bbb craft sistersDIYdiy projects

diy project: recycled scrap paper notebooks

by The BBB Craft Sisters

we blessing sisters have loved notepads, notebooks and all things paper since our first wide-rule pads we bought in gradeschool. we have trouble letting go of even a single sheet of paper, lest we find a use to reuse or recycle it in the craft room! this time, we repurposed our old faxes and paper scraps into notebooks and made them useful again. we pulled out old wrapping paper, books we didn’t mind ripping pages out of, and other odds and ends to make the covers pretty. this is quick and easy to do with what you already have at home, and you end up with a stack of handy, useful pads that might even give you a tinge of back-to-school nostalgia. –bbbcraft sisters

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


– 8 ½” x 11” scrap paper (from faxes, printing mishaps and mail)
– binder clips
– scraps of cardboard cut into 1” inch strips OR 2 wood paint mixers cut to size
-elmers glue, pvc or a glue gun
– paint brush
– decorative scrap paper
– masking tape and/or decorative tape


1. fold 40 sheets of 8 ½” x 11” scrap paper in half. be sure to be very precise, and use a bone folder if you have one (but a butter knife works just as well!)

2. stack the pages. line up the folded sides together and the cut edges together by tapping them down into place on an even surface.

3. keeping the pages evenly lined up, place a strip of cardboard (or paint mixers) slightly below the top edge of the flush, cut edges. attach the binder clips as shown. if the cardboard is flush with the paper, you will get glue on the cardboard, which makes things messier!

4. squeeze lines of glue along the flush, cut edges and use the paint brush to even it along the top edge. we used elmer’s for this, but experimented with elmers, pvc and a glue gun—any will work, though the glue gun glue is on the thicker side. we found it helped to use a third binder clip in the center of the book to keep the pages together.

5. let dry and repeat 4 or 5 times, until you have a coat of clear glue that holds the edges together. once the glue has dried for the last time, remove the binder clips-the pages should be secured together.

6. attach your decorative paper by gluing it across the top of the notebook.

7. secure with binder clips to hold in place and let dry.

8. attach the tape carefully on top to cover all the glue and uneven edges. you can cover up all of your little mishaps!

9. decorate with stickers, labels or anything else!

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  • I’m gonna do this, but with all of the ends of note pads and binders that I had for school. The ones I never finished and feel too guilty throwing away because of all the still good, unused paper in them.

  • geez, thank you – I used to make these in bulk at the print shop I used to work at. but I’ve been wanting to make some at home and never sat down to think it out. you did all the thinking for me! thanks!

  • This post came just in time! I’m trying to declutter, and I was just in the midst of trying to figure out what to do with all of the scrap filler paper I have in boxes around the house. I think I’ll make some as gifts–great idea!

  • A friend of mine once gave me a book similar to this as a Christmas gift. She worked at an architecture firm and reused old drafting sheets and samples from the flooring department for covers. I use it all the time. Great demo!

  • Maybe I haven’t had enough coffee today, but where is the folded edge in all of this? do you cut it off? is it the glued side or the outside edge? please help, I have so much paper to use up!

  • Megan, I’ve had my coffee and was trying to figure out the same thing.

    I’ve been folding scrap paper at work all morning to get a head start.

    Thanks for the post!

  • I’m with Megan and Candace —

    Folded paper side out or in? I’m so confused but waiting to get going on this… I literally have a stack of old paper near my desk called “Hilary’s Pile O Papers” that my coworkers have endured for 3 years. It’s more than 3 feet tall. That should make a lot of notebooks.

  • Hi Megan and Candace!

    You don’t cut the fold–the folded edges are the outside edges of the book. The cut/open edges are the glued edge/spine.

    Keeping the pages folded makes the book pages a little thicker, and conceals the side that is printed on. If you have blank sheets you are using, you wouldn’t have to fold them, but we do like the extra heft.

    Hope that helps, and have fun!

    –bbbcraft sisters

  • it looks like the folded edges are on the unglued side. this is just a guess, but… if it’s scrap paper & you’re folding it over, you may be folding it so you only see the “unused” side.

  • This is awesome! I LOVE notebooks but I’ve been (justifiably) forbidden from purchasing any more…but no one said anything about MAKING my own :)
    This sounds like an awesome rainy day project.

  • Rubber cement works really well for the spine and if you tear the papers and use the fuzzy edge for the spine, the glue gets a better hold. Folding the papers gives you blank pages on each side, but I find I tend to use only the right hand pages – I’m right handed.

    Nice tutorial!

  • Oh how fun! I will definitely have to do this. I had personal letterhead printed on a really beautiful paper stock, expecting to live in the same townhouse for several more years, but then I moved, and the letterhead ceased to be useful! What a great way to use up all that extra paper.

  • Hi – This is just in time for pre-holiday thinking/shopping and something to flag when I get myself in order for gifts.


    I love them.

  • I’m a huge fan of recycling and I love to work with paper – this is a great idea combining two of my very favorite things! Thanks for sharing the guide!

  • In college we would have notebook making teas where we would take cracker boxes or cereal boxes and cut them to size and use them as covers for notebooks made with recycled paper. If you don’t want to use glue you can use book rings to hold the paper. This way you can add and remove pages as you go.

  • ahhh! This is my favorite how-to ever! I always want to make books but sewn bindings are kind of a chore so I rarely get around to it – I’ve never even thought of making your own perfect binding with elmer’s glue – genius! I can’t wait to try this myself!!! thanks!

  • YIPPEE! I wanted to make books for my new group of 20 eighth grade girls at church. I like to give personal notes and a gift..and a notebook would be perfect! Thank you so much for this tutorial!
    And I happen to work for a construction firm so there are tons of old plans and drawings I can use from the recycling bin!

  • Love this! I’ve been encouraging my students to recycle and make handmade books for years. We’re going to have to make these in my art classes. Can’t wait to show my 3rd-5th graders your tutorial. thanks for sharing!

  • These look so yummaliscious! I’m always looking for notebook DIY’s and I LOVE this one:) Thanks for sharing!

  • This looks awesome! I’ve been meaning to do something like this forever but most tutorials like this one require tons of expensive supplies! This one doesn’t though, so maybe I’ll give it a try soon :)

  • I just made this today. I had a bunch of brown packing paper left over from a package I had received. I couldn’t bear to throw it out because I knew that it must be useful for something. So, I ironed out the wrinkles and got cutting. I made three books with all the paper I had; one with rough edges, and two with clean-cut edges. They turned out great!

  • I made one this weekend! I did a paper cut pumpkin for the cover to celebrate fall, using blank pages from a planner I bought in the middle of the year. so fun.

  • Now I know what to do with the pages from the Zen calendar a Day. Thanks so much for the info.

  • I stumbled upon this through P.S. I made this and, boy, am I glad I did! Lovely idea! Keep up the great work!

  • I love this project–today my mom and I walked to our local elementary school and they let us go wild in the recycle bins of their copy and craft room!

    we ended up with the greatest cursive-writing instructions, coloring book pages, and unique papers that they were happy to get rid of. go visit your teacher friends and walk away with lots of paper!

  • Just wondering why you chose 40 pages… I’d like to make a thicker notebook, any reason you’d think it wouldn’t work? Thanks!

  • This DIY is soooo awesome!!!
    I was looking for something like this for ages. In Switzerland notebooks are very expensive and you don’t get what you want. They are too big, too small or wrong paper. With this tutorial you can choose the size and all you want and you save lots of money! Thank you so much!

    Just for general knowledge:
    I used *closed* pages for the glue side and it worked perfectly well.

  • This is such a wonderful idea. I’m curious though, would this method work for repairing extremely damaged paperbacks. I have several novels that are in pieces, is there any reason this would not work?

  • I love the idea. I am a notebook adict and now I finally have something to do with all of my scraps of paper. Thank you!

  • My mother never threw out a single piece of paper she could use to write on. When she died I had a box full of papers she had kept (dating back about 50 years!). She would have loved this idea. Now I am finding myself doing the same. Heehee, I am going to make several of these. Thanks for the idea.

  • So glad I found this! I had to print 30 copies of a two page report for my class today and halfway through my printer freaked out and started over at page one. So now I have at least 60 extra pages!! Going to start working on this as soon as I get home. My artist roommate will love this too!

  • I have a lot of scrap paper because I work from home. I did this today and made each of my kids their own notebook. I used some old posters for the covers and replaced the masking tape with colored duct tape leftover from another project. They loved them and i have less clutter. Thank you!

  • Hey guys! I just wanted to say thank you for this cool DIY project. I just did it recently and your procedure is really easy to follow. I made a post about my DIY recycled notepad without this project of your I may not have learned the technique on how to bind the paper easily. Thanks!

  • For my covers I’m going to use black cardstock with Harper’s Boutique paper sheet designs glued to that. I can visualize ragged edged pages, but probably not when re-utilizing shark white paper :).

  • I am excited to try this! i saw a friend with a notebook like this and wanted to make one. But I am still kind of confused, i am not really a craft person. So you stack the paper together with the folded side facing each other and then glue that? reading the instructions seems like the open side of the folded paper is being glued.


  • I love this project!! Im a student so not only do I have lots of left over paper, I have NO extra money, so these have made great gifts for family and friends!! I did notice though that the directions say to glue the cut edges together; Im sure everyone has realized that its a typo and its the folded edges that get glued together, but I just wanted to clarify! Thanx for the webpage!!! :)

  • I love this idea! I’ve already made three notebooks for my co-workers using their own scrap paper :D It’s such a fabulous way to upcycle old paper, and make a unique notebook with personality in each one. But Erin, the comment above me, did make a good point about the cut edges being a typo and the folded edges being glued together instead.

  • Someone above mentioned you glue the cut edges together so that way you have clean pages when you flip through the book. Then you can write on the front and back side of each page. If you glue the folded edges together then half of the book would be your printed recycled stuff and you’d only be able to write on the front side.

    Love this idea! Going to try and use it to make class journals for my 7th grade classes. Would save a lot of money collecting unused paper around the school (especially copy room).

    • I love this idea and i will make many of them and i think we all know there is a typo. I hope other people can make it to and i was wondering what could i use other that binder clips cause i don’t have any of them?

    • Vanessa

      No, sadly it won’t. These materials are recommended because they give the best result. Gorilla glue expands, so don’t use that for this :(


      • Okay , I’m at work and trying to work with what I have :/ how about scotch clear glue? and also what about the clear packing tape? If these absolutely do not work then I will wait and try to find them at home or dollar store. Thank You And thanks for the awesome idea and instructions.

  • This was a fun little project! I used tissue paper on a few of them, which I used a glue stick to glue to the first page so it was thicker. I also used some ribbon I had had (the ones they tie around blankets when you buy them at the store) and glued it to the top at the binding. Was thinking gluing some cardboard to the back might add some sturdiness as well.
    I think you can glue the pages together whichever way you would like, folded edges or cut edges. Depends if you want a front and back to your pages. I had cut mine up prior to finding this page and they were too small of size to fold, so I just left the back side show as scrap paper. So it really just depends on what you are looking for in your notepads. All in all it is nice to have saved some paper and I have some unique, homemade notepads!

    • I agree with Amy! I don’t think there was a typo, I think you could glue the folded sides or the cut sides. I will be trying this and gluing the cut sides, because my scrap paper is from printing mishaps and faxes, and I don’t want that side of the paper to show as I wouldn’t be able to write on them! Yes, it’s less usable pages, but it is a nifty way to use scrap paper with only ONE blank side :) The fold will hide the ugly prints inside!