16 October 2017

Guest Post - Homemade Leather A5 Organiser - Paul

Thank you Paul for this great article. I've made a travellers notebook before and some prototype organisers, but never the finished article!

Hello, my name is Paul and I’m a Filofax addict.

It all started innocently enough, back in 1987, when I found that an old Seeboard notebook was the same size and ring configuration as a ‘Personal’. This became my gateway organiser, and I moved on to a plain but sold black leather Filofax a year or so later, when starting my first business. Although I kicked the habit a bit later (going through a rebellious ‘Psion’ stage) I’ve fallen off the wagon again – big time. Even with a Mini Kendal, Holborn Pocket, Cuban Zip and Malden A5 to an A4 Lyndenhurst, there was an itch I couldn’t quite scratch.

Starting another course, I wanted something different, something really personal to plan out my thoughts and ideas for the future – my equivalent of the ‘Grail Diary’ from the Indiana Jones film ‘Last Crusade,’ except capable of coping with updates and changes. It had to be robust, versatile and A5 2x3 ring format (my favourite working size.) An ebayed Timberland was cheap and sufficiently sturdy, but somehow not personal enough. Hence my ‘hey gang, let’s do the show right here’ decision to make my own.

I had a slab of rustic-looking leather left over from when I planning to make a case to take six different flutes & whistles – until realising that the Chinese make an excellent and inexpensive padded bag to do just that. I’d been treating the leather for some time with Renapur leather balsam for some time until it had reached the stage of ‘well floppy,’ and there was just enough for a single piece for the back and sides, two pockets and a strap.

Having gone to a technical school I’m happier with metalwork rather than a haberdashery, so decided on the perhaps unsubtle construction method of slapping the different bits together using light engineering rather than needlework. That’s the ‘robust’ box ticked then.

I’ve used laminated dividers previously, even having some success with using encapsulated bits of well-loved but worn out shirts. Wanting something simpler and more rustic, I bought and cut down some A4 Extra Thick (1000mic) Greyboard Crafting Card, bound the edges with fabric tape and stuck on metal index tabs, found here.   

Measured it all up carefully, cut out the bits, tried to work out the right order for them to go together then went at it with the hole and rivet punches. Even muttered a few ‘throw the switch, Igor’ and ‘Life – I give you life’ type comments when they felt appropriate. 

How did it all work out? Well, good news is that it flops open and lays flat beautifully. The magnetic clasps hold well, everything is holding together and it functions exactly as intended.

The weight reminds me of the time I commissioned some PA speakers and specified everything in detail – except the weight. Ended up knackering the rear suspension on my Subaru (quite an achievement) and saving gym membership for many years. Again, I’d not considered how much it would work out. Somewhat on the porky side at 800gm all up, okay for something which is not EDC, but stays in the office.

The looks – can’t decide if I’ve ended up with Attila the Hun’s personal organiser, the owner’s manual for a medieval siege tower or something more appropriate in a BDSM accessories brochure. Its grown on me, I’ve come to think of it as a tome, and wonder if it would feel happier chained to something, or with a few engraved charms or glyphs as decorations. And it meets all my original criteria, particularly in the looking ‘different’ requirement.

Once again thank you Paul. 


  1. An impressively tidy bit of work there Paul, and it would certainly look good in a film.
    Perhaps the next project should be creating a whole desk or study in a matching style?

  2. Very creative - looks like it will last generations.

  3. A brave venture. I admire you for it.

  4. Thanks for a wonderful post & for sharing your creation! It looks like a great piece of leather & you've done a brilliant job turning it into an amazing binder.

  5. Thanks for all your kind comments.

    A desk to match is unlikely as I'll be rather tied up for the next two years with studying, but I did design my garden office based on a Fibonacci spiral (looks like a dwarf mutant oast house) if that counts as kooky enough?

    All the best

    1. Yes it seems you've gone one better than my suggestions in designing a whole building there Paul! Sounds fun.