Cover Me: DIY Journal Covers and Notebooks

DIY journal covers and notebooks made of leather and wood! Super cute and make great gifts too.

Image of handmade leather and wood notebooks, from overhead.

After yesterday’s confession, I’m feeling a little bit more on track for the new year. So, I made some DIY journal covers / notebooks to give us all (myself included) an extra push in the right direction.

If there’s anything that can get me inspired to plan for the future, it’s a shiny new notebook. Am I alone on this? Or do you know what I’m talking about here?

To make these little guys extra special, I thought I would cover them in maple wood veneer and leather. How’s that for fancy notebook inspiration?!

Want to make your own?

  Image of stacked leather and wood notebooks in blue and pink and gold.

Image of supplies needed for DIY notebooks.

Supplies Needed for DIY Journal Covers

  • mini composition notebooks (mine are from Amazon)
  • thin wood veneer (mine is maple – from a local woodworking store)
  • scrap leather
  • heavy duty craft glue
  • scissors
  • textile paint and paint brush (if you plan to colorize your binding)
  • chip clips

***Apologies in advance for the horrible step by step photos. It was not a good light day when I assembled these. It happens. But ugh!

Image of scissors and other supplies fro DIY notebooks.

How to Make a Notebook

1. Cut leather and wrap it.

Cut a piece of leather that is slightly larger than what you’ll need to cover the binder edging of each notebook. To measure, just place the edge of the leather over the black binding of your notebook. Then, wrap it around the back side and mark with a pencil before cutting. You’ll want to leave at least an extra 1/4 inch of overhang on each side of the length of the binding (as shown in the photo).

*If you plan to paint the leather, do so before moving on to step 2.

2. Attach the leather binding.

Next, attach the leather to the binding of the notebook with glue. I applied the glue to the leather and then attached it to the notebook, but you can apply the glue directly to the notebook instead, if you prefer. Attach a long chip clip to the leather after attaching (Not shown in the photo steps, but I did actually do this and it works great). This will act as a clamp while the glue is drying.

3. Cut the wood veneer.

Once the glue has had time to dry (drying times vary based on the type of glue you use), cut two pieces of wood veneer that are slightly larger (about 1/4 inch excess all the way around is great) than what you’ll need to cover the front and back of the notebook.

Image of green scissors with handmade notebooks, in process of being made.

4. Attach the wood veneer and clamp.

Attach the first piece of veneer to the front of the notebook, with glue. Be sure to butt the wood right up to the leather binding. Then, flip it over and attach the second piece of veneer the same way as the first. Clamp the wood with a chip clip and wait for the glue to dry. Once dry, remove the chip clip. Then trim all of the excess wood and leather from the edges with a sharp pair of scissors. And it’s ready to use.

I ended up painting some leather turquoise and hot pink before attaching it to the notebook. And left a few plain, to let the gold leather have a moment in the spotlight.

Here’s how the finished notebooks turned out…

Image of stacked DIY notebooks with other office supplies on the table.

More DIY Notebooks

  •  I put together some leather projects (that include a leather embossed notebook).
  • DIY notebooks that utilize an unlikely material. These are my favorite!


Feature image of stacked notebooks with blue, pink, and gold spines.

Image overhead of DIY notebooks made of leather and wood.

Image of stacked notebooks on white desk with marble table top.

Image of white and marble tabletop desk with office accessories.

Concept, photography, and styling by Brittni Mehlhoff
Assisted by Linda Jednaszewski

I love how these turned out so much, that I made a whole bunch (with Linda’s help) and sent them out to a few friends to kick off the new year in style. So, they’re a good gift idea for friends, if you’re in the gifting mood.

Think you’ll give these notebooks a try? 

29 comments | Click here to reply

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These look awesome! I was curious about the wood veneer- what size did you buy and what did you use to cut it?


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i like the idea, but I would tweak a bit for my taste.


Oh my, I love these!
Some girls love the Notebook, I just love notebooks.
I’ve shared it as well if you don’t mind 🙂


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Such a cool post! Love this post!
Love from – a lifestyle, cooking, fashion blog

Trang's corner

This is so cool!

Monique | WritingMonique

So easy and so wonderful.
Little work but big effect.
Thank you for sharing.
Greetings from Germany

Michaela Stefinyn

Wow they look great! thanks for sharing – I love new ideas for how to get creative.

Sarah @ Bonjour Sucre

I love this! Absolutely saving this DIY for the future. 🙂 And I totally get it. Thought I might be a bit crazy, since I’m convinced that once my 2015 planner arrives (supposed to arrive today!) it’s going to turn my business around. Haha. Okay, maybe not, but I do think it will help me reach my goal this year: to find an effective work week schedule! 🙂

<3 Kelsea | Kels Shark

Kelsea Echo

I love these, so pretty, and so me. I’m always looking for new notebook diys somehow. I like filling them with little drawings and stuff. I just wrote a post on art journaling tips by the way. If you’d like to check it out here is the link.


These are beautiful! And seem like such a fun, simple project! I know exactly what you mean about a fresh, clean notebook being a motivating factor. I’m the same way. Maybe it’s just an excuse to fuel my stationary addiction, but there’s just something about all those fresh, blank pages, isn’t there?

xx Kathryn


Lovely DIY!


These notebooks are totally fabulous! Thanks for the step by step instructions. I will be making some soon!

Katie @ The Casual Craftlete

This is such a cute project, I love it!


So cool and so inspiring, it totally gave me an idea for a different notebook DIY project! There’s nothing better than a fresh note book 🙂 Love your blog, thank you for being awesome! <3


Love these! I also love notebooks and always have at least one with me at all times. I love the look of the leather plus wood- and they look so pretty bundled!


WOW! I searched for about 3 hours the other night for the perfect notebook… this might be it! Love the color combos.

Kelly @ Studio DIY

These are awesome!

Ashley | Sugar & Cloth

Ooh…I’m totally going to try this! I have a notebook obsession.


Love it! 🙂

Tija GirlStuff

Perfection! Such happy colors that inspire a fresh start. LOVE the eyeball bowl too 🙂


This is co cute!


Omg, it look so simple but that’s what I like it! Great diy! <3 xo

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