My homemade A7 notebook

2010-07-19 18:14:32 UTC

I wanted a Moleskine Volant, but I didn’t want to pay $3 each for them.

So I made my own notebook instead. It’s A7, which is just a little wider than the Volants I’d been looking at.

Overall shot of the notebook.

I’d initially lettered the cover (to distinguish front from back) by hand, but wanted to make it a little more professional, so I bought a Fiskars Ultra ShapeXpress shape-cutter. Here’s a video showing it in action. I printed out a template of the cover text, cut it out, and filled it in with my pen.

The notebook is ruled, and I keep a Zebra TS-3 mechanical pencil clipped into it.

Photo of me holding it open.

Here’s the PDF of the rulings. I printed it double-sided onto regular copy paper. Obviously, I made it for US Letter, but it would be no different for A4, because each section is a little larger than A7, for reasons that will become clear in a moment.

Once printed, I cut the sections out with a paper-trimmer, then used a “medium” rounded corner punch, bought at Target in their scrapbooking section, to round off the corners (square corners will bunch up).

The cover is scrap cardboard from one of my T-shirt packs, cut to size using scissors (plus a ruler and pencil to mark where to cut) and rounded off with the same punch.

The binding is simple enough: Two staples in the spine of the book. This is why the sections I cut out are slightly larger than A7: Each page is A7, but I included a 5 mm gap between pages for the staples to go in. (This matters more for the outer sheets than for the inner ones.) If I were to leave out this gap, or shrink each notebook page by 2.5 mm to compensate, it would be possible to get four notebook sheets instead of three from an A4 sheet.

With this, I have a pocket-size notebook that’s very inexpensive (being made from materials I have anyway), recyclable, and customizable to my taste. For a future notebook, I might make it with half ruled pages and half plain pages.

4 Responses to “My homemade A7 notebook”

  1. Erik Says:

    Please tell me those are not your fingernails.

  2. Peter Hosey Says:

    Those are my fingernails. ☺

    I purposefully keep ’em a little long because fingernails (especially the thumbnail, but others too, sometimes) are useful, particularly for opening plastic shrinkwrap, tape, soda cans, etc. I do trim them periodically—they never (well, almost never) get too long.

    You’re seeing them near the end of a cycle. I’ll probably trim them in a week.

  3. Erik Says:

    Well, at least they serve a purpose. I can’t stand the feeling of typing with long nails myself, but I concede there’s times when they’d come in “handy”.

  4. Allan Says:

    Long fingernails on your dominant hand are also useful for finger-picking on a guitar-type instrument.

    One warning: you should be mindful of the kind of materials you use. Almost all cardboard and most paper contain acid, which are non-archival and will cause deterioration (yellowing, brittleness, flaking and crumbling) down the line. I think the materials in the Volant are acid-free. If your home-made is for tearaway paper or throwaway notes–you mentioned recyclable–it won\’t matter, but if you\’re using it as a lab notebook, it may have a short shelf life.

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