Leather Planner/Binders

Hi All,
Hoping to get a little input from the community at large...

I have cheapie vinyl classic planner binder and want to upgrade to a nicer leather one that will last a while. My problem is almost everything I can find (DayTimer, Covey, etc) are zipper or tab closure type, and I would prefer not to have any closure at all (i.e. "book" style) for easy access to the thing. I really don't have anything loose inside, its all nicely tucked into the rings. I have a 7 hole punch, so 3 vs. 7 ring is irrelevant.

1) Any general comments on open v. zipper v. tab closure, etc?

2) Any sources for decent, yet reasonably priced binders?

BTW, I am in the US.


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Open Binders

Reese - I agree with having an open binder. I always think the closure tabs and such just get in the way!
I have found fake leather binders at office depot in the Address Book section. They look very nice and are usually under $15. Of course, the pages that come in the planner are for addresses, so you do not get all of the normal calendar stuff. But, you will be using templates from here anyway, right? :)
Long story short, try the address book section of your local office supply store!
happy hunting,
nay nay

Mostly :-)

Nay nay,

I do buy a set of calendar pages (week per 2pg spread) since it seems more cost effective than printing it all out. I spend enough time on this hobby already, as do you, I know! But virtually all the rest comes from DIY.

Thanks for the pointer - I hadn't thought of that. I _am_ looking for a real leather one though - my current manifestation is a nice enough fake one. I'll check the address book aisle and see if anything jumps off the shelf at me.


OD address book with cover

Thanks to one of the comments here, I got one of the Office Depot address books, too. I don't think it's leather (save a cow :-)) but it's a nice fake. $26. I got it in violet because I was always leaving my planner behind at clients' offices, or losing it in the house and it would blend in with the overall black insides of bags or in a stack of other black books and planners, I wouldn't see it.

It didn't take long to decide the violet was a bit too flashy but but I still liked the open (no tab, no zipper) design of the address book. So, also at Office Depot, I found stretchy book covers (in the school supply section). They cost just a dollar or so and look like microfiber, which I really like. I got a plain black one. It really looks nice, and if it gets dirty I can just buy another one, since they're so cheap. There's a front vertical pocket in the binder which isn't blocked by the cover.

The cover protects the binder, And if I decide I want to get a different color cover, I can just switch, but still have the same planner, no need to take things out and move the pages around. And it looks fine--you can't really tell that it isn't a microfiber binder, actually. Granted, I'm not sitting around in meetings with major corporation presidents, but I do need to maintain a professional appearance, and this is definitely professional enough.

The covers are stretchy and they just manage to fit over the binder, and the snug fit is nice because there are no gaps. I had to pull and tug a little to get the cover adjusted to the binder, and it fits beautifully now. A tiny bit of the violet binder material shows when it's open, but it just looks like a little color detail, like piping, and I'm the only one who is aware of it.

As far as I know, the only alternative is one of the plain Classic size binders (the smaller versions of the 3-ring binders on the binder shelves, but they don't seem as sturdy as the address book binders. But with the book covers they might be a possibility, also.


Back in my pre-packaged planner days, I always got the ones with the skinny snap closure. I could have something taller and just a touch wider tucked into the planner and it wouldnt interfere with the snap. (I often had envelopes for mailing sticking out the top). Zippered ones always felt too restrictive and I would have had to fold the envelopes >.<

I saw that franklin covey makes a binder with no closure for index cards... Maybe you'll get lucky and find one :o)

my artwork

No more zippers for me, Ma!

Yes indeed, Sara, most annoying and restrictive.

I haven't seen anything from FC that I really liked, to be honest. I did find a nice DayTimer, but the best I've seen it for is around $60. If I'm spending that much I 'm thinking of going Circa and getting the foldover notebook from Levenger. Of course the notebook is comparably priced but then I need ANOTHER punch... The wife gets anxious when she sees that catalog. LOL!

Thanks, Sara. The search continues.

Whatever Woman Wants...

Hi Reese

Make a note of your wife favourite perfume. Let her see you looking through the Levenger catalogue, then 'sneak' out of the house. Return one hour later with a perfume that smells very similar, although not exactly the same as the one she wears. If this rue works, sell your seven hole punch in the bazaar or on ebay and the buy the Circa you really want.

Note: If your wife is reading this I apologies profusely for ruining the rest of your life. :D

Lucky for you

my wife does not share my penchant for planning, so she won't see that little suggestion :-)

I'll keep that in mind tho!

Honestly, I have only had 4

Honestly, I have only had 4 binders in the last 17 years (well, I had a cheapie when I went to war). My first job was with a small company (about 50 employees when i started, 100 when I left). They got us all Franklin systems with open vinyl binders. I likes it, but I tended to pick up letter sized papers in meetings (I have always used Classic 8 1/2 x 5 1/2) for things like info hand outs and meeting agendas. So I did not like things falling out. And if I dropped my binder, 9/10 of the time it would land opened on some page, folding it over.

I went to a zippered leather binder within the 2nd year. I love it! I don't find it an inconvenience to open and close it, but that's just me. One day my binder fell out of my friend's truck as I got out and I did not notice. As he drove away, the back tire went right over it! It had already lasted me about 4 years. I bought another one (same thing - zippered leather Classic) and it lasted me another 4 years. After some abuse, I got yet another zippered leather Classic size. it has lasted me about 8 yars now and it is in great shape. I have had great success with the Franklin products.

If I needed another one, I would easily consider another Franklin because of the high quality. My wife used a leather/stitched canvas Classic binder from Franklin for several years and it is still in excellent shape.

Just my thoughts... you tend to get what you pay for.

- Chris

Good Point

Thanks for your thoughts. I know you get what you pay for (to a point, anyway) but for my usage, I don't think I need to spend $70-80 on a binder. As Franklin is strong contender here, it is good to hear you've had such good luck. I do like thier stuff compared to DayTimer, which seems a bit lower quality.

Still, I'm leaning towards Circa by next year, I love that foldover notebook Levenger sells. I don't want to spend too much to get me through a year or so.


Funny binder stories...


My husband drove over his FC binder, too. The rings were bent beyond repair, but the contents were fine. He bought the same style again in a different color.

I have a leather "spacemaker" binder from FC that's probably 9-10 years old. It's been dropped (though not run over), abused, spilled on, etc., and it still looks pretty good. You might check the clearance section on their website (or in their store, if you have one nearby) for sale discontinued styles/colors.

That said, I'm moving to Circa myself... and eyeing Levenger's foldover cover. :)


Some people hear voices in their heads.
Writers take dictation.

Levenger Sale

Right now you can get Levenger three ring leather binders on sale, IF you pick the right colors. They are blowing out some of the less popular (and more distinctive) colors for 75% off. You can get what you want for about $50.00. Forest Green looks good to me.

Good Luck,

Pilots map binders

Hi Reese,

you can get 7 ring binders at stores or websites that sell aviation supplies. Pilots use 7 ring binders for some of their maps. Some can be rather plain binders but they're functional.

It's also worthwhile checking out the sales for planner kits for 2007 or 2008. Sometimes stationery stores put a whole kit on sale because the planner pages are out of date. It happens a lot here in Australia at the smaller local stationers and newsagencies, who often stock unusual or generic brands


P.S. For example, overstock.com has lots of discounted planners at the moment (I've never used this supplier so I don't know what their service is like. Just found them today.)

Overstock use

I've used Overstock.com for other items and have had no problems with them. Their shipping is pretty decent too! (Heads over there now to look at their offerings.)

What a difference a year makes

Hi folks!
Interesting that this topic popped up again after more than a year - and it wasn't even because of a spammer hit!

Turns out that last summer I got nailed by the Circa addiction after all. I've dropped $200 or so on setup supplies, punch, etc. And my wife definitely wasn't happy :(

I did end up getting a nice leather FC binder, and eventually pulled out the 7-ring guts to mod it for Circa. It is a zipper binder, but as someone noted above, it isn't a big deal after all. It's open most of the day and zips up to keep things safe for the trip home.

Between Circa and ygor's dynamic apps, I'm all DIY all the time. Now THAT my wife is happy about. Of course when I recently mentioned upgrading my cell phone to a Palm Centro I thought she'd have a stroke :). Better hold off on that one.

Thanks again for all the input, this community is great. I still read it every day.


Some Options

Let me echo the quality endorsement for Franklin leather binders. I used a Classic size in Aniline leather for five years before switching to a smaller Pocket size with zipper. That was when it was still called Franklin Quest.

It's traveled about two million air miles with me in the last 10 years, and gets zipped open and closed about 5-8 times a day. Never a problem.

The corners are starting to wear, so I went shopping and was disappointed that Franklin seems to have downgraded the leather quality and selection of the leather binders, especially in the Pocket size. Fewer choices, too.

But I believe they will remain as durable. And some lightly used or overstock ones are always available much cheaper on the auction sites.

palm Cento's

Centro's are on sale now! $49 is some cases, I have one and it is a great phone, smart enough for daily use, but not too big to put in my pants pocket. It is a great digital addition to my paper planing system.

Found on eBay

[linkyfied by ygor]

I don't know if the above link will go through. If not, go to ebay and enter classic open binder in the search area. Right off the bat, I found one. I do have a couple with 1" rings that I am thinking of putting on baazar.

Actually, I have zip-up binders

I will put them up on the Bazaar tonight after taking a few pictures.

These are Franklin-Covey zipper binders -- classic and compact size -- that have removable binder rings. So, you can use these for either ring bound pages or you can remove the binder and slide a Circa notebook into it.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

this leather is yummy!


mckinleyleather dot com/105_105Z_Day_Planners.asp

This is very nice and comes in open and zip style. Someone else here on diy listed it once. I think this one is good.

I love my mini 3-ring binder

I love my mini 3-ring binder made by Russell+Hazel (not a typo :) )!! You can buy the packs of pages that you specifically want...address, day, notebook style, etc.... I got it at The Container Store but you can also buy it online.

Good priced Binders

I Love the Binders made by Gallery Leather in Maine. Here is there website www.galleryleather.com