Making Your Own Pads of Paper

I just successfully used the method described below to create my own pad of paper. It's cheap, easy and fast!

On the downside, the website where I originally saw this is now charging $7.00 for their instructions. On the upside, I'd copied them into Evernote long ago, when they were free. On the downside, I don't have their nice pictures to show how it's done. On the upside, it's easy enough that simple descriptions will be enough. Believe me, this will take longer to describe than to do, and if needed, I can take photos and load them later.

I also didn't follow the instructions exactly, more about what I did different at the end.

What you'll need:

Stack of paper
Cardboard pad backing (optional)
Clipboard (optional)
Gorilla Glue
Cotton ball or cotton cosmetic pad

Woodworking clamps and a length of thin wood longer than the edge to be bound
*-*-* or *-*-*
Straight table edge and a heavy flat weight (like a telephone book)

Note: I needed the cardboard backing because my pad slips into a portfolio. Not having anything handy, I trimmed down a double thickness of file folder and used that. It's big enough to slip into the slot of my portfolio and hold the pad securely.

1. Get the paper and cardboard backing nice and even along the edge to be bound.

I was able to use a clipboard to hold the paper, leaving the edge to be bound hanging over the side of the clipboard by about 1/2 inch (1.25 cm or so). Next, I clamped a length of 1x2 wood across the paper, along the edge of the clipboard, to hold the paper tight for binding. The idea is to compress the edge of the stack together before applying the glue.

Alternately, you can carefully place the stack of paper on the edge of a flat surface, leaving that same sort of overhang. Put a heavy book on it, right along the edge of the table, to hold the edge of the stack tight.

2. Take a wet cotton ball and run it along the edge of the paper to be bound. It doesn't have to be dripping, but make a couple of passes to make sure it's damp.

3. Squeeze the cotton ball dry, then apply some Gorilla Glue to the cotton ball and run that along the edge of the paper. Give it a couple of careful swipes to make sure you get the entire length. You don't need much glue!

4. Take a nap. Oh wait, that's me. You can just do something else for an hour or so.

5. All done! When you unclamp/remove the heavy book/whatever clever thing you did, you'll find that you now have a pad of paper! I test tore a sheet free from mine, and it seems to work pretty well. Perhaps a bit of care when removing a sheet to prevent tearing the paper, because that Gorilla Glue is strong.

I now have a beautiful pad of Cornell-style gridded note paper, with my name printed in the upper corner of each sheet. And now that I know this works, I can do it with some better quality paper too.

I spent less than $5.00 for the glue, and if I only use it for this it'll be a near lifetime supply.

The original site recommended building a simple jig to hold the paper straight. It was basically a flat board with two short pieces of wood attached at 90 degree angles, and two holes near the edge so that you could use bolts and wingnuts to clamp the paper tightly. If I find myself doing this often for a particular size, I'll probably knock one together, or figure out how to make it somewhat adjustable for a couple of sizes (like sheet and half-sheet).

Have fun.

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Proper glue ?

I am not sure about using Gorilla Glue for that.

But Google and Amazon are my friends --> Sparco Red Padding Compound
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I'll preface this with I was a nerd

Ok, so I was a nerd. A zillion years ago when I was studying for the SAT I used to make my own vocabulary pads (1 inch rectangles with a word per page) that were small enough to keep in my pocket so I could study to/from sports matches, etc. Anyway, I used to use Elmers School Glue and it worked great. My 2 cents.


I second Elmer's glue. I've worked in print shops, and have done this kind of binding there, and while there are special glues you can buy, I can testify from experience that Elmer's works just fine. I normally use their glue-all, but I've also used school glue, which, to be honest, in this application, might even be better, as it is a tad less adhesive. Just don't get it wet. ;-)

Elmer's has the advantage of remaining pliable after drying, which is vital for bookbinding. It's less strong, but in the case of a pad, that's a plus. Go ahead, and use Elmer's. I've made lots of pads with Elmer's.


money pads - elmer's glue

A friend of the family when I was a kid had pre-vacation ritual. He would go to the bank and get out the amount of mad cash he wanted to use on the vacation in crisp new bills. He would then use Elmer's to make pads out of it. (This was back in the day when a one dollar bill actually purchased a lot. I think he just made pads of 1's 5's and 10's.)

Never was quite sure why he did it, but it was fun to help him make the pads. Fess up, as a kid did you smear the glue on your hand, and then peel away the 'snake skin' once it had dried?


Not with Elmer's

but as an archaeologist I am frequently gluing broken things back together with Duco. When I worked at the Smithsonian and would take the metro home I would peel off layers of Duco from my fingers and people would just quietly edge away from my seat.

We did it with rubber cement

Boy do these comments bring back memories! When I was in grade school, we painted our palms over and over with rubber cememt and rolled it into balls as it dried. Some of us had quite sizeable balls (2-3 inches in diameter that would bounce better than any other ball around at the time (okay that was in the late '60s). The big goal was always to bounce one high enough to go on top of the school.

Sometime later they decided rubber cement was deadly poison and kids aren't allowed to have it anymore.

Scored !!

Checked the local print shops and found one willing to sell me a quart of padding compound for about $17.
No bargain over that Amazon link -- check the shipping cost !! -- but I will have it tomorrow !
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Safety Concerns

My main concern for my comment is safety.
As I recall, Gorilla Glue says to avoid skin contact. The Material Safety Data Sheet confirms that. Link

I have never used Gorilla Glue, but it just seemed to me that it was not totally appropriate as a padding adhesive.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

Good Point

I should have specifically mentioned that, because you're absolutely correct. I wore a disposable latex glove while I did this, but I almost always wear one while using adhesives (another hobby of mine involves extensive use of epoxy and CA glues (industrial grade superglues). It's a habit with me, much like putting on eye-protection while using woodworking tools. I seldom think about it, I just do it.

That said, the amount of glue involved is very small and the chance of skin contact minimal, but if using the Gorilla Glue, you should absolutely wear a glove.

That Elmers is looking better and better.

Now I need glue

Thanks so much for the instructions. I can't wait to try. Given the ink stains on my office floor from filling my fountain pens (and the last major mess was from inserting a brand new ink cartridge and, no, I don't know how I managed that one either), I think it best for everyone if I used the Elmers.

rubber cement

Has anyone tried rubber cement? You wouldn't have to worry so much about it getting wet as with the Elmer's.

rubber cement is toxic

the nice thing about it is that it is fast drying. the bad thing about it is that it is solvent based so cleanup is not so nice.

The best thing, like ygor suggested, is to use is a padding compound. Although it is similar to Elmers in some ways, it has much more elasticity, is specifically made for making pads and for $10 you would have enough to keep you in pads for a decade. Oh... it comes in colors too :)


it comes in colors?

okay, padding compound wins. i like colors.

hmm, this could be very useful. I've been making people some custom circa notebooks, from very non-standard sized covers. I wanted to send them prepunched circa paper, but didn't want the punch outs to get all mangled in transit. making my own, custom paper, custom printed, custom cut, and then custom-made-into-a-pad solves that dilema pretty well.

course, it all depends on how much I love them as to whether I'll go to all this trouble.

For a few, I think yes.

Thanks for all the tips and ideas!!!



I have only seen the jars of stuff in red or white, but I have seen pads with the binding in other colors.

The quart I am getting tomorrow will be white. It's what they have on hand.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)