Binding the Whole Ream Cardboard Covered Sketchbook




About: Retired, doing art work now. Great. Have the time and the money to spend doing what I want to do.

I wanted a large format sketchbook, so I gathered my materials, got organized and went to work.

Step 1: Materials List

Cardboard for the cover. Acrylic paints, one ream (500 sheets of paper), one book spine made of wood (see step 5), a specialty glue called padding adhesive, needle and thread, polyurethane varnish.

Step 2: Tools Needed

Various paper and cardboard working tools: cutters, rulers, scissors, craft knife, clamps, weights, stencil brush, etc.

Step 3: Cut Cover to Size

I made the cover out of one piece of cardboard and it is just large enough to cover the ream of paper, including the spine area.

Step 4: Glue Paper Together

I clamped the ream of paper to immobilize the sheets,and made sure the paper lined up exactly. Then padding adhesive is liberally applied to edge and allowed to dry.

Step 5: Cut Spine From Wood and Drill to Accept Thread

Pine is used, but you could use hardwood, certainly. After cutting to the size needed, about 8in x 1/4in x 1 and 1/8th inch, holes are drilled in the edges, all the way through. this will be attached to the book with thread and needle.

Step 6: Prepare Glued Ream of Paper

To make the book, I needed to drill holes in the paper, along the edge that will become the spine of the book. To do this, I used a 1/16th in. drill in my drill press. This insured accurate, straight holes.

Step 7: Sew Pages Together, Then to Spine

This takes a lot of thread so plan on re threading the needle several times. I am sure there is an art to book binding and threading,which I don't know, so just did the best I could. This will insure that the pages won't separate, and the book itself will not separate from the spine.

Step 8: Paint Cover for a Leather Look

To get a leather look, I used acrylic paint, picking the colors of burnt sienna, asphaltum, parchment, and black. The water based paint may cause the book to curl a little, so I put a weight on top of the book and let it dry that way. It came out pretty straight.

Step 9: Line Inside of Cover With Cardstock

I chose to line my book with black cardstock, but of course any color will do. To avoid any shrinkage or "crinkling" of paper, I used spray adhesive.

Step 10: Paint Stitching, and Stencil a Title

Since this will be a sketchbook, I used "Sketchbook 2009" I picked a font on the computer, printed it out in outline, and cut the stencil with a craft knife. A shadow is stenciled on with black paint, and then the final color, gold, is applied. I do this in several steps to avoid running the paint under the stencil. Stitches are painted by first making black dots by dipping a flat ended pin in black paint then making as many dots as possible. When this has dried, add a black shadow for each stich with a liner brush or black fine tip marker. Paint a diluted burnt sienna on with the liner brush, making each stitch. Highlight each stitch with a small amount of off white, or in this case, parchment.

Step 11: Glue Book, Spine and Cover Together

Here, a hot melt glue is used. Using generous amounts of melted glue along the spine, work fast, apply glue, then hold the pages/spine unit against the cover as tightly as possible. The hot melt glue dries very rapidly, so in a minute or so you can release the pressure.

Step 12: Book Is Done!

This book will serve as a convenient sketch book for a very long time. Handy, and easily accessible.



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    29 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I like it. I can't recall ever seeing a binding style quite like this! A bit out of reach for me, without a drill press, though.

    So, how has the book held up, after a few years?


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Get some tractor feed, zig-zag fold printer paper. Tear off the perforated strip on one edge, separate the zig-zag into individual sheets, and then stitch it together using the holes on the other side. This would make a book that you could easily remove pages as needed. Nice I-ble!

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I have about 2,000 pages of the stuff in a box in my home office from an Apple Dot Matrix Printer. I might make myself a scrapbook sometime. ;-)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm working on a sketchbook made from that Apple D.M.P. paper. The tractor feed strip has 22 holes. I don't want to stitch through every single hole, but I want it evenly spaced with both end holes stitched. I subtracted 1 to get 21, which gives me a spacing of 3 - stitch one and skip 2. Both end holes are stitched. And it keeps the box of paper from going into straight into the garbage. :-D Thanks for the inspiration, Cman!


    9 years ago on Step 6

    Perhaps step 6 should have been added to step 3. Alot of folks maybe confused with the process otherwise.


    9 years ago on Step 12

    Fantastic Instructable! I'm going to remove the pages from an old book that was headed for the trash and turn it into a sketchbook, and this is the best instruction on basic binding for a thick book. I would suggest using something other than corrugated cardboard for the cover, though. I carry my sketchbooks in a backpack, and stuff I've made from corrugated always winds up flattening up and fraying. Gift Box cardboard or premade pad cardboard would be a good choice. Heck, a trip to the dollar store will provide a lot of cardboard choices and some great cheap glues, too! Many Thanks!

    3 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 12

    BTW, I finished my new sketchbook, inspired by your 'ible. I have no idea what "Padding Adhesive" is, so I used "Liquid Nails", and it seems a very sturdy bind! Without a drill press, my drill holes were a bit off, too, but everything hides under thick end papers and a little glue. Many thanks, I wouldn't have done it without your inspiration, and I've done like, a dozen drawings in the 2 or 3 days since I made "MY OWN" sketchbook!


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Way to go steph! Would love to see a any? you can post them right here if you do. Cman


    9 years ago on Step 11

    Alternatively you can use two strips of Davey board from the back of a legal pad or notebook. There is no drilling into the side for the spine. The Davey board is a little lighter and just as sturdy as the pine. I'm going to try this project as I can always use a new blank book.

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, you're too hasn't opened yet. See rules of contest for answers. Cman. Thanks.