Password Book from a Vintage Address Book

Password Book from a Vintage Address Book

Here we go again with another upcycling idea of mine that probably doesn’t warrant a blog post. But I’m doing one anyway! I was at my in-laws’ mountain cabin and my mother-in-law mentioned that she needed a password book from an office supply store. I didn’t actually realize that a password organizer was a “thing”, to be perfectly honest.

But as she talked more about it, it occurred to me like a flash of upcycling lightning. A small address book or telephone address book would serve the same purpose!

And on one of my recent thrift store adventures, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Telephone address book at the thrift store for upcycling into a password book

Remember how common these once were? And how you couldn’t live without it?

How to manage passwords in a password book with tabs

But now that we store phone numbers in our cell phones and addresses online, these small address books have fallen by the wayside.

Which is unfortunate because there are a LOT of them out there. And so many different styles and designs!

Vintage address books

With their alphabetical tabs or other alphabetizing function, they would be PERFECT for using as a password book for password organization, though. Don’t you agree?

Upcycling a phone address book into an offline password manager

A password book would be such an improvement over sticky notes all over my desk! So, I decided to give it a go.

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Upcycling a Telephone Address Book into a Password Book

Obviously, I could have stopped here, right? Just use a phone address book as a password book, without any additional upcycling steps.

But what’s the fun in that?

I decided to give a couple of my small address books a little makeover, starting with shimmery green metallic paint.

Green metallic paint to upcycle a telephone address book into a circuit board

Why green metallic paint? Because I wanted to transform them to look like little circuit boards! I used to have a recycled circuit board notebook when I was a kid, but it has vanished over the years.

And I just so happened to have a vinyl stencil with a circuit board pattern on it.

Upcycling a small address book into a password notebook with green metallic paint

Wouldn’t a circuit board pattern be perfect on a password book? Good, I think so, too!

Once the green metallic paint had dried on each address book, I used painter’s tape to fix the stencil on top. Then, I stippled gold craft paint over the circuit board stencil.

Password organizer that was painted with green metallic paint and a circuit board stencil

When I was done stenciling the circuit board pattern on the telephone address book, I was left with a fresh new look for my password organizer!

Password book with tabs by upcycling a telephone address book

Password Book from a Vintage Address Book

But not just any old password organizer. I had a password book with tabs that were already part of the original design.

Instead of filing phone numbers and addresses by last name, I’d use the alphabetical tabs to manage my passwords. For instance, I’d store a gmail password under “G”, and my Facebook password under “F”, etc.

Password book from a phone address book that has been painted

Now, I will caution you about password safety and security to go along with a password book. Some alternative things to consider:

  • Use hints in your password book instead of actual passwords;
  • Store the password organizer in a secret location away from windows, perhaps in a safe or fireproof box;
  • Redact old passwords in the password book as you change them over time. Better yet, use a pencil and erase outdated passwords entirely;
  • Don’t be afraid to rip pages out and shred them to be sure; and
  • When it comes to good passwords, longer is better / safer (and more important than a super complicated password).

Either way, though, I think this is a modern new way to use those telephone address books that end up at thrift stores. Plus, finding a quirky vintage phone number book makes for a fun scavenger hunt, too!

Recycling a vintage address book for password storage

I’m also excited to announce that my first book is now available! If you enjoy upcycling clothing and simple sewing projects, then you will love my book on flannel crafts!

Craft book for flannel shirts

And if you enjoyed this upcycling idea, then you may also be interested in this Halloween repurposing project for old yearbooks!

Making a Halloween Spell Book from an Old Yearbook

Craft on!


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Password book from a vintage address book

Password organizer from vintage address books

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Sarah Ramberg is the owner of Sadie Seasongoods, a website that celebrates all things secondhand. From upcycling ideas and thrifted decor to vintage-centric travel itineraries, Sadie Seasongoods is a one-stop shop for anyone who loves thrifting and approachable repurposing ideas. Sarah is also the author of “Crafting with Flannel” and has been featured in numerous media outlets and magazines.


  1. Sadie, you rock! See, I recycled an old phrase! Might you remember where you obtained that wonderful stencil? It’s a bit larger than most I’ve seen, which is what I want. Thanks Sadie!

  2. That’s a simple but really good idea. I really need to organize my passwords because they’re all randomly listed in a little notebook and it can take a while to find something. I had not thought of a vintage address book — now I have something to hunt for at my favorite thrift.

  3. I’ve resisted the idea of a password notebook but honestly these days we wind up with so many of them. I can’t count how many times I’ve gone to create an account on a site only to find out I already have one I forgot about!

  4. This is a great idea. I’ve been looking for an old Rolodex to use with my passwords. It’s easy to replace cards! I have so many, though, that I really should research online password vaults. Anyone know about those? ?

  5. Wendy Oyler says

    I actually still have an address book that I use! But now I am going to have to search the thrift stores for a smaller one that I can up-cycle for all my passwords! LOVE the circuit board stencil, very cool! Great job as always!

  6. I recycled an old wooden box and 3X5 cards for my passwords…you really hit it out of the park with the green paint and circuit board stencil. I have a very bad habit of taking a card out and not filing it back as quickly as I should and a book would help with that, however, I also can see me misplacing it…LOL

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      LOL!!! I used to keep all my addresses for Christmas cards in my mom’s old recipe box from the 60s!

  7. What a great idea! On the lookout for an address book.

  8. What a great idea Sarah, I love the stencil and colors you used!!!

  9. Love this idea! I also use a notebook but it’s not as organized?

  10. Fonda Rush says

    I’m way ahead of you, because I have been using the vintage metal kind for a few years for my passwords. One thing I’ve done differently is organize some of my entries by type. For example, under B I have listed all of my banks and credit cards, and under H all of my healthcare including social security, Medicare and My Chart for my doctors. Under S is Social Media, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This way, I can access all of my category information on one page. Luckily, my metal address “book” has two pages — one down and the back of the page just before it — just in case I need more space. I must admit that I have it next to my computer, and hopefully whomever breaches the house just sees it as an address book. I’m on the computer frequently, so stashing it away in my lock box would just make my life more difficult. Thanks for sharing (unlike I did!).

  11. vickie l obrien says

    I love reading your BLOG — and this is something that I can really use –to keep up with all the passwords to different sites —

  12. Robyn Wright says

    I’m surprised you found ANY old phone number books. I haven’t seen them in years!

  13. I’ve been using an old address book for passwords for several years now after I started using different ones for different things–so frustrating having to wait for them to send me a new one! I love the circuit board idea, though. Would be such a great gift idea for a techie. I don’t have my addresses on the computer and still only have a trac phone so I am WAY behnd the times!

  14. Sadie I love your idea about the password organizer. I have often tried to figure out how to keep them in one area and safe, so I developed a excel spreadsheet and have four pages of them. So I am going to try this idea to be a bit more professional about it. Thank you for sharing this idea. Have a wonderful week.

  15. Sue Addison says

    I love how your brain works! Another great idea!

  16. Another great idea for the books! Haha. I have never been able t let my address book go altogether. I definitely use my digital contact list, but there’s a little vintage piece of me that doesn’t 100% trust it over pencil to paper. I never connected the dots though, to use one of these little gems for passwords. I’m in! Thanks for sharing!!

  17. Terri Helms says

    Just an idea of where to find these “old” personal phone number books. At a local Goodwill or thrift shop, usually they have some rare finds there.

    • Sadie Seasongoods says

      Yes, I know- that’s where I found them originally…at thrift stores. I discuss that in the blog post, LOL.

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