Introduction: Binding the Whole Ream Cardboard Covered Sketchbook

Picture of Binding the Whole Ream Cardboard Covered Sketchbook

I wanted a large format sketchbook, so I gathered my materials, got organized and went to work.

Step 1: Materials List

Picture of Materials List

Cardboard for the cover. Acrylic paints, one ream (500 sheets of paper), one book spine made of wood (see step 5), a specialty glue called padding adhesive, needle and thread, polyurethane varnish.

Step 2: Tools Needed

Picture of Tools Needed

Various paper and cardboard working tools: cutters, rulers, scissors, craft knife, clamps, weights, stencil brush, etc.

Step 3: Cut Cover to Size

Picture of Cut Cover to Size

I made the cover out of one piece of cardboard and it is just large enough to cover the ream of paper, including the spine area.

Step 4: Glue Paper Together

Picture of Glue Paper Together

I clamped the ream of paper to immobilize the sheets,and made sure the paper lined up exactly. Then padding adhesive is liberally applied to edge and allowed to dry.

Step 5: Cut Spine From Wood and Drill to Accept Thread

Picture of Cut Spine From Wood and Drill to Accept Thread

Pine is used, but you could use hardwood, certainly. After cutting to the size needed, about 8in x 1/4in x 1 and 1/8th inch, holes are drilled in the edges, all the way through. this will be attached to the book with thread and needle.

Step 6: Prepare Glued Ream of Paper

Picture of Prepare Glued Ream of Paper

To make the book, I needed to drill holes in the paper, along the edge that will become the spine of the book. To do this, I used a 1/16th in. drill in my drill press. This insured accurate, straight holes.

Step 7: Sew Pages Together, Then to Spine

Picture of Sew Pages Together, Then to Spine

This takes a lot of thread so plan on re threading the needle several times. I am sure there is an art to book binding and threading,which I don't know, so just did the best I could. This will insure that the pages won't separate, and the book itself will not separate from the spine.

Step 8: Paint Cover for a Leather Look

Picture of Paint Cover for a Leather Look

To get a leather look, I used acrylic paint, picking the colors of burnt sienna, asphaltum, parchment, and black. The water based paint may cause the book to curl a little, so I put a weight on top of the book and let it dry that way. It came out pretty straight.

Step 9: Line Inside of Cover With Cardstock

Picture of Line Inside of Cover With Cardstock

I chose to line my book with black cardstock, but of course any color will do. To avoid any shrinkage or "crinkling" of paper, I used spray adhesive.

Step 10: Paint Stitching, and Stencil a Title

Picture of Paint Stitching, and Stencil a Title

Since this will be a sketchbook, I used "Sketchbook 2009" I picked a font on the computer, printed it out in outline, and cut the stencil with a craft knife. A shadow is stenciled on with black paint, and then the final color, gold, is applied. I do this in several steps to avoid running the paint under the stencil. Stitches are painted by first making black dots by dipping a flat ended pin in black paint then making as many dots as possible. When this has dried, add a black shadow for each stich with a liner brush or black fine tip marker. Paint a diluted burnt sienna on with the liner brush, making each stitch. Highlight each stitch with a small amount of off white, or in this case, parchment.

Step 11: Glue Book, Spine and Cover Together

Picture of Glue Book, Spine and Cover Together

Here, a hot melt glue is used. Using generous amounts of melted glue along the spine, work fast, apply glue, then hold the pages/spine unit against the cover as tightly as possible. The hot melt glue dries very rapidly, so in a minute or so you can release the pressure.

Step 12: Book Is Done!

Picture of Book Is Done!

This book will serve as a convenient sketch book for a very long time. Handy, and easily accessible.


AdamVanMeter (author)2011-11-28

I like it. I can't recall ever seeing a binding style quite like this! A bit out of reach for me, without a drill press, though.

So, how has the book held up, after a few years?

bruno13069 (author)2009-08-30

Get some tractor feed, zig-zag fold printer paper. Tear off the perforated strip on one edge, separate the zig-zag into individual sheets, and then stitch it together using the holes on the other side. This would make a book that you could easily remove pages as needed. Nice I-ble!

Creativeman (author)bruno130692009-08-31

That's a great idea bruno! thanks. Cman

bruno13069 (author)Creativeman2009-08-31

I have about 2,000 pages of the stuff in a box in my home office from an Apple Dot Matrix Printer. I might make myself a scrapbook sometime. ;-)

bruno13069 (author)bruno130692010-06-28

I'm working on a sketchbook made from that Apple D.M.P. paper. The tractor feed strip has 22 holes. I don't want to stitch through every single hole, but I want it evenly spaced with both end holes stitched. I subtracted 1 to get 21, which gives me a spacing of 3 - stitch one and skip 2. Both end holes are stitched. And it keeps the box of paper from going into straight into the garbage. :-D Thanks for the inspiration, Cman!

realgenius65 (author)2009-08-21

So, when and how do drill the edge holes in the paper?

Creativeman (author)realgenius652009-08-21

Anytime after the glue dries....drill press my man. Cman

realgenius65 (author)2009-08-21

Very nice finish!!!

realgenius65 (author)2009-08-21

Perhaps step 6 should have been added to step 3. Alot of folks maybe confused with the process otherwise.

stephNY (author)2009-08-09

Fantastic Instructable! I'm going to remove the pages from an old book that was headed for the trash and turn it into a sketchbook, and this is the best instruction on basic binding for a thick book. I would suggest using something other than corrugated cardboard for the cover, though. I carry my sketchbooks in a backpack, and stuff I've made from corrugated always winds up flattening up and fraying. Gift Box cardboard or premade pad cardboard would be a good choice. Heck, a trip to the dollar store will provide a lot of cardboard choices and some great cheap glues, too! Many Thanks!

Creativeman (author)stephNY2009-08-10

Thank you. Cman

stephNY (author)Creativeman2009-08-13

BTW, I finished my new sketchbook, inspired by your 'ible. I have no idea what "Padding Adhesive" is, so I used "Liquid Nails", and it seems a very sturdy bind! Without a drill press, my drill holes were a bit off, too, but everything hides under thick end papers and a little glue. Many thanks, I wouldn't have done it without your inspiration, and I've done like, a dozen drawings in the 2 or 3 days since I made "MY OWN" sketchbook!

Creativeman (author)stephNY2009-08-14

Way to go steph! Would love to see a any? you can post them right here if you do. Cman

j-orr (author)2009-08-05

Alternatively you can use two strips of Davey board from the back of a legal pad or notebook. There is no drilling into the side for the spine. The Davey board is a little lighter and just as sturdy as the pine. I'm going to try this project as I can always use a new blank book.

Creativeman (author)j-orr2009-08-05

j-orr: what is D-board? Cman

j-orr (author)Creativeman2009-08-09

Davey board is a solid, or non-corrugated, piece of cardboard that is used in modern bookbinding. Consider the back of a spiral notebook; that is Davey board. It is used because it's a sturdy material for bookbinding.

Here is an example of Davey board:

Scammah (author)2009-08-08

Stupid question but how do you vote on stuff or am I too late?

Creativeman (author)Scammah2009-08-08

Actually, you're too hasn't opened yet. See rules of contest for answers. Cman. Thanks.

JohnMac (author)2009-08-07

You sir are very talented.

Scammah (author)2009-08-05

Just amazing I love it.

Awesome!!!! Im voting for you and +5.0!

Ninzerbean (author)2009-08-05

It's hard to believe the lettering is not 3D - really well done!

Creativeman (author)Ninzerbean2009-08-05

Thanks NB...Cman

wenpherd (author)2009-08-05

cardboard rocks and book binding does to.

DebH57 (author)2009-08-05

HOO! HOO! Congrats on the feature!

DaveNJ (author)2009-08-03

C'man - These are so great you have to slow down. I will never be able to try them all! Only kidding. Your ideas and procedures are top notch. It is a pleasure to read through them. I really like this idea, but I probably will make a 100 page sketchbook rather than a whole ream.

Creativeman (author)DaveNJ2009-08-03

Thanks Dave: I probably will slow down....sometimes it seems the well runs dry which means I have to do something else! take care. Cman

DebH57 (author)2009-08-03

Oh I like this one CMan. I have been looking for a way of putting together my recipes to hand out little cookbooks to family and friends. 5.

Creativeman (author)DebH572009-08-03

Thank you Deb! It would work on a smaller scale. Cman

About This Instructable




Bio: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.
More by Creativeman:How to Make Fairy Doors/Fairylands and Open Up a Whole New World!SKULL STAND(S) FOR BUDDING ARTISTSThe Art Of Reclaiming Oak Flooring:Upcycling Shop Workstand
Add instructable to: