Endless Sketchbook




Introduction: Endless Sketchbook

About: I'm an idea person. I love developing ideas and inventing wonderful things. I run a creative space / art gallery in Portland Oregon http://www.mohdi.com

I came up with the idea of the endless sketchbook a while ago. I fell in love with the idea almost immediately and began my pursuit to build out this invention. This instructable is more about the process of developing an idea. The end result is a working prototype of an Endless Sketchbook.
I am an idea person, not a woodworker. Please keep that in mind as you read about how I built the prototype of this project. I also like to comment on photos a lot.
Developing an idea is going to be different each and every person, with this project I'm sharing how I went about it. I'm sure I could have done things more efficiently or better but, the way I went about it is right for me.
The endless sketchbook might turn out to be an endless project. A working prototype is really just the beginning.
I hope that after reading this instructable, you will be inspired and go about making your own endless sketchbook. This truly is an exciting project and I look forward to seeing the inevitable evolution of this idea. Let's get started!

Step 1: Materials Needed

For this project it is advised that you use materials and tools that you have access to. I also advice not to go out and spend a fortune on your first endless sketchbook.

If you want your endless sketchbook to look line mine then here are a couple lists to get you might want to look over.

Paper or sketchbook to draw on
MDF (maximum density fiberboard)
An old bike wheel or spokes (generally free at bike shops)
Drill bit rings (I'll talk about these later)
Aquabee Super Vel 565 (or paper equivalent)
Double sided tape
Rubber bands

Tools List*
A Drill
A Saw
A paper cutter ( nice to have )
Wire cutters
A screwdriver
Ruler or measuring device

*I don't have a lot of tools and actually bought a scroll saw off of craigslistcraigslist for this project. As I plan to actually create more things, I plan on getting the proper tools.

Step 2: Drawing Board

The most important step in the creation of this project is the drawing board. My favorite way to develop my ideas is through my sketchbooks. Some of my ideas or inventions I've been developing for years in my sketchbooks, some ideas simply get permanently placed on hold or become obsolete.
I'm assuming that since you are reading this, you too like to develop your ideas on paper as well.
Before going about building anything with the endless sketchbook, I sat down and wrote a bunch of notes, sketches and diagrams about this project. Please take a look at the notes on each of these images as I will be putting a lot of information about this project in images associated with it.

There is a lot of information to take in on these pages. Some notes are about the design some about the use all of the notes helped me to get the prototype done.
The notes and ideas you might jot down in your book will be crucial in helping you develop your ideas and prototypes.

Step 3: Bar Prototype

A lot of times, I'll be in a coffee shop or bar developing ideas in my sketchbook.
While working on this for a while, I decided that I would see how easy it would be to make a version of the sketchbook. I decided to build a sketch watch as it would take less materials and be easier to assemble from the supplies I had at the bar.
By building a few versions of the sketchbook watch I learned quite a bit about the endless sketchbook design and foresaw some problems.
I think another time, I'll get the sketch watch working more smoothly and have look and fit better than the gigantic box versions I created.

Step 4: Is This Going to Work?

After creating some Sketch Watch versions of this design, I go about seeing how the looping version of this will actually work. Based on my drawings of paper loops, I decide to do a small testing version so I can figure out how much friction this paper is going to have.
Nailing into a piece of wood, I can recreate the amount of loops the paper would have to go through. After taking a small strip of paper and looping it through my nail set up I soon realize how much friction this thing is going to have.
With only two turns of the paper around the nails, I'm getting way too much resistance and realize that I'm going to have to rethink how this prototype is going to be done. It's a good thing I didn't spend the time building out a larger version only to realize that I was going to have some big problems.

Step 5: Work With What You Have

Since I'm not a woodworker, I'm not going to walk you through how to measure, cut or drill holes. I'm hoping that the design is simple enough that you should be able to draw out some rectangles, make some cuts, drill some holes and have a version working for you. Hopefully the process of my prototype will give you a base to build your own.

Initially I was thinking this project would be great to make entirely out of wood. I love the look and feel of wood and when technology is combined with wood the results are amazing. Mechanical wood devices have a timeless sense of beauty and magic to them.

The sides of the endless sketchbook are crucial. You can see in the photo that I have 4 dowels to maintain structure. I drilled two rows of 5 holes on each side. These holes will hold my wooden dowels and give the paper something to rotate around.

After building this version, I realize that there is going to be way too much friction. So by making the holes larger and allowing the dowels to spin, I eliminate a lot of the friction. I have pretty good performance after looping some paper around a few times however, friction is a problem after more than a few turns of the paper.

For each turn of the paper you are getting that much more surface area to draw on. So ultimately you will want to fit as much paper in your endless sketchbook as possible.

The idea with the endless sketchbook is to basically build a box with some sort of axle that the paper can easily loop around. The photo shows the basic concept of the sides.

Dowels just aren't going to work. Time to find something else.

Step 6: Battle Axle

Trial and error is such an important process in developing a prototype. When my friend Herb suggested using bike spokes, I was hesitant and thought that the spokes would not be rigid enough. After talking with my friend Hazel about the suggestion, she told me she had just rebuilt a wheel and had a bunch of spokes sitting around. I took them and soon learned how awesome spokes would be. I still needed some more spokes, so I dumpstered an old bike wheel, hooray, I was set.

I could have unscrewed each spoke and taken it apart nice and easily however, I just cut the spokes with wire cutters as it was quicker.

Most bike shops have extra spokes sitting around, it's also pretty easy to find an old bike wheel. If you really must, you can actually spend money and get your spokes new.

Step 7: Error Dynamic

Error Dynamic

For my projects, I use the term Error Dynamic. It's basically a way of designing something for my skills at th.

When designing rockets you probably want some sort of aerodynamic design to your rocket. Myself, I prefer using "Error Dynamic" design meaning to design something knowing that the lines might not be totally accurate and measurements might vary a bit.
Bike spokes are great for error dynamic design, I wanted my spokes to be 6" long. Since cutting them all perfectly at 6" was sort of out out the question I was pleased to find out I had about a quarter of an inch adjustment thread with the spoke.

The sides to hold the spokes are a set of holes drilled into some lattice. To make sure the holes lined up, I stacked the 4 holding blocks and drilled them 2 at a time. I did some rough measuring although the drill kind of did it's own thing. See the photos for notes on the holding blocks. I could have probably just put the holes into the side of the endless sketchbook but, that would mean that my spokes would all have to be have cut with only about 1/8 of variance. I By adding the blocks, I've allowed myself to have almost 3/4 of an inch of variance.

It took me a while to find the perfect thing to spin around the spokes, I knew that the paper wrapping around the spokes would certainly cause too much friction not to mention that the metal would tarnish the paper.
I tried using small tubing an putting it on the spokes, this was only partially successful. I was relieved when I went into SCRAP one day and my solution was right in front of me. 6000 drill bit rings for $4, perfect. These help the paper easily turn, reducing friction and helping this prototype along.
Threading them on the spokes took some time but, it was well worth it. If you would also use drill bit rings, you could try to purchase them through SCRAP or write me and I'll send you a bunch. There are several alternatives that you could use although I'm not sure how well they will work as I only tried tubing and then found my drill bit rings. I was thinking that it would be pretty easy to use beads and put them on the spokes. I was about to take apart an old printer as I'm sure there are some good round spiny things inside of one of those. If you would really like you could probably just make some bead like things out of Fimo or Sculpy. It is important though to get rid of the friction.

The spokes will stay pretty rigid although putting side that caps the spoke on is kind of frustrating and annoying as they don't perfectly line up.

Step 8: Backing

The front of the Endless sketchbook is basically a rectangle with rectangle cut out of it. I used a scroll saw to get the bevel.

The backing is the surface that you will actually be drawing on when the paper is inserted into the sketchbook. After working on the paper version and drawing in my sketches, I really didn't want to have exposed slots where the backing was.
Using a cheap poster frame I had sitting around, I decided that the backing would be nice to make out of that. It was slightly thinner than the mdf and had a smooth side to it too. I was also thinking that cutting a clipboard might work well too.

To measure the piece, I simply put the font on top of it and drew a line. Then I used a handsaw to cut the backing for the sketchbook. I sanded the sides so that the paper would have less friction as it went around the backing. I also needed to build in a gap between the backing and the face of the sketchbook. To do this I just attached some rubber bands on the sides of the backing. A couple of rubber band gave me enough thickness to fit the paper through.

Step 9: Paper Loop

Cut your paper into even strips. The design for this prototype was to hold paper that is 41/4". I used aquabee super vel 565 as it is sturdy and bends well. With my strips cut, I simply put some double sided tape on the edges and assembled the paper into a very long strip.

Once you have a giant strip of paper you can thread your endless sketchbook. Since it's such a pain to align the spokes in the hole on the cap side, I just took off the short sides and threaded the paper I had.

The further the first turn of the paper is away from the backing, the easier the paper will move. Later versions will have a spoke and drill bit ring set up so that the paper will not have to rub against the edges of the backing at all.

My loop was a little short and I didn't use all of the axles like I would have liked.
Once the paper is threaded, you need to assemble the loop. To do this I just put some more double sided tape on one end, measured where the other end should be cut and taped it together.

Once you put all the sides together you can start drawing.

Step 10: Make It.

Since the endless sketchbook is a prototype, I'm not sharing many of my measurements. Also chances are you can probably make a better box out of than I. You will most likely have to develop the design some to work with the materials you happen to use. I used rubber bands to hold the box together, you might want to use screws or glue or something else.

1. Make a box
2. Drill a bunch of holes in the box.
3. Insert axles
4. Put spiny things on axles or have your axles spin.
5. Cut a hole in face of box
6. Put a backing on the face of the box that has a small gap for paper to fit through.
7. Cut strips of paper and tape it together into a large strip.
8. Thread paper through axles in box and between face and backing
9. Tape strip of paper together to make a loop.
10. Sketch away.

If you really wanted to, you could make this project out of an empty cereal box by simply cramming a loop of paper in it. The important thing is that you find what will work best for you.
I'm just giving you a foundation to start on.

Step 11: The Final Prototype

Once you have put all your pieces together and threaded the paper you are now ready to sketch away!

I didn't put an external handle on this version as it's easy enough to advance the paper by simply pushing it along on the front.

The prototype of the Endless Sketchbook is not perfect. I'm still having some friction problems and I can see that if I advanced the paper through a whole lot, it might start to wear a little bit. It is working and with time the little problems in design and function will be resolved and I'm sure many more features to this sketchbook will be added.

Step 12: Usage and Evolution of Design

This prototype is really fun to have. I'm sure that a number of tweaks here and there will make the endless sketchbook work even better.

It's pretty easy to come up with features and additions to the device while working on it. I would have liked to show a mobius strip version so you could draw on both sides of the paper.

I've always wanted to attach a motor to the sketchbook so when you are finished you could hang it on the wall and watch as it slowly loops through. That will certainly be built into the next design.

How cool would it be to put different loops through the endless sketchbook. You could make a loop out of a bunch of photos or perhaps this might be a new way to publish the paper or comics.
It would have been great to write this whole instructable on one loop of paper.

Atom had suggested having a back light for you the paper backing. That would be awesome!

I would love to make a version out of clear plastic sometime so you can see how the paper moves through.

You could fit a couple of loops of paper inside and have 2 sides to the sketchbook.

I also would love to build a version out of nice wood and have it be a piece of art on it's own. Perhaps one day I'll find a tool that will let me make accurate cuts.

I would also like a version with a handle that advances the paper. How cool would it be to see a gigantic version of the sketchbook.

There are so many features and items I would like to do to improve this project that I could keep talking about this for a very long time.
I hope that you will share with me your ideas and thoughts on this project.

This is just the first of many endless sketchbooks to be created.

If you need help with creating your endless sketchbook or if you want a bunch of drill bit rings or just want to talk about this project you can find my contact information on the sidebar at http://www.mohdi.com

Step 13: Save Those Parts

Now what to do with those extra parts.

Perhaps a record player for your bike? Powered by peddling in reverse?

Paper cone, needle, old bike hub, old record.

I've got some ideas to develop.

Thanks for reading,

Millions of Hundred Dollar Ideas

Be the First to Share


    • Eggs Challenge

      Eggs Challenge
    • First Time Author Contest

      First Time Author Contest
    • Meatless Challenge

      Meatless Challenge



    9 years ago on Introduction

    wow! I know so many people who would so love one of these!


    10 years ago on Step 10

    Thanks for posting this! I've been playing with ideas and remembered reading this a while back, so I wanted to re-check it out. If and when I make a working one, I'll definitely make a reference back to this instructable!


    11 years ago on Introduction

    Ahh. This is how all sketchbooks ought to be. Endless! I like working with sketchbooks myself, but I usually only end up working with fixing up the ones I've already mostly filled. If you were to use a mobius strip, you'd actually be able to double the length of your paper loop as well, since the loop you used has a side that is left blank, and a mobius strip only has one side. I wonder what I could come up with if I tried this..... God only know! Perhaps I'll make a few concepts sometime. Great job!


    15 years ago on Step 2

    My ideas stay in my head. If I put them on paper, I have no idea what I was thinking about later.


    Reply 12 years ago on Step 2

    same here when i look at it later i say; "WHAT IS THIS RUBBISH!!!!!!" then in like 3 hours i say; "oh"


    13 years ago on Step 13

    very cool idea! i like it very much, especially the concept of continuity: each sketch is part of the previous one and at some point you'd even start drawing over previous sketches and adding to them. one technical hint: get rid of the rubberband spacers. they are probably a BIG factor considering friction in your design. try plastics, thin plexi/acrylic glass/perspex/lucite (a rose by any other name) maybe. you should be able to score four small plexi pieces from the trash at your hardware or sign store. glue them to the corners of your backing board and there you have it: prectically frictionless spacers. be sure to sand down the edges with some fine sanding paper (400 or up) or the rough edge of the plexi might wear down the edges of your paper quickly.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    He said endless not unlimited. There indeed is no end till you decide to cut it.


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Cool, but why don't you use two rolls? one on each side of the box so you scroll to the side everytime you want more paper. You can use fax paper wich is a long enough for any sketchbook. I have done this for my final art proyect and it works great! Good luck!

    Sin t��tulo-1q2.jpg

    14 years ago on Introduction

    this is wayyy cool and one that is actually do-able. i thought of making this in a cool box message card thing. i understand that there is no handle but if u ever make one with a handle please post it! this is simply great! great job!


    14 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice! Any tips on where to find that mighty nice pen you have shown?


    Nice! It reminds me of First Grade, where we made a really primitive version with a shoe box and a strip of paper around two paper towel rolls for a "television set", similar to a simple conveyor belt. :)


    15 years ago on Step 2

    ok i am amazed. i also have notebooks full of ideas but none is such great detail. this is simply awesome.


    15 years ago on Introduction

    Love your idea, and also your philosophy of errordynamics. My first thought reading this was, while it's not great paper, thermal fax paper comes on a very long roll already. You could do something to just feed that from the roll it came on onto another roll. Then you wouldn't have a continuous loop of paper, but you'd still have a single long run of paper to work with. Now that I think about it, the fax paper might be a great solution if you're like me and have a kid that loves to draw and just needs lots of cheap paper. Yours is much better for the serious doodler though. :)


    15 years ago on Step 13

    Hey Drew! This concept is pretty cool! Thank you for sharing your thought process too. I also like to sketch out my ideas and let them "percolate". I was clueless what you were going to do with those blue things (sorry, forgot the name!), but I like what you came up with! Very cool... Thanks! Lotus


    15 years ago on Introduction

    Hey, very cool idea. I think it would be even cooler if you somehow fed the paper in as a mobius strip, that way you'd double the drawing length for the same amount of paper.


    Reply 15 years ago on Introduction

    I tried to do the mobius strip thing although it's really difficult for the paper to make that turn without making the box a lot thicker. Perhaps the next version I can work out the turning thing...