Making a Duck Tape Journal

About: I enjoy tinkering with electronics, handcrafts, remote-control planes and 3D printers.

Simply to acknowledge the all-round brilliance of Duck Tape, I decided to set myself the design challenge of making a Duck Tape journal from only paper, Duck Tape and staples.

This is a quick, inexpensive project, suitable for anyone who can use a stapler, a scissors and a pen knife.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment Needed

Materials

To make this slightly unorthodox notebook, you will need these common office supplies:

  • 20 sheets of paper(A4 or Letter-size, depending on where you live)
  • Office staples
  • Duck Tape

This list should hopefully reassure you that this project is essentially free.

Equipment

I simply grabbed what I needed for each task. Your tools don't need to be fancy, they just need to work.

  • Scissors
  • Ruler / straight edge
  • Marker
  • Pen knife
  • Stapler
  • Hard surface (e.g. a place mat)

Step 2: Stapling the Booklets

To provide a little bit of structure and support, divide your 20 sheets of paper into four groups of five and fold carefully in half. Don't worry about precision; you'll be trimming the pages to the same size once bound.

Unfold each booklet and staple twice or three times through the center crease. If you don't have a long stapler, you can make improvise:

  1. Open your stapler out length ways.
  2. Put a cork coaster(Cents each when sourced from Ikea) underneath each booklet
  3. Push down with the stapler, going right into the cork
  4. Pull the booklet up and bend in the ends of the staple

This provides a clean, reliable and strong joint. It's also much easier and faster than sewing.

Step 3: Taping the Booklets Together

Stretch out lengths of Duck tape and hang them against the back of a chair.

Lay each booklet closed and flat on your work-space. Push two together by the folded edges and tape the joint evenly. Trim off any excess tape with the pen knife. Repeat on the other two booklets.

Now just fold one booklet over the other along the Duck tape joint. Push your two new bundles together and once again, securely tape the joint.

Finally, fold your collection of four bundles into one complete book.

Step 4: Taping the Spine

Put the spine of the book facing upright on your table, supported by the roll of Duck tape and the stapler, if it's heavy enough.

Carefully, very carefully, place a length of duck tape squarely onto the spine. Push the sides of the tape right down onto the front and back pages.

Step 5: Trimming

This is really an aesthetic touch I thought would make the book look a little bit more polished.

Draw a rectangular outline on the front page of the book with a marker and ruler.

Place your fingers on one side of the ruler and place the other edge onto one of the marker lines. Drag the pen-knife along the line with medium pressure. You should observe a long wisp of paper bending up after each knife-stroke. Just repeat the slicing procedure until you have a flat, uniform side to the book.

Continue this process on the other two sides.

N.B. - If you are not comfortable with using a sharp (somewhat dangerous) pen knife, you could use a scissors and cut 5 or 6 pages at a time.

Step 6: The Cover

All that remains is to open up your front and back pages and cover them entirely with Duck Tape

Do this slowly to eliminate any bulges or bubbles under the tape.

Feel free to put on as many layers of tape onto the cover. Tape over the back of each cover if you want a heavier, neater cover.

Optional: If you have any lying around, some hobby-standard elastic can be stretched around your book and taped securely at the back cover.

Step 7: The Finished Product!

There you have it: a homemade notebook made from paper, Duck Tape and staples.

The only step left is to use it. It can be a sketchbook, diary, notes-copy, shopping-list omnibus, the beginnings of a bestselling novel, or anything else you can think of!

Step 8: Teaching Design Principles

As a design challenge, I think this is simple, but fun. It would be suitable for kids and younger teenagers for explaining the the design process:

  1. Design Brief - Make a book using Duck Tape, 20 sheets of paper and staples
  2. Problem Analysis - Students might focus on the problem of keeping all the pages together with minimal materials.
  3. Investigation - Using regular notes copies and sketchbooks, students would analyse how traditional books are constructed. Teacher would collate students findings into headings such as "Binding pages", "Spine", "Covers", and "Keeping pages flat".
  4. Planning - Students might make sketches of their initial ideas and discuss them in groups.
  5. Solution - Students' best designs presented to the class. Students would write out a step-by-step process of what they needed to do to make their Duck Tape book(possible homework assignment).
  6. Manufacturing - Teacher gives out materials and necessary equipment to class. Safety should be emphasized for cutting tasks.
  7. Evaluation - In groups, each finished book is given a score out of 10 for (a)following the brief, (b)function and usability, and (c)creativity and aesthetics.
  8. Conclusion - Finally, students respond to the teacher about what was the hard part of the lesson(s) and what they enjoyed and what they could have done better. Teacher explains how the design process can be adapted to anything students want to build or make.

A possible final piece of homework could be the students writing down what they did for each step in the design process of their new Duck Tape journals. An alternative would be to document their work on an online platform, such as Instructables!

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