Kimberly Sue Iverson

Experience the richness & depth in stories layered with heart & soul.


Homemade Notebooks from Book Binding Rings

 This has been a huge hit on my Old World Charm – Modern Living site. I hope you get a kick out of it. I’ve continued to make these as I need them. The extra large one I made below I destroyed to use the rings, since I didn’t need the binder anymore. The biggest tip I’d suggest, and that I don’t mention below, is maybe to use a thicker cardboard, or double it up. If you’re like me, you need the durability, but for everyday purposes, the below work great.

The best part of this project is what I mentioned above. If you get sick of it (I become far too bored with things and change them around a lot) you can rip it up, make a new one, or just destroy. Feels nice to destroy sometimes, doesn’t it?
Homemade Notebook 
from book binding rings
Makes: one
Size: Depends on the rings you use. I made a 1 1/2″ using 3 rings, and another 3 1/2″ using two sets of 1 1/2 rings. I’ll explain below. 
Loads of pictures to show each step as well as I can; any questions, post below!
In today’s lesson, we shall learn how to make the below. A HOMEMADE notebook. Notice how next to the original, it doesn’t really look much different. 

The supplies you will need: 
One Mailing Box – you can get a free pack from Post Office, but because I ship so much, and get so much, I end up with these all over. Any box which is just over the size of the rings you’re gonna use, is just fine. The size I have for this (which makes it so much easier) is the box sized at: 11 1/2″ x 2 3/8″ x 13 1/16
Tape, Glue Stick, or both.

Pen to mark your lines


Paper Punch.

A good notebook to copy for the template. 
If you don’t have one, you can just google the measurements for whatever size notebook (ie 1 1/2″ rings, equals measurements you’d need for a 1 1/2″ notebook).
And of course, the size of book binding rings YOU want the notebook to be. 
I have 1 1/2″ ones here. 
First, set your notebook on top of the box to determine where to cut and mark the box. Because I used the box above, I found that I only have to turn the box to find that the height was even the same size as the notebook so I really only had one mark, you may have to do more.

 I have the box taped shut except for the top, and it’s inside out too, so I just laid the notebook on the very side of the box, and then had only to make the one marking.

You can see below, where the line is marked. Only really going to be cutting off just over an inch on this particular box. Different box, but still same.

This is the side you’ll be keeping. One of the solid ends of the box, then cutting down the edges of the others. Cutting off where you’d marked the line, then just cutting along the edges so you’re left with this side. The black circle is the side you keep. The red circles and lines show the edges you’re cutting. You will be cutting all those edges, so that the notebook can open and close. 

Do that for the top, bottom, and opposite side where you marked your line. This side is left untouched.

This is how it will look when it’s spread open. You can see what I meant when I said cut along the edges, and only leave that one side. Ignore the mess, lol. 
When you cut everything up, you’re left with these scraps. Don’t get rid of them. You will need them in the next step. This project uses up all that stuff so you have very little you waste.
Opened, you can see how the box has the perfect center zone for where you will place the rings. The best place to place the links is just off to the right-side, but you’re able to use that center zone too. The notebook I used for a template had the 3-rings just off to the side. It makes the notebook sit flat compared to using them in the center. 

Center area is marked by the black, the ring area, just off to the right, is marked with red. 

This is what I mean by placing the rings off-center. Notice the rings are attached to the right-side of the notebook when it’s closed, not the center. That way, when opening and closing the notebook, you’re able to lie the top flap, flat.
Find one of the pieces you cut off the box to use as the base for the rings. It’s easiest to use the one cut from the opposite side of the box. It will be guaranteed as the same size. You won’t need to alter it more than likely. 
Place it in your guide notebook and set it next to the rings. This is a way to avoid headaches, by using the guide for where the rings go. Mark a line next to where the rings sit on the bought notebook, to your cardboard which is centered, and will be centered in your homemade notebook.

You can see by the red circles, that I have it centered. Since my box is the same height as the notebook, I know, that centering it in the bought notebook, it will be centered in my homemade one. The pinky lines show where you’re going to put your line, directly next to the rings, lining them up.

Three straight lines, just about an inch width, centered. Perfect. Good job!
Now cover that area with tape. You don’t have to, but I like the added strength. Like in the old school days, you’d add the little circles over hole punched paper so the paper didn’t tear easier? Same line of thinking. You will notice in my pictures, not all are covered. Forgot to. Just cover each of the three lines if you want to do this step, not only one as you will see I have. I did all after I took the pictures.
Take your whole punch and punch a hole (I ended up doing two until figuring out the right placement) next to that one-inch line on each side. This is where the rings will go. I found that punching it about one inch or one and a half inches wide, is a good estimate, but with that end piece, it was 3/4 in in from the side of the cardboard. Do it for all three lines.
Go ahead and get your rings ready. Below is a picture of the book binding rings I’m using, in case you got lost as to what rings I’m talking about.
Put all the rings in the holes. When first doing it, it can be tricky, but then you learn to easily pop them in. This is how it looks when you’re got all three in. Good, but we can make it better, right? 

Thought so.

Let’s help them to stand up, and strengthen that board. After all, we need them to actually hold up paper. Otherwise they’ll hold paper, but they won’t make very sturdy notebooks for throwing around.
What they will look like from the underside. There’s where the issue lies. It doesn’t sit flat since it’s circular, so we need to get them to. Since we can’t flatten them (technically you probably could, but where’s the fun in that?) we will fix that issue and make a sturdier ring binder thingie. 
This is where all those scraps come in. We will be making a two piece thickness that we tape to the underside of the ring area. We’ll stick with calling it a ring binder thingie. Have to use professional terms in this tutorial.

So grab your ring binder thingie and line up one of the pieces like below. Mark your line and cut it so that it hits just beside the ring, on the underside, and then the end of your main ring binder thingie. Make two pieces of it. 

I purposely am shoving the cardboard to the side so you can see that the bottom edge will hit just next to the rings. You want it even on all sides.
Tape those suckers down and you will see what it looks like below. I have a width of two pieces against the bottom. They hit just at the end of the ring binder thingie and line up against the ring itself. I leaned it down so you could see it better, but when you make the center pieces, those rings will not lean. Depending on how tight you push the cardboard up against the rings that is. (NOTE: Get cardboard as close to the rings as you can so it remains stuff as it’s moved about.)
Here is another view of it, from the top.
Here is how it looks from the side. I’m holding the ring as it will stand: up. So from this view, you can see that when the final ring binder thingie is taped down to the main notebook cardboard, it will lie flat, or almost flat. You can add a third layer to really make it truly lie flat, but then for me, that’s too bulky. You can decide.
Now do the same, but do it for the middle and end pieces. Same as above. Cut two pieces. Make sure they align with the rings, the tighter they are against the rings, the more they will hold up when you’re flopping the notebook around. 

Yes, I am adventuresome and made some upside down, some rightside up. 

You won’t see this when you’re done. 
Another closer view when both are attached on the bottom.

The rings have very little wiggle room. You can add a piece of tape against the rings, to the bottom of the cardboard too, but meh. I’d like to be able to eventually trash the notebook, remove the rings, and then make another. So I don’t want them wiggle around, but I don’t want the rings to be to permanent, either.
And then you’ve got your final ring binder thingamajiggie! Professional terms here. That’s how we roll. 

It’s bee-you-tee-ful. You did a great job so far. 
Very complicated procedure here. Take it and tape it down. As stated above, right against where the notebook folds, and on the right side. Just makes things lie flat so much better.
Another view of it. (putting in center, instead of the side is another way you can do this.)
We have here, our [almost] final product. You can see the glossiness showing how I literally, just taped it down. Gluing it could provide added strength, but this is also a lazy and quick way. This literally took 15 minutes to make. 
This is the placement of two, in case you want to make a larger binder. This one made me a 4″ binder. Two sets of the 1 1/2″ rings I used. I placed one on the right side, like above, then the other was on the left hand side of the center part. 

To do this, all that’s different, was that I added another what … 2″ to the center area, then added another 2″ to the end of the TOP piece I cut from the first box. Also, I added a full-size 4″ piece to the center area to help strengthen the center so it wouldn’t topple. I placed it on the other side of the center, so you can’t see it here. I will make a full tutorial for this one. I’m getting confused writing this, but you can try your hand before then by this picture. I think it makes sense. Maybe I’ll even do a video for the next one. 
Here is how it looks taped down from the side. It doesn’t lie completely and utterly flat using only two pieces of cardboard, but it lies flatter than how it shows in the picture, when you’re done. 
How it looks when you’ve got some paper within. 
Closed up. Same as above.

A different view.

Here is how the larger size looks. You can see the placement I’m referring to, with the rings. One is at the normal place. The other is just off to the left side of the center area. My photography skills in this are superb.

Here is how the larger size looks with two sets of stuff within. I am working on a rewrite, and that’s the old, and the new, which will be combined later. Plus, I needed a spiral bound to work on the newly written, so you can see, it needed extra room. This works great for it. Because I didn’t but the cardboard up against the rings for this one (when I was added them to the bottom of the ring binder thingie like we did above) it’s a little wiggly when I’m moving it around, but otherwise fine.

This actually shows the difference between one ring binder thingie having the underside cardboard tight against the rings, versus not. On the left side, they cardboard isn’t shoved against the rings. On the right side, they are. See how one leans, and the other doesn’t. That’s why it’s better to place the cardboard right up against the rings in the above step.

Another view of the above one.

And finally, cover it with your own paper. 

The finished, and covered, product! I used pretty gold star and white paper for this one. 

You can make this fancier, but I just folded up typing paper to tape to make pockets. 

To give it that clean look for the backside (or interior, whichever), I first covered the entire thing with paper, like any book cover you may make, taping down the pieces. Then took a final piece on the top to lie flat and cover all the extras. Gives it clean and polished look. Using a glue stick, or tape. Could even use that fun colored tape along the sides.

Finished product next to a real notebook. You can see, I covered this one in a plaid color. Looks a little nicer than my gold stars. haha Still have to make pockets. I’ll probably just make inner pockets with colored paper. 

Now, the major different is that with this one, we don’t have that clear plastic covering the front, but it’s real easy. You can use a ziploc bag and cut it to size, then glue the sides down, or use colored tape and ribbons to secure it down. Then you will have that plastic pocket. 

You can even use a clear plastic book cover material to give it a more rugged extra. Or, still, use clear plastic wrap (yes, the kind you use to cover food, and bowls) to make your pocket and wrap it around the entire area, leaving the opening for slipping things in the tops. 

Many options for it. This was just a basic tutorial, but you can alter whatever to fit your needs best. 

If you enjoyed, or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think. 
Share with your friends. 

5 responses to “Homemade Notebooks from Book Binding Rings”

  1. Woah! This is the tutorial I’ve been looking for. I’ve seen a lot of DIY binder tutorials but they didn’t really resonate with me. Awesome tutorial! Thanks for this!!


  2. Woah! This is the tutorial I’ve been looking for. I’ve seen a lot of DIY binder tutorials but they didn’t really resonate with me. Awesome tutorial! Thanks for this!!


  3. I like the helpful information you providee iin your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.
    I am quite certain I will learn a lot of new stuff right here!
    Best of luck for the next!


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