How to Make a Junk Journal

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How to Make a Junk Journal

Learn how to turn an old book into a junk journal. I made this one out of an old Reader’s Digest Condensed Book.

Reader's Digest Covers

I started collecting them a few years ago for their pretty covers. They’re easy to pick up at thrift stores and yard sales for $1 or less. Sometimes I even get them for free.

I take them apart and rebind them, so I can use them to make my own journals. It’s a lot cheaper than buying a scrapbook, and a lot more fun.

I use large binder rings to hold them together, so I can add lots of pages and continue adding to them over time.

Here’s how I make them.

How to Make a Junk Journal

What You’ll Need:

An old book to take apart
An X-acto knife
(4) #2 long-neck grommets (for a 3/8″ hole)
A grommet setter
3-inch book binding tape
(2) 2-inch binder rings
A drill
A 3/8″ forstner bit
A two-hole hole punch

What You Do:

Cut Off the Covers

Reader's Digest Covers Removed

Carefully cut the front and back cover off at the seam.

End Papers

Remove the end papers, and set them aside.

Measure 1-1/2 inches Down

Measure 1-1/2 inches down from the cut edge of the front cover, and make a couple marks. Do the same with the back cover.

Cut a Piece of Book Binding Tape

Cut a piece of binding tape that’s a couple inches longer than the cover on each end.

Apply Book Binding Tape

Line the binding tape up with your marks, and press it in place.

Trim the Corners of the Binding Tape

Then, flip the cover over; go out a quarter-inch from the corners, and cut the tape at a 45 degree angle.

Trimmed Book Binding Tape

Fold in the Sides of the Binding Tape

Fold the tape in on the sides.

Fold the Binding Tape Down

Then, fold the tape down from the top, making sure the corners are completely covered.

Rebound Covers

Do the same thing for the second cover.

Glue in End Papers

Glue the end papers inside the covers to cover your rebinding work.

Create a Template for Your Journal

Lay a piece of paper on your work surface, and trace around your journal to create a template. Cut it out. Then, center it up in a two-hole punch, and punch it.

Lay your finished template on top of your journal, and use a pencil to mark where the holes are. Repeat the process with the second cover.

Drill Holes in the Cover

Drill a hole through the covers where you made your marks. A forstner bit makes a nice clean hole.

Set Grommets

Insert a grommet flange through the first hole (from the front side of the cover). Then, place a washer on the flange, and use a grommet setter to join the two pieces. Repeat with the other three holes.

Insert Binder Rings

Finish by inserting binder rings through the grommets to join the front and back covers, and your journal is ready for use!

Inside of Junk Journal

I’m a big sucker for vintage ephemera – old letters, ticket stubs, button cards, interesting papers – so that’s what I fill my junk journals with.

Just use your two-hole punch to punch holes in anything you’d like to add to your journal.

Finished Junk Journal

My daughters have gotten in on the junk journaling action. Here’s a journal that my oldest daughter is working on.

Side of Junk Journal

Junk Journal Page with Handmade Envelope

Need a Cover for Your Junk Journal?

Reader's Digest Smashbook Journals

They’re available over in my shop. Pick your favorite color, and I’ll surprise you with the pattern.

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  1. All of those covers are gorgeous!

    I’ve always been interested in bookbinding for some odd reason but I’ve never tried it. This looks like a fun project.

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