Introduction: Field Notebook

About: 19 | studying industrial design | Pop culture geek

I'm always scrambling for paper to make quick notes for measurements or reminders. So I started keeping little notebooks with me and I've found them extremely useful. They help when I want to jot down an idea or sketch something I see when I'm on the go.

I used to use Field Notes, a brand of small notebooks, until i realised I could make them myself. I've researched and practiced, and come up with a simple way to construct a quality field notebook,

Step 1: Materials

The materials you'll need to get away with this cheap notebook are:

  • Paper
  • Card
  • Pencil
  • Ruler (preferably metal)
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Needle and thread
  • Wider needle to hammer holes

It is also helpful but not necessary to have a hammer, pliers, and a bone folder.

Step 2: Prepare the Paper

To get the best results, the paper you choose should be almost 1 cm larger than your notebook size to account for when we cut off the rough edges later.

Normal field notes are measured 48 pages, 3 1/2 inches x 5 1/2 inches (9cm X 14 cm). I find these to be too long, so my final measurements are 9x13 cm.

This means your paper before folding will be 24 pieces and double the width of your chosen size plus the extra 1cm, bringing the paper size to 10x14 cm before folding.

The paper separated into thirds and the card cover will be folded carefully in half.

Step 3: Punching Holes

4 holes need to punched in the cover spine using a needle.

Mine were spaced 1.5 cm (1/2 inch) away from the edges and 2.5 cm (1 inch) from the next. Remember not to count the edge that will be cut off later.

Using these holes as a guide placed inside 1/3 of the folded pages, punch through the same holes with the needle. You may need a hammer to punch all 8 pieces. Do this for the other 2 thirds.

Step 4: Binding

Tie a loop at the end of your thread.

  1. Using the needle and thread, enter through the first hole from the inside through the pages and the cover. This can be easier if done in chunks rather than all at once and using pliers if its too tight. One trick for the fat part of the needle is to push it down against the cutting mat to help push it through
  2. Enter back through the second hole in the cover and then through the loop we tied inside. Adjust the knot over the hole.
  3. Exit out the third hole from inside the pages.
  4. Enter for the last time into the cover through the final hole. Tie a knot around the thread inside, adjust and cut off excess thread.

Step 5: Trimming

Now is the time where you'll cut off that extra measurement of paper. This gives you a chance to trim off the rough edges and to create a straight edge for your notebook.

Using the metal ruler held against the pages firmly, keeping your fingers safely away from the edge, bring the knife down to slice. Avoid cutting with brute force (I know its tempting) this results in hairy edges and less control. The trick is to use a sharp blade and multiple strokes to slice down through the entire book.

Here is when you can also cut the rounded corners seen in Field Notes with the knife or scissors.

Step 6: Finished

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