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Step by step instructions on How to repair a Bible Cover or book Spine Properly for a book that you want to keep...

Updated on July 15, 2012
Source

Small Repairs and Large ones too..

There is not much in this life that I find more satisfaction in than repairing an otherwise good bible that has become worn beyond practical use...  You know the kind... the text is good.. the pages marked with all of your favorite notes from many years of study... but the Binding or spine has been compromised...

Well if you have a little craft ability and can follow some simple instructions you will be able to repair that bible in a short period of time and know that it will still provide you years of Good use!!!

Carefully Disassemble the book

Use a Exact-o knife or a pair of scissors to cut the cover from the content and make bare the areas of the cover that need to be re glued. 

Disassembly of Bible

Use a sharp Knife or scissors to separate the Bible into its basic parts.
Use a sharp Knife or scissors to separate the Bible into its basic parts. | Source
after separation
after separation | Source
assess where you will need to glue.
assess where you will need to glue. | Source
Spread the glue out evenly... fingers work great for this, but keep a damp sponge handy.
Spread the glue out evenly... fingers work great for this, but keep a damp sponge handy. | Source

Gluing

Examine the damage and glue the first side... spread the glue to contact all of the area you wish to glue.  Use a "White Glue" that is Plastic based.  It is easier to clean up with a damp sponge and makes an excellent clear bond.  

Spread the Glue with a finger and then press the paper back into its position... Clean up extra that oozes out with a slightly damp sponge and then do the other side...

Now Pile some Books on it to keep it pressed and make a good glue Bond.

clean up with a damp sponge is easy... but not too damp... you don't want to WET your Bible now do you?
clean up with a damp sponge is easy... but not too damp... you don't want to WET your Bible now do you? | Source
Now Glue the other side the same as the first side.
Now Glue the other side the same as the first side. | Source
Smooth out the Glue
Smooth out the Glue | Source
Smooth the paper back into the proper position and work the excess glue out... clean up with damp sponge.
Smooth the paper back into the proper position and work the excess glue out... clean up with damp sponge. | Source

Pressing the Glue

After the Glue is applied Pile on the books to Press the Cover Flat,  and now your ready to wait for it to dry...
After the Glue is applied Pile on the books to Press the Cover Flat, and now your ready to wait for it to dry... | Source

Making the Splint

Measuring and Cutting
Measuring and Cutting | Source
Cutting the splint
Cutting the splint | Source
Positioning the splint
Positioning the splint | Source
After splint is positioned. Check its size again and make sure it is straight.
After splint is positioned. Check its size again and make sure it is straight. | Source

Cut a leather Binding Splint

A Scrap of Medium thickness leather (2-3mm) is a good choice at this point for a repair to a broken spine.

For a Very thick book like a Large Bible with built in study and helps sections you may want to opt for the full thickness leather (4mm-5mm).

The thicker leather makes sure that the spine will not break in the middle again (a common problem with old bibles)  But it is harder to work with.

With Thicker Leather comes a problem of Cutting it to shape. You may need to use a Jigsaw (or whatever you have handy).

Cut the Leather to shape but make sure that it is slightly SMALLER than the spine you are repairing. Remember that you will be reinstalling the same Cover and that any size increase will "Shorten" the cover itself.

This appearance can be covered up nicely with a Full Leather Cover and Closure Strap if you choose that option.

leather splint changes things

In this picture notice the Leather Splint is a thick one... and notice also that the paper of the Bible is now protruding from the cover by the same distance as the Splint is thick. This may Necesitate the making of a New Outer Cover for the Bible...
In this picture notice the Leather Splint is a thick one... and notice also that the paper of the Bible is now protruding from the cover by the same distance as the Splint is thick. This may Necesitate the making of a New Outer Cover for the Bible... | Source

Bible with Full Leather Cover and Closure Strap

Two finished Bibles: The one on the Left is with a metal Lock and closing strap.  The one at Right is the Bible worked on in this tutorial
Two finished Bibles: The one on the Left is with a metal Lock and closing strap. The one at Right is the Bible worked on in this tutorial | Source

Gluing in the Binding Splint

For this Gluing you will want to use a good quality Contact Cement. (Don`t sniff the fumes)

Apply the cement to both the rough side of the Leather Splint (Rough goes inside of leather toward the pages) and apply another coat of Glue to the spine of the bible itself evenly cover the paper and binding tape.

Wait 10 minutes or so (read the directions on the side of the Contact Cement)

When you press the Leather to the Binding use a Wooden Rod or Mallet to beat the leather... The contact cement is strong glue.. but proportional to the pressure applied when the two parts are placed together. ~Spank it~ The pressure involved with the rod or mallet being properly applied to the binding will make the glue form an extremely solid bond.

But WARNING:  Do Not smack your finger tips in the process... trust me it hurts... just take my word for it...

New Liner

About this point there is a small mater of the inside of the cover possibly looking shabby from tears and gluing...   

You can take a peace of Cardstock (often sold for printers as Couche or Photo Paper.  

Usually it is about 180 gram weight and makes for a nice finishing touch to the inside of cover if done properly.  You can get this type of paper in printed pasterns and colors also.

Take the paper and fold it in half.  

Lay it inside the book tight to the spine and close the book... use the outside of the cover as a guide for drawing the shape to be cut.

You will want to cut INSIDE the Line by approximately 1/4 inch (6mm) 

Glue the liner inside the cover and leave the other half of the paper to be a first blank page inside the bible... 

I will sometimes even add a few blank pages at the front or back or even add my own notes and helps section pages... Depends on how much room you have inside the cover.


Contact cement both surfaces Wait for it to dry...  10 minutes or so...
Contact cement both surfaces Wait for it to dry... 10 minutes or so... | Source
Whacking it...  Be careful of your fingers!!!
Whacking it... Be careful of your fingers!!! | Source
Align with the Cover and apply the contact cement
Align with the Cover and apply the contact cement | Source
Cement
Cement | Source
Careful alignment BEFORE allowing the two parts of the glue to connect.
Careful alignment BEFORE allowing the two parts of the glue to connect. | Source
Beat it....  Not your fingers.
Beat it.... Not your fingers. | Source
Beat it from several different directions and use the rod to Press and Smooth the cover into the right shape... not off centered etc.
Beat it from several different directions and use the rod to Press and Smooth the cover into the right shape... not off centered etc. | Source

Re-Attach Cover

Using the same Contact Cement, carefully apply the cement to both the spine and the center part of the cover that you want to glue.   Do not get the glue all over the place if you can help it...

Place the cover on a flat surface and then Carefully position the Book before touching the two sides together....

~WAIT~  for the Glue to be ready before putting the two pieces together.

Again Use the Rod or Mallet to make sure the Glue gets a good beating and forms a great Bond.



Final Product

You can be creative with other cover designs etc... But more on that later...
You can be creative with other cover designs etc... But more on that later... | Source

Choose your Cover Material

If you have a local leather shop (Like Tandy Leather-craft) you can usually choose from a wide variety of Natural and Patterned leathers.  Some are colored, Some are Exotic (usually thin however) and others that are thicker can be tooled with names, Pictures and Titles etc.

You have a great deal of latitude when making your own Cover... Even the style can be of your own invention.. Just use some imagination and you will do just fine.

If you do not have a Leather store nearby.... there are also other options... You can sometimes find Recyclable Leather at Second hand stores in the form of old Pants, Jackets and purses that can be cut up and put to a better use.   

You can also Choose to use Denim, or some Military Camouflage patern if you like...  (my wife and daughter prefer flowery cloth prints)

Cut the Leather Cover

Mark your piece of material using the old cover for a template.  

Mark the New Cover LARGER than the Old one...  Especially Longer!!

Remember that if you cut the piece exactly the same size, it will be too short when placed on the OUTSIDE of the Closed Cover.

Your New Leather Cover should be cut Slightly Larger than the old cover so that you not only have plenty of room for Gluing but that it will properly fit when the book is closed...

Use a Square and make sure your lines you are drawing are perfectly squared (at 90 degree angles)

If your piece of Leather is not with Squared ends compared to the staight sides.. you will have a mess when you try to glue it in place.

Once you have the piece properly drawn out and Cut, Place it on the bible and play with it a little bit.. make sure the margins are large enough and you can properly picture it where you want it.

Now Mark it. Mark the top, bottom and end lines so that you will have a reference when you are ready to glue.

Are you going to add a Closure Strap??? Maybe a Buckle??

Now is the time to do any leather work of this sort before you Glue the Cover onto the bible.

Glue on Leather Cover

The New Leather Cover is now Glued onto the Outside of the old bible Cover.

Yes you could do away with the old cover...  But usually do not.  

The old Cover makes a great base to Attach the New Cover to... and in the end you have a much more durable cover than you would have otherwise.

Again you will be using Contact Cement (and will need to wait some minutes and then beat it etc...)


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    • cat on a soapbox profile image

      Catherine Tally 6 years ago from Los Angeles

      Step-by-step pictures would have helped a lot. Still, this was a very useful hub. Thanks!

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 6 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Im sorry.. I am literally working on this hub article at this moment... like doing the Bible repair and taking the pictures as Im working... come back tomarrow afternoon ok??? Thanks:-)

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 5 years ago from The World (for now)

      I have a Bible, actually two, that need to be fixed like this and I was thinking of going to a book binder but now that I see your instructions, I am definitely going to try this. Thanks!

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 5 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      When you get done with yours take a picture and send it to me... Maybe I can add some Photos to the article from people who have used it to do their own... Sounds like a fun addition to my articles:-) A We Done it Section:-)

    • North Wind profile image

      North Wind 5 years ago from The World (for now)

      OK but only if it comes out right :) I'll probably try to do one this weekend, gingerly following your instructions :)

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 5 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      If you run into trouble let me know at what point and take a picture of it... so I can see what you are dealing with...

    • Little Red Wagon profile image

      Little Red Wagon 5 years ago from The South

      Instead of using a leather splint, I like to use fabric on the signatures if they are loose. I prefer PVA glue which has seemed to hold up fine.

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 5 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      My reason for using a thick leather splint was the repair of the Crease down the middle of the cloth spine. It will never crease there again... But you may have a point with keeping to a more original look/feel etc. Thanks for stopping by!!!

      More about PVA glue: http://www.earmark-decorative-painting-studio.com/...

      And if you notice... there is a large bottle of PVA Glue in the background of the photos.. I use it allot as well...

    • profile image

      steve 4 years ago

      Hello, I own a very dear and old olive wood cover bible. could you give me some ideas. The wood has torn off with the leather spine

      I know that if I had the spine with the overlaping material i could glue on new inside stock. what do you suggest. But I like that it says Jerusalem and holy bible on the spine any hints ?

      Thank you in advance

      sikoras@bellsouth.net

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 4 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Ok... Here is the deal: For most considerations It looks like it is a normal bible.

      It is A Normal Bible that has had two very pretty wooden covers "Contact Cemented" to the outside of a normal cover...

      From the photo I can't tell if that is Bonded Leather or Real leather underneath the wood but it really doesn't matter.

      What matters is that the spine part is still in fairly good looking shape. You can bring this one back to looking almost original if your careful.

      Steps: Need to carefully separate the 2 cover Parts from the Bible itself and set them aside. The Front Cover and Spine are one piece and the Back Cover is a separate piece.

      Get some plain but sort of Paper thin leather and put a New Cover on the Bible as I showed in the photos...

      (The kind of leather that is usually used to make dash boards and door liners in cars... they glue it to a press-board backing... you never realize its only 1.5 - 2mm or so thick until you work with it... If you get the right kind... it is pretty tough stuff and will make a great backing for what we are about to do.)

      After you are finished giving the Bible the "New leather Cover"... You can then carefully Add the Original Cover back to the outside Using Contact Cement.

      Leave the Original leather or Bonded Leather inside the wood...

      and leave the HOLY BIBLE Spine part attached where it is connected to the Front Cover.

      When you go to add the Original Cover... Start with the Spine... Glue it first...

      Then do the front cover that is attached to the spine... and after you are done with that, you can carefully mate the Back cover to the spine...

      Plan your work ahead... and do not use Glue until you are certain you have it right.

      Make sure you Crease the New Leather Cover on both sides of the spine (Tight to the spine) before trying to add the old cover back on...

      You need to keep the spine as tight as possible so that the spine does not "Grow on you" making the Newly Re-installed Cover a loose fit with a gap between the spine and back cover.

      Let me know if you have any questions...

      Jim

    • profile image

      the_fur_elise@yahoo.con 3 years ago

      I have my Fathers Bible from when he was a child, he passed away Aug. 5, 2013. I want to fix it, but wondering what is the best glue to use that won't leave bumps under the Leather. Thank You Roberta Elise Briscoe ( Bakker)

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 3 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Need to show me what your working with.. can you email me a photo or two of what you are looking at?

    • Little Red Wagon profile image

      Little Red Wagon 3 years ago from The South

      Interesting repair to a Bible. Good photos.

    • profile image

      Debby brown 3 years ago

      The book part of my bible has come apart into two parts. Splittling at the book of mark. Will i do the repair the same as you described here?

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 2 years ago

      Great tutorial on repairing an old bible. Mine has marks and notes and would want to keep it if it ever got that bad. I appreciate the work you went through to take the photos and to detail each step. Great page!

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 2 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      That is what I would do.. use the spinal backing to re-join the two sections and make the whole book one unit again. You can use a cloth like ticking or a leather...

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 2 years ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Thanks!!!

    • profile image

      Xexilia 2 years ago

      Thanky Thanky for all this good inootmarifn!

    • profile image

      Krispix 2 months ago

      Hi! I don't know if you are still even receiving notifications on this post. I am deciding whether it's worth it to repair my good old NKJV wide margin center reference Bible. I am considering purchasing a new Bible instead but can't afford to do a direct replacement, because new ones are over $200. I don't HAVE to get that version, but I'm very visual, I'm used to that version and I like the layout. Is there a place I could email or post a photo to get your opinion on whether it's worth the effort?

    • MrMaranatha profile image
      Author

      MrMaranatha 2 months ago from Somewhere in the third world.

      Madden-Brazil@Hotmail.com

      I know how it is to get attached to a perticular form of Bible...

      Personally Im King James Version all the way.

    • profile image

      Kay Plumondore 2 weeks ago

      I need to rebind a hard cover bible for a Moose Lodge that I belong to and need to know what specific materials you used? It's in good condition other then the binding. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

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