18 September 2014

Filofax Flex - Alternative ways of using the A5 size

An A5 Filofax if you need to carry it around can be quite heavy and bulky. There are a few models with just 20mm rings, but they tend to be in the more expensive price range.

The Filofax Flex now comes in leather as well as a synthetic material. I reviewed the leather one I bought earlier this year. I quite like using it, but as always I'm never comfortable with bound notebooks, I still prefer loose leaf pages... yes I'm a bit funny like that!

We have featured two people that have put ring mechanisms in to their Filofax Flex organisers. Tim managed to put in some 13mm rings from another organiser in to an A5 Filofax Flex. It was a two part guest post, which you will find here part 1 and part 2.  More recently Holly showed us how she had put in a two ring mechanism in to a flex to create her own organiser.

Well my solution doesn't use rings!! shocked and stunned...  So going back a couple of weeks. My dear wife Alison has recently produced a small book of articles that she has written for a local English magazine here in France about her novel writing and publishing. The booklet is about 60 pages of A5 or 30 A5 pages. Initially we booklet printed it on A4, but it became apparent that it was too thick to put a cover on and it did not look like a professionally produced book. So we put our heads together and came up with an alliterative solution.

We were both familiar with comb binders, but we didn't have a comb binding machine. I was surprised when I saw them for sale in our local supermarket at a reasonable price with all the other 'Back to School' stationery. So we bought one and whilst Alison was printing out the pages on some of my A5 paper, I sat their punching and binding the pages.

If you have never used a comb binder before, they are fairly easy to use. You just put in the sheets of paper and pull the handle and it punches a row of rectangular slotted holes along the edge of the paper. You then put the plastic comb on to the pegs and turn another lever and this opens up the comb and you drop the pages on to the comb,  turn the lever back again and the binding closes and you have a neatly bound book.

But one advantage of this system is that you can put the bound book back on to the machine, open the comb binding, slip off one or two pages to update them or replace them and close it back up again. So it is very similar to a ring binder in that sense... except you do need the machine to easily do that of course.

You can get comb-bindings in a variety of sizes from about 5mm diameter up to over 25mm diameter, and in a variety of colours too. You can buy them in boxes of 10 or 20 or just individually.

When I was sat there binding these books as usual got me thinking.... what if you made a planner with this sort of binding... ah ha... and used a Filofax Flex to contain the finished bound books. They would be fairly flexible, the plastic combs are reusable over quite a long time, so quite cheap to use. With the Flex of course you could carry two or three such books, may be a planner and another for notes and/or addresses even.

A5 size of course is common to all the inserts we have in our Diary Inserts page already. So I printed one off to show you how it might work.  I added a rear cover which is heavy paper (about 120 gsm) and the front could be the same or even clear OHP film punched.

I had a spare copy of a diary insert to hand so I thought I would try it out.

Now I realise that the expense of the comb binding machine might be a bit much, but you might be able to find an office services company around you that has one and will put your booklets together for you, or you might have access to one at work (like I did a few years ago!)


  1. Great post! I still use my A5 Flex with the rings as featured in 2012. The only drawback has been the the ring spacing. I've never been able to find a small ring mechanism in A5 with Filofax A5 hole spacing. So mine is spaced for Personal size. This works with Time Manager (TMI) A5 and my own inserts but means that Filofax A5 inserts have to be re-punched.

    I did look at comb mechanisms but couldn't justify the cost plus losing the instant flexibility of a ring mechanism. Your version does look good though!

    My other Flex experiment was to chop up And punch an A5 Flex to make a leather Clipbook cover. However, whilst it added lots of pockets to the Clipbook, the end result had no real advantages over a standard A5 Filofax in terms of size and weight.

  2. The Comb Bind 110 (the machine Steve uses) is £60 inc VAT in the UK. The rings themselves are available in various sizes and just cost a few pence each.

    1. Yes as Deborah points out there are cheaper models available. Take a look on Amazon there's quite a selection on there.

  3. There are cheaper models out there tough Tim... However, Steve you have given me an awesome idea thank you....

  4. The starting price is about £20 on amazon

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  6. I love the idea of having rings in the Flex. Tim - I was v inspired by your post from 2012. Would the A5 Flex take 15mm rings as you can get these on eBay in personal size? The other thing I was thinking of was getting a cheap compact (like the doodle) and slotting it in to the flex (like a Gillio Mia Cara) then cutting off the front cover?? Any ideas? Would these hacks work?!


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