Introduction: EDC Leather Notebook

A notebook that goes everywhere with you should be used for everything. On one page of my notebook I have an Ira Glass quote, my upcoming flight information, and a grocery list. On the next page are plans for my last ‘Ible. I couldn’t have done that in a Moleskine notebook. I feel like anything I write in a Moleskine has to be perfect; the ideas have to be complete. An EDC (everyday carry) notebook shouldn’t be something pristine. It needs to be something you can scribble notes in and rip pages out of.

This notebook is infinitely customizable.

  • There’s a template that can be sized up or down.
  • You can make it with many different materials,
  • It can have any number of pages,
  • And close with any kind of fastener.

Why else would you want to make your own leather notebook? You will never have to buy another one! The pages are replaceable. I cut mine from A4 printer paper. I have carried the same notebook for 5 years and replaced the paper 6 times. I keep the old pages that I want to save in a small binder.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Materials:

  • Leather scrap (6” x 9 ¾” for attached template)
  • 2 ft. Leather cord (I used 4mm square latigo)
  • 1 Snap (optional)
  • 1 Rivet (optional)

Tools:

  • Scissors or razor
  • Hammer (only if using snaps and rivets)
  • Hole punch
  • Permanent marker

Step 2: Trace Pattern on Leather

Using a permanent marker (or a pen if it will mark the leather), trace around the outside of the template. Be sure to mark the holes.

Step 3: Cut Leather and Punch Holes

Using a sharp pair of scissors (or a razor with a straight edge), cut out the pattern. If using scissors make long and straight cuts.

Punch the holes in the leather using a rotary punch or similar tool.

Save a 3"x 3/4" strip to make the strap that will keep the notebook closed.

Step 4: Rivet Strap to Cover (optional)

Align holes, insert rivet, cap, and tap down with hammer.

Step 5: Add Snaps (optional)

The female part of snap will attach to the strap. The male end attaches to the cover. Use the setting tool (which comes with every package of snaps) to attach the snaps.

Step 6: Lace Notebook

Its time to lace the notebook! But first, we must cut the paper.

I cut down normal A4 (8 1/2" x 11") sheets of paper. The pages in this book are 4" x 5 1/2" so you should get four out of each sheet. Using a paper cutter and a hole puncher, I made enough paper for about six notebooks (~700 pages) in about 20 minutes. If you have access to a drill press, punching the holes would take almost no time at all!

On to the lacing.

Start by tying an overhand knot in the end of the leather cord. To help thread through the holes, trim the end of the cord at an angle. If necessary, use an awl to stretch the holes. Follow the captions in the photos (you will have to click on the photos for some of the captions to be visible).

For extra credit, round the corners of the notebook and strap with scissors.

Step 7: Enjoy Your New Notebook!

Please post pictures of your notebooks in the comments! I would love to see what you design.

Comments

author
Mumly made it! (author)2015-04-07

Awesome work I decided to try it out changed it up a bit and aged the pages :)

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3366carlos (author)Mumly2016-01-14

nice, how did you age the pages?

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The PizzaGuy (author)3366carlos2016-12-07

You can use coffee, I think. The powder.

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The PizzaGuy (author)2016-12-07

How can I enlarge the size of the book? Like you know, to your standard sized book?

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jaimelicious (author)2016-07-28

Love the 'ible - I love how flexible / durable this looks; most leather-covered notebooks are stiff and heavy.

On an unrelated note, where did you get your wrist splint from?! Mine are all boring beige...

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Yoshinok (author)jaimelicious2016-07-28

Thanks! I hope you make a notebook. Be sure to post it when you do!

I think my local drugstore (Kinney Drugs) had that splint. I don't suppose you have them in the UK? Also, I saw from your profile your an archer! You should check my other instructable out and build yourself a bow!

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Samsonknight123 (author)2016-04-15

just put new lacing in it and patched up a hole I love this little notebook

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CrucialB made it! (author)2016-02-18

Took this idea and scaled it down a bit. Love the way it turned out. Calling it my, "Side A" and it goes everywhere with me! A lot less intrusive than the old Wal-mart notebook I was carrying around.

My "Side A" holds paper that is 3" x 3 3/4" with two holes bored through for binding. Fits nicely in my button-down shirt's front pocket. I have it loaded with 40 sheets, but I could probably double that if I felt the need.

Pages were scrap paper from my office, (can't run bad prints through the fusers again) the leather was salvaged from a damaged laptop bag, and the cordage was some thin leather ribbon tucked into my storage box bought for a project done so long ago I can't possibly remember. The ribbon isn't tied, just tugged tightly on itself. Over time, I can imagine it'd slip, but it is easily re-strung.

Worth noting that the leather I used is somewhere between 3 oz. and 4 oz. but I can't be entirely sure due to it's place of salvage. Makes it nice and flexible while still durable.

Great 'ible, man, high-quality work, as always!

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freementia (author)2015-07-07

Any ideas on where to put a loop to hold my pen?

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Yoshinok (author)freementia2015-07-07

I like to attach my pen to the pages inside the cover and then just close the notebook on it. I found that when I had it clipped to the outside of the cover it often snagged and tangled on things I put it near.

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cerebal made it! (author)2015-06-16

Made 2 already and making a 3rd. Love mine and the other 2 are gifts.

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craigdoll (author)2015-02-06

a noteworthy leather craft...interesting result

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knate2347 (author)2014-10-25

I loved your idea for a refillable journal so I gave it a go. I modified it slightly for my own tastes.

I used 6 oz veg tan from a previous project to give it a little more stiffness when sketching on my lap, but loosened the fibers a bit to give it some flex in my bag or crammed in my oversized pocket. After a good oiling and a bit too much wax I laced the pages in with some waxed thread, added a simple keeper strap, and a whittled stick from a bush in the backyard.

Turned out to be a great little book for sketching on the back porch or in front of the camp fire.

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Showler (author)2014-07-27

I made one of my own. I used a shoelace instead of leather chord. Also the paper is notecards and I used a button to close it instead of rivets.

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Jwallen910 (author)2014-07-13

what weight in oz is the leather?

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The Rambler (author)2014-07-01

This is awesome. I made a leather journal as well but I actually bound the pages. I like yours better because you're right, I feel like I can't write anything in it because it's there for good. Now I want to make one where I can rip pages out.

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jessyratfink (author)2014-06-25

What a pretty and simple design. :D

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Yoshinok (author)jessyratfink2014-06-25

Thanks!

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aclevidence (author)2014-06-25

I would have aged the paper. But other then that I like this!

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adthegreat (author)2014-06-18

i love it

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chris15252 made it! (author)2014-06-16

Your 'ible inspired me to take a crack at making a journal today. This is what i ended up with in the end. I took some of your instruction and just let my imagination have fun. I ended up stitch binding the pages and using a skull button (looks piratey doesn't it?) instead of snap clasp. Thanks for the great 'ible and inspiration for a fun project!

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Yoshinok (author)chris152522014-06-16

Yar! Pirate Captain's log?! I need to find some fun buttons like that. Nice work!

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chris15252 (author)Yoshinok2014-06-16

Yar matey it indeed be a Pirate Captains log! Thanks a bunch for the compliment! Couldn't have done it without your work to inspire me!

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AbDuCt (author)2014-06-15

This is such a cool idea! Have you ever tried to add some rigidity to these somehow by maybe sewing in cardboard or plastic so they are not as floppy? Also have you tried to brand or emboss these? I was thinking about trying to make a mini branding out of wire and heating it up to see if I could burn a design into a project like this. Have you tried anything like this? Thanks again and good job!

author
Yoshinok (author)AbDuCt2014-06-15

I have not tried sewing in anything to stiffen them. The stiffness is actually what turned me off to Moleskines. I can tuck these notebooks anywhere, I like that they are flexible. As far as branding goes on the leather, yes. I have tried it. I think making a solid stamp and striking with a hammer is a bit more effective than a hot brand. Heat on leather can often make things contract/expand in ways that will make the surface pucker.

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AbDuCt (author)Yoshinok2014-06-16

Do you have any photos of the stamped leather? Also how much strength do the pages have? Would they tear and fall apart if you are a bit to rough with them or are they fairly sturdy unless you mean to tear them out? One of my concerns is the pages coming dislodged or torn by accident if I am a bit to rough with it. Thanks for the reply!

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Yoshinok (author)AbDuCt2014-06-16

I unfortunately don't have photos of the stamped leather. As for the strength of the pages, well you are not limited to printer paper. The printer paper is more than durable enough for my needs. I am rough on my notebooks all the time; they sometimes get used as improvised door stops, trivets, and frisbees.

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Truthis1 (author)2014-06-15

Thanks, thats what I was looking for. I just had another idea as well. Im going to check my local thrift store for a ripped leather jacket. I think that might be a great affordable way to upcycle and get a deal. Keep these ideas coming.

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Yoshinok (author)Truthis12014-06-15

Best of luck! I have another leather working project in the works. Stay tuned!

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Truthis1 (author)2014-06-15

Fabulous Idea! I go through tons of books of lists and my ideas, but nice looking books are so expensive. I've always wanted to make my own, but I've been really intimidated by other instructables & tutorials. Plus, I love the idea how they can be standard size hole punched. You say it can go faster with a drill press? I have access to a Dremmel with press (which is basically the same thing smaller). Any suggestions of how to use a Dremmel press to make a notebook? Also does anyone know of any inexpensive online sources for the leather and tools? Thanks!

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Yoshinok (author)Truthis12014-06-15

Hi! Cutting the holes with a paper cutter is slow because you can only punch through so many pages at a time. With a press, put all the pages of the notebook together and drill through the entire stack. How large a hole can you drill with the rotary tool? If the holes are too small the pages may not turn smoothly when laced. Good luck and let us all know how you get on!

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Truthis1 (author)Yoshinok2014-06-15

There are all size drill bits, actually a whole case full. most are small, but there is definitely a bit large enough for a page hole.
Any ideas of where online to buy leather? Or could you give me an idea of the normal cost for a piece the size you used, please? Unfortunately, I have to buy all craft/project supplies online. Thanks for the fast response too!

author
Yoshinok (author)Truthis12014-06-15

Tandy Leather https://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/ho...

is probably the biggest online supplier of leather. Likely there are other leather stores close to where you live. Many shops will do online orders as well. Poke around their site. Some you just have to call.

Occasionally you can find some decent deals on scraps on eBay.

You can also try cannibalizing some leather from bags or jackets from items at a thrift store. Good luck!

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mschase2u (author)2014-06-15

lovely!!

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Dark Bottle (author)2014-06-15

Gonna make my next sketchbook like this, for sure

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Dark Bottle (author)2014-06-15

These are really cool! Simple, Easy to build, hand-made, rustic- my kind of binding :)

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billbillt (author)2014-06-15

double plus good.....

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KwartzKitten made it! (author)2014-06-14

Hey, I finished it! I made a few small differences to the original design; the cord I got was unfortunately too stiff for the leather I'd chosen, and was difficult to stitch with, so I ties it using three slices of spare scrap leather. I used a semi-stitching system to attach all the other parts, and rolled a tight bundle to use for the clasp. All-in-all, easiest and most unique sketchbook I've ever made. I may try this with other materials for the cover. Thank you so much!

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Yoshinok (author)KwartzKitten2014-06-14

That looks fantastic! Also, that was quite fast! I like your closure. I really like your clever scrap leather ties for the binding. Thanks for posting!

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KwartzKitten (author)2014-06-13

Thank you for encouraging me to make my own sketchbooks again...

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Yoshinok (author)KwartzKitten2014-06-14

I am glad that this served as inspiration for you. Please post pics when you are done!

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akumetsu (author)2014-06-13

wow amazing note book. I'm 100% going to make this during the summer I've been looking for something like this forever. where do you get larger pieces of leather though?

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Yoshinok (author)akumetsu2014-06-13

I found some cheap scraps at a local Tandy Leather Factory outlet. Any leather goods store will have a scrap bin. You can always cannibalize an old leather bag, purse or jacket.

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akumetsu (author)Yoshinok2014-06-13

oooh good idea! thanks so much for the help.

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Mielameri (author)2014-06-12

Awesome idea. And so true; I feel guilty using fancy notebooks and journals if the content is anything less than uber-polished! This is a good solution for that :)

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Yoshinok (author)Mielameri2014-06-12

Thanks! I am glad to hear that I'm not the only one. I have three Moleskines with practically nothing written in them. Any plans to make your own?

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Mielameri (author)Yoshinok2014-06-13

Absolutely. I like the possibilities in the design, and will definitely post a picture of my take on it :)

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Ageless Kronos (author)2014-06-13

great ible! Did you make the pipe aswell?

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Yoshinok (author)Ageless Kronos2014-06-13

Thank you! I did not. It was a gift from a friend of mine.

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kathysshoe (author)2014-06-13

I loved this. Your presentation was excellent.

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