23 June 2014

A paper punch suitable for Deskfax size Filofax organisers

There has been a recent resurgence of interest in DeskFax organisers, whilst they are no longer in production, their size is quite preferable for some people, slightly bigger than A5, but not as huge as an A4 when fully open.

There are plenty of examples popping up on Ebay that people have successfully bid for and Karine set up a Facebook group to bring interested parties together.

Inserts are still available from Filofax although a little limited in range. Philofaxy inserts work if you scale them down to 84% of the original.

Deskfax uses B5 size paper (176 x 250mm) which is quite hard to come by, but a lot of people have been buying Letter size or A4 size paper in 500 sheet packs and getting it cut to size by Staples or Office Depot or similar outlets.

That left just one thing from the jigsaw puzzle to solve.... a paper punch that can punch Deskfax paper. It is possible to do using existing punches such as the KW Trio and I created a video to show how to set it up to do Deskfax in a double punching arrangement.

However, a trawl of the Internet produced a Multi Punch sold through Filofax Germany that will punch Deskfax as well as other Filofax sizes, but it wasn't cheap. So we continued our search...

We then came across an adjustable punch sold with 6 punch dies and initially set up for Filofax A5, but it was capable of all sizes up to A4, this looked promising. An enquiry with the company selling the punch revealed they also sell spare punch dies in packets of 2. So I ordered a punch and two packs of punch dies. This would give me 10 in all, so a spare one. It arrived whilst I was in UK so I've not had a chance to set it up until now.

Now as I have numerous other punches for A4, A5, Personal etc size Filofax organisers I intended to set this one up and dedicate it to Deskfax size, I suspect other Deskfax owners would do the same. Once set up you would have a reliable means of punches new pages without a lot of setting up each time.

Fitting the additional punch dies is a little bit fiddly, but not too difficult to do with a small pair of needle nose pliers.

So let us look at the punch in detail and I will explain what you get etc.

So this is the box, nothing outstanding here really, it does include some information about setting it up for A5 naturally. There is a sheet of instructions as well.

This is the punch itself and the eagle eyed amongst you will spot that I've set it up for 9 holes already!

Turn it around and you will see the nine punches.

The punches are spaced 19 <-> 19 <-> 50 <-> 19 <-> 19 <-> 50 <-> 19 <-> 19mm for Deskfax.

To set the spacing correctly I installed the central punch first and then measured the spacing accurately by lining the edge of adjacent punches to same edge with a ruler. I then checked the setting my inserting a sheet of pre-punched Deskfax paper into the punch and look through the punched holes to check the alignment.

Remove the plastic paper chad catcher and this reveals the bottom of the punch.

Now there is a small modification required, so zooming in on the middle three punches. The centre one has its own hole in the base for the chads to escape through. But if you look at the left hand one you will notice that the exit hole is slightly obscured. This is how the punch came from the suppliers.

This picture does also show the right hand one in the group not obscured, after removing the punch block I filed out the slot with a round metal file to allow for clearance for the paper chads to exit the base of the punch block unheeded, it took me a few minutes to do this but it is worthwhile doing in the long term. I will do the left hand one now I've photographed the 'as supplied' and 'as modified' pictures, but I wanted you to see how it arrives.

These are the removable punch dies, the knurled and slotted screw on the right in the picture below holds it at the right point on the punch. As you can see the punch has capacity for about 5 sheets of paper, depending on the thickness of paper of course.

With 9 punch dies to press down on you really need to eat your Weetabix in the morning if you are going to use this set up, but I guess it would be the same for any 9 hole punch. I've found that it is best to use the punch on a good solid surface. The punch remains where you place it and you can use one hand to steady the paper and the other to press the lever down.

Overall I'm pleased we have found an economical and reasonably available solution for Deskfax users.

The links below will take you to the punch and the additional punch dies which come in packs of 2 so you will need to order two packs.


  1. That's really handy. I've been considering getting a Deskfax, but was put off by the hole punching issue. I'm already an A5 user - a Portobello, which has 19mm rings so isn't *quite* as bulky as some - but I don't use any branded inserts preferring to punch Rhodia paper (inveterate fountain pen user here!) so the punch conundrum is a definite turnoff. A Deskfax full of B5 Tomoe River pages would be a nice thing, I think...

  2. Paul, I also sue an A5 Portobello. Is yours the one that was the address book? I like the slimness of it, and the lack of a clasp. I have a friend who also wants one, so if you ever decide to part with it, please let me know. I have just bought 3 packs of Tomoe River Da Vinci A5 paper for it, and it is just amazing. So light and thin, yet takes a fountain pen. It's funny, there seem to be more Deskfaxes popping up on eBay now. Maybe the demand has increased the price? only today, I saw another one listed on eBay UK, in pillar box red. Like most of them, it has lost the top of the popper but looks in pristine condition otherwise. For me, it would just be too big, A5 is the biggest I'll ever need, and Personal still works for me in 95% of my needs.

    1. The interesting this is that as a desktop, stay at home or stay in the office planner, is takes up very little extra space than an A5, yet has 41% [sqrt(2) -1] more space to right on, and has ring spacing compatible with Personal pages

    2. I have comparative pictures illustrating A5 open vs B5, BTW.

    3. Alan, could you post a link to the comparison? That's an interesting statistic. For me, though, it isn't just the writing space, its the binder size. The difference between the Portobello A5 and the Durham A5 Zip, for example, is pretty big. i did, however, think the Mulberry A6 was a pretty useful size, it just didn't seem to catch on in popularity.

    4. I would not be surprised. I have noticed that my A4 notebook is the same width both closed and opened as my A5 Balmoral and Malden. It´s just 6 cm´s taller but the papersize is twice as large, in comparison to A5. I did the game of numbers when I was considering the size of a notebook to use. Given that my A4 is a bound notebook, but I must admit that the idea of a vintage deskfax makes my cautiously giddy.

    5. Paul - my A5 Portobello is the 'real' filofax, not the address book type. I've seen the address book version for sale on eBay, but didn't go for it. Mine is red (inside and out), appears to be made from Saffiano leather, and has a zipped pocket plus a slip pocket inside the front, plus 6 card slots and what appears to be a slot for a 3.5" floppy disk; inside the back cover there is a horizontal slot which is clearly intended to accept a notepad's backing card. There are 19mm rings and a single pen loop (on the edge of the back cover) plus a closure strap. Mine was NOS from eBay seller 'bouteia' and arrived in a finchley box.

      I too like the relative slimness of the Portobello, while still managing to hold a decent number of pages. Closed, it's almost exactly the same height and width as an iPad Air, but obviously considerably thicker. I've tried living in Personal size, but my neatest handwriting is just too chunky to be comfortable on pages that small and narrow. My to-do list for the weekend just past runs to both sides of an A5 sheet and contains a total of 62 distinct items. Usually I run day per page on actionable items with my primary calendar (which contains both work and personal appointments) separate in Outlook which also syncs remotely to an app on my phone - I print it in weekly chunks to A5 every now and again. As I spend most of my time at my desk, weight and bulk isn't really an issue so much, hence the interest in the wide open spaces of the Deskfax!

      I do like Tomoe River paper for a change - but I don't use it all the time. There's something about its extremely light weight which somehow makes me reluctant to use it. No idea why! Most of the time I stick to Rhodia, in either the ivory unlined or the bright white quadrille. :)

    6. Paul B: Here is a picture comparing my B5 Deskfax Kensington with my A5 Kensington.

    7. https://www.flickr.com/photos/24766543@N07/

    8. Alan, thanks for the photo, I see what you mean about the extra real estate in the Deskfax,I have an A5 Durham Zip, which also has the 3.5" disk slot, I find it quite a useful pocket. Does the standard Portobello A5 have a clasp? I assumed the address book version has smaller rings, but having just measured it, they are also 19mm.Like you, I also seem to have a to do list at the weekend of over 50 items, but that could be something to do with my better half! I am using the A5 while finishing a degree, so mine is almost entirely desk-bound, although I find it light enough and small enough to take out with me when I go for a coffee. I really like the Tomoe River paper in the A5 and will probably buy several hundred sheets for the Personal too. Another thing that puts me off the Deskfax is punching, it does seem awkward without investing in a mighty punch!

    9. Sorry, half of the above was in reply to Paul T !

  3. I suspect that there must be similar punches available in North America that can have punch dies added. I will have a look and report back.

  4. Check out the listing on eBay for a punch made for the DeskFax


  5. Hello! Just bought a Deskfax from a charity shop (what we in England call a Thrift Store). It cost me £2 ($3). Didn't know it was a "Deskfax" as the binder itself only says "Filofax Professional Real Leather" but a quick search brought me here. It's a black leather one but looking at some of the models I really do like the brown leather ones more. Might have to get another! Next stop: paper. Looks like some pre-punched B5 pads are 9 hole and will fit . . . .