Forum: On DIY disc-bound covers (with links)


I made something the other day that y'all might be interested in. It was a stiff cover for a circa/rolla notebook.

It actually started life as one of those brown/gray pressed-paper pieces that's used as packing materials. This one was keeping some refrigerator display stickers flat, and had been shrinkwrapped for years. I tossed the stickers and the wrap and grabbed it, thinking it would be good for a notebook cover. Anyway, you get the same kind of thing on the back of gummed legal pads, but they do come in varying thicknesses.

This particular bit of board was too thick to fit into my 5-lb rolla punch, but I hacked it a little to make it fit. This is the important bit.

Cut the board to the proper size, then take a ruler and Xacto knife and slice partway through the board one half inch from the edge you intend to punch. Peel away the layers of paper until you have something thin enough to fit into the punch with a little bit of room to spare. It takes a little time to do this, since the paper comes away in small pieces and you need a pretty consistent thickness down the entire length. The Xacto is good for trimming away the bits and pieces. Anyway, once you have the strip thin enough (leaving the rest of the board full thickness), move on to the next step.

Now, take your thinnest, most beautiful paper and cut it a little more than twice as big as your cover piece. Carefully glue this onto the board (I used ordinary glue stick so there'd be no bubbles or warping). I made mine so the 'fold' goes over the edge you touch when you're opening the book. Glue the front down first and fold all the edges except the really big flap, trim up the corners at a nice 45 degree angle, and glue those skinny flaps down. Then bring the big flap over and fold the excess under so you have a neat fit. Glue the folded bits to the big flap, then glue the big flap to the board.

When dry, punch. If you haven't left enough room, you'll have to cut the nice paper back off--if you have to, do it on the inside of the cover, where you won't see it much.

Getting the discs in could be dicey--be very gentle so you don't bend the tabs. If you go slow, one side of the smurf at a time, you'll get the discs in without problems.

I made a front and back cover using this method and I am extremely pleased with the stiffness and beauty. Covering the sliced up bit of board with the pretty paper actually adds strength to that area.

I know visualizing this is tough, but if you get a scrap piece of paperboard and try it out, I think you'll see what's going on.

Update: Here's a link to the pics of the finished book.
Front Cover
Inside Back


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I know visualizing this is tough, but if you get a scrap piece of paperboard and try it out, I think you'll see what's going on.

It's not a proper post if you don't include pics or links to them. ;-) Show us the goods! ;-)


Only afters


I can get an after pic, but I didn't take any during the process. When the sun comes up I'll take a few.


good enough for me!

I suspect that will satisfy. ;-)


Do it again, of course

and have the camera handy !

Just teasing. Sounds great.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

ooo, pretty!

I caught your flickr post in my email, and immediately had to check out the pics. You done very well! Quite impressive! Now, I just need to find some of that cardstock and fancy paper myself! I seem to remember this method being discussed long ago. I'm glad you tried it. You've given us something to attain for! :-)



The true spirit of D*I*Y

Beautiful! Thanks for sharing this. The detailed instructions were interesting and helpful. I enjoyed looking at your other creations on flickr as well. Now to kick my own cardboard covers up a notch...

Beautiful! I love the

Beautiful! I love the colors.


Jotter 3x5 card holder

Kristina, can you share how you made the 3x5 card holder you have on your flickr photostream? Where did you get the clear plastic material, and how did you get such crisp folds?

I made some covers for my circa using the stiff cardboard backing from some legal pads. The cardboard was too thick to fit in my circa punch, so I got some heavy cardstock that would fit in the punch, reinforced the edge with clear packaging tape, Punched it, then taped the cardboard cover to the cardstock. I never bothered to cover it with some nicer looking paper, but I'll try that when I find something nice to cover it with.

second the request for jotter details

What was your materials source ?
Did you do anything special to do the fold/bend ? (heat or something)

Looks great.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)



I think I posted about the jotter before, but I'm too tired to find it right now.

The plastic is clear rigid vinyl, transparent, with glossy finish on both sides. It's .015" thick. I got it from a local plastic supplier.

The folding was done by using an industrial sealer (one of the long, skinny kind with a hinge at one end). That is to say, cut the piece out in the shape you want, then everywhere you want to fold, use the sealer to heat the flat plastic, and while it's still hot, fold it and hold it until it cools. It will then hold its shape.

It's a little tricky, but it's the only way to get the plastic to fold and stay folded without the white line that some plastics get when you bend them.


jotter trial

Thanks for the tip, gave it a trial run with my seal a meal. worked ok, I just have to do a bit of practice to get it to fold exactly where I want to. Have to work fast though, it cools very quickly after you heat it.



Yah, the impact sealer makes it easier to tell exactly where the heating is going to happen. My food sealer also doesn't allow the same flexibility of positioning--the impact sealer allows an unlimited size to the left and right, whereas the food sealer has a limitation on one side.

The impact sealer also has a temperature dial so you can get exactly the heat level you need for a good heating without melting.

Yes, you have to fold very fast, so you have to have a good plan before you begin.


I did this once

I did this once also using some GREAT paper from a scrapbooking kit. I even used the glue stick, but I glued the paper to a 2 pocket folder (like the ones we used to get for school). The folder was cut along the spine to provide the stiff backing for the front and back covers. The folder had a glossy finish, and I suspect that's why my paper peeled off after about 2 months. I grew tired of re-pasting so I finally splurged for the levenger book cloth covers (with the elastic band to keep everything closed and tidy). Perhaps I'll try again sometime. I like the idea of making my own covers, then I can change them as I change my mood!

Elastic bands

You can buy the elastic by the yard at local frabric stores. I buy about 3 yards at a time so that I can make notebooks on a whim. When using thin cardboard or plastic, I can use a good hole punch to make a hole and slip the elastic through. When using some thicker cardboard, I will use a knife or letter opener and jab a hole through. Sometimes I use those fancy schmancy scrapbooking eyelets to slip through the hole and attach the elastic band. Sometimes I just use hockey stick grip tape. It all depends on the coverstock I'm using and my mood.

Hi, I did a similar thing

I did a similar thing for both of my rollabind books (one for university notes, one for my diary) If you find the layers of the cardboard start coming apart and weakening, allow a small amount of superglue to soak into the frayed bit of board. Works like a charm and gives you a really strong pair of tabs for gripping the rings.
Best Wishes,

Excellent idea.


Thanks for the tip, superglue is a great idea. I expect the thin stuff would work really well, being kind of runny. The gel might not soak in as nicely.

So far my books are holding up nicely. I did make another, a letter size set in black using book board I found in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby. It was a multipack, two 4x6 pieces, two 8.5x11 pieces, and two 12x12 pieces for about $3.50. I made a letter size book and a couple of 4x6 books for my kids, and I have one 12x12 sheet left over for future use. I paid about $5 for the sheet of black marble paper I used on the letter size book, and used up the whole piece. Another bit of small change for the glue stick to hold it together.

It's a very inexpensive way to make a nice hard-back book. These are stiff enough that writing in my lap is no trouble at all, which is what I really wanted from them.