Introduction: A6 Sketchbook / Notebook

This instructable is my first attempt. so if there are any no goods, kindly forgive me. Ok. so this will show you how i made the notebook in the picture.

This notebook is rather durable. About as good as those bought in book stores that are binded by thread. The staple bindings hold the paper tightly together even after hundreds of times of opening and closing. and opening fully is perfectly fine with the book too. according to my usage.

Step 1: Tool That You Might Need.

Let me explain what is needed and what they  are used for.

- Hammer (to flatten staple bullets and paper booklets)
- Glue (to hold the separate booklets together)
- Rulers (leave the plastic cover on. they are used as plates that will be used for clamping. the plastic cover is for easy removal of excess glue in the future.)
- push pins (they are used to create holes for the staple bullets. you can use other things to make the holes if you want. as long as the holes are not too big.)
- Brush (to apply the glue)
- Large Binder clips (the one here is 2" size. They are the clamps.)
- Pen knife (for cutting paper and trimming glue.)
- Cling wrap (to act as a cover for the cutting map for easy handling with glue. you will see what i mean in the later steps. )
- Rulers
- swiss knife (i used this swiss knife's flat screw driver tool to pre crease the paper. other available option that does the same job is fine too.)
- Cover paper. (this is the front cover for the notebook)
- small binder clips (they are for holding the papers together while you punch holes in them.)
- staple bullets (the binders)
- blank paper (the ones you see here are cut from A4 into A5 size, which is halved on the long edge.)
- pencil and smaller ruler (to make markings for the holes for the staples.)
- cutting mat

Step 2: Cut Out Booklets

As mentioned earlier, the booklets are cut into A5 sizes. each booklet will consist of 8 pieces of paper. For the notebook I made, I used 5 booklets. You can change the number of booklets if you want. provided that you are still able to handle them properly.

Step 3: Draw the Markings

As a convention, I kept all the sides that were cut by me on the same side. I did that to maintain consistency. 

Now that you have the A5 papers, the markings will be drawn at the centre of it. So fold the paper into half on the long edge (the first piece of each booklet will do), draw a long along the crease then start to make the markings.

Firstly, make a one cm mark from the top edge of the paper. Same to the bottom edge.

After that, pop out one bullet from the staple. that will be your template. place one of the legs at the 1cm mark. draw the next markings with reference to the other leg. Do that for the top and bottom markings.

After that, the rest will be referenced from the top bullet marking (refer to the picture. the reference point is the marking of the lower leg if the first bullet). The first measurement is 1.2cm from the reference point. second at 3.1cm, and the third at 5cm. You now would have made the marking for only one of the legs. the marking for the other leg of the staple bullet is done the same way as the stop and bottom staple bullet markings(with reference to the staple bullet you poped out).

Once done,  the next reference point would be the bottom leg for the centre bullet (the one that is 5cm away from the top bullet). Same thing, one marking at 1.2cm mark from the bottom leg, and the next marking at 3.1cm mark.

At the end of this, you should have enough holes for 7 staple bullets. all these measurements are in place to keep a consistent binding points for all the booklets. 

Step 4: Punch the Holes

Now we will make the holes with the push pins. the idea here is to get a straight hole down. so that the staple bullets can go in properly.

it doesn't take a lot of hit from the hammer to punch the hole, but i used a stack of scrap paper as padding. 

Punch holes for all the markings.

Step 5: Add the Staple Bullets

Pop enough staple bullets to fill up all the holes you just created. Note that the pointy edges will end up at the side where the lines and markings are drawn. So after the notebook is done and when you open up the notebook, no markings of any sort will be seen from the inside. other than the smooth side of the staple bullets.

Then, press down the legs of the bullets with.. (i used my swiss knife in this case) a tool. Note that the motion is press downward the rotate inwards. as how a normal staple would look like. No need to press down fully at this point. somewhere more than 45 degrees will do.

Step 6: Flattening the Edges and Coating the Other Side

initially, use the hammer to flatten the legs. Then align the legs which are out of the line if any.

once done, then you hammer the legs with some force so that the legs are flushed with the paper and you cannot feel pointy edges. Do note that if your hammer is rusty, there will be rust marks on the white paper. So.. ya.. just keep that in mind and so as you see fit.

Once done, flip the booklet to the other side. Apply a THIN layer glue just along the staple bullets. the purpose of this is to cover the bullets so that even when they rust, the rust will be kept inside and not drop all over the place. Remember. just along the bullets will do. Try to keep it as narrow as possible.

Step 7: Folding and Flattening

once the glue has dried, we can start to fold the booklets along the line that was drawn previously. 

Do note that gentle pressing is what i mean here. When done properly, it should look something like the second picture. Pressing too hard during the fold will produce extra crease marks on your booklets which would not look nice. IMO

To fully flatten it properly, place the booklet under some waste paper. The waste paper does not have to be thick. Just enough to create a little cushion will do. Then hammer it down along the fold. Give it a good hammer to make it as flat as possible. *I did mine on the floor. the picture is just for illustration. My table will collapse if it was done there*

After hammering, the booklets should fold properly. 

Step 8: Clamping the Booklets

Now we align the booklets together and clamp them together using binding clips (the big one. i used 3.). Do check that they are visually aligned and straight. For the rulers, they act as plates to distribute the clamping force flat across the notebook. The rulers should also be equally high above the top of the notebook. The extra height of the ruler is to serve as a buffer to prevent overflow of the glue during application.

Regarding the packaging of the ruler, i kept the smooth side pointing inwards and the sticky flap of the packaging outwards. This is to facilitate the removal of the rulers later.

Step 9: Filling Gaps With Glue

At this stage, we apply glue onto the "spine". What i did was to always leave 2 of the binder clips on when applying glue. This is to keep the alignment. Be sure not to grip the booklet too tight as that will change the alignment. 

Try not to rush when applying glue. use the brush to apply layer by layer. Wait for the applied layer to dry first before adding a new layer on it. Like painting. Be patient to add layer by layer thinly until there is a visible layer above the paper. like in the picture. it took about 4 layers for me to reach that thickness.

Step 10: Trimming Excess

Once done with the layering, the binder clips can now be removed. and followed by the ruler. 

Regarding the ruler, remove the ruler one side first, trim it, then remove the other ruler and trim the excess. Try not to let the excess fall and stick to the layered glue as that will create a non flat surface and is difficult to remove once they stick together.

when trimming, you might want to use a smaller pen knife to cut. I tried to use the big pen knife but its harder to control. 

the idea of trimming is to create a flat surface that is sort of level with the centre. Its ok if it is not level. try not to cut too deep to avoid cutting the paper accidentally. 

Step 11: Fill to Level

Now comes the tricky part. The "spine" of the book will be "filled" with glue until its level.

Firstly, find a flat surface to work with. I used my cutting mat in this case. Then, wrap it with the cling wrap. The cling wrap will allow easy removal after the glue has dried. 

after wrapping, you will need some support to hold the notebook in place while the glue dries. in my case, small bowls were what i used. other objects are fine as long as you are comfortable with working with them. 

Next is to find the straight position of the book and set your supports up. It would be good if you can find some reference points to help you remember where to place your book. 

Once done, squeeze out glue over the top of the "spine" as shown in picture. the amount should be enough to fill the entire "spine" with some excess. be careful not to squeeze out too much or glue will end up flowing all over the place which essentially spoils the whole thing.

after that, turn the spine to face down and place it back with the supports holding them in the "upright" straight position. be careful not to be tricked by parallax error. You would notice that there are extra glue flowing out from the sides. That is normal. wipe them off gently with your brush you used to apply glue previously. The idea here is to not end up with blocks of glue appearing randomly at the sides. After they are wiped, empty spaces may appear after a while. As long as the glue along the outside of the spine are flat, the holes are fine. 

Next is to leave it to dry. In Singapore, it took me approx 3/4 of a day to dry completely. depending on your climate, the time needed will vary. 

Once dried, remove it from the cling wrap and same thing, trim the edges. Be careful not to cut the paper. i laid mine on the cutting mat with the spine face down. Then I glide the penknife along the sides to trim. the result is shown in the picture. 

At the end of this, the booklet should be able to stand on the spine by itself. 

Step 12: Cut Out Cover to Size and Fold It

Now we cut out the cover for our notebook. 

For me,  the measured height of the book is approx 15cm. so i cut it a rectangle that is 15cm in height. I used a patterned paper in this case.

after cutting out, i placed my book over it. align edge to edge, then draw a line along the spine. As shown in picture.

Next, i used the tool in my swiss knife to pre crease the paper. Then fold up, place the notebook over the cover, then draw another line along the spine again. 

Same thing, pre crease and fold it. Finally, measure and cut off excess that are not needed. 

By now, the cover should be ready for pasting. somewhat a prefect fit with the booklet. 

Step 13: Coating the Spine Area With Glue

I was trying another way of doing it as shown in the picture by spreading glue across the whole piece of paper instead of just the spine, to solve some problems. But it turned out that just applying glue onto the spine will do. 

So, apply a thin layer of glue onto the spine area of the cover. After that, you will have to clamp it down. This is to prevent the paper from crumpling due to the water in the glue. 

For me, I wrapped two surfaces with cling wrap, and placed the cover paper in between them, and stacked some weights on top to press it down. be sure to wait until the glue is dry before removing.

Step 14: Attach the Pieces Together

Once the cover piece is done with the coating, take out the notebook that was done previously. 

Apply some glue alone the spine like sown in the picture. No need too much of glue here. 

Just enough to see a white layer on it will do. Use the brush to help spread the glue out evenly if you need to.

Then place it back onto the cover piece. hole it down for a while for it to dry a bit. probably a couple of minutes will do. 

Once the spine can stick properly, its time to apply glue onto the front and back sides of the notebook. 

Front or back first doesnt really matter. 

To apply the glue, squeeze the glue across the paper as though spreading mayonnaise across sandwich. Then, even out the glue  across the whole area with a brush. If you squeezed out too much glue, remove the excess glue by scooping it up with the brush and wiping it off onto waste paper. The idea here is to have a thin later of glue on the entire surface.

Once done, press the cover piece down firmly from one end to the other starting from the spine of the notebook. 

Do the same for both sides. when done, put some weight on top of it to press it down. leave it there for 1 or 2 hours. Or until the glue has dried.

Step 15: Trimming

The final step. To trim the sides of the notebook.

For me, my cutting mat has lines on them. I used those lines as reference and aligned the spine of the notebook to them. 

Other than the side which is the spine, there are 3 other sides that needs to be trimmed. 

If u recall from the previous step, there is a allowance of 1cm from the edges. I trimmed at 5mm from the top and 5mm from the bottom. try  not to trim too much until its close to the first staple bullet as that will expose the bullet and cause it to come off easily. 

The idea here is to get enough space for you to cut a straight finish at the sides. 

For the long side to be trimmed, I approximated the distance. enough for me to cut properly downwards. Do note that due to the design of penknife, there is a 'V' shaped angle at the blade. So, there is a chance that the cut will end up looking like a slope. Still flat and nice finish though.  

When you are done cutting, your notebook is completed!

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