Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial

Today, I am sharing a bookshelf pull tab tutorial. This is the pull tab I use in my September Bullet Journal Setup 2022. In this post, I am sharing how I set up the bookshelf pull tab. To see how I decorate it and how it comes together, you can check out my September Setup. If you prefer to watch the video, you can check it out here. In the video, I am using a B5 size journal but you can follow along here for an A5 size. (I have bolded A5 to make it easier to catch. Also, I alternated between boxes and blocks, referring to the dot grid squares – they are the same thing.) The pull tab mechanism from this tutorial originally from The Pop Up Channel.

Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial

Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial Supplies

BookShelf Pull Tab Tutorial Steps

1. Drawing the Outline

  • Start outlining your bookshelf in pencil – the pull tab will sit along the outer edge of this bookshelf
  • Measure out your shelves for your books/ornaments to sit on (these can be spaced evenly or alternating sizes like mine)
    • My shelves were 6 boxes high (1.125 inches) alternating with 9 boxes (1.875 inches)
    • FOR A5: the shelves measure 5 boxes high (1 inch) alternating with 7 boxes (just over 1.125 inches)
  • The outer border of my bookshelf was 2 boxes wide (0.625 inches), and the shelves were 1 box wide (just under 0.25 inches)
  • Decide where you want your letters to go – making sure not to draw them too close to the edges of the page
    • My letters are roughly 4 blocks tall (just over 0.75 inches) and 2 blocks wide (0.625 inches)
    • FOR A5: your letters can be the same size
  • Sketch in where your slots will go
Sketching out your Bookshelf

2. Creating the Pull Tab

  • Grab 2-3 pieces of paper from the back of your notebook (or from the Archer and Olive Dot Grid Notepad if you have one)
  • I used 2 pieces but a 3rd piece is helpful in case you make mistakes
  • Whether you are in A5 or B5, you will need 5 pull tab arms

Creating the Arms of the Pull Tab

  1. Grab a piece of paper for measuring your pull tab arms
  2. Using the page length-wise, you will measure 6 blocks (1.125 inches) for the width
    • FOR A5: The width will measure 5 blocks (1 inch)
  3. Keep the length of the page as we will trim those to size later
  4. Cut 5 of these size pieces
  5. Create the flap piece by measuring 8 boxes from the edge of the arm you just cut
    • FOR A5: measure 7 boxes (just over 1.125 inches) from this edge
Measuring where the small flaps go
  1. Draw a line across the width of the arm
  2. Count 2 more boxes and draw another line. This is what will hold your flap in place
  3. In between these 2 lines, measure 1.5 boxes (draw a line roughly in the middle of the box) from both edges of the arm, and draw lines marking this point
  4. Cut along the original lines up until the 1.5 box mark you just made
  5. Do this on both sides
  6. Trim a small bit of paper (roughly the width (or half the width) of your scissors) between the flap you just cut and the shorter end of the pull tab (that will be forming our flap)
    • This helps to keep the flap from getting stuck
  7. Take longer portion of the pull tab and trim about 0.5 of a box off both ends of the tab – up until the little arms we created above
  8. Make a fold between the little flaps and the longer end of the pull tab
    • DO NOT fold between the shorter end and the little flaps. It’s won’t work properly if you do
  9. Repeat steps 5-13 for all the pull tab arms (other than step 5, all other steps are the same for an A5)
Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial Arm Mechanism

Cutting the Slots for the Pull Tab Arms

Now we are going to cut the slots into our page. Please note: a slot is slightly wider than a slit. A slit is one line, so a slot will be a tiny bit wider. For this bookshelf pull tab tutorial, try and make that second line for the slot as close to the first cut as possible.

  1. The slots in your page need to be the same width as the long end of the pull tab arm
    • This ends up being about 4 boxes
    • FOR A5: this ends up measuring about 3 boxes wide
  2. These slots need to sit next to your letters that you sketched out earlier
    • I cut my slots in the next block to the left of my letters
  3. Slip the longer side of the pull tab arm into this slot, unfolding the small arm flaps on the back of the page
    • Only the larger flap portion of the pull tab arm should be showing
  4. Do this for all the shelves on you bookshelf – which should be 5 if you are following this tutorial
Cutting slots for the pull tabs

Creating the Final Pull Tab Piece

  1. Cut a slit along the length of your bookshelf – along the edge of your notebook replacing the outside border of your sketched bookshelf
  2. Take another piece of paper, and fold it in half
    • This helps to make the pull tab stronger
  3. Cut to size to fit the slit you just cut
  4. Slip one side of the pull tab piece into the slit, roughly 5-6 boxes in
    • This is the same for A5
    • Make sure that there are an even amount of boxes peeking through the slot to ensure the pull tab piece is even
  5. NOTE: using removable adhesive, you can glue down the flaps of the pull tab arms to keep them in place while gluing this part
  6. Start trimming the pull tab arms for gluing onto this pull tab piece
  7. Trim enough off the ends to sit roughly in the middle of the pull tab piece
  8. Start gluing these pieces onto the pull tab piece
  9. Maneuver the second (folded) piece of the pull tab piece into the slot
  10. Glue this piece down, over top of the pull tab arm pieces
    • This prevents the edges of the arms from catching on the slit when you pull it
  11. Once everything is glued in place, trim the pull tab piece to fit your bookshelf – 2 boxes wide sticking out along the edge
    • Only trim this piece when the pull tab is in place – meaning pushed in and the flaps aren’t revealing the letters
  12. Glue the pull tab pieces together from the edge (if they were trimmed as in the step above)
Gluing the pull tab pieces together and in place

3. Final Steps for the Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial

  • If you’ve made it this far, YAY! We are so close to being done.
  • Now we are going to glue the bookshelf page down, keeping the pull tabs in place and hiding the mechanisms (the pull tab arms)
  • This is possibly the trickiest part because the page can bubble if not glued correctly
  • Place glue strips along the top, bottom and outside edge of your page with the mechanisms
    • Place glue right up to the slit between the edge of the notebook
    • This keeps the pull tab in place
  • Making sure your notebook is laying flat, slowly and carefully lift the side with the mechanisms and glue, and shut the whole book, pressing down as you go
Testing that the pull tabs flap open and closed

Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial Final Thoughts

Couple of things to remember, while 160GSM is thicker than the average journal, it still isn’t as ideal as, say, 200GSM card stock, so be gentle when pulling and pushing. If you have any issues with your arms bending funny, just correct the fold with a pen through the slit.

This is a super fun effect that gives a cool wow factor to your cover page. If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to reach out. I know this can be tricky (I practiced it MANY times), so just ask if there are any issues.

I hope you enjoyed today’s tutorial. Again, if you would like to see the finished product, please check out my September bullet journal setup 2022.

Thank you so much for your time today!

Bookshelf Pull Tab Tutorial

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