Turn a Children's Board Book into a Photo Album

Posted by Stephanie Chan

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My girls have several baby board books that we read and read and read and read (and read some more) to the point where they are falling apart! My girls are now reading chapter books (sniff sniff!) but we still cherish those colorful board books. Here's how I made one into a photo album that I will fill with their baby pictures to remember that so completely precious time in their lives. I also love to collect vintage children's books, and now I have a way to preserve the ones where the cover looks okay but the inside pages are in rough shape. You could make albums, notebooks, whatever you like!

Here's What You'll Need

  • Zutter Bind-It-All 2.0
  • Zutter 1-inch Binding Wire
  • Board book
  • Scissors
  • Craft knife and self-healing mat
  • Ruler
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Adhesive (I used my Xyron 5-inch Creative Station)
  • Pencil
  • Wire cutters

Let's Get Crafty!

I used scrapbook paper to act as the album pages onto which I will be adding my photos. I cut out enough pieces to fit in between the pages of the book, multiplied by two. Then I ran half the papers through my Xyron to add adhesive to the back, and stuck them onto another piece, to create a thicker, 2-sided album page. That's all I did with my album pages. You can be more creative! As for the size of my album pages, I made them about 4.5x9 inches, which is slightly smaller than the book's pages. Set the album pages aside for now.

I used scissors to remove the front and back covers from the book's spine. Then I used a craft knife and straight edge to cut the pages loose. First I opened the book in the middle and flattened it. Then I laid my ruler along the middle crease, and cut along the crease with my craft knife. Some of the pages started falling out on their own, and others I had to open up and cut some more with my craft knife. Put the pages in order.

Measure the covers. This will help you determine how many holes to punch with your Bind-It-All, and how many coils you'll need. My covers are about 5.5 inches by 10 inches. So I looked in the instruction book and there's a handy guide that tells you how many holes you need, and even how to line things up while you're punching the holes. So since my cover page is 10 inches, I'll have 18 holes. The Bind-It-All only punches 6 holes at a time, so it tells me how to scoot it over and where to punch the next set of 6 and the next set of 6 after that to make 18 holes. There are also instructions for punching the holes for the inner pages, but only if the inner pages are 9 13/16 inches. My book pages and album pages, however, aren't of this measurement (book pages are 9.5 inches, and as mentioned, album pages are 9 inches), so I'll be using a slightly different method to punch the holes for those pages. The instruction book is a great starting point though. In addition, I would recommend using scrap paper cut into the dimensions of your covers and inner pages, to practice and make sure you're getting it right.

First I'll show how to punch the holes in your covers. This is my back cover. (1) First, look at the side of your Bind-It-All to find these tabs marked A-D. Switch the tab to C for Cover. (2) Insert your cover so that it's lined up with the tab. (3) Oh, make sure the back stand is out for stability. (4) Then, push down the lever. For thick pages like chipboard, you'll have to use quite a bit of elbow grease. (5) Remove the cover and you'll see six very cleanly-punched holes! Notice there's a space between the edge and the first hole on the left. Our goal is to get a similarly sized space from the other edge too.

Now to punch the remaining 12 holes. (1) Referring to the instructions for our 10-inch cover, we should switch the tab on the side to B for Continuous. The tab will no longer be blocking the side of the Bind-It-All, and your cover can stick out. On the tab, you'll notice there's a little notch sticking out. (2) You will insert that tab into the 5th hole from the right (among the first set of six holes you punched). This will line up your cover to punch the next set of 6 holes. (3) And finally, punch the remaining set of 6 holes. Remove the cover page, and scoot it over so the notch is now in the 11th hole from the right, and punch the last set. (4) The result is 18 perfectly cut and centered holes!

For the book pages and album pages, we will do things a little bit differently since we also want 18 holes, but the exact measurement used in the instructions isn't what we have. (1) Start by finding the center of the page. The book pages are 9.5 inches, so the center is 4.75 inches. Mark that with a light pencil mark. (2) Insert the book page into the Bind-It-All, lining up your center mark with the arrow that marks the center. Punch the first set of 6 holes. This time, they will be in the center rather than on one side. (3) Scoot the page over to the right, and insert the notch into the 5th hole from the right and punch the 2nd set of 6 holes. (4) Flip the page over, and insert the notch into the 11th hole from the right, and punch the last set of 6 holes. (5) What results should be 18 holes, centered on the page. Again, first practice practice practice with scrap paper cut into the same dimensions so you know you're doing it right.

Repeat with the album pages. Find the center, line it up in the Bind-It-All, and repeat step 6.

Take your binding wire and count 18 prongs (count the small ones, not the big square ones). Cut off the extra prongs with wire cutters in the middle of the following big square one. Now you can start threading your pages onto the wire. Start with the very last page which for now will be the very bottom (NOT the back cover, as I have in the photo - ignore that!!! Pretend it's an inner book page). I alternated book page, album page.

Almost done! (1) Thread on your front cover, and the back cover last, so that the back cover is on the top for now. (2) Rotate the wire so the opening is facing away from the pages, like so. Now we're ready to close the wire!

The Zutter Bind-It-All comes with these plates that show the size of their binding wires. We are using a 1-inch wire, so I found the 1-inch plate. I stuck it sideways into the front gap of the Bind-It-All, and turned the front knob so that the plate fits in the gap snugly, but not too tight where I cannot pull it out. You can also refer to the markings at the bottom of the gap and twist the knob until it reaches your desired size.

Insert the wire into the Bind-It-All so that the small prongs are facing the back i.e. towards the handle. The back cover page should also be facing that direction.

Press down the handle gently to squeeze the wire closed. Remove the book, scoot it over and press again to squeeze the remaining wires. Repeat until all of the rings are closed. Be sure to squeeze with the same pressure each time.

Flip the back cover page to the back, and you're done!

Here's the inside with one of the album pages.

This could get super addicting! I'm sure I'll be making many more. I know there were a lot of steps in this tutorial, but after using the Bind-It-All to punch holes in several pages, I got used to the process and it went really fast. I think the key is to do some practice first. You'll be making all kinds of books - albums, journals, sketch books, notebooks, and more - in no time!