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My Journey To Get The Perfect Notebook (Spoiler: I Made My Own)

book binding notebook case binding handmade

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#1 matheusmota

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Posted 17 January 2018 - 23:03

Hello people from FPN!

 

Recently (December 29th to be exact) I was browsing aimlessly online and ended up buying a Lamy Safari in Petrol. And that got me back into fountain pens. I was put off from fountain pens after my Sheaffer Agio was stolen at an Archaeology meeting, at that time I was writing on cheap paper that feathered and bled a lot. Because of that I didn't really enjoy the experience. After I impulsively bought the Safari I started to look for good paper here in Brazil (We can't get the normal fancy papers that everyone talks about) to fix the problem I had with the Agio.

 

So, after the Safari got here I got all of my paper around the house and started to try it. I Tried copy paper that I had taken from the lab that I work on, a heavy off-set paper that I made a sketchbook out of and still had some, the paper from a very old and very cheap blank notebook that I had around, lay-out paper from a Canson pad and, finally, the lay-out paper by a brand called Spiral that I saw fp people talk about here in Brazil.

 

Here is a picture of my results.

Spoiler

 

So, overall I really liked the Spiral paper. It's quite smooth and pretty ink resistant, the lines are really crisp there’s some light shading with this ink and the colors looks really good on it, not too dark and not too light. But there are downsides. It's fairly thin and because of that there's some ghosting, if I really saturate the page with ink it will blead and it is only available in pads (no notebooks).

 

With the paper thing done I started to think about making a notebook since I couldn't find one with the paper I wanted. I've bound a good amount of books before and since I study 19th century logbooks of whaling ships I kindda know what lasts and what doesn't. My favorite size for notebook is A5 and since I plan on using this one as a journal I wanted it to be pretty and sturdy. To accomplish that I decided on a case bound with a fabric line cover. The book has 240 pages (like the official bullet journal, although I won't be using the bullet journal system because of philosophical reasons) and they are all blank because I like to use guide sheets.

So I'll take you guys through my processes of book binding.

 

The first step was to take 30 A3 sheets of the Spiral paper and cut them into 60 A4 sheets. I also cut 2 A4 sheets of red heavy paper to use as the end papers of the book. Because of my record of people stealing my stationary I made a contact sheet on Illustrator and printed it to one of the sheets.

 

Spoiler

 

The next thing to do was fold all the sheets in half and with the smoother of the two sides facing out. With all the pages folded I stacked them into signatures of five sheets. With all of the 12 signatures ready I stacked them and marked all of them at once for punching the sewing holes. The holes were spaced an inch apart from each other starting on the center.

 

I kept the signatures in the same order as I marked it when I was punching the holes and make the aligned when the sewing was finished. With the holes punched it was time to kettle stich the signatures with red thread.

 

Spoiler

 

Then I glued the spine with two good layers of PVA while the book was held on a book press. After that I glued the end papers on and lined the spine with a sturdy paper. I let the book block dry and trimmed the edge. With the edge trimmed I could add some optional stuff like headbands to match the covering material and a red ribbon.

 

Spoiler
 

 

The next thing I wanted to do is put a pocket on the front end paper to hold my guide sheets and other loose paper. I made a paper pattern and set that aside until I was ready to cut the covering material.

 

Spoiler

 

Then I made the case (hard cover) for the book. I cut two pieces of 1.3mm binder's board that is the width of the text block minus 1/4 of an inch plus 1/8 of an inch by the height of the text block plus 1/4 of an inch. I also cut a strip of board the spine that it was the thickness of the book block plus two times the thickness of the boards. With the boards covered I got two types of book cloth that I had prepared earlier. One made out of a thick cotton cloth died black and a thin one that is white and has a black pattern printed on. The boards were glued to the book cloth and the spine strip was spaced from the cover boards by 1/4 of an inch plus the thickness of the board. After it dried the case was ready to receive the book block.

 

Spoiler
 

 

The next step was to glue the pocket to the side of the end paper that would be glued to the cover and then glue the end papers to the case. Let it dry and the book is done.

 

Spoiler

 

And then I had to that some pretty pictures with the Petrol Safari and the Pelikan Blue-Black.

Spoiler

 

So, I don't know how useful this post is to the forum folk in general because all of the paper I used isn't available out of Brazil and the ink isn't available in the US. I hope the sharing my process gives people an insight on book binding and kindda bring people more to the handmade side instead of the compulsive shopping side.

 

Best regards,

 

Matheus Mota


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


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#2 dapv

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 01:02

Wow! Excellent story, and accomplishment.


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#3 matheusmota

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 01:55

Wow! Excellent story, and accomplishment.

 

Thanks for the kind words mate! I've been lurking around on the forums for a while util I got enough courage together to write this post. I've been book binding for some time, mainly Field Notes style notebooks (Turns out they are really good for note taking on archaeological excavations), and I thought it would be fun to share that experience with you guys and girls. I got into fountain pens because I wanted to improve my hand writing and get away from the culture of disposable goods (philosophical/political reasons are really big for me) and making your owns stuff is really good for that. A by product of fountain pens in my daily life is the fact that I've become quite self conscious of my own writing instead of just paying attention to the writing of others (other being 19th century whale men). Because of that I'll try to write more about my experience with the stuff that surrounds the action of writing, maybe putting some archaeological insights in there, and see what the rest of the people on the forums think about it.

 

My best regards,

Matheus Mota.  


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#4 TMLee

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 08:06

Congratulations on your 1st post :)

 

and what an awesome effort :thumbup:

 

you might want to ask the Mod to shift your thread to the other sub-forum where you will find quite a few of us likeminded folks who craft our own books and cahiers ...

 

I too, but for slightly different reasons, ended up stitching my own journals ...

 

keep posting.

I am sure others enjoy seeing your work.

:D



#5 Chrissy

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 08:36

Hello and welcome to FPN.  :W2FPN:
 
I enjoyed reading it and was able to follow all of the instructions until I got to the boards where I became a little confused:

"I cut two pieces of 1.3mm binder's board that is the width of the text block minus 1/4 of an inch plus 1/8 of an inch by the height of the text block plus 1/4 of an inch. I also cut a strip of board the spine that it was the thickness of the book block plus two times the thickness of the boards. With the boards covered I got two types of book cloth that I had prepared earlier. One made out of a thick cotton cloth died black and a thin one that is white and has a black pattern printed on. The boards were glued to the book cloth and the spine strip was spaced from the cover boards by 1/4 of an inch plus the thickness of the board."
 
It's a great looking book though. Well done you.  :)



#6 matheusmota

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 12:36

Congratulations on your 1st post :)

 

and what an awesome effort :thumbup:

 

you might want to ask the Mod to shift your thread to the other sub-forum where you will find quite a few of us likeminded folks who craft our own books and cahiers ...

 

I too, but for slightly different reasons, ended up stitching my own journals ...

 

keep posting.

I am sure others enjoy seeing your work.

:D

Thank you for the kind words! When I wrote the text for this post (I always write things by hand first) I was kindda conflicted on where to post it. The post is not only about my paper testing and it really isn't a comprehensive tutorial of all the steps needed to make a notebook. Because of that I decided to post it here as this weird kind of reportage post. With that said If a mod sees this post and thinks it is out of place, I would be glad to have it moved to the right one.

 

Hello and welcome to FPN.  :W2FPN:
 
I enjoyed reading it and was able to follow all of the instructions until I got to the boards where I became a little confused:

"I cut two pieces of 1.3mm binder's board that is the width of the text block minus 1/4 of an inch plus 1/8 of an inch by the height of the text block plus 1/4 of an inch. I also cut a strip of board the spine that it was the thickness of the book block plus two times the thickness of the boards. With the boards covered I got two types of book cloth that I had prepared earlier. One made out of a thick cotton cloth died black and a thin one that is white and has a black pattern printed on. The boards were glued to the book cloth and the spine strip was spaced from the cover boards by 1/4 of an inch plus the thickness of the board."
 
It's a great looking book though. Well done you.  :)

That part seemed confusing to me when I wrote it but I couldn't find another way to put it without making a video to visually explain it. With that said, I'll try to say it a little bit more clearly.

 

The case for the text block has to overhang about 1/8" on all sides other then the spine. To do that, you add 1/8" to the width (short side of the rectangle) and 1/4" to the height (long side of the rectangle) because it has to overhang the top (head) and bottom (tail) of the book. But there is one more thing you have to account for on the case, if you make it the same size of the text block plus the overhangs, the book won't open because the board on the spine and the cover board will touch each other and there will be no space for the cover to open. To fix that, you subtract 1/4" from the width of the cover board and that becomes space for a joint (the pressed down fabric on the cover that you can see on the finished photos) to be formed later. All of the above cam be written like this: width = (width of the text block - 1/4") + 1/8" and  height = height of the text block + 1/4".

 

I hope that was clearer. If not, let me know and the next time I make a book I'll try to write a detailed tutorial with every single step of the process recorded in pictures and diagrams.


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#7 IndigoBOB

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 14:14

What do you think of Tomoe River Paper?



#8 matheusmota

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Posted 19 January 2018 - 16:55

What do you think of Tomoe River Paper?

I've never tried it. We can't get Rohdia, Cleirfontaine or Tomoe River here in Brazil. At least not at a justifiable price. From what I know it is a 56 g/m² heavily coated paper. Most of the notebooks here use a 56 g/m² paper that isn't coated performs like copy paper, some of them are really good and don't feather or bleed (Like the bank notebook I tested) others are really (bleep) and don't work at all. My experience using these thin papers isn't really positive. The thin paper tend get wrinkly with handling and it's not really good if you want to use a eraser on it (it usually tears if you are not careful). The other thing that I can say with my experience with paper is that I don't like glass smooth paper, I like a little bit of feedback, and highly coated papers are really uncomfortable for me, it's like writing on a photograph. So, in short, thin and super coated paper are not for me.

 

For book binding I find that thinner papers are a little harder to work with out a binder's sheer or a guillotine. That said, I've been requested to make notebooks with thin, really good, paper and the final product felt cheap, light and fragile. I didn't like it but it was to the preference of the client. I prefer heavy, sturdy book that doesn't feel bible like (I hate how it feels to flip through a bible). I think that's all I have to say, for now, on the topic of thin coated papers.


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#9 IndigoBOB

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 13:21

Tomoe River Paper comes in 52 gsm and 68 gsm.  The 68 gsm might be more your liking, but the 52 gsm still feels quite good...  It's smooth, but doesn't have that glossiness like Clairefontaine.

 

I wouldn't call TRP highly coated at all.  It's like its own thing.

 

I'd give it a try.  They can be a bit higher priced if you have to ship it from out of country, but the sheer amount of pages you get for the price is still usually a good value.

 

Trust me, if you like fountain pens, you'll love this paper.



#10 matheusmota

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 14:09

Tomoe River Paper comes in 52 gsm and 68 gsm.  The 68 gsm might be more your liking, but the 52 gsm still feels quite good...  It's smooth, but doesn't have that glossiness like Clairefontaine.

 

I wouldn't call TRP highly coated at all.  It's like its own thing.

 

I'd give it a try.  They can be a bit higher priced if you have to ship it from out of country, but the sheer amount of pages you get for the price is still usually a good value.

 

Trust me, if you like fountain pens, you'll love this paper.

There are two types of coated papers (that I know of). One that a literal coat of sizing is applied to the surface and that generally makes it glossy, but you can change the ratio of sizing to pulp and make a more ink resistant paper by putting more sizing and this process makes a really smooth but not glossy paper but it's still some what coated. Most of paper that is resistant and sometimes called coated and isn't glossy uses the second process. Maybe Tomoe River uses that. If one day a come across a way to buy Tomoe River without paying 60% import tax (yes, that's how much we pay for imports here in Brazil), I'll give it a try. I generally prefer paper around 90 g/m² to 120 g/m² but the only good, smooth and ink resistant paper that I found here in Brazil is the 70 g/m² Spiral that I used. Maybe because of this notebook thinner paper will grow on me. Time will tell.

 

One of the things that I would like to see is how color behaves os Tomoe River. I tend to think (and have no proof of this) that a color is richer and has more depth if it can partially soak into the paper. I tend to think that a color look kinda chalky when it mostly sits on the surface of the paper. That's more noticeable on large patches of ink. I'll would like to see how it works for writing. 


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#11 IndigoBOB

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 16:08

There are two types of coated papers (that I know of). One that a literal coat of sizing is applied to the surface and that generally makes it glossy, but you can change the ratio of sizing to pulp and make a more ink resistant paper by putting more sizing and this process makes a really smooth but not glossy paper but it's still some what coated. Most of paper that is resistant and sometimes called coated and isn't glossy uses the second process. Maybe Tomoe River uses that. If one day a come across a way to buy Tomoe River without paying 60% import tax (yes, that's how much we pay for imports here in Brazil), I'll give it a try. I generally prefer paper around 90 g/m² to 120 g/m² but the only good, smooth and ink resistant paper that I found here in Brazil is the 70 g/m² Spiral that I used. Maybe because of this notebook thinner paper will grow on me. Time will tell.

 

One of the things that I would like to see is how color behaves os Tomoe River. I tend to think (and have no proof of this) that a color is richer and has more depth if it can partially soak into the paper. I tend to think that a color look kinda chalky when it mostly sits on the surface of the paper. That's more noticeable on large patches of ink. I'll would like to see how it works for writing. 

 

 

That tax would hold me back as well.

 

Actually, you get the richer and greater depth of color because it doesn't soak into the paper.  I don't know how they do it.

 

This video is what introduce me to TRP.  

 

 

I don't use Paperforfountainpens.  I use Nanami Paper.  Both of them are 52 gsm.  There is a new Hippo Noto company doing good work with 68 gsm.  There's threads on the paper.  I hope you one day get to try TRP...  It's a unique experience from any other paper I've used.



#12 matheusmota

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Posted 20 January 2018 - 17:10

 

 

That tax would hold me back as well.

 

Actually, you get the richer and greater depth of color because it doesn't soak into the paper.  I don't know how they do it.

 

This video is what introduce me to TRP.  

 

 

I don't use Paperforfountainpens.  I use Nanami Paper.  Both of them are 52 gsm.  There is a new Hippo Noto company doing good work with 68 gsm.  There's threads on the paper.  I hope you one day get to try TRP...  It's a unique experience from any other paper I've used.

 I would have to see the color behavior for myself but looking from the video it looks pretty cool. Later this year I might get a chance to take my master degree in the US that might give me a chance of trying more fountain pen related stuff. 


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#13 IndigoBOB

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 07:45

The paper alone will be worth the trip ;) along with sooo many other things.  Do whatever it takes to get to the US :) .  The President here is awful, but it's not all that bad.



#14 matheusmota

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 13:34

The paper alone will be worth the trip ;) along with sooo many other things.  Do whatever it takes to get to the US :) .  The President here is awful, but it's not all that bad.

Politics here are bad too. Our president wasn't even elected and 2018 is election year and there's a chance of a guy who is almost a neo-nazi running, and winning, the presidential election. Apart from that, the US is a very central place for archaeology, Universities like Stanford have some of the most important archaeologists in the world. I'll be applying for some MA programs very soon, but without a scholarship program for international students I won't be able to go even if I'm accepted. That said, having a chance to experience the fountain pen hobby on a vibrant community such as the US (the hobby is almost non existent in Brazil) is a very nice motivation too.


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#15 theverdictis

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Posted 22 January 2018 - 20:43

 

Thanks for the kind words mate! I've been lurking around on the forums for a while util I got enough courage together to write this post. I've been book binding for some time, mainly Field Notes style notebooks (Turns out they are really good for note taking on archaeological excavations), and I thought it would be fun to share that experience with you guys and girls. I got into fountain pens because I wanted to improve my hand writing and get away from the culture of disposable goods (philosophical/political reasons are really big for me) and making your owns stuff is really good for that. A by product of fountain pens in my daily life is the fact that I've become quite self conscious of my own writing instead of just paying attention to the writing of others (other being 19th century whale men). Because of that I'll try to write more about my experience with the stuff that surrounds the action of writing, maybe putting some archaeological insights in there, and see what the rest of the people on the forums think about it.

 

My best regards,

Matheus Mota.  

That is absolutely amazing! You should sell these!


''You can't stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes''. A A Milne


#16 matheusmota

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 03:27

That is absolutely amazing! You should sell these!

If I didn't live in a less central country I would kindly sell them. I think that the shipping costs would make it kindda less appealing for people to get them from me. By showing how I do stuff people can make their own and get a some what similar product. But if someone is inclined to pay the shipping costs I could take custom orders. I'm glad you liked my work.


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#17 mhguda

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 12:49

I'm not so far from you, in Curacao in the Caribbean. I might be interested, if you could send me a sample of some of your lighter-weight Brazilian paper that you might use in such a notebook.

Where in Brazil are you?


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#18 matheusmota

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 13:44

I'm not so far from you, in Curacao in the Caribbean. I might be interested, if you could send me a sample of some of your lighter-weight Brazilian paper that you might use in such a notebook.

Where in Brazil are you?

I live in Belo Horizonte (technically it's Contagem), Minas Gerais. It's kindda in the center of the country (a little bit more to the South) and far from everything. I don't know how much it would cost to send them to you. 


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.


#19 mhguda

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 20:02

No pressure, but if you want to explore further... I'm open to trying.


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#20 matheusmota

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Posted 23 January 2018 - 23:30

No pressure, but if you want to explore further... I'm open to trying.

I try to design a paper sample notepad. Probably A6 size and I'll post about it. I'll also look into how much it costs to ship to you. I'm kindda in awe that someone is interest in buying my work. Thank you for the appreciation. 


Writing is a physical way to engage with your thoughts.






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