13 January 2016

Design Your Own Organiser.... How difficult can it be?

Late one night last week I came across a discussion on the Van der Spek Facebook group. One of the members was asking if 30mm rings existed for the Van der Spek Senior range. They are available with 20 or 25 mm rings at the moment.

People started talking about running polls to see what the demand would be etc. I checked the Krause catalogue on line and they show that the 25mm size is the largest they currently make in that ring spacing.  So that was the end of that discussion.... well not quite!

Petra Van der Spek and the team at Van der Spek do an exceptional job of satisfying most peoples requests for super custom designs. Almost nothing is impossible, the word 'No' is never used.

There are some ground rules though. Firstly you must accept that the rings for your special custom organiser must be available and they have to have them in stock. And secondly you have to realise that departing massively from the existing designs is going to cost more, how much more will depend on the design and the extent of the leather work involved.

So having told people the ground rules our discussion continued. If you wanted a larger capacity organiser than an A6 with 25mm rings, you could just use two of them? Simple solution.

I suggested going for a duplex design, something people aren't that familiar with because Filofax stopped making them many years ago. But is there any alternatives to the previous duplex design?

Essentially a duplex is an organiser with two ring mechanisms so say two 20mm giving you 40mm overall capacity, or may be a 25 mm and a 20 mm in the same organiser etc. Sticking to the sizes available. But how to arrange the two ring mechanisms?

So I grabbed a sheet of paper and a pencil and I started sketching some very rough outline designs of what various ideas might look like.

This is what I came up with:

I then looked at each design in detail.

So it looks fine closed, but when you open it as in the drawing below I straight away realised a flaw with this design. The pages look fine on 'each side' but when they overlap with each other, imagine trying to write on the page that is over the other set of rings.

So that design was put to one side...

So the next design is more or less the same as Filofax Duplex with an overlapping cover and the ring mechanisms at each side so that the pages don't overlap when closed.

Then when you open the duplex you can see four pages all at once. Within the cover you could have pen loops and credit card slots etc. The way in which the contents can be turned independently of each other it means you can have your diary viewable at the same time as say a set of note pages or task/project pages.

So continuing on to the next design.

This seemed an obvious solution of combining two organisers but....

Again they don't work when you try to open the organiser, nothing would lay flat and it would be a nightmare to use.

And finally this one... which actually already exists owned by Janet Carr made by Mulberry

I always think of this one as a 'Push me Pull You' type design!  It's effectively a back to back design.

But I wonder when you are using this design what happens when only one side is open, again we have a potential issue with being able to write on the open side as it would be unsupported. But it is a novel design and credit to who ever thought it up originally.

So out of the four ideas I came up with only one is a really practical solution, although I'm sure there are other ways of using two ring mechanisms in an organiser that I've not thought of yet.

[Update] I've got permission to include this picture as well from Julie J on the Facebook group, it extension on some of the ideas above and shows how to make a compact duplex that as far as I can see would work.

[Update 2] Thank you to Gmax for the photo of the Duplex he owns which is in line with the comment he made earlier. Notice the press studs in the covers to hold the two halves together when 'folded'

Have you ever thought about designing your own organiser, even one with just a single ring mechanism?


  1. It is not that big of a deal, really. I have made several binders myself, albeit them being of the bifold type. Yet I have thought and coveted the duplex system for ages (or so it seems) already, I suppose it was the pictures of the very old duplexes that got me into that frenzy, reading Janet´s blog quasi-religiously obviously never helped... I do see a duplex in my future, I suppose what beckons me, is the system alike what Filoxax of old used, where pages slightly overlapped each other. Actually, I have already used (if memory serves me right, it was when I was living in Greece and was juggling several jobs at the same time) a system alike one, and I know it works like magic- at least to me it does. I made it by gluing a longer piece of cardboard on a notebook cover, punched it and used it as if the spine would have been another set of rings. It is quite tricky to explain, but the system turned out to be- when opened, alike to the likes of Filofax´s system where pages slightly overlapped. When closed, the pages "sit" atop each other, but don´t touch each other´s rings (or spine, like it was on my case with the quickly whipped out system) This system served me loyally and terrifically for the almost 1,5 years I spent in the country.

  2. On the Filofax Duplex binders, it has never made sense to me that the pages overlap somewhat when everything is closed up.

    I have discovered that one of my most useful binders is a slimline (15mm) A5 that Jane sent me in a trade. To have one in a nice leather would be a real treat.

    1. To avoid the page overlap when closed up, I reckon (from a quick inspection) that a "wide" variant of personal duplex (i.e. one where there is just no page overlap when open) would need to grow in width by about 2 1/2" Alan. That would take the width when closed from 7" to 9 1/2". Certainly not impossible, but more than a third wider.

    2. This is based on 7/8" rings BTW.

    3. Alan, it is for the ease of carrying one.

  3. Yes, not it all came back to me better. In Greece I bought my personal size binder from a leather shop owner who made one for me by order. However, he only had small sized six-ring systems So I asked him to make the covers a wee bit larger to accommodate additional notepaper. It was most pleasant, really. The smaller rings made writing quite non-complicated. I used those rings (they were excellent! Tight as ever and perfect alignment!) to make a binder to my son. He doesn´t use the binder since he´s nowdays happily in his pocket Kensington but I already know it would be useless to covet those rings back since he. Does. Not. Part. With. His. Belongings.

  4. Yes, I needed a notebook on rings, so I grabbed rings without the "spine" that connected them, and made a cover with holes to put rings into, I have a video about it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_RjhqlJEC4
    In 1,5 years or so Filofax came up with a Clipbook that is the same idea.
    I also wrot about my perfect binder here http://mysummertouch1.blogspot.ru/2015/06/my-ideal-filofax.html
    It should be a Midori width and A5 size and has rings. It's not thst difficult to do if I take an A5 size rings and a cover. My ideal binder should have a place to stuck in a bound notebook of the same size so I don't have to worry about running out of paper.

    1. Oh, and I forfot, it would be lovely to have removable rings, but not in a Franklin Covey way where there is and unscrewing is happening, but when the rings sit on the additioinal cardstock, like in a Filofax folio here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tQ7Slzau_CU

  5. I have a commercially produced example of the third design, effectively two binders sitting alongside each other, which I intend to be the subject of a guest post one of these days. The way it's constructed means that It doesn't suffer from the specific, practical issues you've suggested Steve. But it is something of a monster to transport, because the two sets of rings are large ones.

  6. I have a 30mm Time/Systems binder which is currently shelf-ware. The idea is great but the rings get in the way when writing; two smaller binders are more practical.

    Time/Systems also did an A4 binder that contained a set of standard rings for an A5 time manager. I think it was called the Consultant. I had one for a while but it was an antisocial thing to put on a meeting room table. I wonder whether the same criticism might be made in relation to a double A5?


  7. I've added another photo with two more designs kindly shared with us by Julie on the Van der Spek Facebook group.

    1. I love the idea of topmost picture on these new pictures. Just like I will have mine done.

  8. I like the idea of design number 2.

  9. I think number three could work if you use a leather like on my vintage planner. It will effectively be able to bend into the closed and lie flat when open.

    1. Yes you're right Emma, as the photo Steve has just added demonstrates.

    2. Gmax Your planner looks great. How long have you been using yours? I had this idea too, but for some reason I thought it would be too much of a bend for everyday use and it wouldn't hold up well.

    3. Thanks! I've had for a few years, but it dates from around 1990. I know what you mean about the central fold there - there is a lot of movement that it needs to support. But it seems to hold up fine.

  10. I use and a5 diary cover that folds out left and right sides of a5 filo. This allows for 4 sheets in a row,month Calender appointments,days notes. Day appointments,and week tasks by category. Same size as at,just cut down capacity slightly.


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