Finishing Tool Making online workshop

 Registration is closed for this event
$ 375.00

May 8th, 2021 10:00 AM

  • Instructor: Brien Beidler
  • Workshop Type: Binding
  • Workshop Status: Wait-list
  • Workshop Start: May 8th, 2021 10:00 AM
  • Workshop End: May 22nd, 2021 12:00 PM
  • Sessions: 3

This is a three-session online workshop - Saturdays, May 8, 15 & 22, 10-12pm Pacific time.

Students in this workshop will learn the basics of making finishing tools. For centuries, the primary way to finish or decorate a covered binding was to build up patterns and designs with an assortment of small decorative stamps set in wooden handles. Though primarily used on leather bindings, these tools can be used on cloth, paper, and even wood. 

Beginning with brass stock (supplied in the class kit, see below for details), students will cut, drill, and file seemingly basic designs that can then be used to create a surprising range of patterns. They will learn to durably mount their newly cut tools into wooden handles. Thermodynamic considerations and tool blank fabrication options will also be discussed.

Finishing tools are expensive and difficult to find, so being able to make one’s own is an asset to any binder. In addition to potential savings, there is the added advantage of having a unique and personal catalog of tools. We will focus on developing tool designs that can be repeated in interesting ways to build up a variety of patterns.

Be prepared for a lot of hand filing of metal!

The class fee includes an instructor-supplied kit containing:

  • Aluminum angle irons
  • 3 tool blanks
  • 2 handles
  • Sandpaper polishing kit
  • Horse butt square for polishing and handling tool
  • Sandpaper for handle
  • 005 Micron pen
  • Scrap of calfskin

There are additional materials that students will need to source, see below for details.
Because of complications with international shipping, this class is only open to US students.

Materials to Bring: 

The workshop fee includes an extensive kit that will be mailed to each student after registration - see details above.

In addition, students will need to supply a half-round file and needle file set.
The instructor recommends these files from Rio Grande:
Half round
Needle file set

However, if cost is of concern the class can be completed with these files from Harbor Freight:
Half-round file
Needle file set

Students will also need to supply:

  • A sturdy work surface
  • Bench Vise :: for example 
  • C clamps to hold vice to table :: for example 
  • Candle and lighter/matches
  • Wooden mallet*

*If you don’t have easy access to a wooden mallet, you don’t need to go out and buy one, we can work another way of driving your tool into the handle!

If students wish to purchase extra raw materials, those will be available for separate purchase directly from the instructor. Please email for more information.

Workshop Fee: $375
Tuition assistance is available; please apply here.

Date & Time: 3 Saturdays :: May 8, 15 & 22, 2021 :: 10-12pm Pacific time

Location: Online over Zoom

SFCB online workshops are recorded; all registered students will have access to the videos for a limited time.

Please read over the SFCB Registration Policies before signing up for a class.


About the Instructor | Brien Beidler

Brien Beidler is a toolmaker and bookbinder. From the beginning, Brien has been inspired by the structure and design of historic European bindings and in his work, he seeks ways to create new compositions from these historic precedents. He also cuts, carves, and engraves an assortment of finishing and other specialized hand tools for bookbinding and its related trades.
Over the last 10 years Brien has taken and taught a variety of bookbinding and toolmaking workshops and is an active member of the Guild of Book Workers. In the fall of 2016, he and his partner upped their roots in Charleston, South Carolina and set up shop in Bloomington, Indiana, where Brien works from his home studio with his grumpy pup dog. 

Past Student Reviews:

"It was a great workshop for getting started making your own finishing tools. Excellent supplies kit, excellent instruction, I loved it.”

“Brien's overall positive attitude made this workshop a blast, and he emphasizes the aspect of empowering people with the tools they have, which made the skill seem approachable, accessible, and inclusive.”

“Loved, loved, loved Brien's workshop! It was so much fun, I learned a lot, and I got so much accomplished.”

“This was the most fun workshop I've taken in years. Thank you so much for the experience!”

$ 375.00
Online via Zoom
United States