Easy Leather Mini Notepads




About: I am a teenager, building since I was 4 (and soldering since I was 7). I enjoy building things and inventing all kinds of little projects, some of which I share here!

A friend of mine loves to write, so for the holidays, I thought a nice little notepad to jot down sudden inspirations might be nice. I knew already that I wanted to make something, so I tried my hand at very basic leather working to get the results you see above. This was an easy project (so easy I could do it!), so I would encourage you to give it a try.

By the way- If you have clicked on this, I'm assuming you're curious about this Instructable. If you enjoy it, feel free to vote for me in the Paper Craft contest and the Homemade Gifts contest. Thanks for your consideration!

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Step 1: Parts and Tools

The parts list for this is pretty basic-

    - Leather (I got some strips that looked like they could be cut into a nice size)
    - Metal eyelets slightly larger than the leather lacing (Not shown because those little things are hard to get a focus on)
    - Leather Lacing (This is for the binding, and although I feel leather lace is the best option, you could go with some sort of twine)

    - Paper (either blank or lined, depending on your preference)


    - Craft knife (For cutting the leather. This is my first time using leather, so I'm sure there is a better tool out there, but this worked well for me.)
    - Ruler and Pen (for finding and marking where the holes go)
    - Angle square or T square (to make sure our cuts are at a right angle)
    - Leather Punch (for making the holes. You could use the craft knife, but the punch makes nicer holes.)
    - Eyelet tool (It came with my eyelets and is used to keep them in place)
    - Hammer (for usage with the eyelet tool)

Now, for paper tools, it gets more complex. I've heard of devices that can cut out perfect shapes and sizes in paper, but I do not have any of those wondrous tools. What I do have is a workshop with plenty of woodworking tools, so to cut the paper, I used:

    - Bandsaw (a knife or scissors could be used, although they are more time-consuming)
    - Drill and Drill bit the diameter of the eyelet (to cut the hole in the paper)

    - Scrap Wood and Clamps (to keep the paper in place while drilling)

    - Optional: Sandpaper/palm sander (to make the paper edges more even after bandsaw-ing)

With that aside, lets get making!

Step 2: Measuring and Cutting the Leather

The first step is to figure out what a comfortable size for a pocket notebook would be. For me, this size is about 2.5"x3.5". Bearing that dimension in mind, I doubled the width while keeping the height the same, and then added a bit extra to that amount. By doing this, I ended up with a flat sheet that was the right height for the notebook, but also the right width to wrap around the entire thing.

In order to cut this measured piece out, I took my angle square and used that as a support for my craft knife. I didn't cut all the way through right away, and made sure to go back over the incision multiple times so that it was fully cut before I pulled the two pieces apart. This made sure that I was getting an accurate and clean cut.

In order to get the rounded corners, I simply took my craft knife and cut off the corners of the leather, and then cut off the corners of those corners, and so on, until I had a rounded edge I was pleased with. See the photos if you're confused.

Step 3: Hole-y Cow (or Whatever This Leather Is Made Of)

With the size of the notebook set, it's time to use the leather punch!

I folded the leather in half to figure out where I wanted the holes. I decided on putting one of them 1 cm from the top and 1 cm from the 'spine', and the other 1 cm from the bottom and 1 cm from the 'spine'. I marked these points with a pen, picked the right size punch based off of my eyelets, and used the punch at those points. I found it helpful to squeeze as hard as possible on the punch, and then rotate it slightly and squeeze again. This way, I was able to get a full cut that was much cleaner. It doesn't matter how clean the cut as long as the eyelet fits, however.

Step 4: This Step Is Riveting

Well, they aren't really rivets, they're eyelets, and we'll be using them in order to reinforce the holes we made earlier. I squeezed the eyelets into place, and made sure they were in the hole as far as possible.

My eyelets came with a handy little tool, and that's what I used to keep them in place. I put the flatter end on the finished side of the eyelet, and the rod shaped one on the fanged end of the eyelet. A couple of strikes from a hammer kept them in place.

Step 5: Cutting the Paper

This step can be done is many different ways, but with my tools, I found a bandsaw worked quite nicely. You could use scissors or a knife, but I kept finding that these led to uneven edges. (Any paper masters have a better way? I'd love to hear it!)

Either way, we need to plan out the actual size the paper will be inside the notebook. With aid from the angle square, I was able to get a nice size plotted out (it ended up being just a hair under 2.5" wide, and 3.5" tall. This allowed me to get the most paper out of my notebook). I then cut it out on the bandsaw. Careful it doesn't catch fire or get bits inside the bandsaw. The paper made a slight burning smell, but other than that, no issues.

I found that the paper still wasn't exactly the way I wanted it, and was also slightly burnt on the edges, so I used a combination of sandpaper (made faster using a palm sander in a vice) to get it better. This is, of course, completely optional.

Step 6: Making the Paper Notepad-able

The paper is cut and the right size, but can't be used in the notepad without some way of attaching it. If you like, you could use some sort of glue, but I used the more decorative (and easier) method of drilling holes and using the leather lace.

To drill the holes, I had to keep the paper as close to one piece as possible. I did this by clamping the paper between two pieces of scrap wood after making sure the pieces of paper were as flush with one another as possible. I marked where it needed to be drilled by using the leather piece as a reference, as this is what the pieces would be put into. I then chose a nice, sharp drill bit and went in slowly. I found that keeping the other side of the paper down with my finger was helpful, as it helped prevent the paper from riding up the bit and becoming torn. Once the bit was all the way through the paper (which I could tell because I started to get sawdust), I kept the bit in place while still drilling. By not moving it, I was able to clean out the hole. I then turned off the drill before I removed it, in order to avoid tearing the paper. See below Gif set for an example:

Step 7: Making the Leather and Paper One Piece

This part is pretty simple. I cut a piece of leather lace and put it through both of the front eyelets, then through the corresponding holes in the paper, and then back out through the back eyelets. I then tied the two ends together using a reef knot (AKA the square knot). Notice that the right lace is over the left on the first knot, but the second knot has the left lace over the right lace. This creates a more visually appealing knot than the other way around, and also can lay flat against the notepad to be more comfortable in a pocket.

Alternatively, a tape knot (like the one in the picture below) could be used. Simply make an overhand knot, but do not pull it tight. Then, from the other side, follow the shape of the knot with the other end of the lace.

As you can see, when I tied the knot, it was off center. I slid it to the center so it would look nicer.

Step 8: TaDa!

We now have a finished, working notepad! This has a much more personalized and original feel to it than something you could simply purchase. I enjoyed making the first one, so above, you can see another in a black and with harder edges.

If you want to make it even more personalized, you could tool yours. I choose not to as I like the simplicity, but with the right tools it can be simple and rewarding. I'm no leather expert, but there were plenty of Instructables out there that I think you may find helpful. The most notable one, for me, was Solobo's instructable on Tooling a Simple Leather Purse.

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable! I'm assuming if you read this far you enjoyed it. If you did, I'd appreciate you considering voting for my project. (No pressure!)

Please let me know what you thought, and if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear them. As always, Have a Nice Day!


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    15 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    If you're going to make a bunch of these over time then it's probably worth your while to get a corner trimmer. The Crop a dile will be able to trim the leather as well as the paper and will last a lot longer since it's built more robustly.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    That would be one of the tools I mentioned making this task easier! Sounds like I need to get my hands one one of these... It's worth mentioning, however, that even though I used a bandsaw, I was able to get rather smooth and clear edges. This would have made it a whole lot easier, though!

    That's a good point! I actually thought of doing something like that by using the thin sheets of cardboard found in binders, but I decided against it because it would bulk up the small notebook. If I ever make a larger one, however, I absolutely will be doing that!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    What a great Instructible! Nice clear detailed instructions, excellent quality & detailed photos, well written with no typos or grammatical errors, lovely finished product. What more could you want from an Instructible?

    I always enjoy leather goods and homemade ones are even better. Thanks a lot for posting it.

    1 reply

    4 years ago on Step 8

    Great Instructable! This is the easiest, yet coolest mini notepad I've seen. I totally want to make one now. I see a father-son project coming up!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 8

    I'm glad you enjoyed it so much! Sounds like you could have some fun with this one, and it could be something he'd use for a while. If you do make it, I'd love to see some photos of it!