How to make a handmade sketchbook/journal - Start to finish.

This week I made a set of DIY sketchbooks. I always keep a small book in my pocket to jot down ideas or take notes, and I'm tired of buying the same boring books all of the time.

With these notebooks you can use whatever paper you'd like. It can be lined, gridded, blank etc. I've linked to all the items I've used on Amazon, or at least equivalent products that should work for making your own books.

To view or purchase the books that I make, click here, or the picture.



Links To Supplies:

(These are Amazon affiliate links, they don't cost you anything to use, but help support Diode Press)

Heres is the full build video over on my YouTube channel. Feel free to ask any questions and I'll add to this post as needed. Thanks!

Here is a video of drawing all the covers for the books.


Here are the bulk of the supplies you'll need. Pre-waxed thread could also be used instead of waxing your own.


I used a selection of pens, pencils, and markers to draw my covers. You could also glue different papers together, use old pages from magazines, or whatever you want. That's the fun of making it, you decide how it looks!

For my books I'm using a stack of blank drawing paper as well as gridded paper for some variety.


Here I am tearing down the paper to size. It's up to you how big the books are, but I like pocket size so they are not annoying to carry around. If it's too big I end up leaving them at home.


After all my pages were cut, I folded them in half. Be sure before you cut and fold the pages, figure out the grain of the paper. The sheets will fold very easily in one direction, and tend to crimp or crease in another. So test fold a sheet and find out how you need to fold them.

The is one of the covers I made. I wanted to have a theme for the set, so naturally I went with something I love and chose printmaking tools!


To assemble the book, I used clips to hold the folded paper in the cover. Next I made 5 equally spaced holes in the crease of the book with the awl.


Now I sew up the book using waxed thread. There are a ton of ways to bind a book, but this is a really simple method. To demonstrate the stitching it's probably best to check out the YouTube video, rather than try and explain it here.

You can also avoid binding all together and staple the book together instead!


Once it's bound, I use an x-acto blade and trim off the excess paper. Use caution when using the blade, and make sure to cut away from yourself, holding the book securely. I used a metal straight edge to help guide me. 

And finally the last step is to round the corners. This is optionally, but if you put this book in and out of your pocket, I would imaging the corners would be torn up fairly quickly, so it's worth the few dollars for the tool.