Introduction: A Really Old Notebook Making Instrucable From When I Was 14 or Something

The Adventure Book is something I always carry with me because adventure (or lack of) can strike at any time.

I was at summer camp a few weeks ago. There were no computers or AC, and the only writing apparatus were smartphones (that we smuggled into camp) and paper. On Monday, I noticed in Environmental Science Merit Badge Class that my Adventure Book only had 20 pages left... very problematic since E-Science instructor was making the class aburrido. I rationed my pages, and by Sunday morning, I only had a couple remaining. It was time to find a new Adventure Book.

Unfortunately, the world has a shortage of notebooks without lines or grids, so I made one. This is what I came up with...

Step 1: Be Prepared

Before starting, have a plan and the appropriate materials.


This is what's great about custom notebooks - they're custom. Choose literally any size.

The book I am making is 5 by 7 inches. A smaller notebook that still looks porportional is 4.5 by 6 inches. However, there are no rules, so do whatever.


Obviously, choose some kind of blank paper (or not... your choice). Printer paper works, but I found some fancy buy-1-get-one-free + 50% off cupon drawing pads at Michaels. Worth.

The paper I bought was 8 by 10 inches, and after folding it hamburger and choping off an inch lengthwise, The folded sheet was 5 by 7 inches. Buy a size of paper that works best for your notebook dimentions. Some tricky mental geometry may be involved.

Other Materials

  • Cover material (e.g. cardstock, construction paper - I used the drawing pad cover and a manila folder)
  • Work surface (anything that can be poked by a pointy metal object)
  • Pointy Metal Object (awl, makeshift awl)
  • Ruler
  • Thread (color of choice, stronger = better)
  • needle (idk about needle types, ask your grandma)
  • Tiny scissors (for cutting thread - I used my Victorinox Classic.. the tiny tweasers on them were also useful)
  • Book binding glue (I used wood glue. It seemed to work fine......)
  • Erasable pencil (mechanical) may come in handy. Don't forget the eraser.
  • Clamps (Binder clips work well)

Step 2: Trustworthy Paper

Paper Prep Explained

If the paper comes in a pad, tear it out and cut it to the proper dimentions. **Remember: the paper folded in half should have the same dimentions as the planned notebook. The edge with the fold will be the spine.

Put several folded sheets of paper inside each other. The number of sheets is your choice. I put 5 pieces together, which made a total of 10 pages when folded in half. You will be stitching these pages together and glueing multiple stitched bundles together to make your notebook.

Punch it

Once the folded papers are together in sufficient numbers, unfold the papers while keeping them aligned with each other. Lay the stack on the work surface. Use the pointy metal object to punch holes along the crease in the middle of the papers. I punched the holes about a 1/2 inch apart, but you can do whatever.


Now, thread your needle with engough thread to run along the crease 2.5 times (my notebook was 7 inches long, so I needed about 17-18 inches of thread). Use those tiny scissors to cut your thread to length.

Poke the needle through the hole closest to the center of the paper. Leave a 2 inch tail of thread poking through the middle hole. Then pick a side, and weave the needle through the holes on that side until you reach the last hole. So far, the thread has created a dashed line. Once your needle is through the last hole, do a 180 and start weaving back towards the middle. Notice how the thread is filling the spaces between the "dashes". Weave all the way to the other last hole and do another 180. Weave back towards the middle until all the "dashes" are connected in a line. If there is an odd number of holes, the needle should end up on the same side of the 2 inch tail in the middle. Use the extra thread on the needle and the tail to tie a knot. I tied a tiny double half hitch followed by a square knot. Just make sure it cannot get undone. The tiny tweasers from my Victorinox were helpful for tying tiny knots.

Make more!

Make more stitched bundles of paper. I made 5 bundles of 5 pieces. Since each bundle was 10 pages (5 pieces of paper folded in half), my entire notebook was going to be 50 pages total.

Smash all the completed bundles between books to flatten them.

Step 3: LoyalHelpfulFriendlyCourteousKindCheerful Glue

Cut 2 pieces of cover material to the dimentions of the planned notebook (in my case: Two 5 by 7 inch pieces of drawing pad cover).

Clamp all the stitched bundles of paper together. They should be sandwiched in between the two pieces of cover material. Make sure everything is aligned properly.

Identify the edge with the thread showing. This edge will be the spine of the book. Apply a line of glue along the spine, and spread it so that all the threads are covered and so that it toutches the edges of cover material.

Did you apply enough glue? Nope. Put on summore.

***N.B. If you have actual book binding glue, follow the instructions. I, being thrifty, did not want to get ripped off at Michaels (the cupon only worked for one item).

Let the glue dry. Do not take off the clamps.

Once the glue is dry, apply more glue just to be safe. Especially if you're using the wrong type of glue...

Step 4: BraveCleanReverent Cover

Make a cover. This can be done in several different ways, so do it however. This is what I did:

See sketch above. The cover is not ideal because it slides around when the book opens, and the book can slip out of the cover. There are plenty of instructables on making notebook covers. Find something you like and personalize your Adventure Book.

Step 5: Do a Good Turn Daily

In my Troop, there's a 14 year old kid who is my firend's younger brother. He was at summer camp with me when he took an interest in the notebook I was holding in my hand. He watched me draw stuff, and I allowed him to look through my previous entries. His most memorable question was - "Where did you find a notebook without lines?" Good question. I bought the notebook from a street vendor in Shanghai for 20 Yuan (about 3 USD). (Kind of funny how I found my tool of free expression in a communist country...) Anyway, the kid told me, "You have to get me one if you ever go back to China."

With the buy-one-get-one-free deal at Michaels, I purchased 2 drawing pads and made 2 notebooks. I went to my friend's birthday party a week later. After pulling an all-nighter in his basement, I went upstairs, found his younger brother, and handed him the notebook. "You got me one!"

I believe that the best gifts rarely cost much money. With enough cupons, you can make 2 notebooks for 8 USD! (still more expensive than the book from Shanghai...) What price are you willing to pay for your freedom from lines and grids? Free your children too.

Happy Independence Day (for Us Americans)

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