DIY: Blank Bible (part 1)

DIY: Blank Bible (part 1)


In August we ran a short series on how to make a Jonathan Edwards blank bible – how to cut and rebind a bible with blank pages interwoven for note taking (see part 1, 2 and 3). I was hoping at least 10 of my friends would find it useful. At least a few readers would be entertained at some hombre loco who took a table saw to new bibles.

The actual response was overwhelming.

Over 4,000 hits in three-day period overshadowed all expectations. Jonathan Edwards fans from around the Web stopped by to have a look. Edwards scholars stopped to explain what the original Jonathan Edwards bible looks like and to give insight how his bible was made. Dozens of blogs linked to the series, pastors and Christians from around the world poured encouraging emails into my inbox as they took up the project themselves.

But that original series had its deficiencies.

Judging from the amount of questions that we raised at the end of the series, I had not explained certain steps well enough. There was a lack of photographs. We needed better explanations on how to clamp the bible before cutting and more info on the paper we used. After the first series was done, binding experts sent their insights into alternate options for those who cannot (for example) use a saw to cut the original binding off.

It was obvious I needed a do-over. So this series is my attempt to go back and recreate that original series, to highlight all the steps involved and give better directions.


I am firmly committed to keeping my notes on Scripture as close to Scripture as possible. Ideally I have always wanted a bible that will provide me enough room to keep a lot of notes bound with the text in which they originate (this is the genius of the Jonathan Edwards blank bible). I have looked at some journaling bibles, but I needed more space. I have looked at bibles in three-ring binders but they are very bulky and awkward and need my entire desk cleared out to open it up (and those three rings are always in the way).

But there was a bigger hurdle in my search for the perfect blank bible.

Those in the bible publishing industry tell me the cost of bible paper continues to increase. And because a blank bible doubles the amount of paper, it is unlikely that a blank bible will be published due to affordability. In other words, if you want one, you need to be willing to make it yourself.

So that’s what I did.

It wasn’t hard, just a simple process of taking my ESV bible through eight steps: cut, rip, clamp, saw, slice, stuff, punch and bind [insert grimacing sound from Justin Taylor here].

This time I hope to explain (more fully and clearly) each step as we progress.

[BTW: This exact process is also useful to make ‘blank books’ (like the Valley of Vision) or, minus blank pages, to spiral bind a book fitted for a cardio machine at the gym.]

The bible

In our first blank bible series used the English Standard Version, classic reference edition. We ended up with three volumes. If I were to do it again I would use the same bible. The paper is very easy to work with in the binding process (and the center-column references are excellent, too). I continue to use that first blank bible (although it’s funny that nobody asked me if my wife ever got her ‘Karalee’s blank bible’).

Last time we heard from a number of readers who wanted to create a blank bible with interlinear bibles of the Old and New Testament. And so with the recent release of the long-awaited ESV English-Greek Reverse Interlinear New Testament, we believe it will best suit our needs (though just the New Testament, it will be larger than the previous bible project).

Because this interlinear will provide more space in the New Testament than the previous blank bible project, it will be most useful for taking sermon notes where much space is needed. The blank bible, having less space is most useful for personal study reflections where I have more time to think and express my thoughts concisely.


The series will be broken into three sections

1. Cutting, ripping, clamping, sawing
2. Slicing and stuffing
3. Punching and binding

Provided these turn out, we will conclude the series with a little contest.


Next time … DIY: Blank Bible (part 2) Cut, Rip, Clamp, Saw


Special thanks… This project is possible by the graciousness of Justin, Stephen and Kay (go Huskers!) of Good News and Crossway publisher. Not only is Crossway committed to publish books that are doctrinally accurate but they are also very generous with their materials. They reflect in character what they communicate in print. Thank you.

15 thoughts on “DIY: Blank Bible (part 1)

  1. Tony – You mentioned a blank “Valley of Vision.” Banner’s general manager was just here at our U.S. office last week from Edinburgh, Scotland. When he joined our family for dinner one night, my middle daughter (who has Crossway’s journalling Bible and loves it) asked if we would publish a similar version of that collection of Puritan prayers & devotions. Interesting idea. Well, if there is anything that I can do or send you from our U.S. office here at Banner of Truth with regard to a blank “Valley of Vision, please let me know (you wouldn’t want to destroy a leather bound one, would you?). Personally, I would love to be in Omaha with you when you turn on that table saw. Can you connect a live webcam feed so we can see it in action? On a separate note, when you come visit us here at Banner of Truth next month, let’s do a joint blog with photos, ok?
    Grace & peace, brother —

  2. […] 1. Be more committed to my daily Bible Study 2. Lose 50 pounds (yea, well, I had my first physical in 3 years this past week and the Dr. wasn’t to thrilled with my weight) 3. Finish my novel 4. Move – our 2 bedroom 1000 sq. ft. townhome is just getting too small for the four of us) 5. Find a teaching position in a place where we can afford a house with a bit of land (we have a couple of places in mind but any suggestions would be welcome ) 6. Improve my golf game 7. Read through Augustine’s Confessions 8. Create a blank bible 9. Make better use of my classroom website with my students and their parents 10. Buy flowers for Darling Wife every Friday 11. Go on a 15 mile day hike in the Angeles National Forest 12. Hit the gym consistently (4 days a week minimum) for at least the next 12 weeks and finally, (most importantly?) 13. Leave at least one comment on each blog I visit throughout the day (pretty tall order I’d say) […]

  3. Hello,

    Simple question, why not use a already printed copy of a loose leaf bible and put pages in between it? Thats what I am planning on doing. This is not a slam, I love the idea but it seems like an awful lot of work, when there are easier ways to do it.

  4. Thanks for the question, John. Three reasons …

    (1) Some translations like the ESV are not avaliable in 3-ring.

    (2) Size. A 3-ring binder is pretty large. I know my desk would not accommodate its size comfortably. So compact is critical.

    (3) Writing on an opposite page over a the rings can be very uncomfortable. I suppose you could remove pages you are writing on. The spiral binding allows the bible to be completely opened and folded around making the writing surface always flat.

    So that’s why 3-ring wasn’t suitable for me.


  5. I work in a steel fab shop and this blank Bible project is the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen, being that I love books. I haven’t worked up the courage to try it yet but it’s really bothering me now that I se what you guys have done so well. I’m going to do it! Thanks for the great instructions.

  6. A band saw to a Bible? Heresy!
    My husband works at a copy center. I had him use their industrial paper cutter. It did it in one chop and cost a dollar. I like precision. Band saws are messy. LOL
    Great blog and great concept. Thank you.

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