Foil blocking using hand tools – my new book

Wet cloth for testing heat of tools




My challenge was to make a fine binding of a blank book for a friend who is turning 80 and wants to write her stories. I struggle a bit now to do this demanding work as hands get a bit shaky and the eyesight is failing a bit.

No excuse really, I loved the  challenge and had a few little tricks to help me with the fold foil work which I share with you.

Wet cloth to test heat of hand tools – you will see this cloth in a dish and it is quite wet. As the tools heat up – propped around by heating tool (make sure the wooden handles are not touching the heat element). Take the tool you want to use out and touch the wet cloth – it is ready when the ‘sissing’ just eases – almost stops.

Have where you want to foil block this tool prepared. You will see where I have a carbon print on paper above where I want to block a series of letters. This is my most accurate guide to positioning.

The other images show the testing I have done on scraps of the leather so that I have the heat and pressure needed to block clearly well tested.

Finally – when using a tool you hold it absolutely vertically with your thumb on top. If a small letter or motif such as a dot then a fairly gently pressure. If a larger area of a tool then after pressing down gently press up, down and either side, finishing again in the vertical position.

Sometimes the blocking leaves bits of foil around and in the letters. They can be cleaned up by gently wiping with a piece of steel wool – also gently pressing and lifting off a piece of cello tape.  try on your practice pieces of leather of course.

Practice, practice, practice. Have a piece of board under the leather you are texting so that it is like the cover.

Of course there are different colours in foil and it is fun.

If you need some foil I can sell you some lengths – plenty to do several books – if you do not need to purchase a full roll from foil suppliers.

Come back to me if you have any questions.


Date: 27 Oct 2020

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