Indestructible Photo Album

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About: My name is Randy and I am a Community Manager in these here parts. In a previous life I had founded and run the Instructables Design Studio (RIP) @ Autodesk's Pier 9 Technology Center. I'm also the author ...

Making a quality DIY custom photo album is a fun and easy way to make a special keepsake for storing all of your most memorable photos. I decided to make my photo album out of 1/8" aluminum so that it could withstand the test of time. This album in particular was an engagement gift for my girlfriend Jenn. It is filled with lots of meaningful (and utterly ridiculous) pictures from throughout our relationship. I wanted to make it out of metal so that it would not only last a lifetime, but also represent the enormous heft of our love.

Step 1: Materials

Step 2: Mark and Drill

Align one side of the piano hinge length-wise with one edge of the U-bracket and clamp it in place.

Make 5 markings centered along the length of the piano hinge using a punch.

Drill these markings with a #46 drill bit.

Step 3: Tap

Thread each of the holes that you just drilled in the U-bracket with a M2.5 tap.

Step 4: Repeat

Repeat this process on the other side of the U-bracket using the other piano hinge.

Step 5: Drill and Counterbore

Measure precisely 0.4" in from one of the long edges of the aluminum U-shape and then 2.35" in from each of the short edges and make a mark at both intersection using a punch.

These are the only two holes that it is imperative to get exactly right, as they need to line up with the holes punched in the photo sheets. Given this, you may want to double check the alignment of the markings using the actual sheet as a guide.

Once you are sure of the hole placement, drill each of the holes using a #7 drill bit.

Counterbore each hole to a depth of about 1/8" using a 1/2" end mill at a low drill speed.

If you don't have an end mill, or are not keen on slightly misusing one for this purpose, you can choose to skip this part. It is not entirely necessary.

Step 6: Mark and Drill Again

Align the undrilled edge of each piano hinge with one of the 12" edges of the aluminum sheets, and clamp them together.

Again, make five markings centered along the hinge and drill through both the hinge and the sheet with a #46 bit.

Repeat the process for the second hinge and aluminum sheet.

Step 7: Tap Again

Thread all of the new holes in both sheets using a M2.5 tap.

Step 8: Polish (optional)

For a more finished look, polish up all of the components to a nice shine.

To learn about polishing aluminum, check out the Finishing Lesson in the Metalworking Class.

Step 9: Assembled

Using M2.5 bolts, attach the piano hinges to the U-bracket and the aluminum sheets using all of the holes that were drilled and threaded.

Step 10: Insert Pages

Gather all of the photo album pages and insert a binding post through each of them.

Pass the binding posts through the appropriate holes in the U-channel. Once through, thread on the other half of the binding post.

Step 11: Fill the Album

Fill the album with printouts of silly pictures you took using Instagram filters.

Or... I guess you could put in whatever you want.

Step 12: Propose to Jenn

Finally, you should create a bunch of lenticular postcards and propose to Jenn, but not my Jenn. She already said yes to me. Select a different Jenn.

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    16 Discussions

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    brunoom

    8 months ago

    How did you make the lenticular postcards ?

    1 reply
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    randofo60cyclehum

    Reply 8 months ago

    Oh cool! I had not seen that before, but that's real nice. I like the use of the street signs.

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    Jadem52

    8 months ago

    Cool project!! Where can you find one of these "Jenns" you speak of to complete the project?

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    randofoJadem52

    Reply 8 months ago

    I found mine with help of the internet. You can probably find yours in school though. It might be harder for you though because I think there are far fewer Jennifers these days than there were when I grew up. You couldn't walk more than 100 feet without bumping into one. Jennifers were everywhere.

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    Lindie

    8 months ago

    Very nice photo album!! And congrats! :-)

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    aCuriousCreator

    8 months ago

    This is awesome :) looks really cool! Glad she said yes. Looks like it'll last forever

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    OutofPatience

    8 months ago

    This is a very nicely done album. Just a word of caution though...in order to ensure that the photos survive as long as the album, you might want to investigate other types of pages than the traditional adhesive pages. These can cause yellowing discoloration of precious photos over time. Ask at an art supply store for suggestions for "archival acid free" pages for photo storage and display that could be used in your album. Thanks for sharing...and congratulations to you and Jenn!

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    Pra_ga

    8 months ago

    Amazing 'ible. Thanks for sharing.

    A thought: Using brass hinges and brass sheet you can have a 'golden book' look :)

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    LeslieGeee

    8 months ago

    Lovely gift, and a great idea. My confusion is how the pages stay in the folder. Are the bolts threaded through the U channel and are the M2.5 taps a rivet to connect the U bolt to the piano hinges to the covers? Thank you for sharing your idea :)

    1 reply
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    randofoLeslieGeee

    Reply 8 months ago

    There are holes drilled in the hinges. The bolts pass through the hinges and thread into U-channels and metal plates.

    The pages are kept in place with the binding posts.

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    Fedayeen

    8 months ago

    The man in those photos looks alot like an instructor from a few online classes I'm enroled in :P Congratulations, looks like an album of memories that will really last

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    Amaries

    8 months ago

    Such a great work, what a nice foto album. I would never thought of using aluminium fore a photo album but the results are great. And congratulations to you and Jen.

    1 reply