A notepad for my Zettelkasten! 🗃️

30 index cards, some bookbinder’s (PVA) glue, a brush, some clips, and ten minutes of craft time. We’re ready for the road…

Wooden table featuring a deck index cards bound by glue at the top stand up near some PVA adhesive surrounded by some binder clips, a paint brush, a Lochby case of fountain pens and a stationery bag.

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Chris Aldrich

I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, IndieWeb, theoretical mathematics, and big history. I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.

29 thoughts on “”

  1. @JMaxB My understanding is that Elmer’s contains PVA, but is a mixture of other non-toxic substances. As a result it can yellow and crack over time. I chose a neutral pH glue specifically for bookbinding, which in my personal tests and those I’ve heard about from others (including some professional archivists) gives a better result, particularly for these types of bindings where later removal is useful. It’s a bit more expensive, but not prohibitively so. I suspect I’ll also use this for some woodworking applications as well.

    I’ve heard people use Elmer’s glue for this with reasonable results, but you might want to try at least three coats.

  2. @dwalbert You’re definitely not the only one who’d consider doing this. Your question about reversibility is also the whole point! I specifically want the convenience of a notebook/notepad format, but the index card resorting affordance of an index card-based commonplace book or zettelkasten. It’s only two thin layers of glue holding them together at the top. In fact, it’s the same sort of process and glue that’s used on most paper pads that allows you to tear sheets out as you go. As a side benefit with index cards, I’m even less worried about the paper tearing when removing them because the paper is thicker.

    Now of course one could also do the reverse process and take a group of cards organized by a particular topic and turn them into their own little mini-book if one wanted. Some writers who use these methods for researching and organizing may want to do something like this when their book project(s) are over for archival purposes, though simply keeping cards in their boxes is probably just as convenient, though time and entropy may manage to re-organize those cards depending on one’s wishes.

    I had started out looking for companies that made something like this, but realized there aren’t any and that I could just as easily make my own with the exact cards I prefer for a fraction of what I would have been charged for the privilege.

  3. @dwalbert There are a variety of handbooks which have been written over time that one might consider. A few popular modern ones include those by Dan Allosso, Sonke Ahrens, and a new one (today, in fact) by Scott Scheper. At the very worst, most of these card file drawers are just big enough to fit a bottle of wine, so if you get something with 40 drawers, you can put something in them until you’ve gotten them filled with note cards. 🍷🍾🗃️

    Some other box options for starting: card storage

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