make: beautifying a project book

Use what you have

I love stationery. I was very gleeful when I told Theo that I needed a new A5 project book for work and that meant I could go shopping.

“Wait a moment, I’ve got a spare one,” he said, and fished around in a box.

He presented me with this.

Original a5 project book.
It’s functional. Very functional. Not pretty enough.

One of our philosophies is that we should use what we have before we think about alternatives. It certainly is an a5 project book. Shame it’s so, well, ugly. Not just ugly. The cover was pretty flimsy and for something I wanted to carry around at work and put in my bag, I didn’t think it would hold up.

So. The book is good. It’s just the cover that needs changing!

To the craft supplies!

I knew very quickly that I wanted a stiff card cover with something colourful on it. From my colouring stash I withdrew one of the lovely postcards from the Secret Garden book of blank postcards.

In the rest of the post I’m going to give you Amazon links in case you want to buy any of the items I’ve used. Obviously, this is only going to be cost effective if you use the items more than just the once, like I do. 

Colouring in for the cover of a project book.
This uncoloured postcard had a busy design but wasn’t too overwhelming.

At the time of writing, this is Amazon’s choice for colouring postcards and you can get your copy here! Secret Garden: 20 Postcards

I used a mixture of Stabilo fineliners with size 0.4mm nib (currently around £10 for a pack of 15 on Amazon)  and Berol Colour Fine pens with size 0.6mm nib (currently about £6 for a pack of 12 on Amazon).

Creating a new cover

With the decoration taken care of, the next step was to create a replacement cover.

I used a pack of Kraft card and some heavy duty spray glue from a local store, but you can pick up equivalents easily enough.

If you are ordering from Amazon, here is a link for 10 sheets of A4 Recycled Kraft Card (£2 ish before shipping) and here is a link for some 3M Photo Mount Spray Adhesive (about £9 for 200ml).

The Kraft card rocked in at 300 gsm. This is a measure of how thick, or stiff, the card is. I wanted my cover to be thicker, so I spray glued two sheets together, twice. You could skip this step by just buying stiffer card!

Note that with Kraft card one side is a different brown to the other. Make sure you know which side you want to keep on display before you spray and stick. Always use spray glue in a well ventilated area and put down something to protect your work surface before you start.

A project book waiting to be recovered.
So now I have 2 sheets of double thick Kraft card ready. Now the fiddly bit!

Cutting out

The Kraft card was now thick enough. Very carefully, without bending the wire, I removed the original cover of the project book. I used this as my template to trace around onto the card.

I marked the places where the holes needed to be.

Before I started punching out the holes I checked to make sure which punch I needed. The little heart shaped one was too big and also couldn’t punch through the double thick card without a hammer. Not going to work.

However I found one of the settings on my rotary punch did the job just fine. Amazon’s current choice for rotary punches is this beauty Draper 63637 Expert Revolving Punch Plier at about £10. Have a look on the add in item list and you might find a cheaper alternative!

I used our guillotine to ensure nice straight edges but if you have long straight bladed scissors and a steady hand, you should be ok without one of those.

Test punches and tracing out.
Tracing and marking out the new covers. You can see the test punches on what will be the offcut card.

Final assembly

Once everything was cut and punched out, it was time to assemble the cover.

Again, very carefully so as not to bend the wires too much, the covers were fitted.

About to fit the covers on the project book.
About to fit the covers.

Finally, the finished coloured in postcard had some spray glue applied and was applied to the front cover.

Finished project book with new covers and tools.
Finished! Just need to tidy up now.

Project book: finished

Finished!
Now I have a durable and unique project book for work.

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