Rolling your own rolla/circa discs

I've seen under many different topics the idea broached of making your own rolla/circa discs. Some were for use with the actual punch, some were for making a rolla "type" notebook. Options have included wood, grommets, o-rings, copper tubing, sliced pvc/abs ...

A couple of people said that with a lathe making wooden discs wouldn't be hard; and one even said a woodworking in-law was making some.

So, I want to hear, and hopefully see, about cases where folks have actually done it. The only working sample I've seen is by Judy of the Woods Dirt Cheap Milk Crate Binding System. Most intersting would be ones that work with the rolla punch stuff. But any additional working samples would be great to get details on.

So, has anybody out there rolled there own rolla?


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the real problem....

IMO, the real problem is not the discs, but the punch. All the various alternates still require an odd system of punching, which is nowhere near as convenient as a Rolla punch. Until that element is "fixed, it is hardly worth rolling your own--which is probably why nobody has yet really done it. Although, I think it would be cool to have wooden discs. ;-)



The punch is really the major investment with disc-binding, though I still find myself with Unnatural Paper Lust over Atoma's Bio Line

For what it's worth, I'd think that the Atoma/Myndology discs would be easier to turn, as the cross-section appears to be more T-shaped than the mushroom of Rolla/Circa. This being the well-informed opinion of someone who have never used a lathe or owns Atoma discs, of course.


My BIL was working on it, and I think planning of giving me the disks for Xmas. But their house burned down three weeks ago so they are a little bit busy rebuilding at this time. If/when I get the disks, I will let everyone know for sure.

"It's better to be a pirate than to join the Navy." -- Steve Jobs

re: fire

Yes, I suppose they would be incredibly busy. Obviously there is never a good time to have your house burn down. But it always seems even worse when it is around the holidays. I'll be keeping them in my thoughts.


The rebuild will be done for

The rebuild will be done for Christmas. They are painting this week. It went well.

my thoughts and prayers

are with your family as well!
nay nay


They are all well. All the humans, the four cats, the dog, the three chickens and the two horsesQ

Getting back on topic

Not to detract from the misery of one's home burning to the ground, but if I may digress back on topic...

Seriously, why would you want to roll your own? I think the fact that we are collectively creative and "frugal" is what makes D*I*Y Planner as successful as it is. Please, I don't mean to enrage or enflame, but even the most die hard DIY'er has to admit that there is a point that one quits being creative and "frugal" and is just a downright cheap a$$. Am I right? If so, then you certainly have to admit that cutting PVC piping into rings so you don't have to purchase some relatively inexpensive binding disks is definitely in the realm of cheap a$$.

If I am wrong, hey, I'm wrong...let me have it. But if that's the case, please know that I have a front yard full of tumble weed from this weekends storm that I would be happy to sell you for that "Wild West" DIY binder cover.

Wooden rings...

The purpose of the wooden rings, at lease, was simply the cool factor.

As to other things, I suspect it's as much the challenge as trying to be "cheap." Especially because, as you mentioned, the rings aren't that expensive. It's the paper and/or punch where the real costs come in... and none of the super-cheap solutions seem to answer that problem. :-)


What he said.

I do have to admit

I do have to admit that there is a certain cool factor in turning your own disks, or casting your own metal ones as has been suggested. But recycling old plumbing fixtures and used shoe laces is going too far in my book.

Oh, and another thing...

Some of the more "extreme" examples were by Judy, a lady living in rural England. You may not be aware, but it is _not_ easy to come by Rollabind or Circa stuff there. So, in lieu of paying exhorbatant prices for shipping to England from the States, she tried other things.

It may not be immediately obvious, but she was able to finally buy a Rollabind punch and tons of rings (guess from who) ;-) for a reasonable price, and since then, her experiments in rings have, I believe, ceased. :-)

So, there are two different perspectives at play here--necessity, not stinginess, and the challenge of doing it yourself. One need not give a crude description to those whose situation he may not understand fully...


Indeed, thanks to Jon I am a

Indeed, thanks to Jon I am a very happy Rolla bunny. The other experiments were fun, and I could have developed them further, had I not eventually come into possession of the punch and discs, which do make life a lot easier in the long run, especially if you rollafy every scrap of paper you can find. But I have to admit, for that very special book/organiser some wooden or metal discs would be sooo classy. I have been in contact with Atoma about purchasing discs, but am told they don't sell discs seperately. What a missed sales opportunity. I really don't want to buy an expensive notebook just to get the discs, plus, the Atoma A4 books have only 11 discs (unlike the 12 with Rollabind), so that it would be difficult to make my favorite A6 size booklets for which I use 6. I have seen the metal discs sold seperately on the German Manufactum website, so may get some there, alas, no wooden ones.

Mind you, for anyone who is unable or unwilling to get one of the disc systems, I still think two ring punching is the way to go with a cheap, universally available punch (not sure though about the US) and you can either make some binding system like I've shown, or use/adapt a two ring binder.

Two-hole in the US

Digressing here, but two-hole punches are quite common in the U.S.. A thrift shop near me has a stack of about 5 of them, for example.

Glad to see you around Judy. Thought you'd been buried under a heap of smurfs. :-)

Wasn't sure if the standard

Wasn't sure if the standard in the US was three rings. Pleased to hear two are freely available too.
Nice to see all the familiar 'faces'. Been working on a few projects behind the scene and just had the very occasional peep into the forum. Hint: there are smurfs involved in one of the projects ;-)

I would think it would be

I would think it would be the cheapness stemming from not wanting to pay shipping...and so, wanting to find something that one can actually go out and buy in a store?

Or, for customization of sizes (some may want bigger than are offered commercially).

Plus, yep, wood would be cool. Can't you just see someone making a super-fancy one with polished exotic-wood rings, nice leather cover, and wonderful fancy paper?

think I'm gonna try

polyclay. see if I can make a mold and then make some. And it probably won't be cheaper.


polyclay comes in glow-in-the-dark!

that would be cool!


And just think of the color and pattern options.

I love what has been done with polyclay in the bead world. To have rings with neato faces or patterns...... what a thought. When do you open your etsy shop for them?

well, I bought the polyclay last night

But I won't have time to play with it until this weekend.

I'm not usually the crafty type, so my SO was a bit perplexed when I asked if she had any polyclay. Fiddling with paper forms, right up my alley, but clay? After about 4 hours, she exclaimed "Your going to try to make your own discs, aren't you?" It had been driving her a bit nuts trying to figure out what I needed polyclay for all of a sudden.

But, if it works it should take care of that problem of disc books not being really personal enough for 'homemade' books. They can be in the recipients favorite color, have their initials stamped in that center part .... Also, I found a site that has a tutorial for making a faux wood look. Since I don't have a lathe, that may be the only way to get 'wooden' rings.

So after this weekend I promise to post the details of either my success or failure on rolling my own. I won't sign up at etsy until after that. :)

Poly clay


The problem with polyclay is that it's usually not as smooth as plastic. I think it also shrinks a tad. If it does shrink, then that might help the non-smoothness to not be a problem.

The trick is to get the clay not to deform when you pull it out of the mold. Maybe if you chill it, it will stiffen well enough. That, or use something bakeable as your mold.

DH might have some plaster and silicone around in the garage..I think he's stolen my polyclay, too.

Precious Metal Clay, now, that would be spiffy. Nice sterling rings..or copper or gold.. You could polish that up nice. I don't think that works in the oven, though. :/


i'll keep the shrinkage in mind

I had planned for now on using polyclay itself as the mold, it can be rebaked over and over from what I've read. and I've got 600 grit automotive sand paper, so I think I can smooth it up well, but we'll see if it takes more sanding than I'm prepared to spend.

Later on if this works maybe I'll shift to a RTV silicon molding system. It too is bakable many times. Again, from what I've read.

I was even thinking of trying to make custom covers with the sculpey bake and bend stuff.

Any body else with polyclay tips?

first polyclay prototype a qualified failure, onto the next

Tried using Sculpey III, but as a ring instead of a disc. I rolled it out to the the required thickness, cut the outside edge, then the inside edge. This 'worked' as far as the pages would load onto it and turn okay. (Tested it with a microPDA set) But, the SculpeyIII is too flexible once baked,and putting it in my pocket killed the rings.

SculpeyIII is said to be one of the more bendy polymer clays once cured. Plus, maybe it would have worked okay if it had had the center part to help resist bending.

Next prototype is to use the SculpeyIII to make a mold of the discs themselves. As a mold, the bendiness will be an asset. I've got some FIMO classic, which is one of the firmest clays I believe. I'll try to fill the molds with that and see how it works. This will be both a firmer clay, and it will be a disc instead of a ring.

Will keep posting both process and results even for failures. Once I get something that works, I'll post pictures too.


If you are using a somewhat

If you are using a somewhat flexible clay, it might still be firm enough with a hard armature like a thin washer. Perhaps the washer could be the middle part without any covering, just the thick rim molded around it in clay. The only method of holding the rim without adding bulk, that I can think off at them moment though, is making the edge of the washer jagged, e.g. by filing indents into the edge. Likelihood is, you would need a bunch of discs, and this is where the indents could be made fairly quickly by piling them all together, putting them in a vice and running a hacksaw along the stack at intervals, just enough to roughen the edge to key to the clay.
Alternatively, the armature could be in the ring part, and the clay could be solid in the center and surround the ring.

thought about using US coins

Could get some good different sizes with pennies, nickels, and dimes. Dimes at least already have roughened edges. Not sure if that would add too much weight to a letter size notebook. I think I have to stop experimenting now for this weekend, but next weekend I'll definitely try some of your ideas.



Copper rings for Rolla/Circa


Bought some 1/2 inch copper pipe at home depot and sliced it to the appropriate width. Deburred and smoothed the edges with emery cloth, and then used that same worn emery cloth to give the rings a slight brushed look. (could use a coarser grit metal sandpaper to get a heavier brushed effect)

I really like it! I think I will leave these uncoated to allow them to patina over time, but others I may use a spray varnish on to keep the new look.

Originally I tried slicing with a metal blade in my scroll saw, but that was difficult to keep in a straight line. I may try some intentionally wavy ones next and see how that affects page turnability.

Lets see, I used M type pipe this time, it is the standard copper pipe thickness. I'll throw this notebook in my wallet and see if it smooshes. If so, there is always L type pipe which is thicker and still carried in the big hardware chains. I don't think that one would smoosh at all, but it would probably take longer to smooth and round the edges over. And the slower but best way to cut it is just with a small pipe cutter. (The small turny-cutter for those who haven't had to do plumbing repairs before.)

And all pipes were new, so no concerns over 'used plumbing' in my notebooks. :)

Am still going to keep experimenting with the poly-clay. I like options!

pictures at flicker at www. flickr. com/photos/21466741@N03/2081401661/in/photostream/



Those are great rings! I'm so impressed...must wait til the DH comes home to see if he can fashion me some of these!

WOW, very cool

The rings turned out great! They are beautiful and will look wonderful when they have that patina. I am impressed and now to get my DH to do some for me. I am thinking about how cool these would be on an altered object or scrapbook.

Thanks for showing and sharing!


And what is the desired width?

Hi again,

I forgot to ask....what is the desired width and how did you figure it out? Did you take a disc and measure the width of the widest part? I guess I have answered my own question! :o)


How did you cut?

You mentioned the scroll saw, but now how you actually ended up cutting them.

I want to do this for a journal I'm creating for a friend and would love to know what implement you used to cut the rings.


pipe / tube cutter

You mean you didn't understand what I meant when I said a turny-cutter thingy? Thought I was being perfectly clear. :-)

The official name is just a tubing cutter. It is made for cutting plastic, copper, aluminum, or soft brass piping.
is a link to the picture of the one I have.

You could also use a hacksaw with a miter box if you're good at cutting straight, square lines. I'm not so good at straight, so the pipe cutter is the best for me. It cuts a nice straight, line that is square to the tube. Here is a link to how to use such a cutter. It shows a bigger one, but the principle is the same.

In the harware store next to the pipe sections and cutter tools, you'll find the emery cloth. It might be called just abrasive cloth.

It really was amazing simple. I'm making a custom journal for my left-handed SO, and now I think we're going to use this to make a custom calendar for her mother for Christmas.


Of course, turny-cutter thingy!

Thank you! I think my husband has one of these at work, and he's also Mr. Precision, so I think I'll draft him into this effort.

Thank you so much for sharing this discovery!


One last question

Did you size these at 3/16" or some other measurement (7/32")?



I sized it by using one of my official discs and marking the pipe with a sharpie.
Measuring would probably be better. :)


Are we twins?

I would've done it that way, too, probably.

But, married to Mr. Precise, I'm going to have to measure. (c: Luckily he has calipers and the turny-cutter thingy and sanding supplies.

And he may also take it to work and cut on the lathe (he works in a machine shop!), if there's machine time available.

Thanks again. I'll post some photos of the finished product when I get it done.


so cool!

thanks for the pics as I just wasn't imagining this correctly! The rings look so great! Nice job!

back to wood...

Tried to post this a couple days ago but apparently it's been shot down as spam. To use wood, why not use the wooden toy wheels that you can find at craft stores or on-line (but I'm not adding the link this time). You can get them in different sizes, then would just need to either drill out the middles or flatten the middles to make a flat disk.

Copper is really nice looking though!