Introduction: Recycled Box Tri-fold Notepad

These are instructions to create a tri-fold notepad out of used packaging materials. Cardboard boxes come in all shapes and sizes, so I suggest you let the box guide your design.  Happy repurposing!

1.  Cardboard box - I used a small thin box (8in x 6in x 1in) used to ship a small book, but any box will do.
2.  Paper - I used recycled paper that came with the packaging, but any paper can be used.
3.  Ruler
4.  Xacto blade or Scissors
5.  Cutting mat
6.  Bone folder (optional)
7.  Glue
8.  Pencil or pen
9.  Rubber band

Step 1: Measure and Cut Box

1.  Open the box and lay it as flat as possible on top of your cutting mat.  Because all boxes are different in construction and size, you will have to adjust these steps accordingly.  If your box is really big or hard to fully break down, cut off a section instead of trying to use the whole thing.

2.  Decide the width you want each of the 3 notepad sections to be.  My box has a nice built in flap that is the perfect width for my notepad.

3.  Mark out three sections with a ruler and pencil based on your notepad width, starting from a flat edge of your box.  You should make three marks total.  The last mark will be your cutting line for the edge of the notepad.  The middle 2 marks will be your fold lines.

4.  Place metal ruler along cutting line.  Using an Xacto knife on top of a cutting board, cut along the ruler, all the way through the cardboard.

5.  Cut off top and bottom of the notepad.  My box had perforated fold lines that made for a perfect notebook size.  You can measure any notepad height you would like based on your box dimensions.

Step 2: Fold Notebook Sections

6.  Place metal ruler along fold line.  Using bone folder (or dull Xacto knife), score the cardboard along the ruler.

7.  Mark the edges of the cardboard with a pencil to show where to score on the reverse side.  On the "Front" of your notepad, place the metal ruler by lining up the pencil marks.  Score the cardboard with the bone folder.

8.  Fold the box toward the inside along the scored fold lines.

Step 3: Prepare Your Paper

Note:  Since all paper and notepads will be different, you will need to adapt this section to fit the paper you choose to use and the size of your notepad.

9.  Flatten your paper and start folding.  Lay your notepad on top of the paper to measure the proper/desired height of the paper.  Continue folding until you paper is at about two full notebook-section widths.  If you are using recycled packaging paper, you will want a little extra width to cut off jagged edges.

10.  Lay your notepad on top of the paper to measure the proper/desired width of the paper.  Using your metal ruler and Xacto knife, cut through the paper.  You will have a pile that should fit nicely into one of the folds of your notepad.  Make sure the the bottom of your pages are not connected.  If they are, slice them apart with your Xacto knife.

11.  Continue cutting until you have enough paper for three piles to fit into your notepad.

12.  If you are using recycled packaging paper, or other wrinkly paper, you will want to flatten it out.  Place your pages under a heavy book overnight, or until they stay flat on their own.

Step 4: Final Steps

13.  Once your paper is sufficiently smooth (it may take awhile to  become perfectly un-wrinkled, but I think the wrinkles add character and make it look more recycled), it is time to finish up your notepad!  To attach multiple pages together and create a denser notebook, apply glue to the inside of a sheet just under the fold.  Take a second, folded sheet, and line up its fold with the open fold, and press the sheets firmly together.  Repeat this step with as many sheets as you would like.  You can always add more in the future.

14.  Fold over the top of the first sheet (the one you applied the glue to).  On the back of your newly formed stack of sheets, apply glue to the top, just below the fold.  Adhere the stack of sheets to one of the panels of your notepad.  Be sure that it is centered on the panel.  Trim excess paper as needed.

15.  Repeat steps 13 & 14 for the remaining panels. You are almost done!

16.  Wrap a rubber band (or ribbon, hair band, fishing wire, etc.) around your notepad.  Apply a dab of glue to the back to secure it down, or not.

17.  Doodle, sketch, take notes, ideate in your new notepad!

17.5  Don't forget to recycle or repurpose any left-over materials!