Friday, December 30, 2011

How I made a magnetic logbook letterbox

So, with OPAL just around the corner, I've been carving away and taking on Fiddleheads' library challenge.  However, while I love the idea of having letterboxes in libraries and right on the bookshelf, I haven't been able to bring myself to actually ask a librarian for permission to do so for a number of reasons all stemming from the old addage it's easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission...

Since I've already planted quite a number of letterboxes in libraries, including within the library systems in which I intend to plant for OPAL, if I ask and am refused I am potentially jeopardizing the existing boxes.  After all, most of them would be very easily found once the library is aware of their presence and of the clue locations.
Here it is: the final self-contained magnetic library letterbox

My intention then is to plant my upcoming library OPAL boxes without permission and therefore they must be easily concealable.  In the past, this has meant either planting the stamps as magnets without logbooks - but I'm a huge fan of reading logs - or planting magnetic planter's pouches - which is less than desirable.

I've therefore had an idea percolating for some time for a self-contained logbook/stamp holder that would be magnetized... I've finally made one and am going to show you what I did.

First off, I had a number of things on hand: carved stamp for the letterbox, small pads of blank paper, needle and embroidery thread, cardstock, patterned cardstock, double-sided tape, felt/fleece, rare earth magnets, markers, ruler*, bone folder, scissors, gum (I can't think without gum).

Next, I cut down the cardstock to the right size and fold - there were four folds made as you can see in the image below (the signatures for the logbook and the stamp are above). 

Next, after I have the folds right, I covered the card stock in the decorative stuff.  You'll see that I used double-sided tape for pretty much everything in this project.  I also added two small bars of rare earth magnet - you can see them in the middle below.  I lined those up so that where they would be in the final product is at the back where it would serve to attach properly to a metal surface.

You can see the magnets a little better in the image below.  I covered them with double sided tape as well to make sure they wouldn't slip around between the card stocks.  I've used these little magnets very successfully in the past in letterboxing - they are very powerful, and because they are so small, they are easy to use to convert a stamp into a magnet or to made a pouch magnetized.

Once the card stocks were taped together, I then taped in a piece of felt which is where the stamp will go once the thing is complete (I really should come up with a name for this thing - any suggestions?).  I then sewed in signatures I had prepared out of pieces of paper I took from a small pad of paper. (I hate cutting paper for signatures, so why bother?)

Then it was pretty much done, just had to add the name and typical info I include in boxes (although minus my usual geocache warning). 

Below, you can see it folded with the stamp in place from the top to understand how it works.  I initially used the embroidery floss to tie it closed, but decided on a colour-coordinated rubber band instead.  In the future, I would incorporate an elastic right into the design (like moleskin books).

And that's it.  There will be more of these made and used for OPAL (and likely other places).  I'll probably get a better feel for proportions in the future boxes, but for now I'm really pleased.

*Yes, I use a ruler, but for its straight edge, not as a tool of measurement.  I eyeball everything and generally won't make something if it requires me to measure things too precisely. Also, this explains why I am a terrible cook, can't sew to save my life, and why my lab marks in undergrad where subpar.


  1. What a great idea!! Where do you get the magnets from?

  2. I buy mine on eBay from a Canadian seller. I think you can get them at science stores as well, but I've never seen them...

  3. Brilliant. I've considered using an altoid tin but this is much better since it's not likely to cause alarm if discovered accidentally. Is it OK to use the idea and credit you? -- Lone R

  4. Lone R, you and anyone else is more than welcome to use the idea - without credit. I reap the benefits of more letterboxes being planted!

  5. marvelous! i have to make me one of these. . . of course, i have to get some magnets first. . .