This apprenticeship standard has been approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education. However, starts on the apprenticeship will only be possible once a suitable end-point assessment organisation (EPAO) has obtained Ofqual recognition. Once the EPAO has obtained Ofqual recognition, funding for apprentice starts will be permitted and this message will be removed.

Overview of the role

Apply fine hand bookbinding and craft skills in order to create, maintain, repair and assist in the conservation of books.

Details of standard

Occupation summary

This occupation is found in the craft, creative and design sectors as well as in museums, libraries and heritage & conservation sectors. 

The broad purpose of this occupation is to apply fine hand bookbinding and craft skills in order to create, maintain, repair and assist in the conservation of books.

Hand bookbinding is a small specialist area of book production with a history in the West stretching back to the 8th Century.  Many of today's processes and techniques continue a craft tradition established around the birth of printing in the fifteenth century when binding procedures were adapted to the new technology. Today hand binding provides employment opportunities in commercial binderies as well as libraries, archives and museums.

In their daily work, an employee in this occupation interacts with customers, senior colleagues, such as reporting to or being supervised by the Journeyman Bookbinder, suppliers and museums, and is sometimes required to consult with other Bookbinders where specialist knowledge is required.  They will typically be working alone or as part of a small team under supervision from a senior Bookbinder or Journeyman Bookbinder.  Sizes of organisations in which the Bookbinder will be employed vary from micro-businesses to large museums and libraries.

An employee in this occupation will be responsible for carrying out procedures such as selecting and cutting materials, collating books prior to restoration and refurbishment of leather bindings.  Bookbinders use hand tools to cut, stitch and glue materials together to make bindings with paper, cloth and leather covers.  A Bookbinder must be competent at every stage from the initial phase of sewing paper together, through to cutting the boards and assembling the cases to completion, which may include titling with gold foil and casing-in the covers.  In some binderies bookbinders specialise in just one part of the process, while in other workshops they carry out all the operations from start to finish.

Choosing correct tools and materials is a key part of the role and the Bookbinder must have a good knowledge of different types of paper, cloth and leather, and their availability, costs and specific uses.  The Bookbinder must be able to assess materials for their strength and durability and make informed decisions when specifying materials and procedures for each job.  A Bookbinder will also have gained experience of the techniques used in fine leather binding, box-making and the restoration of leather and cloth bindings.

In production work, particularly a run of identical volumes, a bookbinder must be able to work within a set of strict time and quality parameters. Keeping accurate timesheets and understanding the costing, scheduling and production aspects of a small workshop are also part of a bookbinder’s responsibilities. They would also be able to communicate effectively with customers.

Typical job titles include:

Bookbinder Junior bookbinder

Occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Comply with health and safety and other legislation and organizational policies and procedures ensuring the safety of self and others in the workplace

K1 K2 K4 K6

S1 S2

B1 B3 B4

Duty 2 Understand and apply the basic methods of book binding to all processes and projects

K3 K6 K7 K8 K19 K21

S2 S3 S4 S5 S6 S10 S11 S12 S17

B1 B2 B5 B8 B10

Duty 3 Understand and apply the techniques used in fine leather binding

K9 K22

S6 S7 S10

B2 B5 B10

Duty 4 Understand and apply the techniques for restoration and conservation of leather and cloth bindings

K5 K8 K9 K10 K13 K15 K18 K23

S6 S7 S8 S10 S11 S12

B2 B3 B5 B8 B10

Duty 5 Understand and apply the techniques for box-making

K11 K12 K14 K18

S2 S5 S12 S16

B1 B2 B8 B10

Duty 6 Effectively interact with customers in order to attain their desired outcome as well as advising on any relevant limitations of processes, costs and timescales

K12 K14 K18


B6 B7 B8 B11

Duty 7 Apply ethical and practical considerations appropriately in order to achieve the best outcome for the customer whilst preserving the integrity of the artefacts, seeking advice and guidance where needed

K10 K12 K13 K15

S8 S9 S10 S11

B3 B5 B8 B10

Duty 8 Complete customer orders whilst working within company regulations and appropriate cost & time limitations, managing workload and be able to prioritise in order to meet customer’s and company needs

K5 K6 K13 K16 K17 K19

S12 S13 S14

B9 B10 B12

Duty 9 Keep accurate and legible records of their learning experience with notes, photographs and sketches in order to act as a reference point for repeating exercises and evaluating and improving techniques


S12 S14 S15

B3 B7 B11



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


English and Maths

English and maths qualifications form a mandatory part of all apprenticeships and must be completed before an apprentice can pass through gateway. The requirements are detailed in the current version of the apprenticeship funding rules.

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



this apprenticeship will be reviewed in accordance with our change request policy.

Status: Approved for delivery
Level: 2
Reference: ST0469
Version: 1.0
Date updated: 15/02/2023
Approved for delivery: 24 August 2020
Route: Creative and design
Typical duration to gateway: 24 months (this does not include EPA period)
Maximum funding: £10000
LARS Code: 599
Employers involved in creating the standard: Barnard & Westwood, Blissetts Bookbinders, Bodleian Libraries, Bound by Veterans, Designer Bookbinders, Dragon Press Bindery Ltd, Fitzwilliam Museum, George Bayntun Ltd, Otter Bindery, Pothi Seva, Shepherds Bookbinders, Temple Bookbinders Ltd, The Royal Bindery, Victoria & Albert Museum

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
1.0 Approved for delivery 26/08/2020 Not set Not set

Crown copyright © 2024. You may re-use this information (not including logos) free of charge in any format or medium, under the terms of the Open Government Licence. Visit

Is this webpage useful?

Thank you for your feedback

Tell us about your experience