Introduction: Creating a Custom Hardcover With Cardboard and Paper Mache

I have a few books in my personal library that I love, but I purchased used and have started to wear down over time. Rather than let the books, fall apart, I decided to make a new cover using cheap and easy to find materials. Using some online tutorials, I found a fun and effective way to create my own unique covers. I have gone back and made these mutiple times and even made a couple as gifts for family.


Paperback Book






String (Optional)

Printed Images (Optional)


Step 1: Measure the Book

Find an old paperback that you wish to create a cover for. I try to choose books that I enjoy, that also have a theme that I can artistically enjoy with the art. You will need three measurements (thickness, length, and width).

Step 2: Cut the Cardboard

Using the measurements, cut out three cardboard pieces. Make sure to add a little bit extra to the measurements when you cut, to allow the cover to overlap the pages a little. Add a little extra to the thickness to allow the cover to fully shut over the book.

Step 3: Tape the Cardboard Together

Tape the cardboard together, the piece for thickness in between the two side pieces.

Step 4: Undercover Decorations (Optional)

Using String and Glue (or Tape), you can create patterns that will later appear raised on the surface of the book.

You can also create a raised border using thin cut pieces of cardboard.

Using images printed on paper, you can create an image in the background (See Harry Potter book). Just be aware that the image will be later covered by paper mache, so choose something that will look good with a thin layer of white over it. Also, make sure to cover this part with thin paper mache and don't paint over it. The Harry Potter images are also raised using cardboard cut to size beneath the images.

Alternatively, if you are concerned about paper mache ruining the image, you could attach the image to the cardboard then paper mache around it later, avoiding the image. (See Way of Kings)

Step 5: Paper Mache

Mix water and glue.

Drape paper towels over the cardboard and carefully brush the water/glue mixture throughout the paper towels. All of the paper towel should be wet. Make sure to paper mache the outer portions of thn interior part of the book. When I cut the paper towel, I cut enough to let it wrap around the sides of the cardboard, so that it is stronger and looks seamless.

Let it dry. I usually let it dry overnight and finish the project the next day.

Step 6: Paint

Paint the cover to your liking. If you wish, add a title to the side of the book. Consider using a toothpick for painting on fine letters.

Step 7: Attaching the Book

Put the book inside the cover. Put a piece of paper from the outer edge of the inside of paper mache cover to the outer edge of the original cover. Measure. Cut paper to size (parchment or other old-fashioned paper looks good for this). Glue the paper to the inside of the paper mache cover and the outside of the original cover. Close the book, put something heavy on it, and let it sit and dry for a while.

Step 8: Finish!

Here are some completed projects I have done.