I have much more loose-leaf paper around than actual notebooks, and I hate paying for more binders to house it for practical use. I wanted to see if I could make a usable notebook from what I already had to reuse and reduce.
Step 1: Make Covers
Loose-leaf paper - however many sheets you'd like
Cardboard - I used a cereal box and another thin box since I knew my image was also thicker than usual paper.
Image/Cover - I used pages from an old calendar.
Packaging tape - Other tape may work.
Scissors and pen
Hot glue gun
Small amount of fabric (optional)
To make the covers, simply cut the right size of cardboard and glue on your decorative paper. Since I am planning to shove the notebook into my backpack, I folded the calendar page back over the cardboard- I think this will hold it on better than if there was a second bottom edge where the page could catch on something and be ripped. Then use a hole punch to add three holes- make sure these are in the right place. Remember you will need a back cover too.
Step 2: Make Rings
I think you could use a variety of things for the rings. I used pieces of yarn wrapped in clear tape. I figured this would be stronger than either the tape or yarn alone. This is the tricky step- rolling yarn in tape. You may only need a small width of tape to wrap the string, and doing this is smaller length sections was easier than longer ones.
I would be interested in using key rings to hold the paper together. That seems closest to an actual binder, though I'm not sure if you would be able to bend it to get all the pages on.
Step 3: Assemble
Stack the covers and paper correctly, and poke the rings through. I ran mine through twice to make sure it would be strong enough (one piece of string that in the end will create two circles around the paper stack). Then, glue the ends of the ring to the back cover. I think by gluing it to the cover, it will hold better than if it was simply tied or glued to the other end of string. Make sure there is enough space in the ring that you think the pages will turn okay. As you can see in the second picture, the inner loop of tape-string is really what controls the size of the notebook.
Then you're done!
I was happy with the turn out. The pages can be turned well enough, though turning them in bunches is easier. The notebook can be folded to use one side at a time, though when closing it may not be totally flat- you can fix this just by pulling on the strings. They should be glued well enough to stay in. View the videos to see how the pages turn.
For a second notebook, I also glued a strip of fabric around the rings to see how it would look. The pages seem to turn the same, just be careful not to get hot glue on the rings. Overall, you can definitely tell the notebook is homemade, but I believe you could make a pretty neat one if you put a little more time in than I did.
Thanks for reading! Reduce and reuse!