Introduction: Loose Leaf Diary Refills - How to Make Them Yourself and Save Money

Hello Instructablers,

Like many people, I need to plan my days in order to get anything worthwhile accomplished. I like to use a ring-binder type, loose leaf diary. I've been using this style for years, and find the flexibility of the system suits me perfectly.

One major disadvantage of the loose leaf system is that refills are incredibly expensive for what they are. Today I went to buy some and the only ones I could find locally were a set with a week to a page for $12, and a set with a day to a page for $45. I know the manufacturers need to make a profit, but that's ridiculous. So, being an absolute tight-arse I decided to find a cheaper alternative.

The makers of these diaries don't make it easy to copy their hole-pattern. Why would they, when they can sell seven tiny holes for $45? I decided to get some cheap paper and simply drill the holes. It took some setting up, but it worked, and I'll not be buying super-expensive holes again.

I found that by tightly clamping the paper to stop it tearing, it was possible to simply drill the correct holes. Read on to find out exactly what I did.

Step 1: What You'll Need

Here's what you will need to make your refills:

  • Paper. Just get cheap writing pads to suit the size of your diary. Mine is pretty close to A5. I got 3 pads for $2.50 from horrible K-Mart. They were wrapped in plastic and I left them wrapped until the end.
  • Pen or pencil for marking out.
  • Timber to make a template/clamp. I used 50mm x 25mm that I happened to have. You'll need two pieces about 200mm longer than your paper is tall.
  • 4 x 50mm Screws. Length depends on the thickness of the pad of paper. Long enough to hold the two pieces of timber together with the paper in between them.
  • Drill or screw driver.
  • Drill for drilling holes in timber and paper. One drill bit suitable for pre drilling holes for the screws and another the desired size of the holes in the paper.

Step 2: Make Your Template

  • Take one of your pieces of timber and place an original page of your diary on it, lining up the perforated edge with an edge of the timber.
  • Mark the hole centres and the edges of the paper on the timber.
  • Using a drill bit the same size as the holes in the paper, drill through the timber on all hole positions.
  • Drill two smaller holes at each end for the screws that will hold the clamp together. They should be as close as possible to edges of the pad without touching it.

Step 3: Clamp the Pages Ready for Drilling

  • Place the pad of paper between the two pieces of timber with the holes lined up in the position you want them. I left a bit more paper outside the holes than the original to give a bit more strength.
  • Using the screws, clamp the paper between the timber as pictured. It's important that this is tight to prevent the paper from twisting and tearing when drilled.

Step 4: Drill the Holes and Remove Clamp

Simply drill the holes using the template, then remove the clap.

Step 5: Install the Pages and Admire Your Work

If all went well you should have enough pages to keep your life organized for at least another year, and the satisfaction of saving yourself some coin too.

I hope you liked my instructable. Please feel free to ask questions and post comments.

See THIS INSTRUCTIBLE to see how I set out my weekly plan.

If you like my work, you might be interested to see my Etsy shop.

Comments

author
3366carlos made it!(author)2015-05-30

Nice idea. I just removed the 7 hole/ring spine and replaced it with a regular 3 standard hole spine. Easy, just drill the rivets and replace.

author
ssprince made it!(author)2015-02-15

Curious to know how you set up the pages.

author
cammers made it!(author)2015-02-15

I'll make an I'ble soon. Follow me so you don't miss it.

author
printrbot932 made it!(author)2015-02-15

Ok iv seen then allot was just wondering....great ible by the way;)

author
printrbot932 made it!(author)2015-02-14

Can somone tell me how to get a instructables patch??

author
cammers made it!(author)2015-02-14

They come with Instructables prize packs. So all you need to do is create an Instructable, enter a contest, and be lucky enough to one of the winners.

author
Roboticexile made it!(author)2015-02-14

Good evening,

May I suggest using a brad-point wood drill for making the holes in the pads? the sharper design of the drill would reduce minute tearing around the holes, potentially adding strength to the pages. I would be otherwise concerned that the pages might tear from the binder under the strain of regular page turning.

Many thanks for a well-documented instructable.

author
greyghost101 made it!(author)2015-02-14

If you'd like different styles of paper, check out http://www.printableplanners.net/ which has a wide range of printable templates. Just the thing to go with this!

author
Phil+B made it!(author)2015-02-14

I did an Instructable on making your own planner pages some time ago, and offered a guide for a standard, hand-held hole punch. See it in the later steps at this address: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Planner-Pages/?utm_source=base&utm_medium=related-instructables&utm_campaign=related_test

author
cammers made it!(author)2015-02-14

Hi Phil. I saw your ible pop up moments after I published mine. I didn't mean to steal your idea. Anyway, I think they are different enough that readers can get ideas from both.
Good work, by the way.

author
Phil+B made it!(author)2015-02-14

I donot regard what you did as stealing anything. I just wanted to mention there is yet another way to make spaced holes in paper, for those who might find it useful.

author
srohwer made it!(author)2015-02-14

Brilliant. I have an old FiloFax with a junky plastic hole puncher. Building one of these for it this weekend.

author
cammers made it!(author)2015-02-14

Thanks.

author
13bigred13 made it!(author)2015-02-14

Just a quick suggestion, if you use some counter sunk machine screws, washers and wing-nuts this hole punch jig will be easier to re-use and more able to accommodate various amounts of paper.

author
cammers made it!(author)2015-02-14

Good idea. Thanks.

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