This apprenticeship has been withdrawn

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 oversee and be responsible for all bookbinding processes and operations, including conservation and restoration of high value items and the functional running a bindery or workshop.

The Journeyman Bookbinder will often be working on books that have both a cultural and financial value and must be able to assess the ethical and practical issues of rebinding or restoring valuable and historically important items. The Journeyman’s knowledge of binding styles must cover a wide variety of items including medieval manuscripts, books printed before 1500, early English and Continental printed books, and later structures such as 19th century colour-plate books and modern edition bindings.  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.

Fine Binding techniques are the building blocks of the Journeyman Bookbinder’s skills and they must be able to carry out every aspect of the process of making a finely bound book including sewing, preparing boards, covering in leather, and gold tooling and decoration.  Additionally, the Journeyman will be responsible for restoration techniques including restoration and conservation of leather and cloth bindings, box-making and enclosures, gold tooling, decoration and edge-gilding, and the creation of new bindings and book designs.  The Journeyman Bookbinder will also develop significant skills in relation to the conception, design and creation of new binding designs.  They will also be responsible for accurate record keeping along with proper safeguards to ensure the safety of all materials, particularly items held in trust for third parties and ensuring proper insurance measures are in place for transit and the safekeeping of valuable items.

The Journeyman must be able to navigate a professional approach to each binding project and act in an advisory capacity based on the physical condition of the book whilst maintaining a balance between ethical considerations and a customer’s particular requirements.

The Journeyman must be capable of joining a professional environment as a member of a team and have the behavioural abilities to cooperate with other senior craftsmen as well as guiding junior colleagues in a supervisory role. A thorough knowledge of costing issues will enable the Journeyman to give estimates and quotes, monitor cost sheets, and issue invoices. A good knowledge of small business practice, basic bookkeeping (using spreadsheets or commercial software), and understanding insurance issues, including third party property cover and professional indemnity, are also essential, particularly when dealing with high value items.

Typical job titles include:

Finisher Forwarder Journeyman bookbinder Master binder Master bookbinder Senior bookbinder

Entry requirements

Entry requirements will be determined by individual employers but typically these may include a Level 2 Bookbinding apprenticeship or equivalent experience.

Occupation duties

Duty KSBs

Duty 1 Comply with health and safety and other legislation and organizational policies and procedures.

K1 K3 K4

S1 S2 S3

B1 B3 B4

Duty 2 Run a bookbinding workshop or bindery including the management of all bookbinding processes and supervision of junior staff.

K2 K5 K10 K18 K21 K22 K23

S5 S6 S34 S35 S36

B1 B2 B4 B7 B10 B12 B13

Duty 3 Carry out stock taking audits, ensuring adequate supply of materials, sourcing and preparation of materials.

K8 K9

S4 S8 S9 S10 S11 S34 S35

B5 B6 B7

Duty 4 Carry out fine binding techniques to customer and company specified quality levels including the use of leather binding.

K6 K7 K10

S6 S7 S10 S12 S13 S14 S15 S18 S20 S22 S23 S32 S33

B1 B8 B9

Duty 5 Carry out box-making processes to customer and company specified quality levels.

K6 K7 K11

S7 S17 S18 S19 S20 S34

B1 B9

Duty 6 Carry out gold finishing and decoration processes to customer and company specified quality levels.

K6 K7 K12

S16 S21 S22 S24

B1 B7 B9

Duty 7 Prepare artwork for finishing books to customer and company specified quality levels.

K10 K13 K14 K18 K19

S10 S22 S26 S27 S28

B9 B10 B14

Duty 8 Create and apply original designs to binding and finishing processes.

K14 K18

S7 S22 S25 S34 S36

B8 B9 B10 B14

Duty 9 Carry out restoration and conservation processes ensuring that ethical and practical considerations are applied appropriately in order to achieve the best outcome for the customer, whilst preserving the integrity of the artefacts. This may include seeking advice and guidance from other master binders where required.

K14 K15 K17 K21

S28 S29 S34 S36

B1 B2 B7 B8 B11 B14

Duty 10 Be responsible for the security of the workshop and the safe and secure storage of high value items.

K16 K17 K21

S30 S31 S38

B1 B5 B11

Duty 11 Effectively interact with customers in order to attain their desired outcome as well as advising on any relevant limitations of processes, costs and timescales.


S6 S35 S36

B11 B14

Duty 12 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 remembering techniques.



B8 B14



K1: 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 which clothing to wear when and for what purpose and which equipment to use, including the safe handling of board choppers, guillotines, laying presses, paring knives, shears, hot glue, and other hazardous workshop equipment. Back to Duty

K4: Understand the environmental impact of working practices on the environment including the efficient use of resources and recycling. Back to Duty

K5: Understand the operational arrangements of the workshop such as the respective staff roles and the flow of work for the business. Back to Duty

K6: Understanding the range of materials and their applications, such as different leather types and qualities, appropriate selection of papers, adhesives, threads and sewing support materials (e.g. tapes and cords), types of gold leaf, gold foil and book cloths. Back to Duty

K7: Understanding the use of equipment and its intended purposes, examples include board choppers, guillotines, glue pots, laying presses, sewing frames, finishing stoves, blocking presses, riveters, book washing sinks, humidifiers and fume cupboards. Back to Duty

K8: Understand the value of stock and role of inventory checking in the efficient running of a workshop including consumption rate of stock use and its relationship to both work and cash flow. Back to Duty

K9: Understand the markets from which materials, tools and equipment may be sourced and the related issues arising from the ordering of materials, tools and equipment, such as transport, installation or other physical matters and the time frames between ordering and delivery from specialist suppliers and manufacturers. Back to Duty

K10: Understand the principle skills required in fine binding and their application. Back to Duty

K11: Understand how make a variety of boxes including drop-back boxes and slipcases. Back to Duty

K12: Understand the art of applying gold leaf as a form of decoration and titling to the covers of leather books. Back to Duty

K13: Understand how a design in art form translates into a physical block for use in the bindery. Back to Duty

K14: Understand the history of the book and in particular of the history of bookbinding. Back to Duty

K15: Knowledge of conservation and the practical measures that can be taken to protect items from long-term damage, such as: identifying acidic materials frequently found in nineteenth and twentieth century books, the long term damage of acidity and other harmful materials, PH values and the principle of reversibility (particularly in relation to adhesives) and understanding the processes used in leather tanning that can affect the long term durability of the binding. Back to Duty

K16: Understanding of company security procedures and applicable security arrangements relating to the property belonging to customers. Back to Duty

K17: Understanding insurance issues, including third party property cover and professional indemnity, particularly when dealing with high value items. Back to Duty

K18: Understanding how a customer’s needs translate into costs and timeframe by being aware of the implications of requirements in terms of materials, equipment and the workflow within the workshop. Back to Duty

K19: Understand the mechanical and physical properties of tools and the purposes for which they are designed. Back to Duty

K20: Understand how tools are to be maintained and stored, examples include shaping and sharpening knives and making knife covers, making strops, maintaining finishing tools and keeping them in a serviceable and workshop-ready condition. Back to Duty

K21: Understand the reason and importance of keeping accurate timesheets and records of work undertaken. Back to Duty

K22: 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

K23: 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

K24: 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


S1: Comply with relevant health, safety and environmental legislation (Health and Safety at Work 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, examples include board choppers, guillotines, glue pots, laying presses, sewing frames, finishing stoves, blocking presses, riveters, book washing sinks, humidifiers and fume cupboards. Back to Duty

S3: Store tools correctly according to company health and safety requirements. Back to Duty

S4: Use appropriate accounting software in order to complete stock-counting and procurement responsibilities. Back to Duty

S5: Apply applicable human resources procedures and standards when managing teams or supervising junior staff. Back to Duty

S6: Ensure all workshop process are completed in an appropriate timescale and that work is prioritised in order to meet customer requirements. Back to Duty

S7: Select the right materials, such as different leather types and qualities, appropriate selection of papers, adhesives, threads and sewing support materials (e.g. tapes and cords), types of gold leaf and gold foil, book cloths, in accordance with their senior colleagues instructions. Back to Duty

S8: Select and maintain the right levels of stock of the right types of material and be adept at applying knowledge of what is required to source the best value. Back to Duty

S9: Forecasting stock requirements as required by the company specific business plan. Back to Duty

S10: Apply the requirements of the workshop and the customer to ensure that the appropriate level of cost and quality is factored in to any orders placed. Back to Duty

S11: Checking stock for defects and returning fault stock and dealing with errors in a timely manner. Back to Duty

S12: Make hand-sewn silk headbands. Back to Duty

S13: Pare leather by hand. Back to Duty

S14: Make laced-on (also known as drawn-on) boards. Back to Duty

S15: Set head-caps and raised bands. Back to Duty

S16: Undertake titling and decoration in gold leaf. Back to Duty

S17: Make drop-back/clamshell boxes. Back to Duty

S18: Make slipcases, including 'leather entry' slipcases. Back to Duty

S19: Make portfolios to house loose collections of sheets. Back to Duty

S20: Make brass-post folders to house melinex sleeves. Back to Duty

S21: Apply gold tooling using egg and BS glaire. Back to Duty

S22: Use handle letters, type-holders, wheels and decorative tools. Back to Duty

S23: Use varying design techniques and the application of leather on-lays. Back to Duty

S24: Produce edge gilding, solid edges and rough gilt edges. Back to Duty

S25: Use appropriate software to create or save the art work electronically. Back to Duty

S26: Apply skills learned in binding and restoration processes to determine the design and form of the block. Back to Duty

S27: Communicate requirements to the block maker. Back to Duty

S28: Apply knowledge of the history of the book and of historical bookbinding techniques in order to create faithful and historically accurate designs ensuring that any design is consistent with the structure of the book, its age and purpose. Back to Duty

S29: Apply knowledge of conservation when planning treatment procedures and be able to make informed decisions based on the latest techniques and research. Back to Duty

S30: Correctly apply company security procedures. Back to Duty

S31: Apply the appropriate procedures for recording the safe custody of the property of others. Back to Duty

S32: Sharpen, repair, or otherwise fettle tools as appropriate. Back to Duty

S33: Make or repair housing and cases for tools. Back to Duty

S34: Record accurately the use of materials and the time taken on projects. Back to Duty

S35: Participate in the management of the business workflow, including using the appropriate paperwork and software to monitor progress of projects. Back to Duty

S36: Display effective listening and communications skills to a customer throughout the life of all projects. Back to Duty

S37: Ability to use a range of media and formats where required to describe the knowledge and skills, such as narrative accounts, sketches, or the use of electronic media such as drawing or illustrations in order to contribute to continuous professional development and to act as a reference for future projects. Back to Duty

S38: Application of insurance rules and safeguards to high value items, including third party property cover and professional indemnity. Back to Duty


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

B2: Adopt a questioning attitude to ensure that processes are understood and applied properly. Back to Duty

B3: 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

B4: Lead by example and set a standard of behaviour and conduct for others to follow. Back to Duty

B5: Taking care with planning and learning how to balance both the short-term and long-term needs of the business or institution, being responsible and accountable for the property, materials, and equipment of the business or organisation. Back to Duty

B6: Act with care and patience and diligence in checking stock levels regularly. Back to Duty

B7: Be timely and accurate in committing resources to the acquisition of materials, tools and equipment. Back to Duty

B8: Willingness to learn continuously. Back to Duty

B9: Follow all procedures accurately and with great patience, paying close attention to the smallest details in the craft process. Back to Duty

B10: Work collaboratively with others, promoting effective inter-professional and multi-disciplinary team working with peers, colleagues and staff and provides appropriate leadership within the scope of the role. Back to Duty

B11: Treat the customer's property with the utmost care and consideration. Back to Duty

B12: Take a responsible and meticulous approach to filling-out cost sheets and time sheets. Back to Duty

B13: A flexible approach and having the self-discipline and patience to switch from one project to another depending on business requirements. Back to Duty

B14: Proactively discuss and develop ideas with colleagues and customers. Back to Duty


English and Maths

Apprentices without level 2 English and maths will need to achieve this level prior to taking the End-Point Assessment. For those with an education, health and care plan or a legacy statement, the apprenticeship’s English and maths minimum requirement is Entry Level 3. A British Sign Language (BSL) qualification is an alternative to the English qualification for those whose primary language is BSL.

Additional details

Occupational Level:


Duration (months):



Status: Withdrawn
Level: 5
Reference: ST0468
Route: Creative and design
Typical duration to gateway: 36 months (this does not include EPA period)

Version log

Version Change detail Earliest start date Latest start date Latest end date
Withdrawn Not set 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