Leather Cover Sketchbook With Hard Back




About: Middle Aged Maker of various fun but useless objects, including but not limited to: Blank books, wooden swords, magic wands, water color paintings, paracord paraphernalia, sling shots, foam rubber helmets, c...

This is my first instructable, so please let me know if I can add or improve anything to make this easier to understand. Thanks!

I started to practice drawing, because I'm not good at it, I got some pencils, and some printer paper, and started to draw stuff. I'm still not very good, but I am improving, slowly. I decided I wanted a sketchbook that was easy to carry, refillable, and would let me draw, even when there was nothing to draw on. This is the final result. I am sure it could use a little work, So please, make suggestions. Thanks!

Step 1: Supplies

The parts that go in.

1. Clipboard

2. Printer paper

3. Leather piece bigger than a clipboard

4. Nuts and bolts (at least two of each that fit together, size is a matter of taste). Alternatively, you can use Chicago Screws, which are available at scrap booking or craft stores. These provide a more refined look. (They are a little camera shy, so no photo)

Step 2: Tools

The parts that don't go in

1. A power drill with a drill bit the same size as your fasteners from the "supplies" step. preferably 7/32 or 1/4 inch.

2. A sharp knife


3. Clamps(heavily recommended)

4. Leather working tools and dyes( I don't know how to do anything but cut and punch, but my friend at work does leather work as a hobby, so I asked him for help with the leather stuff. I'm sure you can find some tips and tricks somewhere on the internet...If only there were a place to post online how-to guides about leather working.)

5. Some sort of torque applier. In my case, my handy ratchet set, since I'm using nuts and bolts.

Step 3: Cut Your Leather to Size (This Step Was Outsourced, So There Were No Pictures)

I am using the clipboard for the hard drawing surface of my sketchbook, so the leather will need to be the same size.

The simplest way would be to lay the leather on a work surface, put the clip board on top, and trace around it. Then just cut it out using a sharp razor knife.

I have a friend who makes leather goods, so I hit him up for help. he was nice enough to dye and tool the leather as well. One cover cost me 20 bucks, which seems reasonable for a bespoke product. I bought a second cover for another one of these I made for my kid sister. Here is a link to his Etsy store. Feel free to contact him for a cover of your own! He takes requests and custom orders. Dennis Oakley Leather On Etsy

Step 4: Drill Out the Rivets Holding the Clip to the Board

Using a drill bit 1/4 inch or 7/32 inch in size, drill the rivets that hold the clip to the board.

Be careful when you drill the second rivet, as the clip will start to spin and the spring on the clip will try to unload its stored force on your hand.

Once it is removed, you can either save or reuse the clip elsewhere with a couple rivets, or you can add it to the scrap bin for recycling.

Step 5: Punch Your Leather

At this point you have a board with two holes and a piece of leather with none. I think we can all see where this is going, right?

Line up your leather and clipless board, and mark the positions of the two holes on the leather.

Next using your razor knife or a leather punch, perforate the leather.

Again, I had access to a trained professional, so he hooked me up. Sorry, no action shots unless you want to see me pulling out my wallet.

Step 6: Punch Your Paper

I took a few hundred sheets of plain copier/printer paper and clamped them to the top edge of the backer board, as close as I could get them to the holes, while leaving room for the drill.

Make sure the paper is stacked even with the top of the board and parallel to the edges. My first batch was crooked, and as a result my paper sits a little funky in the completed book

Once it's in straight, using the same drill bit from step 4, just slowly drill through the compressed layers of paper.

Once you're all the way through, speed the drill up, and move the drill up and down a couple of times to make sure you get good holes.

I lost the top few sheets to tear out, but only about 5 or so.

Step 7: Insert Bolts Here

While the paper is still in the clamps and on the board, insert your fasteners of choice. Be they bolt or Chicago screw, it's much easier to get them threw the hole when the paper isn't flopping all over. Learn from my pain. It was so bad I could not bear to add photographic evidence of my failure. Also, I forgot to take pics.

Step 8: Tight, But Not Toooo Tight.

Now that the paper is attached to the board, remove the clamps.

Before putting the nuts or cap screws on your fastener posts, be sure to pop on the leather cover. You may want to consider, at this point, whether you want bolt heads or nuts on the top of your scrapbook. Insert accordingly(although this may take some finagling. I had to put bolts from the bottom up to align the paper with out clamps on it, then come back with the leather cover with bolts inserted top down, and push out the first set of bolts).

Cinch down the screw caps or nuts to make sure there isn't any slack or leeway for the paper to swing around. As a nicer looking alternative, acorn cap nuts would make a nice finishing touch on either to top or bottom...

Step 9: Eh Voila!

A cheap, easy to refill sketchbook with a durable cover and a built in drawing surface!

I noticed that because I re-positioned the attachment point of the paper, there is a gap between the paper and the bottom of the board that measures about and inch or so. I am trying to figure out a way to put on a pencil carrier. If you have an idea, let me know.

I think if I were to make another one of these, I would add a couple more bolts across the top, to keep everything lined up and even.

Again, if you have any recommendations or suggestions please comment. Thanks!

P.S. If you think the purple panda is bad, you should have seen what my skills were like BEFORE I started practicing. :)



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    3 Discussions

    Wow this is gorgeous, and I like your purple panda. Definitely one of the classiest sketchbooks I've seen. Welcome to instructables!

    1 reply

    Thanks, Like I said I'm practicing. I can't take all the credit, my friend did the leather work for me. I did pick out the color and design though :)


    4 years ago

    Nice job on this. Personally, I thought it was a raccoon. B-)