31 May 2017

Fixing Ring Gaps and Other Issues

The bulk of this post was written about two years ago, but as with everything, we all learn a few more tricks and techniques, so I thought it was time for an update. 

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.

Please also see a section towards the end of this post about Mini, Slim rings

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. (Currently not available at the time of writing)
Krause rings are also available from Van der Spek, these will fit any Van der Spek or Gillio with removable rings and other brands with the same mounting points on the back plate. 

Check out this post for full details on these excellent rings. 

7.  M2, Mini, Pocket, Slim Rings (But all makes)

On some organisers such as the Gillio Mini Mia Cara and others, mainly with small diameter rings. The ring mechanism attachment method is very different to others. They are removable in the traditional sense but you need to be cautious doing it. 

Instead of a 'slide on' and locking type ring mechanism, these types are held on by two small and potentially fragile metal tabs. 

This is my Holborn Slim looking at the end of the mechanism underneath the tab you will see a slightly lighter grey metal tab that is holding the mechanism, there is one at each end. 

Same picture but with the tab highlighted.

To swap this type of ring mechanism. You can remove the cover in the usual way using my method as shown in the video above.  Then with the rings open you can remove the tabs. This will then give you better access to the metal tab holding the ring mechanism in place. 

You just need to use a small screwdriver under the tab to bend it up gently. The ring mechanism will then be free. You only have to do this at one end, not both.  Refitting is just the reverse and again carefully bend the tab back down again. 

Now a big dose of CAUTION and I can't stress this one enough... these type of mechanisms are not intended to be put in and out more than once or twice. Bending that metal tab up and pressing it back down again weakens the metal, it will eventually snap at the point it is being bent. On most of the mechanisms I've come across this type of back plate is made of steel, therefore it can corrode if it is subjected to humid damp conditions. 

I have seen several shared photographs of organisers with broken mechanisms of this type where one of the metal tabs has broken off when the organiser was dropped or shipped with paper on the rings. If the metal tab breaks there's not a lot you can do to repair it. 

In general most ring mechanisms will not give problems over the life time of an organiser if they are are well looked after and the rings are made to a reasonable standard/quality. 

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 inside the rings 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.
If you have got any ring questions, pop them in the comments below. 


  1. Great updated post! Lots of useful tips.

    I agree with everything about the small metal tabs on models such as the Holborn Slimline and Lockwood Personal Slim and Pocket Slim. Clearly this has been a widespread issue as the manufacturers for Filofax now also put a big dab of glue between the two parts of the mechanism to discourage them falling apart.

    If - like me and Steve - you experiment with ring mechs and break off a tab, all is not lost. A superstrong impact glue (Evostick or Araldite in Europe) will fix the two parts back together. I did this about three years ago to my Holborn Slimline and it has been heavily used since, without problem. Do NOT use "Superglue". Such stuff is fast but unlikely to be strong enough for vigorous daily use.

  2. What about the Filofax Croco Range, I understand they are replaceable- do you know with what rings?

    1. Yes they use the PXE type rings, they are removable, the problem will be finding a source of that type of rings. VdS can only supply the PER type mounting Krause rings. If the above methods don't work on your Filofax, then contact Filofax customer service and request a replacement.

  3. Filofax customer service was very helpful this past January when the rings in my new A5 looked like #3 (Touching but not interlocking.) I have no idea how that happened. Pulled the A5 out of my tote, flipped it open, and was horrified. The binder was purchased through Goldspot Pens (love them), and I was instructed to contact Filofax. FF customer service had me send photos of the issue, my receipt, the barcode on the box and flyleaf, and basically jump through some hoops. It took a few weeks, but Theresa was very good at issuing the replacement. I only asked if they could fix the ring gap. I did reference this article at the time and nothing helped. I know FF gets a bad rap sometimes in the customer service department, but for me they were terrific.

    Now if they would just use Krause rings which have not once failed my Coach binder in over 20 years. Again, they snap like the jaws of a crocodile.