Home made writing pad

Hi @uj,

A little bird told me that you’ve made a writing pad for yourself :slight_smile: Could you please share some details and maybe some photos how have you crafted that? Where had the idea came from? Are you satisfied with the result?

Ha ha, I guess the little birdie showed you this image? :wink:

Making these pads is super easy:

  1. Cut paper to size
  2. Make a neat stack and press it hard (you can use a proper booking press, I just used two floor tiles and big stack of books)
  3. Apply some bookbinding glue (getting the correct glue is the one important step) to the side where you want the binding to be.
  4. Wait until it’s dry (maybe apply a second coat)


  1. Compressing the stack of paper is important so that the glue doesn’t seep between the sheets. You only want to hold them together at the edges.
  2. The correct glue really is important. It’s less moist (paper won’t warp) and much more elastic.

As to why I did it: Well, I do have a lot of time on my hands now (work cut my hours by 50%) and my preferred ruling for letter writing isn’t available. I like a very faint 4mm dot grid with a 1cm white border. I used to use a clipboard with a single sheet, but somehow writing on a proper pad is so much more fun!

You also get to try all kinds of paper:

  1. Clairefontaine Clairmail 60gsm printer paper: No bleed or feather, fairly cheap but a bit rough
  2. Clairefontaine 50gsm printer paper: Much the same, but a bit lighter
  3. Tomoe River: I’ll have to see if it’s sturdy enough for tearing off a page, also it’s so thin that my printer draws in multiple pages so it’s a PITA to print on it (unlike the two above).
  4. Double A printer paper: Haven’t tried it, but I hear it’s good and you can use both sides

What kind of bookbinding glue did you use? Maybe it’s something available here in :netherlands: too…

That’s what I ordered on Amazon.de. I guess you should be able to find something equivalent or maybe even the same in NL.

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If one does not have book binding press, some clamps can be used as well. Sandwiching the paper between something sturdy like wooden planks can distribute the pressure along the paper edge. (Use more than two clamps if you can.) Something like this:

Of course you would need some kind of stable placement, maybe hanging the papers vertically from the clamps and placing the clamps over something.

Clamps would be better than what I did. :laughing: I might “build” (almost doesn’t count as building) a DIY press if I continue making this stuff.

Hi @petrisz and @ujh!

Thank you for topic! I wanted to make a bookbindig topic, but I was late! :slight_smile: Because I’m a hobby bookbinder.

The writing pad of @ujh, quite good!
Everybody should to know some things:

  1. From paper size A4, you caon make an A6 sized pad (quater), with glue too. Because, every paper has grain line, which parralell with the longest side. So, if we make an A5 note-book, from A4, with glue, our book will be rippling.
    Bad grain book with paper waves

It isn’t bad, but looks like better, if we use paper with good grain line!

We can make good books without glue, with clips. (I have a special stapler. :slight_smile: )

  1. For pressing: I’d like to have a book press, but I don’t have enough place. :frowning: So, I use planks and hand screws (2 or 4).

I can show bookbinding too, with needle and thread, :slight_smile: if it could be interesting.


Thanks for the very informative reply. You certainly make bookbinding sound interesting :slight_smile: I’d love to read more and would be happy to see your book binding projects using stitching. What stitching methods are easy to learn? What is good for an A5 notebook? What method would you recommend to have the pages lay flat when you open the book?

Stitched notebook:

  1. Choose the notebook size. For an A5 notebook (148 x 210 mm) should use an A3 paper (297 x 420 mm).

  2. Fold in halt the paper.

  3. Cut the paper to A4 size. (Next means, if you want an A4 notebook, than the A3 is good!) For cutting, should use a kife, letter pener, or the best Snitzer

  4. Papers folded in half. Maximum 2 or 3 paper in a sheet. Ready one sheet!

  5. If all sheets are ready, should press, and sketch the places for holes, with a mechanic pencil.

  6. Open the sheets, and make holes.

  7. The first sheet, the lowest!

  8. Cut the thread: How many sheets do you have? For example: 7 = 7 x the longes side of paper: 210 mm + 1 or 2 again (+ 210 or 420 mm).
    Stitching. We start the lowest sheet. We make 8 forms, of course strongly pull the thread. Not really strongly, but strongly. :slight_smile:

  9. Above should make a knot, after only nooses!

From tenth, I hope understandable! :slight_smile:

Please write if something isn’t clear!

This will a quite flat notebook!

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My A6 notebook.
At home we connot cut round, but my notebook cutted round, as you can see.

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@KSZKMuhely Thank you so much. Your A6 notebook looks great and makes a nice pair with the blue Kaweco. As soon as I have a bit more time, I intend to plunge headlong into bookbinding :smiley:

@KSZKMuhely As I understand to prevent warping long grain direction is to be preserved. This means that if I want to make an A5 notebook I can’t use A4 papers because if A4 is folded in half the grains run horizontally in the A5 page. However it’s much harder to come by high quality A3 paper like Tomoe River than in A4 size. How serious is the warping issue caused by horizontal grains? It should be OK for DIY purposes, right?

@petrisz Yes, if we woud like to have a really good A5 notebook, we use A3 papers! But, from A4 paper, you can make a good notebook, too! :smiley:
The warping isn’t bad, the notebook will be usable! :slight_smile: I think, you can find books with horizontal grains, at home. Mainly, a few years ago, I bought a diary, for a year, with horizonal grains. :slight_smile: So, A5 notebook from A4 paper, will be pretty good, I think! :smiley:
Should to try bookbinding! :slight_smile:
And, I use very strong threads for bookbinding, with means leather sewing thread.
If you have any question, please write me! :slight_smile:

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The other issue with using A4 paper to make an A5 notebook is of course that you’ll end up with a notebook that’s slightly smaller than A5 @petrisz as you always need to cut of something to make the corners look nice.

You are right but I can live with that.

Me too, Peter! :slight_smile:
But nowadays, I use ringed pad. I have a smaller pad, and I put in the pad many types of paper. From mould-made papers to normal writing paper, wich 90 g/cm2 for me, because on this paper I can use my G dipping nib, and 1,5 mm calligraphy nib too.
And I have a 42 years old Erika typewriter :slight_smile: , os I often take out writing papers from the pad, and use my typewriter. :slight_smile:
I collect papers in a smaller ringed pad, afer I put them in a big pad.
I bought a big ringed structure, and I wourld like to make my pad. :slight_smile:

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This is literally my setup and I followed Sea Lemon videos to create my first (and for a long time, last) notebook.

Also @KSZKMuhely’s advice is top notch! (and great notebook btw! great job). Also printer paper will have the grain in the direction of its length but if you order speciality paper, it’s not always the case. (although serious companies actually have grain orientation in their specs or can provide it on request).

Anyway, one easy way to find out grain orientation is by bending the paper to form a semi-circle. If you take a standard A4 printer paper and you bend by length you will feel less resistance and the paper will snap back more gently because you are bending along the line of the grains, but try bending in the short side (i.e. like folding A4 -> A5) you will feel more resistance because you are trying to bend against the orientation of the grains. This is also why it’s hard to perfectly align the two sides when folding A4->A5, the grains will resist and derail your fold.

Another but harder way to find out grain orientation is by trying to tear the paper. If you tear along the line of the grains, the tear will be pretty straight all the way through but will go to one side if you are tearing 90 degrees compared to the grain. But I don’t recommend this technique, it not always works and is wasteful

tl;dr you want paper grain to be vertically oriented in books and notebooks. horizontal grain paper will warp at the spine from the moisture in the glue

Anyway here’s the notebook I made. It’s not perfect, and yes that’s denim from an old jeans.

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Hi @pennonia, I absolutly agree with you! Thanks for photos! :slight_smile:
The third method to find grain lines, the soaking.

  1. Shluld to draw a line on the paper, after cut a circle (d=5 cm) from the paper.
  2. Put a paper on water, and you can see how bends the paper. The line is a good sign, you see on the two paper.
    You can see grains, because the paper absorb the water among grains. :slight_smile:

That notebook of yours looks pretty neat to me :wink: Congrats!

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I’ve made an A6 and an A5, both with 5 signatures = 40 pages. I’ve used 3mm board for cover and spine.

My experiences so far:

  • 40 page is a bit too thin for kettle stitch bookbinding. Currently I’m doing one with 6 signatures.
  • The 3mm board is probably too thick for an A6 notebook.
  • I’ve used a Rayher (made in Germany) corner cutter to make round corners. It can cut 160gsm paper well but it’s almost useless when cutting 90gsm paper - not matter whether I cut a single page or multiple pages at a time.
  • I use PVA glue and I separate the glued papers from the rest of the text block using papertowel and baking paper but moisture does seep into the text block which made the pages of the A5 notebook warped.
  • I made a DIY book press from pine boards which is made from wood planks glued together. When I fasten the sides the wood gets a bit bent so it does not apply pressure in the middle of the press. I should have used a board where layers having alternating fiber-directions are glued together or maybe an OBS board.
  • I couldn’t find bees wax for waxing threads so I just bought a beeswax candle. It is not soft enough to (evenly) apply wax on a thread.
  • There are substitutes for a bone folder but it’s so handy that it’s worth having one.
  • I’ve tried to make colour dotted and a lined sheets using a colour laser printer. Digital printing does not really mix paint together but put small colour dots next to each other. Due to this making small coloured dots or thin coloured line is not perfect. The colour does not match and the whole thing looks a bit off. Probably using only pure cyan, yellow or magenta would work.
  • Bookbinding materials are not cheap at all :slight_smile:

Thank you for all your help and inspiration!

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