Diego Caloca Jr. + HCSB Compact = Masterpiece

P1060359What if you could pick any Bible you want, assuming it has a sewn binding, and it could be magically metamorphosed into the semblance of an R. L. Allan, Cambridge, or Schuyler edge-lined masterpiece? I’ll let the question hang for a moment…

Last fall, my friend Paul V. sent his old standby Bible off to Southern California for a face lift and got back a beauty queen. He wrote up a review, I photographed it, and we posted it here. For more background, please visit that post. It wasn’t long before I had my very own Caloca rebind in hand, so now its my turn to give respect to the craftsman that is Diego Caloca Jr.

P1060332I wanted something different than what I already had, so I chose the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible, or Hard Core Southern Baptist Bible if you like). I also wanted something small, so I ordered the HCSB Large Print Compact in imitation leather for $14.99 on amazon.com and had it delivered via 2-day prime shipping straight to Rancho Cucamonga. It was a risk, never having seen the book before committing it into Diego’s hands for a rebind. However, my impatience outranked the risk and I went all in. I knew enough: It was a sewn binding with silver page edges, a rounded spine, and a compact and beefy form factor.


I will give a brief word on the text block itself, and then on to Diego’s work. I realize that font sizes are not uniform, but instead depend on the typeface in question (in other words, 8 point font may be a different size in different typefaces). But when the publisher said its an “8 point font”, I expected larger. This font is the same size as a Pitt Minion, as far as I can tell, and thats a 6.75 point font! While it’s not quite “false advertising” on Broadman & Holman’s part, it is borderline. But the book itself is a fine one. The ghosting isn’t too bad for how small the book is, the typeface is attractive, and it is extremely handy.


Red letter text is well-executed
Red letter text is well-executed

If you haven’t seen many HCSB’s, let me tell you: Holman makes some nicely designed books. If you want a small HCSB, I recommend the Large Print Compact, but I would recommend this one more.

Now on to what you really want to know. To keep the price low, I let Diego use scrap leather he had laying around. My wish-list was pretty simple: Raised ribs, “Holy Bible” and “HCSB” on the spine, leather lined, full yapp, art gilt, and two thick ribbons.

He chose a black lambskin, which I have to say is quite beautiful. And I have never felt a softer leather. See the hints of red up close? Gorgeous.

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As the book came to me wrapped in saran wrap, the yapp was molded famously.

Straight outta Saran Wrap!
Straight outta Saran Wrap!

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The spine came out better than I could have imagined. The raised ribs are simple, but so classy! And Diego chose to blind stamp the print on the spine, which makes everything look tastefully understated. I prefer this look over gold or silver.


He chose to use silver ribbons to go with the silver page edges, and silver-blue headband/tailband to tie it all together. A fine choice, I must say.


I love art gilt, and frankly, I despaired of having a satisfying rebind because I thought I could never get one with art gilt (unless it already had it prior). So finally, as the icing on the cake, Diego used blue ink to morph the basic silver gilding into blue-under-silver art gilt!

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As you can see, the final product has a look to rival Allan’s art gilt. Bravo my man! For those of you who wondered how blue art gilt would look on a black Bible, I hope you agree that it is possibly one of the most attractive combinations imaginable. Why don’t publishers ever do this? Lets lobby for it!

This whole experience has awakened me to a new reality: We don’t need to wait for R. L. Allan, Cambridge, Crossway, or Schuyler to release the editions we’ve always dreamed of. And lets face it, when the publisher announces plans for a new edition, we have often aged by the time it’s on the market.

So lets return to the opening question–What if you could see your cheap sewn Bible transformed, Cinderella-style, into a masterpiece? Thanks to the Diego Caloca Jr. and the likes, this question is no longer a fantasy.

To contact Diego, and to see loads more photos of finished projects, visit him on FaceBook at Caloca Bible Rebinds! Call or text him at 909-257-1150. Or e-mail at d.calocajr7@gmail.com. Current turnaround time is only 2-4 weeks!

And lest we get lost in leather-bound English-Bible luxury, please remember to pray for translations in the remaining 1,859 Bible-less languages in our world. Click here to see my heart on the matter and to even support the work of Bible translation.


7 thoughts on “Diego Caloca Jr. + HCSB Compact = Masterpiece

    1. Here’s what Diego said:
      -$80 for leather lined cover
      -plus cost of the leather (which you can supply or ask him to–anywhere from $20-$150)
      -$10 if you want gold lettering on the spine
      -$25 if you want the colored dye on the gilding

      Leather like the lambskin featured here would be around $20-35. Nicer goatskin would be more like $70.

  1. Hello!
    I just tried the email address for Diego and gmail is telling me it’s invalid. Could you please double check?
    I wonder if Diego can get rid of gutter cockling?… Hmmm.

      1. Well, if you could see me right now, you’ve see a red faced individual. When I copied and pasted, I inadvertently included the period after the email.
        It works fine, thank you!

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