Field notes are a cool, convenient way to keep track of ideas, notes, and tidbits of information. The problem with field notes is that at $10 a pack, they are insanely expensive. And when i say insanely expensive I mean it. For the cost of 2 packs of field notes, I can buy enough materials to make at least 40 of them by hand, and have a few bucks left over. A pack of 500 sheets of 8 X 11 inch(or just a hair different than A4) paper is under 12 bucks, and grocery stores are giving away craft paper bags for free when you buy food.
Step 1: Tools Required
A stapler. I use a cheap dollar store model, because it was A) cheap and B) has the deepest set hinge I could find. This is important as a short base will make it hard, if not impossible to "bind" the pages together properly.
A way to cut paper. I use a guillotine style paper cutter, but a straight edge and a razor, or a steady hand and some scissors will get the job done.
Step 2: Supplies
Cover paper: craft paper, or if you want some color heavy construction paper. I use whatever grocery bag I have lying on the table/trash heap. At my place it's kind of hard to tell.
"Filler" paper: I have used graph paper, which is nice, because it's thin and easy to cut and staple. I have used standard printer paper, which is nice because it is cheap and everywhere. Also, I have been toying with the idea of pre-printing forms to include, like diary style sheets or an adventure record for my D&D character. If you like, you could use the lined filler paper your mom used to buy you for school. There are also packs of multiple colors of paper, or full reams of specific colors. There's no limit to what you can do.
Staples for your stapler. 3 should suffice, per book.
Step 3: Doing the Math
A field note has 48 pages of 3.5 X 5.5 inch paper. This works out to 24 sheets of paper at 7X5.5 inches, folded over. which means you can get 4 field note pages from one sheet of standard letter/A4 paper...or 1 field note book for every 12 sheets of paper you have(plus a cover).
Step 4: Making the Cut
If you want to pre-print the sheets inside your book, now is the time to do it. I don't have anything for this as I haven't done it yet, but a little work with a word processor doing some layout should provide a template that works and is specific to your needs.
So, In order to get the aforementioned 7X5.5 inch sheets of paper from a standard 8.5X11 sheet you need to make 2 cuts. The first is to cut 1.5 inches from the long edge of the sheet so it is 7 inches wide. This will leave you with a 7X11 sheet, and even my meager math skills tell me that half of 11 is 5.5 (it sounds like a joke, it took me a while to figure out the cuts, because Im really bad at making math work out right) Cut it in half(from top to bottom) and you should now have two 7X5.5 inch sheets. I have found that I can cut about 4 or 5 sheets at a time on my cuter, but your mileage may vary, depending on equipment, paper, and methodology.
Once all your filler sheets are cut, you need to cut out a cover. I use grocery bags, but as I said a heavy construction paper or whatever you come up with will work as well. Cut the cover a little longer and wider that the filler sheets. I go with 7.5X6 inches. When we stack the sheets and fold them over, they will not line up perfectly on the cut edge, so this gives us a little leeway, and we can trim down the excess when everything is assembled
Step 5: Fold It, Stack It! Bop It?
Now that you have a stack of 7X5.5 sheets of paper, we're almost done.
The next step is to fold the sheets in half along the long axis to double them up. This will give us a final size of 3.5X5.5 inches. I like to take each sheet and fold it individually, and use my fingernail to really set the crease of the page. You don't need to do this, as I did not on my first attempt. It helps the book lay flat , but as I keep one in my back pants pocket, it flattened out after a day or two. If you don't want to spend the time to do this, just take 4 or 5 sheets of paper and fold them in half. Also fold the cover the same way.
Stack up all the sheets so that the middle crease of each page tucks into the crease of the sheet underneath it. Place the cover over the top of the stack.
Step 6: Saddle Stitch?
So there is something called a saddle stitch stapler, which if you have access to, please feel free to use. I don't, so I use a cheap dollar store model. I place three staples in each book, spaced evenly across the spine. If you are using a regular stapler, you might need to roll the sheets a little to get the stapler's "working edge" up to the crease in your pages. Make sure you have the cover of the book facing up, so that the points of the staples will be on the inside of your booklet.
The Second image for this step is my first book, as you can see, I misplaced the stapler, so the staples are not directly on the crease. Try a few sample runs on a single sheet to determine the right place to set your stapler.
Step 7: Trim and Finish
Now that the book is together, you're basically done. Its perfectly serviceable at this point. I like to go back to the cutter, and trim off any overhang on the covers. If you have a paper cutter that will cut through 50+ sheets of paper at once, you can trim up the long edge of the book, but again, I don't have access so I have a wedge shaped long edge.
So there you go! A Field Notes knock off that costs about 30 cents in materials.
I keep one of mine in my toolbox, and another is usually in my hoodie, or the pocket of my backpack.
I hope you like this instructable, and I would like you to post pics of your homemade field note in the comments!
Thanks for checking my instructable!