Hand Tooling

 Registration is closed for this event

August 5th, 2023 9:30 AM

  • Instructor: Dominic Riley
  • Workshop Type: Binding
  • Workshop Status: Wait-list
  • Sessions: 2
  • In-person or Online?: In-person

Workshop Fee (includes materials fee): $350
50% scholarship available; click here to apply.

This is an in-person workshop. As of January 2023, masks are strongly encouraged but not required unless otherwise indicated. 

Hand tooling—or finishing—books requires patience, skill and practice, and handling gold leaf can present endless frustrations to even the most accomplished bookbinder.

This class will show you how to execute neat, pleasing finishes without using gold leaf, allowing you to focus on the fundamental skills necessary to achieve good lettering and spine and board decoration. All the work will be carried out on pre-prepared cloth, leather panels and spine pieces.

The class will concentrate on five techniques: Blind tooling on leather; tooling with carbon paper to achieve a solid black result; freestyle carbon tooling on leather or cloth boards using the one line wheel; tooling titles with real gold foil, using a template to ensure accuracy; and tooling gold lines using a fool-proof guide.

Throughout the class, Dominic will show how correct handling of the tools, accurate set-up and a thorough working practice can ensure effective results. All these techniques have been developed or learned over the years in various binderies, where, for reasons of expediency, finishing with gold leaf was not practiced. The alternatives, as you will see, are very impressive! 

>> Prerequisite: None <<

Materials to Bring: 

  • Your bookbinding toolkit
  • Bone folders with a sharp point and/or edge
  • Masking tape
  • Natural sponge
  • Cotton rag
  • Medium sized bowl or shallow dish


  • Finishing press
  • Metal ruler
  • Black ink pad
  • Finishing tools
  • Finishing stove
  • Finishing press

Date & Time: Saturday & Sunday, August 5 & 6, 2023 :: 9:30am-5:30pm

Location: 375 Rhode Island St, San Francisco, CA 94103

NOTE: Please read over the SFCB Registration Policies before signing up for a class. Registration will close three days prior to the start date of the workshop to allow the instructor time to prep materials for class. 

About the Instructor | Dominic Riley (he/him)

Dominic Riley Is an internationally renowned bookbinder, artist, lecturer and teacher. He has his bindery in England, from where he travels across the UK teaching and lecturing. He spends part of the year teaching in San Francisco and across the USA. His work is mostly restoration and Design Binding, for which he has won many prizes in the Designer Bookbinders competition. He was elected a Fellow of DB in 2008 and is Patron of the New Zealand Association of Book Crafts. His bindings are in collections worldwide, including the British Library, the Grolier Club in New York and the San Francisco Public Library. In 2013 he won first prize, the Sir Paul Getty Award, in the International Bookbinding Competition. Dominic is a past President of the Society of Bookbinders. Dominic and Michael Burke are co-founders of Book Camp, an immersive residential bookbinding experience which aims to teach new generations of binders.

He has taught masterclasses in the USA, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, at the Centro del Bel Libro in Switzerland, the Czech Republic, and Canada.

Past Student Reviews:

"Dominic is a wealth of information. He gives history, best practices, and lots of tips."

"I learned a lot of things and techniques for tooling. I greatly appreciate his effort and sharing his experience!" 

375 Rhode Island St
San Francisco, CA 94103-5133
United States