December 2016 – December 2017

Firestarter is one of my favorite Stephen King novels, and for me it was an easy choice for the 2nd in this custom bound series of books. I had the idea for how I wanted to rebind this one long before I got around to doing it. Coming off the completion of The Eyes of the Dragon, Firestarter started to take on a life of its own.

For those unfamiliar with these books, I work with a bookbinder, and we use the page block from the original 1st edition of the book, and then we rebind it in a unique way that ties into the story.

The Collaborators

This project is larger in scope than the previous one. A total of nine different collaborators have been involved, including the bookbinder, the fine art printer, the wood craftsman, the engraver and the artist.

Wood Front & Back Boards

I really wanted to have wooden boards on this book, and burn the wood so as to tie into the storyline. Not many bookbinders work with wood bindings. There are considerations related to both the style of binding as well as the best way to make the wood boards.

The wood boards are made by Jim Croft and I am very fortunate to be working with him on this project. Jim is a Medieval bookbinder and papermaker. He is internationally known for his skills, and he travels annually to various locations in the USA to teach students how to make books with wooden covers.

The wood boards are made by master craftsman Jim Croft with the same specifications as used by violin makers and aircraft rebuilders.

He really is a master at creating book covers from raw wood, and doing so in a way that prevents the wood from warping. Wood book boards require a very stable piece of wood because there is nothing holding it to keep it flat. It demands a perfectly straight grain, which must be cut with the grain. Violin makers and aircraft rebuilders demand these same specifications. It is made at the level of fine guitar tops which is beyond traditional woodworking.

The raw wood is split to get a straight grain, then it is resawn. After that it is air dried and weighed as they will continue to lose weight as they dry. When they reach their original weight they are stabalized and ready. The boards are then hand planed and shaped and given a cushion bevel all around which is a gradual tapering toward the edges. Finally they are finished with a natural, homemade varnish made from a mixture of linseed oil and beeswax.

For this binding, the wood boards are scorched, which creates the burned appearance. The title and author name is then engraved into the wood.

Bradel Binding Structure

The preferred binding style for wood bindings is a Bradel binding. Bradel binding is a style of book binding where the material covering the outside boards is separate from the material covering the spine. Bradel bindings generally have split boards into which are attached the extensions of the spine lining material. They generally have a leather or linen spine. Many bookbinders consider the Bradel binding to be stronger than a case binding.

The binding may be traced to 18th century Germany. The originator of the binding is uncertain, but the name comes from a French binder working in Germany, Alexis-Pierre Bradel (also known as Bradel l’ainé or Bradel-Derome). The binding originally appeared as a temporary binding, but the results were durable, and the binding had great success in the nineteenth century.

Steven Stroud

Steven Stroud is the artist who created the art which appears on the 1st edition dust jacket. Working with Steven on this project has been a joy. He is such a great guy and was so willing to spend the time creating some original drawings exclusively for this edition. There are three different drawings to choose from, and the art is signed by Steven and then bound into the book.

In addition to these original drawings, the book includes a signed limited edition museum grade giclée print of the original cover art, printed on fine art textured paper. This print was created exclusively for this edition. Thank you Steve!

Quarter Bound in Leather

The spine of the book is bound in leather using a Nigerian goatskin. The spine has raised bands and gold tooling as well as woven silk headbands.

Italian Hand Marbled Endpapers

When I shopped around for the endpapers and saw the one I ended up using, I knew instantly that it was perfect for the project. These endpapers are handmade in Italy, and had to be special ordered.

Made by Hand

Part of the motivation behind these projects is that I have an opportunity to spotlight various artisans who have dedicated their lives to refining and perfecting their craft.

In a world dominated by millions of manufactured objects, it is very fulfilling to surround yourself with people who make beautiful things by hand. In working on these projects, I have been inspired by the artists, bookbinders and in this case, a master woodworker. I love the authenticity of this process, and how these boards began as wood logs and went through numerous stages including sawing, splitting, hand planing and shaping to create the beautiful wood boards that will grace this custom bound edition.

Here are a few photographs showing some of the stages in making the boards.

1st Edition Copies

A crucial part of the custom bound project is to source and acquire copies of the 1st edition of the book. One of the challenges is to find copies that have a decent page block. The jacket, boards and endpapers don’t matter since those will be replaced as part of the rebinding. What is important is that they are true 1st editions, and that the pages are as clean as possible. In almost every case, the page edges will be dirty, but that also doesn’t matter because the edges are trimmed which removes any dirt or marks.

Here are some pictures of the books we acquired for the project. With and without the jackets.

You can click the images, or right-click and select “View Image” to see the large hi-res version.

This custom-bound edition of Firestarter by Stephen King uses the page block from an original Viking Trade First Edition Hardback.

The book is quarter bound in leather using the Bradel binding structure. The spine is covered in Nigerian goatskin and is tooled in gold with raised bands and woven silk headbands. The front and back boards are quartersawn Sycamore and are shaped at the edges to create an elegant cushion bevel. The wood is scorched and engraved. The marbled endpapers are handmade in Italy.

A signed limited edition giclée print of the original cover art by Steven Stroud is printed on textured fine art cotton rag paper. The print is included in an acid free mandarin booklet envelope. An original drawing signed by Steven Stroud is bound into the book. The book is housed in a custom handmade traycase.

Artwork © 1980, 2016 Steven Stroud. All Rights Reserved.


Released: December 12, 2017


  1. Firestarter looks amazing!

  2. You’ve done it again!

    The only problem is choosing which art I want.

  3. StroppyGoblin

    Amazing production again Paul, my wallet is quivering….

  4. Looks just fantastic! Awesome job, Paul!

  5. You have a gift for book design and production. Excited to hold the finished product!

  6. Thanks for the comments everyone. Good to hear you like the new book!

  7. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IM IN:)

  8. OMG – I got 3rd degree burns just opening it!

  9. Incredible production. This is the type of book you don’t want to touch because it’s so fine, but you have to touch because it’s just soooooo damn fine:) Outstanding work and congratulations to all involved!

  10. I didnt think that someone could do a book as impressive as this one, by working with wood!
    Another impressive King rebound !

  11. Pingback:On Stephen King rarities | Angst In My Pangst

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