Make Your Own Pad Of Paper!

Today I’m going to share a super simple way to make your own pad of paper instead of buying one from a store. Practical and Functional, right?

Well, yes, unless of course you do this project the way I did it…the practicality of it all kind of went out the window! *sigh*

My very first “real” post on this blog was about our shopping list system and how, with it, we never run out of butter or other grocery staples. Well, we didn’t run out of butter, but the other day I used the last sheet of paper in the pad that we normally use for our shopping list! And instead of buying a new one I decided I would try my hand at making one.

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

It turned out great! Totally functional, cuz now we have paper to write our shopping list on again. But not very practical because instead of just walking to the Walgreens on the corner and buying a new pad, I designed a template, printed it out, cut it up, bonded it together, and stuck a magnet on the back. Fun? Yes. Crafty? Yes! Practical? Not so much :-)

But if you use some scrap paper you have laying around, this project could definitely be practical, functional, and “green”!

Here’s what you need:

  • paper (any size or type)
  • rubber cement (or padding compound)
  • binder clips
  • cardboard or card stock for the backing (optional)
  • scrap paper (to protect the first and last sheets from getting icky, also optional)

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

One very cool thing about this is you can make a pad of paper in any size. If you want a giant sketch pad, just use straight up printer paper. If you want a smaller pad for note taking, cut the printer paper into quarters first. For my pad I designed a little shopping list template that uses a third of a sheet of printer paper. If you like the template you can download it here:

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper: Shopping List Template

Start by making sure all of your pieces of paper are the same size. If you’re using something as a backing, cut it down to the same size as well. Just FYI, cereal boxes work great as a backing! You can use some scrap paper to protect your first and last sheets from any rubber cement overflow (which I highly recommend). Just cut two pieces of scrap paper to size as well.

Gather up your paper and cardboard in the order you want your pad. Put a sheet of scrap paper on top of the first sheet and under the very last sheet.  Tap the whole thing against a table or something to make all the sheets line up on one side. (I lined mine up at the top, but you can glue whichever edge you want.)

Clip the pad together with a binder clip on either side near the top. The binder clips will hold it all tight together, so you need it near the top of your paper, but not right at the top so that you don’t get rubber cement on them!

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

Brush a thin layer of rubber cement right over the tops of all of your paper. Don’t worry if it runs over the edges on the front or back of your pad; that’s why you put scrap paper there.

Let it dry for about ten minutes. Technically you can be done at this point if you want. But one of my pet peeves is a pad of paper that breaks in half because the binding wasn’t strong enough.

So I did about five separate layers of rubber cement. I did a very thin first layer just to get it all coated, and after that the next three or four layers were a little thicker to give the “spine” some bulk. Make sure to let the previous layer dry before adding another layer (usually about 10 minutes).

If your pad of paper is wide and the center isn’t as tightly held together as the sides are, just rotate your binder clips while you let the cement dry.

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper


UPDATE: My mom is so smart! (I knew I got it from somewhere… :-p) Her pad of paper was too wide for the binder clips to hold it all together even when they were rotated like the picture above. So look what she improvised to hold it together and keep her paper from ballooning out in the middle! You just need two pencils and two rubber bands.

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper: Mom's clamp idea


Once you’re happy with the number of layers you’ve done and your cement is dry, you’re done. Just peel off the scrap paper at the front and back of your pad so that your first and last pages have nice crisp edges and that’s it!

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

I added a few little embellishments at this point.

First, I noticed that the rubber cement, even though it was totally dry, was still a little sticky. So I took a scrap of paper, cut it to size, glued it onto the back of the pad near the top, and wrapped it around over the cement to create a little “cover”. It kind of gives it a finished look, plus you don’t have to feel the sticky cement anymore!

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper: Back Cover

It’s a little hard to see in the picture above, but that scrap of white paper across the back folds over the top as well and covers the top edge of all the sheets.

I also stuck a magnet onto the back of the pad so that we could hang it on our fridge. I used the same magnet/strip/tape stuff I used for the dried herb storage tins and it works great!

Make Your Own Pad Of Paper

There are tons of cool things you can do with this idea. Make a shopping list like I did. Make a little sketchpad for carrying around in your purse. Make a giant square notepad and leave it near the house phone for taking messages. Make little notepads as a gift for teachers. Tons of ideas!

Have you ever made your own pad of paper before? Now that I have this whole bottle of rubber cement, what else can I use it for?



Side Note: Apparently I can’t write a short, simple post to save my life! I was so excited about this project because I thought “It’s super simple, just a few steps. I can write a quick little post for Friday and get to bed early on Thursday night.” Apparently not! I blame the photos, there sure are a lot of them :-)

What do you guys think? Do you like the level of detail in these project posts? Or do you just want the basics outlined for you with a few pictures? Personally I like adding the detail in, just in case some of you want to read it. And I always try to bold the important parts for you if you’d rather just skim, but I definitely understand being slightly put off by a super long post. Thoughts?




I link up at these awesome parties!

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Hi, I'm Jessi! Welcome to Practically Functional, a blog about real projects that real people can actually do! You don't have to be a pro in order to craft or do DIY projects; Practically Functional is full of projects for everyday life that anyone can do, regardless of skill or experience! Whether you're looking for fun crafts, DIY projects both big and small, gardening advice, cleaning tips, or quick and easy recipes, you'll find them here! Follow the step by step instructions in every tutorial, and don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions! Make sure you subscribe to free weekly emails so you don't miss a single tutorial!

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  1. Di says

    Hi Jessi,
    Oh I love it! Once you “invest” money in the rubber cement you could probably make a huge ton of these! And love the teachers gift idea. You are good, girl! I would like to invite you to share this project and *all* of your other wonderful projects on our Mommy Blog Recipes/DIY Exchange boards.
    The info is on my last blog post, attached:)
    Thanks so much:) and btw, I think you gave just the right amount of instruction–very helpful! Di

  2. says

    SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. That is awesome! I love pads of paper and have a million billion sheets of scrap paper. Genius!

    I need lots of detail in order to actually *do* the projects, but I admit I often just skim through when I first read them. If that makes sense? I face the same quandry with the cooking posts–I wouldn’t need this much detail, but a beginner would probably need more, and I want recipes to be accessible to people who think they can’t cook. And pictures definitely help! But they make it hard to print out and take around. So. That wasn’t helpful at all.

    • says

      Haha! That’s sort of how I feel about the level of detail. Like, I love a lot of the craft blogs out there, but a lot of those women go “And then you just spray paint the table and you’re done!” And I’m like “WTH? No.” Cuz I know nothing about spray painting.

      So I figure if the point of my blog is to put practical and functional projects out there that anyone can do (if I can do it with my little crafty skills and my very little time, anyone can!) I figure it’s best to have the details in there just in case. And if some super crafty person stumbles across my blog, well I’ve highlighted the major points in bold and they can skip the detail if they want :-)

      I’m the same way about recipes, I want tons of pictures and details cuz otherwise I’m pretty sure I’ll screw it up! I love that about your blog.

      • says

        Yes! But sometimes it’s hard to know what other people don’t know, if you know it so well it seems obvious. If that makes sense.

        Plus, detailed instructions help me go either, “Ok, broken down like that, that’s something I could do,” or “Oh, doing this requires a specific tool I don’t have or skill I haven’t mastered, so it’s probably not something that’s practical for me to try.”

        I’m thinking I need to figure out a way to post a recipe card or something that’s easier to read when you don’t need all the picture detail. But bolding the important steps is a good idea, actually.

        • says

          Yeah, actually I’m working on something like that right now for my recipes (which is why I haven’t posted one for so long…I keep thinking, just a little longer and I’ll have this ready!) Like, I want some sort of “printable” version of the recipe that consolidates it down to a page if you need it printed, rather than printing my whole post with a bajillion pictures and directions. Once I get it figured out I’ll show you too if you want :-)

  3. kalynbrooke says


    I like to buy my shopping list pads at Current when they are on clearance – they have really pretty designs. Otherwise, I just pick them up at the dollar store. To me, time is money to a certain point, but if I wanted to personalize it or use it as a gift idea, this is a great tutorial.

    BTW – I like the details. :)

  4. says

    This is awesome! (And there’s no such thing as too many photos!). My shopping list is almost gone. I’m so going to try this. Thanks for the printable, too!

  5. says

    I have had my kids make little pads for teacher gifts back when they were little (have them draw a little picture and write the teacher’s name, then copy it a bunch of times.) But I never thought to use rubber cement! (I took them up to Kinko’s and paid to have them padded!) Great tutorial, and I love all of the pictures! Found you at the Mom’s Mingle bloghop. I’m a new follower. Loving your blog.

  6. Lydia@ Five4FiveMeals says

    What a great idea? I ALWAYS need a notepad too.
    Thanks for linking up Friday at

  7. says

    Jessi this is GREAT!!! I didn’t know that you could use rubber cement.. GENIUS!! Thanks for the printable!

    Thank you so very much for sharing this at The DIY Dreamer.. From Dream To Reality!

  8. says

    Again, smarty pants! I so need to do this. Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see you again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  9. says

    Great idea! Thanks for the template. I shared a template for a shopping list on my site, too. I never thought to make it into a note pad. That would really help! I’m constantly trying to remember to print a new one. Thanks so much for linking up at One Creative Weekend! I hope to see you back tomorrow! I’ll be sharing this idea on facebook as soon as I make some of my own! I’ll let you know when it’s up.

  10. Amanda says

    Great project! I could easily make a million of these. Thanks for sharing at I Made It! Monday. I can’t wait to see what you link up this week.

  11. sparkling74 says

    I can’t even believe it’s rubber cement that makes the great binding! I always wondered what would work. I use recycled paper all the time and for years, I’ve wanted to bing them to make pads of paper. Watch out- I’ll be dangerous now!

  12. Marion says

    I first did this about 13-14 years ago, though it’s been awhile since the last time I did it. I found out about padding compound and checked at the printer’s in my hometown to see if I could buy some. They get it in huge containers, but for a few dollars she sold me a quart jar full. A little goes a long way.

    I’ve used it to recycle the paper we use in our office into scratch pads, we made personalized small pads as birthday party favours, and my parents and siblings have all received pads featuring my kids artwork. The nice thing about using padding compound (looks like white glue, but is more flexible when dry) is that you can tint it with paste food colouring and personalize even further. It can also be washed off with soap and water before it dries which is always good when kids are helping.

    I usually made my pads in bulk and used two boards and some spring clamps to keep everything stable while I applied the compound and then let it dry. The kids used to love painting the compound on, we would have two or three colours and would end up with striped, spotted and squiggly designs on the end of the pads.

    I’m feeling the urge to get out my half-jar of compound and make a few pads again. I just checked it and while I need a new lid for the jar and needed to fish out a few rust flakes, the compound is still liquid and ready to use. Hmmm.

    • says

      Awesome! My mom keeps all of her scrap paper and recycles it for scratch paper too :-)

      And that’s way cool about being able to color the padding compound, I didn’t realize you could do that!

  13. Pam says

    Love the post! I am forever saving scrap paper. This is a nice way to keep it together. I could have a to do list or a grocery list! As for the tutorials… I love, love all the details. Sometimes I can guess at stuff if I need to, but I’d rather have the pictures and clear instructions. The pictures are also nice, I can always look at them and check to see if my project looks like yours does at a certain point. Thanks for all you do. Congrats on your new web design and I look forward to what is yet to come :)

  14. ashlee says

    Thanks so much for linking up to Topsy Turvy Third Tuesdays! i’m totally featuring your pad today! I totally want to make myself a pad now! But of what??? (I use an app for my grocery list)

  15. Margie says

    LOVE your idea! Fab details and pictures! My boss’s wife calls so frequently… we have a sticky note we just use over and over. But I think I may print out a pad of sheets with perhaps: “Call your wife:” and maybe some check boxes like: >”As soon as possible”, >”Immediately”, >”At lunch”, >”You’re in Trouble!!” hahaha Fun little pad to use!! Great DIY ! ! ! Thank you so much

  16. Courtney K. says

    I just came across this on Pinterest and can’t wait to try it! I have so much paper that I usually cut into 1/4’s and use a binder clip at one end. This will be so much better. Plus, I love the idea that you can use any paper. This will be great for gifting! Thanks for the tutorial!

  17. DR says

    Just found your website today and love it. Realize this post is an older one but I thought I’d mention that somewhere I read about using this technique to keep your business cards organized. Then you just tear one off when you need dto give one to someone. Makes a great gift for a man who carries business cards, etc.

  18. says

    I have been looking online for an easy tutorial to go about making our own field notes and this has been the winner! I’ve looked at a ton of websites but they’ve either been too complicated, didn’t have enough examples or was just difficult to read.

    Anyway, just wanted to say THANK YOU for this awesome tutorial. Also for the great downloadable shopping list! I was just going to use this for business use, but I’m going to do this for personal use, too! :)

    Thanks again! You rock!

  19. Donna Lee says

    I just came across this blog entry when searching for a way to repair one of those page-a-day desk calendars that broke into two chunks (somewhere in the month of October on the pad!). I’m going to use your method, and -if all goes well- I’ll have an intact calendar again when I’m finished! (By the way, I am NOT going to peel off all the glue from the top of the 365 pages — I’ll have to take my chances at glueing OVER the original glue. Can you tell me if there is also a kind of “binding tape” that accomplished the same thing?

    • says

      Good luck! Gluing over the original glue should work just fine! I don’t know of any tape that would do a good job holding it together by itself, but you can definitely use a piece of tape or fabric or paper on top of the glue to make a “binding” to hold the whole thing together, and that should work great!


  1. […] I go through a ton of notepads.  And those things aren’t always cheap.  So when I saw this Make Your Own Pad of Paper DIY from Practically Functional  I knew it was something I have to do right […]

  2. […] seen a few tutorials to make your own pads of paper, and I’ve totally been meaning to pin one and try it out! This is a great tutorial AND it […]

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