The Engineer's Notebook

Updated: Mar 15, 2020

This is one of those projects that started out as "just a prototype" and ended up being the real deal. I had an idea to make a notebook carrier that would hold items like paper, pen, and a rule - the essentials every engineer needs. And of course it's an excuse to hit the shop.

I wanted a small form factor that I could carry in my pocket, yet be strong enough to hold up. I used 1/4" oak for the casing and routed in grooves for the pen and pencil to sit down in as to save as much space as possible. Two small rails with a slight taper made a simple holder for the ruler. On the opposite side a standard 3" sticky pad rests.

A small case like this is a good opportunity to show off some fancy joinery, so I made some unnecessary box joints along the top and the bottom. These are the shortest box joints I've ever made, but they turned out quite well. The whole box is rounded over with a round over bit on the router to soften up the edges to make fitting in a pocket easy.

The hinges were by far the hardest part, and I had multiple attempts. At first I tried just using a piece of leather as the hinge, but had trouble getting it to operate well and it didn't look as good as I imagined. I love the look of brass hinges, but couldn't find any locally that were small enough - so I made my own! I used some small brass tubing and square stock and soldered up some mini hinges. They were quite finicky to get mounted straight, but they look and operate exceptionally well. Next time, however, I'll spring for some store bought one's online!

In the end I'm very happy with this "prototype" and it will get frequent use in the future. If I make it again, I would improve the paper side of the box to fit a larger pad to make better use of the space.