Instructables

How to recycle office paper into blank books

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Here I will give a simple bookbinding tutorial using a Japanese stab-binding technique for making blank books from paper that is printed on one side. These books are useful for all kinds of notes, and tell an interesting story about the place they came from. I work in the computer lab at my school, where a lot of printer paper is wasted. I go through the recycle bin to find my papers.

This is a great little book for phone numbers and other random notes. You can make it any size you like, and the paper never had to go to the processing plant! Using a string binding instead of glue is easier on the environment, too. Some of the books I've made are for sale at my Etsy shop.

Materials:

Recycled paper (blank on one side)
Thicker recycled material (postcards, envelopes, cardboard, etc.) for covers
Twine, yarn, or other string

Tools:
Awl, drill, or drill press
Large sewing needle or bookbinding needle
Paper cutter, scissors, or utility knife
Cutting mat
Ruler
 
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Step 1: Cut and fold your paper

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Using a paper cutter, scissors, or a utility knife, cut your paper down to twice the desired size. Fold each sheet in half, and cut your cover material (one for front, one for back) down to the size of a folded sheet.

Step 2: Line up, clip, and make holes

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Stack your cover material and pages together and line up all edges. Clip with the large binder clip to secure.

Mark 3/8" from both to-be-bound corners (the folded side of the sheets). Divide the space along the binding between these marks into thirds, and mark those locations. These are where we make the holes for the twine binding.

Make holes all the way through the book with an awl, drill, or drill press. If using a drill or drill press, make sure to clamp your papers tightly down to avoid any paper ruffling. Placing a piece of wood under the book helps make a clean cut in the back.
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I like the Japanese style. I have a bunch of out-of-date law reference books (too dated to donate - I checked) that I want to turn into codices. (http://isabell.paradise.gen.nz/Bookbinding/Recreat... The paper is thin (like what is sometimes called 'Bible paper') but is covered with printed text. Maybe I will use them for scrapbooks or use thick markers to write in them - regular pen or pencil is not legible over the printed text.

Thanks for the well photographed instructable!

nimcap2 years ago
It looks so simple and effective. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you :)
ChargerIIC4 years ago
The binder clips are a great idea for holding the paper together. I can't believe I never thought of that!
guerd874 years ago
Just made 3 of these books tonight as I was cleaning out the office/workshop of old plans, notes, 1 sided prints etc. Now I have a new place to take down notes and put ideas down quickly!
3366carlos4 years ago
excellent idea. But why cut the size? as might as well use the 8.5X11 size.
And what if you wanted a smaller book?
You wouldn't. They're illegal anyway
Optimizer4 years ago
 This is by far the simplest and the best recycled paper notebook I've made. I already made 3 of these. Leftover corrugated cardboard for the covers makes for a decently hard surface.
msbarrk14 years ago
In my 1st and 2nd grade class, I keep all of the leftovers that are 1 sided for scrap paper for the kids already. This is a great idea that we could do as a math and science project combined. Woohoo! In the five minutes I spent perusing this instructable I have a plan! Each group will be required to make different size measurements and cuts. We'll take a mini field-trip around school and collect the used paper as part of our natural resource unit. Oooh, we could even make enough to sell as fund raisers for our mini Relay for Life that's in May. I love instructables! Thanks a bunch!
Yep. good idea teaching kids on saving the environment...
razany7 years ago
Tried it! Its great!
I used a fishing line instead of thread
and made the wholes using a whole punch (but the wholes ended up to big for the starting knot so i had to put like a peice of plastic to hold the knot in place which messed up the whole thing =P)
Sylkhr razany5 years ago
It's now "whole" it's hole, you use whole for like "the whole thing".
no, if it has a hole now it's not whole
haha this "whole" discussion has become quite confusing
Why is it, whenever anyone is criticizing someones spelling, they spell a word incorrectly? Obviously, it is sometimes done to prove a point, but when it isn't deliberately done, there is usually a mistake in anyway.

I like Ubuntu/LM, it checks my spelling, 'cause I am too lazy too myself :P.
No. It's a "hole punch". The holes were too big.
Tirann Sylkhr4 years ago
 It's not "now" it's "not" haha.

This is a good to know instructable, this can be very useful for projects in school.  Thanks for sharing the technique.
jamowa4 years ago
This is the best explanation for stab binding I've seen. Great pix, too!

Question for Hansy......what's the purpose of laying a bead of Tacky glue along the spine? Seems like it would be sticky/tacky when the book is being used.  Thanks.

BTW - for some colorful pages and/or binding see Canon site for Chiyogami paper you can print. Some very nice patterns! http://cp.c-ij.com/en/contents/2004/list_15_1.html
ren2304 years ago
If you plan to drill holes in the paper, clamp the paper tightly between two pieces of scrap wood.  This lets you drill cleanly and is an easy way to keep the paper aligned.
I made a book, and it works very well. To make the hole, i just hammered in a nail, because my parents were asleep. (drills are loud). The design was great: i have never been able to bind a book. Well, thanks for the instructable!
xc10244 years ago
Great idea. I should try this one.
jcoffland5 years ago
Might try drilling the holes. Could probably do thicker stacks that way. Nice project.
Preblopa5 years ago
Great instructable! My very first project - I used Dali prints from a scheduler I have for the covers, and embroidery thread for the binding. There should be a collection of Asian book binding techniques; I would try them all out.
This is so cool! I made one using my old math worksheets. My teacher hasn't figured out how to double side paper, and she refuses to let anyone show her how. So we have tons of one sided paper. I also have some old coloring books so I tore out some pages and put that in. My book is nice and colorful thanks to multicolored pages and coloring books. Great Instructable!
This is neat. Here's another simple idea for creating notebooks out of old copy paper.

Check it out.
http://www.ehow.com/video_2242954_recycled-green-notebook.html
smokehill6 years ago
There are a lot of good uses for scrap paper, or wasted Xerox sheets. I just rough-cut a lot of them with scissors into various sizes for scratch pads. I keep them in those little spring binder clips, and when it gets to be thick enough I paint some contact cement or rubber cement onto one edge and hold it with a couple of binder clips until it dries. They're not sticky-back like Post-its, but Scotch tape is cheap. I've seen notebooks made, with various kinds of binding, using the back sides of scrap paper. The left side has miscellaneous stuff on it, but you can take a lot of notes on just the right side, which is the easiest to write on anyway unless you're left-handed.
bluenebe6 years ago
This is a great idea, I've never had the idea that a book caould be made from other than blank paper! It looks really good.
nikkishell7 years ago
This is fabulous! I'm going to try it out. Thanks.
NevadaGuy7 years ago
Now I know what I can do with all that "wasted" paper! I made half dozen or so and gave them to some folk at the office... They think they are great and use them for all sorts of notes, lists, and maybe a little doodling.
motormouth7 years ago
We made these. The kids take them to church to draw on to keep from figeting. They also copy bible verses on them. We used about 10 pages and sewed them on the sewing machine.Sometimes we use a cloth cover.
bekathwia (author)  motormouth7 years ago
Cool! I hadn't thought about using the sewing machine!
camscam7 years ago
If some one used this techneque and also reused product packaging like cerial boxes for the cover that would be even MORE recycled!
razany camscam7 years ago
yeah.. i used the covers of old notebooks
bekathwia (author)  camscam7 years ago
Yes! I actually use event postcards I find around, which are nice because they often have finished edges and two nice surfaces.
chuckr447 years ago
I've been doing something similar with old paper since 1975 (in those days we used old dittos). I just cut 8.5x11 paper in quarters, and put one staple in the corner to make a scratch pad.
jae2lio2t7 years ago
I was about to put up the same instructable. Glad others are already doing this --- reduce reuse and recycle, yo... nice work.
claymax7 years ago
hey this is awesome! ive been doing similar things for sketchbooks glad to see someone has the intelligence to share it with everyone else (not I)
Rayna7 years ago
This is fabulous. I have been wanting to use all my one-sided paper for just this, without knowing how. I am at uni so I amass a lot of it. I thought of creating such a book to use as a lecture pad. Also, some of my paper is quite interesting, as it has pictures and random cool images and drawings, because my boyfriend is a designer. I've always thought that not only would it be practical and eco-friendly, but all the incidental images and texts could actually be quite inspiring. Whether I use it as a scrapbook or if the lecture gets boring, I can read old psychology articles or colour in stuff, draw or let my mind wander to all the 'found' things in my book. Anyway, thought I'd mention it, as it gives some ideas of how the recycled paper notebooks could be interesting.
werkstueck7 years ago
Another quick and easy method for small books is on my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/werkstueck/497867569/in/photostream/
(it's only in german - but i think the pictures are meaningful)
crahul7 years ago
hi, good job to save the environment and money. carry on the good work. cheers. rc
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