There’s one thing I like to splurge on each year and that’s a nice diary. Something sturdy to keep track of my to do lists and organise my thoughts.
But when the end of the year rolls round, the question then becomes, what do I do with the old diary?
You may have seen ideas around the interwebs for upcycling old books. I know some people have heart palpitations at the idea of cutting up books, but what about old diaries?
In this tutorial I’ll share with you how I turned last year’s diary into a blank journal, to be used either by myself, or to be put away as a potential gift.
upcycling an old diary
What you will need:
- An old hardcover diary (or book)
- Recycled office paper
- PVA glue and glue stick
- Paper or fabric for the cover
- Bulldog clips or clamps
- Thick cardboard strips
- 2 pieces of heavy paper or light cardboard for front and back pages
Steps to repurpose old diary:
1. Removing old pages from diary cover
First you need to cut away the cover from the pages. Using a scalpel or knife and ruler, cut the along the fold of the first page in the diary to separate the the front cover.
Do the same for the back and remove the pages. You can use any spare pages for notepaper and shred the rest for the compost bin.
Don’t forget to keep the ribbon and the decorative top and bottom attached to the spine of the pages – you can reuse these to give your journal a professional looking finish.
2. Cover the old diary cover
Next, Cover your diary in either some nice scrapbook paper or leftover fabric. I chose a scrapbook paper that I had leftover from another project.
Stick the new cover down with a glue stick and then fold and trim the corners as shown below. Stick the flaps down.
Because there was writing on the inside cover, I stuck a blank piece of paper over, just to make sure it didn’t show through. If you don’t have writing on the inside cover, you can skip this step.
3. Making the pages
Now to make the pages. Grab a pile of recycled office paper and trim it to size. Because of the size of my diary, I could cut the paper in half ‘doubling’ the number of the pages in my notebook without using lots of paper.
If you have access to a guillotine, use that to cut your paper – it will make the pages much neater. Otherwise, a paper cutter like the one below is an adequate alternative. I used masking tape as a guide to help cut the pages neatly.
Once you have enough pages to fill your cover, bang them against a table to line them up neatly.
Take your two sheets of heavy paper and fold them in half and place on on either side of you bundle of pages, the folded edges facing the same way. These sheets will be glued to the front and back of your cover, securing the pages in place.
Place the strips of cardboard on either side of one edge of your bundle of paper – the edge that will be against the spine in your journal (the edge where the fold is on the front and back papers). The cardboard is to help hold your pages while you’re gluing them. Then use bulldog clips or clamps to clamp your bundle together.
Using the PVA glue, brush a generous amount up and down the spine. Leave to dry. Repeat 3 or 4 times to make sure you’ve got a good bond. Remove the clips once dry.
Once your spine is dry, you can stick the ribbon and heading tape from the old diary to the spine of your new pages.
4. Attaching the pages to the cover.
Using a glue stick, stick the front and back page of your bundle of pages (the pages that you folded in half) to the front and back of the cover. The folded piece of paper will cover the inside of the cover, neatening it up, as well as attach the pages to your cover. A thin paper, as I found, will wrinkle when you glue it to the inside cover and will be a bit see through, which is why it’s important to use a heavy paper for the front and back pages.
And that’s it! Your journal is complete.
It’s a nice way to give life to an old diary, saving it from landfill and saving you money on a notebook (or gift).
I didn’t spend any money directly on this project but the approximate cost was 60c for the scrapbook paper (leftover from another project) and around $1 for the office paper (which we have at home) plus a few cents for the glue.
What do you do with last year’s diary?
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.