Make a custom carved notebook or wood journal out of plywood. It makes the perfect personalized gift or treasured keepsake.
Last year, I saw Serena from ThriftDiving.com post about how she made a personalized journal with wood. I loved how her journal looked, and I’ve been wanting to make one ever since. Unfortunately, I don’t have a wood burning tool, so I decided to carve the cover design into the wood instead of burning it.
DIY Notebook Supplies
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A 1/4 inch thick piece of plywood
stationary or resume paper
Make the Wood Journal Cover
I started with a single piece of 1/4-inch plywood that was 12X12 inches. Since I wanted my journal to be 6 inches wide by 8 inches long, I cut two pieces of wood that size from my plywood. I used a mitre saw to cut it, but you can use any saw or even a utility knife to cut it. Plywood this thin is very easy to cut.
After cutting the plywood, I sanded down the edges to make them smooth and remove any splinters.
Then I got out my Dremel rotary tool and some scrap wood, and practiced making design and letters in the wood. Once I had the hang of it, I wrote the word “Journal” on my plywood, and started carving it slowly with a very fine tip Dremel bit (#191). Once the word was thinly carved, I put in a wider bit (#84922) and carved into the letters even more. I spent about 20 minutes carving the letters over and over until they had a look that I wanted.
From my experience, you can’t expect perfect letters. Maybe someone with a steadier hand than I have could make the letters look a little more even. But I like that it looks handmade instead of machine-carved.
After carving the wood, I stained it with Varathane Worn Navy wood stain. I used a rag to wipe on the stain, and pushed a lot of stain into the carved letters, so they would stand out more. Then I used the same rag, and wiped off any excess stain.
Once the stain was dry, I lightly sanded both pieces of plywood with a 220 grit sandpaper to make the letters stand out even more.
Create the Journal Insides
I bought some thicker cotton paper, instead of using copy paper, to make the journal more elegant. I cut it down to fit inside of the wood covers, 5 1/2 by 7 1/2 inches. There were 40 sheets, which made 80 pages in the journal. I also used a tan decorative cardstock paper to make end pages.
I only wanted two holes in the paper, so I took my 3-hole punch and put a tape mark between the bottom two holes. When I punched the paper, I lined the bottom up with that tape mark so that the holes would be in the same location on all of the pages.
I took one of my papers and used it to mark where the holes needed to be in the plywood cover. I used a drill with a 1/4 inch bit to drill holes in the cover.
Assemble the Wood Journal
With all of the parts ready, I assembled my custom wood journal. I put the tan end pages on the top and bottom of the white pages, then added the front and back plywood covers. I lined up the holes and attached the binder rings through the holes.
Here it is all put together. I love the texture of the wood grain. And I also love how practical it is—you don’t need to put it on a hard surface to write on it. The plywood is solid enough, that you can write in this little journal anytime and anywhere.
I made this wood journal to give as a gift, so I packages it inside of a box with a white fabric insert to keep it safe and give it a good presentation.