Notebook covers in ColorShop plywood

Holiday gifts coming in hot! These are personalized notebook covers in 5.5" x 8.5". Design was yesterday, manufacturing was today. Tomorrow is punching paper and binding.

The good: They look sharp, better than in the pictures. Assembly was pretty easy once I knew how to adjust for kerf.

The bad: I used the PG maple ply HD Engrave setting to do the names, which looks nice, but takes FOREVER. I should have invested some time in figuring out a faster engrave. And, this wood line only has a few light colors that will let an engrave show up well. The “Dovetail” color used for all the names is one of them.

The ugly: This Rowmark ColorShop wood cuts great, except when you hit a knot and need to re-cut. Every one of the 4 covers I made hit one knot on at least one of the components. Some knots cut with a second zap. One knot needed FOUR EXTRA CUTS. That meant the rest of the perimeter got pretty $#@^ toasted. And any time you do an extra cut you lose some more kerf and your friction fit suffers. These all have a little wood glue holding some pieces in because I didn’t trust friction on the overcooked parts. And for extra insurance, the back of each cover has a sheet of decorative paper held on with 3M 77 adhesive.


  • If you are worried about knots make every cut a separate color so you don’t have to re-cut EVERYTHING in your layout.
  • Rotate any text counter-clockwise about 5 degrees to make it extra snazzy
  • A good font with ornaments included is a big time saver

They look amazing! Great write up! My big take-away … rotate the text 5 degrees. It indeed, does make it snazzy!

It’s the little things that count. I went back and took a look at the photos again and wow, what a difference.

They all look great. Love the extra color.

they look amazing! Your elves have been busy.

Those look awesome. I’ve been tempted to try something like this myself, but can’t find a source for the paper. Any suggestions?

Also, thanks for mentioning the Rowmark wood. I’ve been tempted to try some, but am too cheap right now. :D. Now I know it’ll work.

Gosh, they look great–nice job!

If you have snapmarks, I wonder if it would make sense to cut the original using Snapmarks, then if any part didn’t cut through you could quickly churn out an individual cut line to get that bit, without going over all the rest.

I am using this paper. It’s about the only non-white, > 20 lb, half-sheet paper I could find at a decent price. it is pretty nice, but it is also unpunched.

You can buy half-sheet punched paper at binding vendors like, but it is much more expensive. And as far as I can tell, it is only available in white.

An easy way to set up something like that would be great. I guess if you were doing the same design over and over it would be worth the setup time, but for these one-offs I just managed with crude recuts.

As I was doing the recuts I found myself longing for one simple tool in the GFUI: an eraser. If I know there is 1/2" of path that didn’t cut right, let me erase everything else and recut the remaining segment.

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@GrooveStranger That’s the problem I had. I couldn’t find punched paper. How do you punch them? Is there a special punch for that?

I’d just use printer paper for something like this. You can get high quality version that’s a nice weight without being super heavy and printer paper comes in lots of colors. Resume/business paper would be nice. Like a cream colored cotton paper.

Otherwise, you can hunt down paper meant for bookbinding. It’s not cheap, and you typically need to cut/tear it yourself, but it’s really nice:

If you’re feeling really crafty, you could make your own. :wink:

I am a paper junky and a writer. I notice what kind of paper is in my notebook. Most people don’t as long as the paper is thick enough to handle a regular pen.

Unfortunately if I want it cut into half-sheet size for me, the options are much reduced. I suppose a nice paper cutter will have to join the toolbox someday but for now I have compromised on not adding paper cutting to my list of tasks.

Oh yes, there is special gear. For example here is a machine that punches the holes for 3:1 wire binding, and includes the wire squeeze mechanism too.

Unless you want to spend a fortune on a machine that does many types of binding, I guess the thing to do is figure out which one binding style best meets your needs and make do with that.

But as far as I can see, if you are interested in “fancy” binding like 2:1 wire, 3:1 wire, etc. there is no equivalent of the $20 3-hole punch we all grew up with. This gear just costs more.

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Any paper can be cut in half with a good straight edge (I.e. a metal ruler). You can put the rough edge by the binding or let it look like a natural deckled edge on the outside. Just another option…

I asked for a guillotine paper cutter for Christmas for that very reason, though. And my cousin’s husband, the printer is custom cutting the scrap paper he’s sending my way. I have to make him something nice,

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Also a paper junkie.

For some bindings I’ve torn each piece in half, then flipped half so every other page has the fuzzy side up.

Did you get your guillotine?

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Or straight edge and an exacto knife, if you want clean edges.

I did get my guillotine!

@shop, of course. I was making the point that you don’t really need fancy/expensive tools in bookbinding. :slight_smile: You could cut your paper with the laser, though. Wavy edges?

Much faster to cut w exacto than laser.

I’ve cut so much paper w an exacto knife in my career.

Obviously. I was just joking about using fancy/expensive tools. And yes, I’ve also cut a lot of paper with an exacto knife. I actually wanted a GF to help with bookbinding (cutting book board, which is annoying with an exacto knife), although I haven’t done any of that because there are so many other fun things to cut!

This won’t meet the need for non-white paper, but one of the folks in my bookbinding group highly recommends this paper. It’s acid-free, which may be less important for a notebook cover, but it also comes in several weights and is meant to work with a variety of art tools:


Thought you’d all appreciate this. My cousin’s husband owns a large print shop so I had asked him for remnant paper for bookbinding and journal creation. He first gave me a case of a glossy cardstock that will probably work well for printing and even laser cutting, but not so great for a journal or notebook. So I clarified my ask and he sent me three different kinds of paper including this one:

I’m not sure if he printed that for me on extra paper or if it was leftover from a project, but with 1000 sheets, I can make quite a few lined journals. It’s still not really what I was hoping for, but he gets huge points for effort!


That is quite a score!

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