Making Their Mark: Decorating and Finishing

Welcome to the world of decorating and finishing book covers. For Bookbinders, Finishing includes lettering, decorating and other processes that complete the binding process to identify, beautify and finish a book. Those who focus solely on this aspect of bookbinding are called Finishers. When impressions are made by hand it is called Tooling, and by machine, Blocking.

For more than five hundred years, hand tooling of leather bindings has utilized heated brass or metal stamps, pressed into the leather to make an impression. If the impressions are left unadorned it is called Blind Tooling. A common embellishment is to make the impression through gold leaf for Gold Tooling.

The American Bookbinders Museum is proud to share its collection of finishing tools with you and to provide an overview of Finishing, including hand stamping tools and machine blocking plates. We hope you are inspired to finish your own masterpiece

Hand Finishing


Finishing Processes

Hand Finishing


Hand Tools for Decorating and Titling

Hand Finishing


Finishing Materials

Hand Finishing

Gold Tooling

Processes and Tools


Stamps and Plates

Decorative Plates and Stamping Tools

Machine Finishing

Machine Blocking

Presses, Processes and Preparations

Tool Maker Spotlight

Hoole Tool Company

America's Most Prolific Maker of Bookbinding Tools

Publisher Spotlight

Riverside Press

Typographic, Stylistic, and Artistic Excellence

What Exhibit Visitors Have to Say about: Making Their Mark

caret-down caret-up caret-left caret-right
Instagram user @hauntibles

"Such a cool exhibit! Thanks for putting it together. This [finishing] is my favorite part of bookbinding."

© 2014-2023 American Bookbinders Museum