The Armchair Angler, or How I Made My Own Planner Cover

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I’ve gone through a handful of A5 planners and notebooks over the last few months, trying to find something suitable to help me run my life. I could show you the receipts of how many I’ve tried! In fact, you may have seen one version of it on my Instagram.

The problem is, I have a LOT of things that I need on paper, and with me at all times. I’ve minimized my use of digital notetaking to the bare minimum. The thing I noticed while voraciously researching options is that planner creators assume you only need 100 pages or so (200 if you use both sides) to do your thing.

That’s a lie perpetrated by Big Planner!

I began thinking about possibly keeping one of the planners that I liked the most and replacing the rings with something larger.

On the Amazon review for the rose gold 40mm planner rings that I eventually purchased, a reviewer stated that they don’t like the standard-sized planners either. They took a used book, gutted it, and attached the rings to the spine.

The concept BLEW. MY. MIND. I ordered the rings ASAP and no surprise, it could hold all my precious thoughts.

I had some time after a work event so I scooted down to Sahara West’s Twice Sold Tales to find the ideal-sized used book to try this myself.

I ended up buying a few writing books because I looked at EVERY shelf. I’m not gonna not buy books when I’m in a bookstore.

I kept sizing my naked planner against books I thought would work, and no go. Books have gotten so small now. Most of the problem sat with the fact that the length was fine but the width was not. I got discouraged but I had plenty of time to kill. I finally found The Armchair Angler on my last trip around the store. Copyright says it’s from 1995. The orange color scheme actually worked well with the rose gold rings.

The Armchair Angler, the perfect A5-friendly book cover

The process itself was surprisingly easy to do. You need:

  • a sharp Exacto knife
  • a small Philips head screwdriver
  • a keen eye
  • a steady hand

You also have to be insanely comfortable cutting a book from its spine. Desecration of any book is as sacrilegious to me as anything, so call me a sinner where I stand.

If you’re going to attempt this, focus closely on the glue holding the text to the spine. Cut deep enough to separate the two and you’ll be good to go. Cut too deep and you’ll end up cutting the spine and compromising the whole thing. I actually did that on the first book I was testing.

When you’re cutting through the glue, BE CAREFUL that nothing slips. I can’t stress this enough. If you’re working with an Exacto knife, accidents CAN happen. There are kitchen gloves that you could use if you’re the clumsy kind but that’s up to you.

I lined up the planner rings against the spine on the outside and scored holes with the knife through the screw points. I lined up the rings with the scored holes and screwed everything into place with my handy-dandy screwdriver.

The final product!

The binder rings in action!

After a couple of weeks toting this adorable monstrosity around, I have a few concerns that you may come across to save you some time, should you embark on such a project yourself.

The spine becomes wobbly because obviously, it’s not supporting a block of paper with glue anymore. I decided to reinforce the spine by utilizing duct tape with a cool baroque print on it. I suppose you could use brown packing tape or clear mailing tape. They make a lot of great designs for duct tape, so you could go with a solid color, or a funky print like I did.

I went with duct tape because I feel the bonding properties are far stronger than packing or mailing tape. I temporarily used a stretchy book cover while waiting for the baroque duct tape to arrive. I can’t recommend that you use glue because that would bind the binder rings to the spine. Should I damage the book cover to the point where it becomes unusable, I plan to simply move my contraption to another book. Which of course will be a hassle considering how long it took me to find this one!

The baroque duct tape.

No pockets. I acquired plastic inserts and I brought over my travel notebook inserts that have pockets that I purchased many moons ago, back when I thought a TN would support me in my endeavors. Turns out I write too much and too BIG to cram my thoughts into something so tiny. I do miss the cute purple planner that came with them already built-in. But I outgrew it quickly.

The left-side of my open planner, with my fountain pen held in place with a pen holder

No way to keep it closed securely. I already had a solution because I purchased 7-inch silicone bands for a previous version of my planner; there were a bunch of random colors. I went with purple to go with my preferred purple/black/gray accessory color scheme.

My planner’s right side, with the purple silicone band

Let me know if you undertake this project yourself! I’d love to see how creative you got with it.

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