Step 1: What You Will Need
For the covers: Milk bottles, car/truck inner tubes, or corrugated plastic signs; or calendars, greetings cards or other pictures and lamination pouches.
Fixing: shoe laces, string, or wire
Tools you will need: either knife and straight edge or a guillotine. Scissors and holepuncher. Laminator (optional)
Step 2: Preparing the Pages From Paper
I raided the recycling sack at work (not the confidential one obviously) for paper that had printing only on one side.
1. Cut the paper in half. If you are using A4 size, this will then mean you have a pile of A5 sheets.
2. Making sure you have them so the unprinted sides are all facing the same way, take some pages and fold the batch in half (now A6).
3. Separate all the pages in your batch and make a pile with all the folds on the same side.
In this way the printed sides are all 'trapped' inside the fold and not seen by the notebook user.
Step 3: Preparing the Pages From Envelopes
The technique is similar to preparing pages from paper. You need to cut the envelopes into the same size as the paper pages: A6 or A5 folded to A6 (no idea of USA equivalent, sorry.
If when you have done cutting you find that there a bit of address or postal marks on one side, then fold that inside so you have the unwritten on sides on the outside. Note that here I do not say the unprinted on side. This is because most white envelopes have a pattern printed on the inside. Dont worry about that, we will pretend that is plain paper as far as this is concerned.
Some envelope pages will be doubled over in the same way as described for reused paper in the previous step, but some will be single sheets of which both sides can be used.
Step 4: Prepare the Cover
Get your (washed) milk bottle and roughly cut the flat panels off each side. Using the paper you have prepared, as a template, use a knife or guillotine to cut the covers, a little bigger than the paper.
For a pretty front cover I have been cutting up old calendars and greetings cards and laminating them. Laminating is not all that green i freely admit.
I have also used advertising signs made of corrugated plastic, which seem to proliferate on our lampposts. They cut easily and cannot be otherwise recycled easily. Inner tubes (if you can get them, they are becoming very rare here) are also very cool and easy to use.
Step 5: Assembly
Now you need to use the holepuncher to make holes in the paper and the covers. The holes MUST be punched in the side opposite the folded side of the paper. That way, the printed sides are trapped inside the fold when you assemble the book as below.
Ideally use one of those holepunchers that has a guide to keep the paper in the right place, so that the holes are all in line when you put all the paper together. Naturally we have lost the guide from ours so I try to put the first piece of paper under the hole punch to make sure that all the rest are in the same position.
Optional extra: a flexible spine strip looks good and is easily made from bike inner tube cut to length and hole punched.
Assemble the notebook by threading a shoe lace, wool, string, wire or whatever, from the front to the back, cross over and then through from the back to the front again, tying off with a reef knot and bow.
You could be really thoughtful and bind some notebooks up the other way so that they open conveniently for lefthanders.