Introduction: Indestructible Photo Album

About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author of t…

Making a quality DIY custom photo album is a fun and easy way to make a special keepsake for storing all of your most memorable photos. I decided to make my photo album out of 1/8" aluminum so that it could withstand the test of time. This album in particular was an engagement gift for my girlfriend Jenn. It is filled with lots of meaningful (and utterly ridiculous) pictures from throughout our relationship. I wanted to make it out of metal so that it would not only last a lifetime, but also represent the enormous heft of our love.

Step 1: Materials

Step 2: Mark and Drill

Align one side of the piano hinge length-wise with one edge of the U-bracket and clamp it in place.

Make 5 markings centered along the length of the piano hinge using a punch.

Drill these markings with a #46 drill bit.

Step 3: Tap

Thread each of the holes that you just drilled in the U-bracket with a M2.5 tap.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat this process on the other side of the U-bracket using the other piano hinge.

Step 5: Drill and Counterbore

Measure precisely 0.4" in from one of the long edges of the aluminum U-shape and then 2.35" in from each of the short edges and make a mark at both intersection using a punch.

These are the only two holes that it is imperative to get exactly right, as they need to line up with the holes punched in the photo sheets. Given this, you may want to double check the alignment of the markings using the actual sheet as a guide.

Once you are sure of the hole placement, drill each of the holes using a #7 drill bit.

Counterbore each hole to a depth of about 1/8" using a 1/2" end mill at a low drill speed.

If you don't have an end mill, or are not keen on slightly misusing one for this purpose, you can choose to skip this part. It is not entirely necessary.

Step 6: Mark and Drill Again

Align the undrilled edge of each piano hinge with one of the 12" edges of the aluminum sheets, and clamp them together.

Again, make five markings centered along the hinge and drill through both the hinge and the sheet with a #46 bit.

Repeat the process for the second hinge and aluminum sheet.

Step 7: Tap Again

Thread all of the new holes in both sheets using a M2.5 tap.

Step 8: Polish (optional)

For a more finished look, polish up all of the components to a nice shine.

To learn about polishing aluminum, check out the Finishing Lesson in the Metalworking Class.

Step 9: Assembled

Using M2.5 bolts, attach the piano hinges to the U-bracket and the aluminum sheets using all of the holes that were drilled and threaded.

Step 10: Insert Pages

Gather all of the photo album pages and insert a binding post through each of them.

Pass the binding posts through the appropriate holes in the U-channel. Once through, thread on the other half of the binding post.

Step 11: Fill the Album

Fill the album with printouts of silly pictures you took using Instagram filters.

Or... I guess you could put in whatever you want.

Step 12: Propose to Jenn

Finally, you should create a bunch of lenticular postcards and propose to Jenn, but not my Jenn. She already said yes to me. Select a different Jenn.

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