wasn’t working and the next size down needle wasn’t sturdy enough to use.

By this point I’m so frustrated that my wife suggested I start over again, still had plenty of time. So last Monday I spent my time after work starting over from the ground up, grabbed my template I made from acrylic and went to town, this would be the perfect one…right…RIGHT??? NOPE!

Turns out, when I was sizing up the notebook cover I grabbed the wrong template, the one I had made for a smaller notebook and one that didn’t compensate for the closed radius of the notebook itself, so I get the main sheet cut once again before it dawn’s on me to check for that very thing, and sure enough I was screwed. I tried getting more of those smaller notebooks but they were all out. So I angerly was getting ready to just say screw it when my YouTube decided to feed me some very good leatherworking videos. I ended up going down a rabbit hole and came across this video for manual book binding by Dark horse Workshop.

So with that inspiration I went and printed my own lined paper, measured out and punched some holes in the spine and got to work binding the pages to the book

Finally something was starting to go right with this project, the only thing I realized after is I should have used more paper to make it a bit thicker, but the way this was made I could actually add more paper for him later on if he so chose.

I got the now decorative stitching completed last night and coated it with some acrylic sheen. I’m gonna seal up the edges and give him his gift today. All in all the projects that tried to break me didn’t win, and I found a new way to make something unique and awesome!!!

Till next time


Looks great – you certainly won through at the end!


I definitely had to push through!


It really came out nice!


Thank you! I just delivered it and he was really impressed with it, especially the stiching!


When life gives you lemons… demand that life take the lemons back!


You mean sell the lemons back at an inflated rate!

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Great post!!


Looks great. One thing to try another time is to use your GF to cut all the stitching holes. They end up exactly where you want on both pieces and no fuss with any sewing punches. If you glued the pieces together before sewing you can put toothpicks (or whatever matches the size of the stitching hole you want) to make sure the holes align between the pieces. A bonus is that it also ensures an absolutely straight stitching line.


I have done that for smaller projects such as my Minimalist Leather Wallet (in the catalog), unfortunately the notebook cover is bigger then what my plus can handle, plus I do like doing more of a traditional method when I can, as it builds skill and character.


Cave Johnson is my favorite J.K. Simmons character. :lemon: :fire: :derelict_house:


This turned out great! Way to preserver:-)