This project is to turn an ordinary wire-bound notebook into a custom-made wooden notebook with an engraved design. The front and back cover will be replaced with custom covers made from plywood. You can use any type of spiral bound notebook, as long as it is possible to non-destructively remove the spiral.
- Notebook (spiralbound)
- Hard Wax Oil
- Laser Cutter
- Clean Rag
- Inkscape (or any other software for creating vector files)
- Scanner (optional)
Creating the cut files and the design for the engraving
The notebook I used has a wire-o binding. The spiral can be opened by simply bending it apart slightly. I took out the front cover and put it on a scanner to get a digital image with exact dimensions. If you don’t have access to a scanner you can of course simply take the measurements by hand.
I then used Inkscape to trace the scanned cover image and create a vector file for cutting. This way it is easy to make sure the holes for the spiral are in the correct position.
The wooden notebook will be a gift and I wanted to add a forest/hunting themed design. So I drew a stag between some trees. Once I was happy with the design of the engraving I positioned it on the drawing of the cover page.
The size of my notebook was approximately A5 and the distance between the center of the holes for the spiral was 12.6 mm. Will need to adjust the design for other dimensions.
Preparing the material for cutting
I used my self-made cherry plywood for the cover pages. The cherry plywood already had a quite smooth surface, so I started sanding with 120-grit sandpaper. I continued sanding with finer grits up to 600. When I was happy with the surface, I wiped the plywood with a damp towel to remove any dust left from sanding.
The next step was to cover the wood with masking paper. This will prevent smoke marks during laser cutting. It is also possible to use painters tape for the masking.
Laser cutting and engraving
Because this was the first time for me cutting the cherry plywood I started with some test cuts and engravings to find the correct settings. It took a few tries until I had the right settings for engraving also because first I forgot to push the home button after setting the focus (Remember – if you need much lower speed than expected for an engraving – check if the focus is set correctly).
For more tips about laser cutting and engraving have a look at this instructable: 10 Tips and Tricks for Laser Engraving and Cutting
When I finally liked the engraving on the test piece, I engraved the design onto the plywood and afterward cut out the covers.
Finishing the wooden notebook
I sanded the edges and then used a clean rag to apply hard wax oil on both sides of the cover. The oil really brings out the structure of the wood and gives it a very nice shine. In addition, the oil also acts as a protective layer for the wood. I am very happy with the way the engraving turned out on the cherry plywood.
After the oil has dried, all that was left to do was to put everything together. First, put the back cover on the spiral, then the paper and last the front cover. Then slightly bend the spiral in its original position again and you are done!