Make Your Next Altered Book a Circle Book


Why not alter the book's shape? A circle book is both fun and unusual.

circle book

Ring of Fire is double-themed. It depicts the forest fires that plagued my province in the summer of 2003, and commemorates the late Johnny Cash.

circle book

Front cover, book closed.

circle book cut

This is the original book after cutting, sanding and drilling holes.

circle book

Original book, inner spread before altering.

circle book

"Down, down, down. The flames went higher." An altered inner spread.

Other Shapes You Can Make

You are not limited to circles or ovals. You can cut your book into a geometric shape such as a triangle, star or an octagon. More elaborate shapes are possible, although a little more difficult to do. Think angel wings, a flower, a bunny, a house.... Any relatively simple shape will work.


  1. A Book Suitable for Shaping
    Smallish, sturdy books lend themselves to shaping. Ring of Fire was 8 1/2" by 5 1/2". The cover was glossy book board.

  2. Box Cutters
    You need a sturdy knife to cut through the entire book. I used box cutters. Surprisingly, the hardware store clerk recommended the cheap cutters rather than the pricey variety.

  3. Sandpaper
    You will want to sand the edges of the circle book after it is cut. If your book is a board book, you might want to sand the boards before applying paint or adhesives.

  4. Pencils, Rulers, Markers, Scissors
    Needed for making your templates, and for marking cutting lines.

  5. Miscellaneous and Optional
    Depending on what you want to do, you might require additional tools, such as a compass for drawing circles, clamps for holding the book while cutting, temporary glue for attaching your template, or a drill for making holes through the book.

How to Cut a Circle Book

Tip: You can cut through the book's spine if desired. If your book is sturdy, it won't fall to pieces.

No doubt there is more than one way to cut a circle book. This is how I do it.

1. Make a circle template out of paper or card stock. Experiment to get the size circle you want. A compass might work. I used a bowl.

2. Fold your circle in half along the diameter.

3. Align your circle template so the folded diameter matches the book's spine. Trace around the template's edge to mark cutting lines on your book's cover. Alternatively, attach the template with temporary glue.

Tip: If your book is not too thick, you can cut through the entire thing at once. If you are using a fat book, you might have to open your book up at the half way point, and cut the front and back sections individually.

4. Clamp your book closed, using large office clips or wood clips. (Optional but recommended).

6. Place your book on a study counter or table top. Position your book so the area to be cut is sticking out over the edge.

7. Using your box cutters, cut around the circle template. Hold the book firmly with one hand, and cut with the other. Reposition your book as necessary. This can be hard work if your book is large and heavy. And, I don't have to tell you to be careful to avoid injuring yourself or your table top, do I?

8. Remove the circle template.

9. Sand the edges of your circle book.

10. A circle book will not stand on its sides, obviously. You might want to drill holes in the book so you can mount it on something or hang it.

Templates for Other Shapes

Making the template can be the most challenging aspect of creating shaped books. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Draw your own, using whatever household items you can find that lend themselves to the challenge.
2. Create a computerized shape in an image editing program. Size the image to whatever size you want, and print it out.
4. Find clip art in the shape you want. Resize it to the size you want, and print.
4. Locate children's books that are already shaped. Use as is, or use the book to create a template.

Tip for Painting the Page Edges in your Circle Book

Shaped books look particularly nice if you paint the outside page edges with a good paint like Lumiere, available online at

However, you might discover that you cannot open your book after the paint dries. To prevent this, decide in advance which inner spreads you are going to alter. Place a strip of dental floss in these pages, with floss hanging out at each end. Paint, and allow the paint to dry. Pull the floss out carefully, thereby opening the glued-together pages that you plan to work with.

Altered Books Workshop: 18 Creative Techniques for Self-Expression. Bev Brazelton

Altered Books 103: Little Books, Decos, CDs & More! (#5215)

Collage : A New Approach by Jonathan Talbot.

Return to Home Page when finished with circle book.