12 December 2016

Guest Post – Recreating the Original Deskfax by gmax

Many regulars will be familiar with the 9 hole Deskfax format. You can read all about it in Steve’s post here, and also the guest post of its devotees. The size appeared in 1988, at one stage being temporarily renamed to Professional format.

However, Deskfax started out as quite a different beast. The original Deskfax had 6 rings, exactly the same as personal, but with double width pages. There aren’t many of those around – they were introduced in late 1985 or early 1986, and production only ran for a couple of years. Some photos of what they looked like are available here.

The beauty of the double width paper, for me, is that it’s a much better size for any serious writing. Much as I love the standard personal leaves, I’ve always found them just too small for effective note-taking.

Of course another advantage is that the double-width leaves can just fold and fit in a normal personal Filo, but I’d been in search of a binder that would allow me direct use of the double leaves.
I flirted with the unusual Japanese HBxWA5 size from Ashford, which is A5 width. While I like using this one, the leaves are rather square in shape, and it’s still not quite the perfect solution for me.

I’d also heard of Van der Spek, and the possibility of them producing custom items, but that sounded prohibitively expensive, and it took me a long time to make enquiries.

In fact, when I did, I was pleasantly surprised. Although the extra quantity of leather to make a larger binder is obviously going to increase the cost, I asked for a very simple design, and Petra was able to quote me a price that was almost the same as that of their regular size of custom personal (which they call Standard). For a bespoke and one-off item, it seemed too good to miss.

Single-width personal leaves are 95mm, while the double width ones are 181mm (not numerically double, because they are designed to fold down to the single size and still fit on the rings). So we decided the binder would need to be made wider by the difference (86mm).

I ordered a few leather samples first. I was initially tempted to try to recapture colours of the old Filofax versions from that short period in the 1980s, but settled on the recently introduced “Gris-Blue Touch Me” leather for the exterior, with a dark blue, Italian leather for the inside to provide a nice smooth writing surface.

As I mentioned, my preferred design was a very simple one – stiffened covers, 25mm rings and no pockets, fastener or pen loop. And here is the finished article.

I was very impressed with the quality, and will be putting it through its paces in the coming months.

Thank you to Max for sharing this with us. 


  1. It has been a fair few years since I've seen any inserts being sold to fit the original Deskfax! I don't ever recall seeing one actually in use!

    1. Hi Tim. I have a few, old folded leaves, but plan to make my own unfolded ones. I have a feeling I saw one ages ago being used as a visitors' book in a holiday property.

  2. 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 . . . .