License Plate Journal & Desk Set

License Plate Journal & Desk Set

I bet you have at least one license plate hanging around somewhere. Once you start to make gifts it becomes a habit. And it starts to become expected. So what can you get that car enthusiast guy? Yup, it’s birthday time for my ‘cars-and-everything-about-cars’ son. How appropriate is it that this license plate is from the vehicle he spent most of his childhood in… oh the memories…

Ya, I tend to be too sentimental at times, but better that way than the opposite! Let’s get on with it…

This set uses 2 pairs of license plates, but you could easily make less pieces.

License Plate Desk Set

4 License Plates
Tin Snips
24″ Piano/continuous hinge
1/8″ x 3/16″ Pop Rivets & matching washers
Rivet Gun
Piece of wood (for bottom of pencil container)
Micro 3-ring Binder & paper and/or paper signatures sewn together
Pencil, ruler
Rotary Tool with cutoff blade or hacksaw


I love using these pop rivets to attach things. They can bring together whatever you can get a hole through and find an appropriate length of rivet. Since this needs to be secured from the back too you will need the washers that fit the rivet size. I’ve used them successfully in my industrial felt projects and my leather purse.

The rivet gun works by pulling the centre through and thus widening the ball end and wedging it in the washer. If you can picture that. The shaft then breaks off from the outside…

Pencil Holder

Divide the length of the plate into 4. Look at where the numbers/letters are and see if you can avoid bending the 4 corners over them. It does make a better bend if it avoids them. I had the ends come together on one side. Drill holes or hammer a large nail to make the holes large enough for the rivets. (I used 1/8″)

If you like you can add washers as well to secure if the hole is a bit too big. Use a scrap of metal or thin material to attach the rivets to. I used a piece of string felt. It is only visible on the inside anyways. The bottom is a piece of wood that was a tight (hammer in tight) fit that didn’t need anything else.


The 2 books or journals used hinges. Our canadian plates are 6″ tall, so a 24″ piano hinge worked well to be divided into 4. The shaft is quite thick to cut with the tin snips so I used my trusty rotary tool with cut off disc to get through it.

Then finish off by using the tin snips. Sand off any sharp and rough edges on the license plate. I like to save the finish by putting masking tape to protect it.

The spine of the books were spaced to avoid the letters on the license plate again, at about 1 1/4″ wide. Mark and cut carefully. Round off the corners a bit as well.

Yes, this license plate is pretty old and sentimental…

Plan the placement of the hinges and make holes in the license plate front and back and spine. Rivet the hinges in. The one book uses a micro 2 ring binder mechanism. You will need disassemble it from the binder by drilling out the rivet and then riveting it in the middle of the spine. Be careful not to force it too much as the rings still need to function.

The other option is to sew together signatures like handmade journals. They are made by having sections of folded paper, holes poked through and then sewn. I love bookbinding, such a traditional art! See how to sew the signatures together. The finished stack is then attached to the inside of the license plate covers. In this case since its metal I had to resort to using the dreaded ‘duct tape’! Sorry… no picture. I was needing to get the gift done on time.

The mechanism in place and paper cut and added.

It is difficult to find the right size paper so I needed to cut it and punch the holes.

These are so rustic and full of character! You could adjust the mechanisms inside to whatever you have or come across.

Mail Holder:

The letter/mail holder is a license plate cut in half with an overlap of about 2-3″ and riveted together. Add a few felt feet to keep it from scratching the desk.


Won’t someone be REALLY happy!? Vroom vroom… Let me see how your’s turn out… Enjoy!

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