Step 1: Materials and Tools
Corrugated Cardboard (Don't get fancy, cut it out of a box)
18 sheets of 8.5 x 11" paper
Wood glue (PVA) or any glue with some flexibility (White glue would work as well)
Cheesecloth (although any kind of coarse woven fabric should work.
Text editing program such as Pages (Mac) or Word. (Textedit or Wordpad would also work)
Black and white printer (or a local local copy shop)
Needle (Blunt is good, for the sake of your fingers)
Guillotine (optional, but makes the cutting so much more precise, not to mention a few hundred times faster)
2 or more Clamps and Small (6 inch by 8 inch or thereabouts) pieces of plywood
or a vice
Step 2: Designing the Paper
If you are making a blank notebook, skip to step 4.
Open a new file in your text editing program, and set the margins to 0 and 8.5 so that the printed document will fill the page. The top and bottom margins can be set near the top and bottom as well, but I like having extra space at the top of the notebook.
Next, fill the paper with underscores if you are making lined paper, or the pattern you want to appear on your pages. I'm sure there is a fancy way of doing this, but I didn't find it.
The notebook will be around 4 x 5.5 inches, so remember that each page in your document must contain 4 notebook pages. The fold line of the finished sheets will be on the centre of the pages, so leave room for trimming on both sides.
The attached lined pdf will work, but it must be printed double sided.
Step 3: Printing the Paper
Before you print all 18 pages, it is a good idea to print a few tests. Set your printer to the lowest ink volume and quality, and print a page to test the spacing of the elements. If you are happy with the design, print 18 copies of it double sided (Keep in mind that you will have to set the printer to 36, since each sheet of paper has 2 sides. If you have a photocopier, it may be cheaper to make one, and photocopy another 17.
Step 4: Cutting
You can do this by hand, but it is much easier to use a guillotine. Making sure to remove any members of the French aristocracy, set the guide on the guillotine to 5.5 inches, and cut all the paper to this dimension as shown in the picture. Next, set the guide to 3/4 of an inch, and cut that amount off each end of the sheets.
Step 5: Folding
Push the end of a piece of paper against it, then fold the other half over to meet it. make the crease as sharp as possible, with a fingernail, or a folding tool. Repeat this for all the pages of the book.
Step 6: Preparing Signatures
Stack the signatures and align the edges. Place them between the two pieces of plywood and clamp tightly (or use a vice) , with the spine edge protruding 1/4 inch above the edge of the plywood.
Step 7: Preparing for Stitching
Step 8: Stitching
Tie a large knot at the long end of the thread, that will not slip through the hole through the first signature.
Pass the needle through (left to right) the first hole, then out the second, in the third, and out the fourth. Do the same from right to left. Before beginning the next row, loop it around the closest part of the previous row, and pull tight. Repeat this until the last stitch, as indicated below. On that stitch, loop the end of the thread around the end of the previous row multiple times, and tie it tightly to avoid the signatures coming apart.
Step 9: Reinforcing the Book
Step 10: Making the Cover
The cover piece should wrap around the spine, and have a bit of overhang to protect the page edges. Use an X-acto knife to cut the cardboard to the right shape. You might want to round the corners.
Step 11: Attaching the Cover
Step 12: Finishing
Step 13: Variations