Upcycled Notebooks Tutorial!

Upcycled Notebooks Tutorial!
January 9, 2017 Brittany Turner
Brittany Turner
In Tutorial

One of the things we dig on the most here at TRS is re-purposing items and turning old, discarded pieces into new, functional materials. We see some really neat things come through here and some of our very favorites have been pieces that once served a completely different purpose, like these gas pump lights:

So here we’re going to show you how to make any old, damaged book into a re-bound blank notebook without the use of a drill press or expensive tools. Here at the store we have a sweet little collection:

After some digging I managed to find a book that was missing whole sections of pages…perfect!

The first thing you want to do is identify a straight line between the hardcover and the spine. A ton of different tools will work just fine to make a clean cut, from a box cutter to a good pair of scissors, but if your free hand is a little iffy I’d recommend using a straight edge as a guide.

Once you’ve got the front and back hardcovers separated you can go ahead and cut your blank paper down to size. I do this chunk by chunk which actually goes faster than it may sound. You can really add any kind of paper you’d like to be in there. I usually add a few pages of the original book to the beginning, middle, and end of the blank book to act as subject separators and add a little charm. I also add file pockets and the occasional sheet of primary or graph paper.

Now grab all that paper you just cut and bring it to Staples, Office Max, or any office supply or print shop convenient for you. Office Max usually charges me roughly $4 per book stack. Just ask them to punch for coil binding and to give you just about the largest coil they have. It’s possible they will try to give you a smaller coil, but keep in mind it will need to accommodate those thick hardcovers and still be able to close, so insist on a bigger coil. The paper stack should come back looking perfectly punched like so:

Unfortunately the machines that punch paper at most mainstream office supply stores can’t handle cutting through these old hardcovers so for the next step I use a revolving punch. The one I use is made by General tools, runs about $9 and is widely available at most hardware stores. I hear a drill press would work wonderfully, though the one time I tried this method the very old book layers couldn’t quite handle it and ended up shredding. The revolving punch, while tedious, works really well.

Now just line up one of your punched sheets with one of your covers and begin punching it up!

Once both covers are punched through, line everything up and just roll the coil clockwise from the bottom hole to the very top. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to line half of the filler pages up with one cover and the rest with the other and roll the coil in the middle.

After you’ve got the coil all the way through, just snip off the excess and pinch the ends back with a pair of pliers.

Well, y’all, that’s about it right there. You just made yourself a sweet little note taking sidekick with mad charm.

There’s so much you can do with all those extra parts of your re-purposed book. I turned a few book spines into bracelets, but I’m saving them up for a lamp shade and perhaps future blog post 😉

Thanks for checking out our blog, guys! We’re hoping to share all our favorite stuff with you and hope you come along for the ride!