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We are a community of people who see the value of paper as a medium for planning, productivity, creative expression, and exploring ideas. We encourage visitors to share advice and inspiration, and we love to see submissions for templates, kit images and story articles. We are also the official home of the free D*I*Y Planner kits. Please enjoy your stay, and make yourself at home!

Advice on Using a Paper Punch

Paper punches, both Circa and 3-ring, are insanely useful. They allow us to use our preferred paper in our planners. They allow us to make and keep articles of interest to our careers and hobbies. And they allow us to fulfill the spirit of DIY by customizing every aspect of our paper life by ourselves. Like any modern day device, however, using a paper punch requires a little bit of exploration and maintenance to get the most out of it.

The first thing you should do, when you get your punch is to look it over and read any manuals (if any). Get to know how your punch works. This includes removing any thing clamping the punch together, like the small red plastic bits that held my Levenger Circa punch together. Understand how the punch tray works and test this feature out. This is that plastic tray that is loosely held on the bottom of the punch that collects all the left-over holes and smurfs after you perforate your papers. Sometimes this tray sticks and can be a big pain to remove or put back on. You'll want to make sure you can get yours on and off when the tray fills up with those tiny scraps of paper.

Review: Blissfully Wrong - The Jinhao X450R Fountain Pen

Jinhao X450RSometimes I just love being wrong. So much so, I'll happily admit it in public.

After my post a couple weeks ago on Esterbrooks, Mak, an acquaintance of mine in Hong Kong wrote to tell me that there were plenty of quality fountain pens still selling brand new under the $20 mark. Now, given that the list price of the Lamy Safari is $30 USD and the inexpensive but highly-regarded Waterman Phileas is $60 USD (though they can often be found for about $20 and $30 without converters), I was hard pressed to think of a single example. Even in the eBay "roll the dice, take your chances" game of slugging through remnants of estate sales, it's hard to find something that isn't scratchy, leaky, sac-less, ugly or just plain broken. I expressed my skepticism, but my friend apparently lives in quite a different world, one where good deals are far more common than in the far north of Canada. The next thing I knew, Mak had procured a little $10 gift for me and sent it on a journey half-way around the world.

While I waited for it, I couldn't help but remember one of my first fountain pens. While that "Asia Wood Stunning Pen" cost about $8, the seller insisted that adding a few no-name ink cartridges bumped the shipping price from $10 to $22. When it finally arrived, the cheap cap wouldn't fit snug, the nib was misaligned and scratchy, the "jewel" atop was a dollop of hot glue, and the splinters skirting every corner sent me running for tweezers. Straight into the junk drawer it went.

But, oh, was this one a pleasant surprise.

A Renaissance Art Case Hack

As many of you have noticed from the chatter in our forums, Arthur and the crew at Renaissance Art have been busy. Last week they introduced a few new products to their line. A few of these products included introducing a whole new series of cases for the Moleskine Reporter notebook. These cases give landscape journal lovers the ability to indulge in Renaissance Art's line-up of quality, hand made and rugged looking cases. Arthur was kind enough to send me a prototype of one of the new cases. When I received it, I was impressed with the quality and the changes that were made. And then, the hack idea came to me...

In order to make this hack work, you'll need to get a Moleskine Reporter Cover Book Style (with either the side pocket or the 3x5 card holder) and a Circa PDA. The Circa PDA, just so happens to be big enough for you to slip your Circa PDA into the right side and still have enough room for cards on the left. It closes without a hitch. You can order one with a pen loop which gives you more flexibility in carrying your note-taking system around with you.

This hack was tested with the Reporter Cover Book Style that comes with a side pocket and iScribe's Circa PDA. My first thought was that a leather covered Circa PDA was going to be too big for the notebook, but as you can see in the images, it'll work just fine. Thanks goes to iScribe for testing out my hack and taking the picture for today's post.

The U.S. Election: Democracy Had It Coming

US Election
Greetings all, Steve here, back again. I was going to post something last week, but, like many people lately, I came down with mild death-like symptoms. I went to the doctor and he said that, hypodermically speaking, I should be fine, ouch, so after a few days rest, I'm back in the saddle. Today I'm going to take a break from saying silly things about business and say some silly things about something many people are critically concerned about these days, something that could effect every area of our lives, business and personal: the U.S. presidential election.

Here are my thoughts: It's insane.

Allow me to elaborate. The United States presidential election is a time-honoured tradition, but like many time-honoured traditions, it's completely mental. I mean, think about it. Why must the election be held exactly every 4 years and consist of an arcane series of nominations and pre-elections to elect a candidate from one of two parties which are not really that different from each other? Because it's tradition. Fair enough, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. I mean, it used to be tradition to use left-handed people as test projectiles in catapults. Honest, look it up. They did it all the time. That's why there are so few left-handed people around. See, you learn something every day.

Review: Doodling for Papercrafters

Part of the fun of owning a blank journal is the flexibility to use the blank page as a canvas for your ideas. You can choose to write or draw on the pages, sometimes at the same time. Most of the time, however, blank books go marked only with the printed word across the pages. Sometimes, rarely, do we ever think to decorate the pages with quick sketches of images our eyes have seen throughout the day. Even more rarely do we ever just practice the fine art of doodling around the entries with a basic pen.

Enter Doodling for Papercrafters, by Maelynn Cheung. Cheung has written a fun, creative, how-to guide to creating original, hand drawn embellishments to your paper arts. This fast paced and quirky book takes you on a crash course through the joys of doodling on paper. The book teaches you simple and complex ways to add some personalized art to your creative works. Learn simple techniques like making lines and squigglies to advanced flower and paisleys. Doodling for Papercrafters is heavily illustrated which helps to show the diversity of doodles artists have implemented in their own works.

Real Life Experiments: Going from Digital to Analogue (Part 1)

This is a guest article by Alastair, faithful D*I*Y Planner reader. Al is technology/gadget obsessed nut with more PDA's, keyboards, mice, PC's etc than would normally be considered sane. He is obsessed with books, writing, organisational tools and has an ingrained belief that some things will always be better done the "old fashioned" way because it's still the best way to do them. He also has an iPod loaded with music from Mozart to Motorhead and he has a wonderful, tolerant girlfriend he doesn't deserve; and two cats that politely humour him.


This is my story. Of how I came to use digital gadgets and then how I got myself out of using them. As far back as I can remember I've always kept a diary. At first, it was all paper based. Then one day, I saw my first Palm Pilot and decided that I couldn't live without one. This simple moment started my quest to discover the perfect electronic planning solution. Of course, in the beginning I didn't own a computer, so that complicated my use of the Palm. That and the fact that I decided I could live perfectly well without the new toy. So into “the drawer” it went and I didn't think anything more about it and returned to my trusty diary and notebook. Peace was restored in the form of a brown leather, personal Filofax.

In 2003, Dell released the Axim X5 Pocket PC and again, the gadget bug bit me. Except this time it worked and just did exactly what I asked it to do. A year or so later, its big brother, the X50v, arrived (which I think is still the best Pocket PC ever made). Once again the gadget bug bit me and I started using this new device to capture my thoughts and appointments. Eventually, I graduated to the X51v but I was never as happy as I had been with the X50v. Being dissatisfied with the new system, I started looking for alternatives. During a brief meeting with an IT consultant, I discovered the Palm Treo 650.

Hooked on this new device, I made the move to an integrated device about a year and a half ago. My current system is MS Outlook based and I use it both at home and at work and all my data gets synchronized with my Treo. It works and does not cause me any real headaches. Whilst it’s been an interesting year and a half somehow my Treo is just not enough; and this is where the story of my returning to an analog lifestyle really begins.

Vintage Fountain Pens: Your Father's Esterbrook

Esterbrook AdNow, my father was a decidedly practical man, with little time for "fussin' around," and I suspect that --although he would have certainly used fountain pens during the 40's and early 50's-- he would have dropped them quickly and forever with the advent of the ballpoint pen. But ballpoints, like rollerballs, lack a certain history and mystique that even the cheapest and most utilitarian fountain pens possessed. These queer little objects, found beneath decades-old scraps at the bottom of drawers, or standing in broken crock-pots on basement shelves, have emerged from their dusty hiding places to pique buyers with a newfound appreciation for these old workhorses. And, in the year or so that I've been getting, restoring and researching fountain pens, I'm no longer surprised to hear pens compared to "your father's Esterbrook."

These ubiquitous and (some would say) beautiful fountain pens are inexpensive, plentiful, and offer some unique opportunities to D-I-Y'ers who would not only love to experiment with different nibs, but test the waters of vintage pens without taking out an extra mortgage.

ATCs: The Modern Day Calling Card

DIYPlanner Greetings CardsToday we're going to explore Artist Trading Cards or ATCs. I'll tell you what they are and how to make them; and then give you some ideas on how to use and share your cards with others that go beyond simple refrigerator display and collecting. I first discovered ATCs a few years ago when I was just getting into altered art and bookbinding. I found that quite a few people in the online art communities were making these cards to share and trade with others. I'm not sure when the first use of an ATC came about but the goal behind them is simple: help spread the love of art across the globe.

It's fun to make ATCs that express and exercise your creative side. An ATC is a tiny, one-of-a-kind, work of original art that you freely trade with another. They are always exchanged and never sold. Roughly the size of a standard baseball trading card: 2.5" x 3.5". Artists then abuse these mini-canvases by painting, decorating, or drawing their creativity all over them. They're then traded freely with partners or in a group swap and collected. They're a great way to promote your art and gain global exposure.

DIYPlanner Gift Cards - High Res

DIYPlanner Greetings Cards
Hi Folks, Steve here. Just a quick one today. Even though we're officially into the new year now, my brain is still very much on vacation, so today I'm just responding to a number of requests for high resolution versions of the DIYPlanner Gift Cards I posted last week. Once I recover from the holidays, I'll be back in full form next week. Enjoy!