Smurfing self-laminating material?

I have just built a small 3X5 CircaRolla hPDA for part of my to-read bibliography system (I am a doctoral student) and used old manila folders to make covers. I doubled up the cardboard for good measure (but the smurfed part is NOT doubled), and covered them with some cute red and gold self-adhesive fabric with a bamboo pattern. I'm a happy circafier.

However, I am regretting not ordering Circa smurf reinforcers with my last Levenger order, as I don't find the covers to be totally secure. I am considering using selfseal adhesives next time, but wonder how well that would hold when punched, or even if the adhesive would damage my dear desk punch. What do you DIY gurus think?

(Selfseal stuff from Staples: There are also non-repositionable options.)


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clear packing tape

I reinforce things with clear packing tape. :D works great, is usually inexpensive and always handy.

my artwork | my blog



Some materials don't punch nice. Certain plastics will stretch rather than cut. It only takes one punch to determine which these are.

Packing tape, as suggested by Sara, does not have this problem.

I tried two different kinds of self-adhesive laminating films on some of my pages. A softish GBC film on a roll and a very thin Xyron film in sheets. The GBC does not punch well at all. The Xyron punches better. But the Xyron is more difficult to apply--it's stretchy during the application, so you can end up with bubbles and wrinkles if you're not very patient. GBC was much easier to apply. A nice stiff packing tape is easier than both, but it doesn't come in very big pieces.

If you want to try laminating materials, check to see how stretchy they are before you use them on your treasured stuff. Try to laminate a plain sheet of paper and punch that. A punch test only takes a small strip of material, but determining ease-of-use takes a full size piece. Anyway, less stretchy is better for punching.

If your punch heads get gummed up from adhesive, you can probably open up the scrap catcher and use a q-tip or small paint brush with some alcohol or other solvent to clean them off. It won't be easy, the smurf holes aren't big. Punching a few plain scrap sheets after will help clean them off too. I haven't noticed any problems with mine even after punching the GBC film, once I got all the scraps of film out.


Regarding cleaning the punch

I haven't needed to try this with my desktop punch yet, but my corner rounder punch came with directions to punch some aluminum foil to sharpen the edges, and wax paper to lubricate the mechanism.

The cotton swab approach may be needed for more reluctant adhesives, though.

Thanks for sharing about the corner rounder!

my corner rounder punch came with directions to punch some aluminum foil to sharpen the edges, and wax paper to lubricate the mechanism.

My corner rounder punch didn't come with any instructions (if it did, I can't understand them, since it's a Japanese brand with info in Japanese) on how to sharpen the edges, so your comment is very useful! Thanks for sharint this!

Thanks all for your

Thanks all for your response! I'll try to find a roll of packing tape in the storage room and get back to you!!!

Although I might still try the self-laminating stuff. I have nice postcards I'd like to recycle as covers...


* You could take your favorite paper or postcards to Kinko's or some printshop and have it laminated in plastic film and then cut out covers and punch them.

* Or cut new covers from some thicker, but translucent plastic and layer your postcards/paper underneath them as some other DIY'rs have done.

IMHO, I tried using some packing tape to reinforce cardstock covers and found that it still wasn't stiff or strong enough to make good cover material. I found that a fairly stiff, thick cover material is needed to provide some structural stability to the ring/smurf interface and to reduce distortion of the stack of cover/paper/cover. In other words, if the covers weren't sturdy enough to keep the rings stable, especially in an hPDA context, the smurfholes would eventually get worn out and pages would start to fall out.

The Oxford plastic index card tabs recommended by another DIY'er made very good low-cost hPDA covers, but the colors are too dark to allow anything underneath to show clearly through. I bought some flexible plastic cutting boards/sheets (for kitchen) that I could cut up for covers. A cooking supply store should have them.


Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
B. Banzai


My current hPDA goes with me everywhere... even follows me during my pajama wearing lounge sessions. The new cover I made is simply 28lb printer paper with the 'got hpda' clip logo and covered in duck brand crystal clear packing tape. Its wearing VERY well and I've never had pages fall out yet. I wonder if our definitions of being 'rough' with something is just different ;)

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Maybe. :-O

I put my hPDA in a pocket in my sling bag when not in my shirt pocket, so I didn't think it was getting bashed that much. But, with the cardstock (67 lb) cover, covered with clear packing tape, I still found that the smurfholes would become damaged or worn enough that the cover would fall off.

I was using the small Circa rings (taken off a standard Circa notebook) and the rings would twist as I used the hPDA or as it jostled around in the bag. The covers would twist side to side too, like a stack of fanned out playing cards. There was enough play in the system that I found the only way to stabilize the whole thing was to use stiff, fairly thick plastic for the covers, such as the Oxford index card tabs or the CircaPDA tabs that Ryan suggested. The whole thing is much sturdier now and I made some for my wife and some coworkers, who think the Circa system is cool. Anyway, that's been my experience. YMMV.

If the smurfed area was reinforced with a strip of stiff plastic material, the cover itself could be more flexible.

I'm a guy, so it's gotta stand up to my less than gentle treatment. :-)


Remember, no matter where you go, there you are.
B. Banzai

I'm thinking that maybe the

I'm thinking that maybe the instability might have been due to too-big rings compared to the thickness of your hPDA's content. I have found it much more stable and robust with smaller rings.


You guys also maybe using different thickness of tape. Never thought I would know this but i have been working at a packaging supply company (that coincidently got bought out by staples)AND a inexpensive packaging tape may be a 1.6 mil. The nicer stuff goes up to approx a 3 mil. There is also different types of adhesive and material. PVC vs. polyolefin.