Moleskines brand notebooks are awesome, but they are expensive. Let me show you how you can take your old Moleskine notebook and refill it with the slightly cheaper Moleskine Cahiers and still retain that classic Moleskine look and feel. If you want to save a little green, and maybe are slightly obsessed with Moleskine notebooks like myself, then this is for you.
Step 1: Gather the Materials
For this Moleskine Modification you will need the following Materials.
1. A Moleskine notebook. I have only done this particular hack using a ruled 3.5x5.5 notebook but I'm certain you could do this with the larger ones. Its your choice to use either a new one or one that you thought you might throw away because the first step will be removing the paper and some people just might not feel comfortable ripping a new one apart.
2. A pack of Moleskine Cahiers. (Two are only required so you will have one left over. If you buy two packs, you'll have refills for at least 3 uses. I thinks it a good deal)
3. Duct Tape. I prefer the black kind because it matches the outside of the moleskine, but there won't be any tape on the outside so its really just a continuity thing with me. Do as you please. My first time through I used electrical tape. It works fine but the duct tape works better and is easier to work with.
4. A thin but sturdy piece of cardboard or a strip of plastic about 5.5 inches in length and about .75 inches wide. (Optional, this isn't necessary but I think it helps the appearance, You will see.)
5. Two thin rubber bands or optionally two hair bands. (I went with the hair bands because I figured they wouldn't break as easy as the rubber bands.)
6. An exacto knife or any type of blade for precision cutting.
7. Two small binder clips. (optional)
8. 3x5 Index Cards. (Optional)
Step 2: Remove the Paper From the Moleskine
Before cutting notice that the paper is sandwiched between two pages, one with the contact and reward information and the other right before the pocket in the back. Don't cut those off. They are attached to the covers and for continuity sake only, I leave them on. Do what you will but I find it was easier to get the paper out by ignoring them.
Take a look at the pictures below. In your moleskine, the first and the last page are slightly different than the rest because they are awkwardly glued to the two pages I was referring to in the first paragraph. Grab the first page that is slightly glued to the contact and reward page and just pull it until it comes apart. Refer to the pictures below to gain an understanding where to cut. All you have to do is slice right at the edge of that page but just be sure your are NOT cutting through the spine of the notebook cover, otherwise you fail. Once you do that, go to the last page and repeat the step. My old moleskine was so worn in that when I pull the slightly glued pages apart that it automatically separated the paper from the rest of the notebook, so maybe you'll get lucky that way.
Once you do that, you should just have the empty moleskine black oil cloth cover and next to it a stack of paper. What you do with it afterward is your business. With my used moleskine, I kept the paper as it was just cause I couldn't part with it, and then I've also done this with new moleskines, in which case I turned the unused paper into a nice stack of loose leaf pages by separating it from the bundles they are in.
Note: There is a brand of moleskine journals that give you just as good quality (if not better) for half the price of the Moleskine (capital M) brand. That brand goes by the name Piccadilly and can be found in Borders bookstore or online http://www.piccadillyinc.com. They have really good deals so check it out sometime.
Step 3: Reinforce the Spine (Optional)
Now you should be left with just the hard black cover of the moleskine, along with the inside pocket and the two pages that sandwiched the paper you took out.
Now is the time to use that 5.5 x .75 inch piece of cardboard or plastic. It should be thin, 1 to 2 millimeters but strong. The purpose of this is to support the spine when you place the bands that hold the Cahiers in place. As I said earlier, this part is optional. I just didn't like the way it looked when the bands started to push down on the spine. No big deal though.
You'll be sliding the plastic strip into the top and bottom pockets of the spine that are made by the black oil cloth being folded over. Once you have the strip in place, close the cover and make sure that the strip wasn't too wide. If the strip is too wide it will distort the way the cover closes. You want it to be squared, with a 90 degree angle.
Step 4: Tape the Spine
One good strip of black duct tape will secure the strip and make the spine a bit stronger. The height of the notebook cover is about 5.5 inches so I made sure to make the strip of tape just slightly smaller. It drove me nuts to have tape sticking out the top or bottom. This is also the time to make sure you put the purple bookmark back by securing it under the tape.
Step 5: Add Cahier Inserts
All the hard work is over and its time to fill your moleskine. Just take your two Moleskine Chaiers and open them up to the very middle. Take one band and wrap it around so that it rest in the middle of the spine. Consult the pictures below if that doesn't make sense.
One you have the bands inside the cahiers, all you need to do is securely insert your Cahiers into your new refillable Moleskine. Just do this by taking the band on the back of the Cahiers and wrapping it around the cover. Again, look at the pictures to gain an understanding of what I'm talking about.
Step 6: Secure Index Cards (Optional)
As stated, this part is optional. In the spirit of GTD (getting things done) by using one or two binders clips you can add some index cards to your Refillable Moleskine notebook to add more functionality. I use mine to make lists of things to accomplish and leave the notebook for notes and other such matters. The two cahiers are slightly thinner than the paper that originally came with the notebook, so there is a little more room for this extra functionality.
You can also purchase index cards that are ruled vertically so its just like normal notebook paper. That way you don't have to flip your notebook sideways to write on the index cards. Alternatively, there is also a nifty template you can print out that gives you a little more organization to your index cards. You can find those here ...
You will have to shrink them because they are sized a bit larger than normal 3x5 index cards.
So there you have it. An all in one personal organizer and refillable Moleskine notebook featuring three pockets instead of one.