Refillable notebook w/covers as sturdy as clipboards
January 11, 2020 12:51 PM   Subscribe

I'm having trouble finding a refillable notebook with a truly sturdy cover: not just a "hard cover" but something completely nonflexible and sturdy as a clipboard. I've tried Filofax, BlueLine Miraclebind, Staples Arc, which all claim to be "hard cover" but are actually just a little too thin and flexible. Suggestions?

Ideally, I find something like the Filofax, BlueLine Miraclebind, or Staples Arc, but with much sturdier covers. Not sure how to build this myself and still have it look neat and professional.

I want this sturdy surface so I can
* write in the notebook while it's on my lap or while walking
* washi-tape paper agendas (and later remove/replace), post-its, etc. to the inside surface of the covers
* completely protect notebook pages from getting bent inside

Needs to be refillable so I can re-order pages, add pages between existing pages of writing, remove pages to store elsewhere when gets too full.

In addition to Filofax, BlueLine Miraclebind, Staples Arc (close but covers just a bit too flimsy/flexible), I've considered
* padfolios: I dislike the traditional leather business padfolio—pens puncture paper if you try to write something on top of the leather cover, they've got unnecessary doodads like business cards and calculator holders, they don't come in interesting colors/materials
* clipboards with storage boxes underneath (example): too big
* metal clipboards with covers (like this): can't find any that open horizontally, allow the cover to turn 360 degrees to lie behind notebook completely flat and without spring hinges, fit a notebook's worth of paper without being huge, and hold paper so I can flip pages from right to left, and write on later page without having to hold pages before it awkwardly (the way you must if writing on a later page of a top-bound notepad)
* traditional clipboards: used to use these, but need a sturdy cover on top as well as bottom, as well as other features explained above
* binder: don't like how pages turn on any of the varieties of ring count/placement I've researched

posted by StealthOatmeal to Shopping (4 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
There are a lot of people who use CNC routers to cut wooden notebook covers on Etsy and elsewhere. I wonder if you couldn't get someone to hand cut you a cover that would work with MiracleBind or Arc insert hardware. Then you'd have a wooden base for stiffness, but the benefits of the refill system and available refill pages that you like.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:25 PM on January 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

Yes, but you need something a little flexible with notches to fit onto the disc binding discs, so also use lasercut flexible plastic sheet or just use a flexible plastic Arc cover or flexible plastic Arc insert as one of the layers.

You can also stick with the Arc flexible cover notebook, but glue or spraymount bookbinder's board to the inside cover or outside cover. (Bookbinder board is apparently what hardcover books are made out of, and goes up to a thickness of 0.12" = 120 Point = 1/8" = 3.0mm.)

If lasercutting sounds straightforward or fun, start by making up a glued up/spraymounted stack of flexible plastic sheet, board, and then laser cut it. Maybe outer cover/inner cover liners of nice scrapbooking paper. While it sounds a bit over the top, it means not worrying about fussy edge alignments when hand assembling and gluing up stuff, and might be an easy way to get a high level of finish.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:47 PM on January 11, 2020 [3 favorites]

You could purchase an Arc hole puncher and use that to make some new covers (not sure the max thickness).

You could also take two clipboards cut to size you want and then glue or otherwise attach Arc pages to them.

For instance, I use a Freitag Notebook, which is not stiff, but their way of attaching the ARC system/pages to the outer book could be copied but just use a stiffer outer. You can see how it slides into the outer at about 12s into the video at the bottom of this page.
posted by dobbs at 5:10 PM on January 11, 2020

I'd maybe contact Levenger with your request, see what they suggest (only because their stuff, while expensive, tends to be built like the proverbial brick outhouse).
posted by Bron at 9:28 AM on January 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

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