Introduction: Upcycled Maker Journal Cover

About: Tinker of Thinks

When working in my shop I find frequently need to have a notebook or scratch paper nearby, sometimes to jot down dimensions, supplies I need, or ideas. My workshop is hard on these notebooks and they quickly get destroyed, so I made myself a durable cover to hold traveler's notebooks in. For this project I made use of a piece of scrap leather and an aluminum road sign acquired from a local salvage store.


  • Aluminum Sheet (In this case, discarded signage picked up up from my local recycling shop)
  • Scrap Leather. Veg tan, four to five oz.
  • Double Cap Rivets
  • Cord- to secure the journal in place.
  • Leather Dye
  • Traveler's Notebook
  • Sandpaper


  • Table Saw
  • Hobby Knife
  • Leather Punch
  • Tape Measure
  • Scriber
  • Sharpie


  • CNC Router (XCarve)
  • Orbital Sander
  • Spray Paint

Step 1: Covers

In this step, you'll use a table saw to cut the aluminum for your covers down to size. For the notebook I had on hand, that was 5.25 by 8.75 inches, enough to leave a 1/4 border around the perimeter of the notebook. The table saw handles the aluminum sheet just fine; I used the miter gauge to make most of the cuts, after using a carbide scriber to mark the lines.Once you have the two aluminum blanks cut out, mark a radius on the corners and sand to shape with a disk sander or file.

Step 2: (Optional) Engraving and Milling

I wanted to add some engraving to the covers of my notebook. I added a simple light bulb to the front and my logo on the rear cover. I used carpet tape to get a nice even hold on my workpiece, imported the graphics I used into Easel as a vector file and let my router carve the images. I covered the surfaces that were to be engraved with painter's tape. This way, after the engraving was finished, I could opt to spray paint the graphics. This didn't entirely work out, so I resprayed the surface after removing the tape and sanded the excess paint away. My benchtop mill was used to ad a slot into the front cover that I later used to add the pencil holder.

Step 3: Attach the Covers to the Leather Binding

I laid out the leather to the same size as my aluminum covers with approximately 3/8 of an inch gap between the front and back. Using a hobby knife, I cut out the pattern are rounded the corners. After dying the leather black with a swab, I then punched four holes along the spine of the notebook. I threaded yellow leather cord through these which I tied with a truckers hitch. This holds a notebook securely in place, while still allowing for easy replacement. After wrapping a shirt piece of dyed leather around a pencil, I epoxied it into the slot I milled earlier.

Before and After Contest 2017

Participated in the
Before and After Contest 2017