From education to employment




K1: Basic understanding of legislative requirements and responsibilities relating to health and safety, manual handling, hazardous substances (COSHH), chemicals, dust, hazard identification and risk assessment in the work area Back to Duty

K2: Understand the environmental impact of working practices, minimising waste, the efficient use of resources and recycling/re-using materials Back to Duty

K3: Understand the mechanical and physical properties of tools and the purposes for which they are designed Back to Duty

K4: Understand how different tools are maintained and stored properly Back to Duty

K5: Understanding the different roles and responsibilities of those who may be found in the workshop or working alongside/supervising Back to Duty

K6: Understand the physical infrastructure of the workshop, including the correct methods and locations for storage and disposal of equipment, materials and waste products Back to Duty

K7: Understand the basic principles of book design and construction and know each step of the bookbinding process in detail from start to finish Back to Duty

K8: Understanding how to handle, disassemble, clean and re-assemble books Back to Duty

K9: Knowledge of the techniques used in fine leather binding, including: Sewing on cords and tapes by hand, lacing on boards, the purpose of headbands and how they are made, drawing on leather covers Back to Duty

K10: Understand why it is important to sometimes restore or conserve books as an alternative to rebinding Back to Duty

K11: Knowledge of the uses and applications of different types of enclosures, such as drop-back boxes and slipcases Back to Duty

K12: Knowledge of customers’ individual requirements and appreciation of how these may vary within different sectors including private individuals, publishers, and institutions. Back to Duty

K13: Understand which binding procedure or restoration/conservation process is most appropriate for each specific project, being aware of the limitations of each and knowing how this translates into costs and timescale Back to Duty

K14: Knowledge of the appropriate language/terms for the customer or for a colleague when describing what work needs to be carried out Back to Duty

K15: Understanding the importance of the functionality of books and the ethical considerations of preserving books in their original condition Back to Duty

K16: Understand the reason and importance of keeping accurate timesheets and records of work undertaken Back to Duty

K17: Awareness of how the workflow process is managed from the enquiry and ordering stage through to the completion of a project and the return of items to customers Back to Duty

K18: Knowing what is technically possible within the bookbinder’s skillset and how to communicate this to the customer Back to Duty

K19: Understanding the varied nature of the workload and how different jobs can be processed at the same time to allow for pressing and drying times Back to Duty

K20: Understanding of the importance of learned techniques, their possible range applications and where skills-gaps need to be addressed through continuous professional development Back to Duty

K21: Understand the criteria by which a hand-bound book is judged and differentiated from a machine-made binding Back to Duty

K22: Understand the differences between fine-binding, commercial case bindings and other common forms of binding such as account books, ledgers and stationery binding Back to Duty

K23: Understand why different materials were used at different periods of history and be able to recognise the principal types of leather commonly found in Western binding structures e.g. calfskin, goatskin, sheepskin Back to Duty


S1: Comply with relevant health, safety and environmental legislation (Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974) e.g. logging and reporting incidents, correct use of PPE Back to Duty

S2: Safely use equipment in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and/or in accordance with workshop practices for equipment made in the workshop Back to Duty

S3: Sharpen, repair or fettle tools as appropriate Back to Duty

S4: Make or repair housing and cases for tools Back to Duty

S5: Select and cut-out the appropriate materials for each specific process Back to Duty

S6: Clean off backs and take down old sewing structures without damaging the artefacts Back to Duty

S7: Assist with light refurbishment and cleaning of leather covers and text papers Back to Duty

S8: Interpret and record customer’s requirements accurately and be able to convey those instructions to senior colleagues Back to Duty

S9: Express contributions to a project simply and clearly to the customer and employer Back to Duty

S10: Where appropriate, in addition to making new bindings, the bookbinder must be able to assist in restoration and conservation processes, particularly bindings made in leather cloth and paper bindings. Required skills include: • Ability to collate, record and assess items prior to treatment. • To take down sewing structures and assist with the removal of old adhesives. • Repair signatures prior to resewing. • Assist in sourcing, preparing and cutting suitable materials. • Assist (under supervision) with refurbishment and small repairs Back to Duty

S11: Record any incident, damages and/or any alteration in procedures in an accurate and precise manner Back to Duty

S12: Record accurately the use of materials and the time taken on projects and where required, evaluate methods and processes in order to work at maximum efficiency Back to Duty

S13: Participate in the management of the business workflow, including using the appropriate paperwork and software to monitor progress of projects Back to Duty

S14: Display effective listening and communications skills to a customer throughout the life of all projects and address customer problems, which may be complex and non-routine Back to Duty

S15: Use a range of formats such as narrative accounts, sketches, drawing or illustrations to contribute to continuous professional development and to act as a reference for future projects Back to Duty

S16: Build basic boxes as required for each artefact as per customer requirements Back to Duty

S17: Apply manual dexterity to produce a high quality product, which meets industry standards for hand-bound books Back to Duty


B1: A professional attitude to all aspects of workshop procedures Back to Duty

B2: Follow all procedures accurately and with great patience. Pay attention to the smallest details in the craft process Back to Duty

B3: Adopt a questioning attitude to ensure that processes are understood and applied properly Back to Duty

B4: Be prepared to intervene when seeing procedures not being followed and be prepared to escalate a matter to senior colleagues where a Health & Safety issue may be present Back to Duty

B5: Acting responsibly when handling rare and precious materials and artefacts Back to Duty

B6: Show tact and understanding when dealing with customers’ needs Back to Duty

B7: Be willing to learn and take time to consider how to describe work and how to communicate it to customers Back to Duty

B8: A sensitive and conscientious approach to the work that treats each project on an individual basis, regardless of value or age of the artefact Back to Duty

B9: Take a responsible and meticulous approach to filling-out cost sheets and time sheets Back to Duty

B10: Being responsible for ensuring that each part of the process is carried out diligently Back to Duty

B11: Have the ability to discuss and develop ideas with colleagues and customers in order to address both routine and complex, non-routine tasks Back to Duty

B12: A flexible approach and having the self-discipline and patience to switch from one project to another depending on business requirements Back to Duty

Related Articles