How to Recycle Office Paper Into Blank Books




About: Making and sharing are my two biggest passions! In total I've published hundreds of tutorials about everything from microcontrollers to knitting. I'm a New York City motorcyclist and unrepentant dog mom. My ...

Here I will give a simple bookbinding tutorial using a Japanese stab-binding technique for making blank books from paper that is printed on one side. These books are useful for all kinds of notes, and tell an interesting story about the place they came from. I work in the computer lab at my school, where a lot of printer paper is wasted. I go through the recycle bin to find my papers.

This is a great little book for phone numbers and other random notes. You can make it any size you like, and the paper never had to go to the processing plant! Using a string binding instead of glue is easier on the environment, too. Some of the books I've made are for sale at my Etsy shop.


Recycled paper (blank on one side)
Thicker recycled material (postcards, envelopes, cardboard, etc.) for covers
Twine, yarn, or other string

Awl, drill, or drill press
Large sewing needle or bookbinding needle
Paper cutter, scissors, or utility knife
Cutting mat

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Step 1: Cut and Fold Your Paper

Using a paper cutter, scissors, or a utility knife, cut your paper down to twice the desired size. Fold each sheet in half, and cut your cover material (one for front, one for back) down to the size of a folded sheet.

Step 2: Line Up, Clip, and Make Holes

Stack your cover material and pages together and line up all edges. Clip with the large binder clip to secure.

Mark 3/8" from both to-be-bound corners (the folded side of the sheets). Divide the space along the binding between these marks into thirds, and mark those locations. These are where we make the holes for the twine binding.

Make holes all the way through the book with an awl, drill, or drill press. If using a drill or drill press, make sure to clamp your papers tightly down to avoid any paper ruffling. Placing a piece of wood under the book helps make a clean cut in the back.

Step 3: Bind the Book

I used this tutorial this tutorial to learn to bind books this way. It's very thorough, so I won't repeat it's instructions, but basically you sew the binding in a particular way with the twine and needle. Make sure it's very tight and secure. That's it!

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    61 Discussions


    3 years ago

    cant use the bind tutorial as the link doesnt work anymore....

    while I'm binding mine a different way I just have to say I love that I'm not the only person who does this! I no longer buy paper for school but use all the recycling paper from my work!


    5 years ago on Step 3

    I like the Japanese style. I have a bunch of out-of-date law reference books (too dated to donate - I checked) that I want to turn into codices. ( The paper is thin (like what is sometimes called 'Bible paper') but is covered with printed text. Maybe I will use them for scrapbooks or use thick markers to write in them - regular pen or pencil is not legible over the printed text.

    Thanks for the well photographed instructable!


    8 years ago on Introduction

    It looks so simple and effective. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you :)


    9 years ago on Step 3

    The binder clips are a great idea for holding the paper together. I can't believe I never thought of that!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Just made 3 of these books tonight as I was cleaning out the office/workshop of old plans, notes, 1 sided prints etc. Now I have a new place to take down notes and put ideas down quickly!


    9 years ago on Step 3

     This is by far the simplest and the best recycled paper notebook I've made. I already made 3 of these. Leftover corrugated cardboard for the covers makes for a decently hard surface.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    In my 1st and 2nd grade class, I keep all of the leftovers that are 1 sided for scrap paper for the kids already. This is a great idea that we could do as a math and science project combined. Woohoo! In the five minutes I spent perusing this instructable I have a plan! Each group will be required to make different size measurements and cuts. We'll take a mini field-trip around school and collect the used paper as part of our natural resource unit. Oooh, we could even make enough to sell as fund raisers for our mini Relay for Life that's in May. I love instructables! Thanks a bunch!

    1 reply

    12 years ago on Introduction

    Tried it! Its great!
    I used a fishing line instead of thread
    and made the wholes using a whole punch (but the wholes ended up to big for the starting knot so i had to put like a peice of plastic to hold the knot in place which messed up the whole thing =P)

    6 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    It's now "whole" it's hole, you use whole for like "the whole thing".


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Why is it, whenever anyone is criticizing someones spelling, they spell a word incorrectly? Obviously, it is sometimes done to prove a point, but when it isn't deliberately done, there is usually a mistake in anyway.

    I like Ubuntu/LM, it checks my spelling, 'cause I am too lazy too myself :P.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     It's not "now" it's "not" haha.

    This is a good to know instructable, this can be very useful for projects in school.  Thanks for sharing the technique.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is the best explanation for stab binding I've seen. Great pix, too!

    Question for Hansy......what's the purpose of laying a bead of Tacky glue along the spine? Seems like it would be sticky/tacky when the book is being used.  Thanks.

    BTW - for some colorful pages and/or binding see Canon site for Chiyogami paper you can print. Some very nice patterns!