26 August 2015

Fixing Ring Gaps

A lot of people in our community encounter gaps in rings, although some companies would have you believe that the number of ring problems reported is a low percentage of their total output. I will let you make up your own mind on that.

Sometimes if the ring gap is only small they do not cause a major problem, as long as the pages are not catching on them then they will be ok.

So what should you look for?

What should good rings look like? 

So there are different fixes for different types of rings and different fixes for the different types of problems we often see.

First of all if you receive a new organiser and it has unacceptable ring gaps on one or more of the rings, you should contact the supplier and tell them you are not going to accept the item and arrange for it to be returned.

To help the retailer roll up some coloured paper and place that inside the rings like in the above photos to show the detail of the rings better. Photographing 'shiny' things is never easy!

1.  Damaged beyond repair.

If it arrives like this.....

With thanks to Samantha Brihante for this photograph.

It is a definite return to the supplier!

2. Removable rings.

If your rings are the removable type from say Gillio or Van der Spek or any other company that uses this type, then it is easy to remove the rings to replace them with a new set.  To do this follow this video.

3. Rings touching but not interlocking correctly. 

If the rings on your organiser look like this from above:

This is where the two halves of the rings are not lining up correctly internally. Sometimes you can correct this by opening the rings with the tabs, pressing firmly and then closing them again. Doing this 10-20 times can shuffle them back in line again.  When you press down on the tabs it pulls the out of alignment ring halves back in to alignment. You can try pushing them longitudinally to assist in the process.

Note how in my very exaggerated example the tab is also out of alignment. I pushed the rings in opposite directions to show this example. Normally they wouldn't be that far out!

4. Height difference between the two halves of the rings.

If when you look at the ends of the rings they are displaced like this:

Initially try opening and closing the rings a few times, if all of the rings are different heights then something isn't quite right internally and you might be able by pressing down on the rings on the high side to get them to click back in to alignment.

If it is only one or two rings then a little bit of applied force on those particular rings might get them back in to alignment again. But be careful you don't over do it!

5. Small gaps - most common problem. 

If the rings on your organiser meet perfectly when you squeeze them together if there are gaps with no steps vertically or laterally then this fix might work. If the rings are distorted in any way then it will not work.

If you have gaps on all rings, something has gone wrong internally, on non-riveted rings ease off the cover plate and visibly check the mechanism internally. Pay attention that the tabs are not holding the rings open. Try lifting the tabs at each end and watch the rings to see if the gap decreases.

If it isn't the tabs and the rings are the riveted type (Malden, Finsbury etc) there’s not a lot you can do apart from returning the organiser to Filofax for a replacement.

If the gap is just small on only 2 or 3 rings then these instructions will work in nearly all cases.

Caution: Please carry out these instructions carefully and precisely. If you squeeze too hard you will cure one problem but create another. So only squeeze gently at first. You are going to carry out this at your own risk… you have been warned!

If you have gaps like this but the others are ok. Firstly try opening and closing the rings a few times using only the tabs at the end to open them.

Still got a problem?

Then read on.

Find yourself some rulers or something similar. I picked rulers because most people have them and they will sit in between the rings without you having to hold them in place. And with several you can make them the right thickness by adding and subtracting them.

Open the rings and place the rulers in the gap of the good rings.

Now gently squeeze the ring with the largest gap, but gently.

Take out the rulers and try closing the rings. Is there still a gap? If there is repeat the process but squeeze a little harder this time.

Take out the rulers and try closing the rings.

Is there still a gap? No…fixed.

It is best to err on the side of lightly squeezing the rings, so a few attempts rather than fixing the gap in a single attempt.

This fix has been used by many people including myself and it is successful in most cases.

6. Replacement rings.

Where the rings are riveted to the organiser and the heads of the rivets are visible on the outside of the organiser for instance on the Original, Domino models then you can buy replacement rings for organisers from Amazon UK. These rings have a screw type fixing so once the old ones are removed they are very easy to fit.

Amazon links for replacement rings.
Top Tips.... how many did you know already?
  • Never ship an organiser with a full set of inserts on the rings... one big drop by a ham fisted Yodel/DHL (Day and Half Late)/Fedex/UPS (delete as applicable) man and your rings will be strained considerable, or even worse will be rattling around in the box. See how to pack an organiser.
  • When selling always take a photo of the rings with coloured paper before you ship it. 
  • When buying a pre-owned organiser, always request a picture of the rings with coloured paper inside them before agreeing a price. 
  • Never rush a repair, if in doubt contact Steve (philofaxy at gmail dot com) 
  • Do not be tempted to paint your rings with glitter or gold paint, it will not adhere and any roughness on the rings will damage the paper. 
  • Check your rings regularly, give them a wipe with a soft cloth. 
  • If the organiser has been stored in damp conditions the rings are prone to going rusty, clean with metal polish, if that doesn't shift it then go for a mild abrasive, then polish with a metal polish to finish off. 
  • The ring mechanism is a very simple mechanism and it is explained in more depth in this earlier post
  • Finally. make sure you only ever use the tabs to open the rings every time.
Got any ring questions, pop them in the comments below. 


  1. Good information to have, thx. for posting this "how to"!

  2. Fantastic info! Thank you!

  3. Fantastic info! Thank you!

  4. Thank you Steve - much appreciated. Do you have information on how to change riveted rings?

    1. Only by using the rings mentioned in 6 above, But then you will have a chrome bolt on the outside of the organiser. It is best to try repairing them in-situ first. Why do you want to change them?

  5. Thanks. I have a small question: I have a FF where the rings are fine, but one of the tabs is loose (i.e. it wiggles), while the other isn't. Does this matter at all?

    1. The tabs are supposed to be loose, but they shouldn't fall out because of the shape of the metal.

  6. So many people ask for this info. Thank you!

  7. Awesome solutions for a variety of ring problems, thank you!

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  9. Hi,
    I have a question! I have a Kate Spade Wellesley planner and the rings don't close perfectly until I push upward on the back of the top "tab". Is there any way to fix this? Once I push upward on the tab, the rings close fully and the tab stays in the upward position.


    1. I'm not completely familiar with the rings fitted to that brand, but most ring mechs are very similar. If you can remove the top cover see if that tab is free to move when the rings are opened and closed to see if the cover might be restricting the movement of the tab in anyway.
      If you can get the cover off, open the rings and remove the tab and put some grease under it to help it move.
      That might be all it needs

  10. This post is wonderful! I just fixed the gaps in my rings. They were small gaps but they bothered me, now thanks to you its all fixed. I just love this blog. Thanks again.

  11. Fab post Steve, just managed to fix my Kikki K using the 'ruler' method.

  12. Thank you very much. The ruler method (I used booklets) fixed my minor gap problem on my Filofax Finsbury. Thank you again!!

  13. Thank you for keeping this information available! I just received a warehouse deal Filofax original with three gapped rings. I also used the tips from suggestion #5 and after a number of gentle attempts it appears to have worked. Thank you.