I’m no hippie, but I’ve never liked waste. It offends me to throw away something because it can’t be repaired. But that’s the norm in our society.
Take three-ring binders, for example. We use binders all the time to keep manuscripts organized as they move through the publishing process. But I also use binders to keep my furniture designs organized. With a three-hold punch, I can arrange all my drawings, supply lists, sketches and notes in one place where I can reference them again.
Sadly, plastic binders are terrible. The plastic hinges wear out, and the covers become separated from the mechanism that holds the papers. You can fix it with duct tape, but that is usually a temporary solution.
Enter Wisdom Supply Co., a small company that focuses on eliminating waste with office supplies. They sell a binder “kit” that allows you to replace the parts that wear out. And you can easily recycle the worn-out bits.
Basically, the binder arrives disassembled. You screw the 1” binder mechanism to the exterior boards with post screws – a three-minute job. You also get some tabbed dividers and a pocket folder. The cardboard cover is made from recycled materials and can be recycled when it wears out. You can then buy a replacement cover for less than $6.
And that is how all things should work – cars, tools, furniture, appliances.
Wisdom Supply also sells folders and planners that work on the same principle. I haven’t used them, but I hope to soon. As I love to both fold and plan. Ask anyone.
— Christopher Schwarz
Read other entries from The Anarchist’s Gift Guide here.
22 thoughts on “Anarchist Gift Guide Day 8: Wisdom Supply Co. Binder”
Excellent! Just went to their site and purchased some items for gifts. As well as a thing or two for myself— ;-). Great suggestion.
“I’m not a hippie…”
However, I think I’m gonna look into these for my wife, who has roughly 30,000 plastic binders for her tutoring business.
Pretty cool. I saw a company that makes part out of stone to preserve resources. Thought that was kind of interesting as well.
Thanks Chris. This is an excellent option I didn’t know existed. Being a chemist by training and my day job we use lab notebooks and the intellectual property in them is very valuable. I’ve adapted that to my woodworking. I’ve kept an artist 8-12 sketch notebook as my woodworking notebook. Each project is in there and I tape in pictures and other items. It works ok for current projects I am on or ones that are past the planning stage. It doesn’t work so well for projects out there that are still being developed. Your three ring binders seems like an excellent way to capture all of that. I will be adopting that for sure.
Slightly related, lab notebooks have moved into the electronic realm. I’m fine with that at work. I’m not comfortable with that for my personal woodworking. I know that 50 years from now, if I’m still around, that paper will be there and I won’t have a software compatibility issue to open it. Yes, fire is a real risk so I’m in the process of scanning my notebook so there is a back up PDF just in case (of course I could also photocopy and keep it stored elsewhere as well).
I have a total tangent here. This made me think of recycling. It made me think of recycling my remains when I die. I know years ago you built your coffin so you’ve broached this topic. I think there could be a nice blog by you or others at LAP (dare I say maybe a magazine article) on way woodworkers might want to approach the end of their life. I have heard of things where you can get yourself buried more naturally and they plant a tree on top of you so that as you decompose, you fertilize the tree and in essence become part of a tree. That sounds kind of cool. Haven’t researched this or other options. I do also recall Pope John Paul II’s pine coffin had a simple beautiful elegance behind it. I also like the idea of cremation freeing my atoms knowing that some of them will eventually escape the atmosphere sending me off to space. Ok, I have totally digressed at this point. All this from repairable binders. What is wrong with me?!?
I’ve asked that my ashes are mixed with concrete and cast as a garden gnome. Good and solid. Hopefully some jerk kicks it and breaks a toe.
Never liking to waste is not a hippie thing. Ask any Victory Gardener from WWI or Okey from the Great Depression. In fact they made a saying out of it:
Use it up
Wear it out
Make it do
Or do without
I grew up with a similar short form mantra:
Do, make do, or do without.
I sure said it enough to my kids. 🙂
Although there can be a fine line between the “waste not” ethos and being a hoarder. I have tried to take the eras you mention to guide my lifestyle, as well as my grandmother’s wisdom, who kept a drawer full of plastic bread bags. (When we were kids and we visited and didn’t pack our boots and then it snowed during our visit, we could still go sledding with our cousins on the hill by wrapping our feet in bread bags and rubber bands saved by Grandma!).
But somehow, I can’t seem to keep it together like Grandma and just end up with piles of glass and plastic containers and scowls from by better half, asking me what the hell I’m going to do with all those things I won’t throw away.
I can’t win for trying.
I’m sorry, but why open your comment with “I’m no hippy”? What does that mean?
The culture that re-introduced the health food interest to this country, that helped in many ways to rejuvenate the interest in craft, and quality in the craft movement, (including wood working) and many other practical philosophical outlooks that are pervasive in today’s mainstream society. Whasamattadat?
It’s not a negative. My parents were hippies, homesteaders, back-to-the-landers.
I’m also not Catholic, Canadian, Rich or a Prepper. It’s just a statement, and I (think I) am still allowed to label myself….
Oh! We should have a contest! Label Chris! And Megan, of course.
Someone please mail them a roll of the “Hi, My Name Is” labels.
This shall be epic.
You are correct. Just the first time I’ve heard you define yourself by what you aren’t. You are indeed allowed to define yourself. Mea Culpa
I foresee a hardwood and leather binder in the future. Surely there’s enough wood in a failed seat to fashion a couple of covers. Bonded to leather or even denim and the need to replace cover material moves to, what, 60 years?
Bravo! (I’m serious)
Cool company. I like your sticker, it’s class.
Here’s my question: how is the actual mechanical binder part? I’ve had so many cheap ones that chewed up my pages…
It’s fine. I’ve never seen a “Lie-Nielsen” three-ring mechanism…. Maybe they are out there.
I haven’t either. But I also hadn’t seen a modular system like this. I figured if they were trying to reduce waste, quality takes longer to get to the dump, so maybe…
In any event, I’ve been looking for something like this to help with grad school. Spiral notebooks just aren’t as cool as they used to be, especially when you have addendums to make, or extra stuff to stick in.
Sometimes I miss the binders I had in middle school. Blue fabric glued to heavy board, with something akin to a piano hinge for the binding…
I’d say that the closest thing to a “Lie-Nielsen of binders” that I’m aware of is, alas!, not a three-ring but a four-fork one: the Swedish classic (originally invented in 1889 by a certain Andreas Tengwall) Trio Binder, these days often known as a JOPA Binder (after the most common brand name) or a Fork Binder. The back is made of wood, covered in cloth, and the sides of strong cardboard, covered in paper with reinforced edges. They are not indestructible, but very heavy-duty.
Back in the day they were sometimes also made from metal (heavy, but oh! so strong; there we can really talk about “Lie-Nielsen”) or plastic (a rather less good idea, to put it mildly).
The true genius of them, though, is in the mechanism, which is strong and reliable, easy to open and close, never lets go of the contents, and permits direct access for insertion or extraction between any two pages.
The major drawback for anyone who isn’t a Swede (i.e. 99 point whatever of the world’s population) is that to the best of my knowledge, it is only made to fit the Swedish four-hole standard which is pretty unique to us, I believe (unless we have convinced one or two our immediate neighbours to follow suit?). As a matter of fact, our standard emanates from this very binder, that quickly became so ubiquitous that most every other binder and hole punch system in Sweden eventually followed suit.
glances over at block of writing paper on desk
Can confirm that your immediate neighbours to the west use 4 holes. What our Danish brothers down on the continent use heaven only knows. I am seldom able to understand what they say. “Jiæææh voouh lie draushmiggespo!” one of them might say. I ask him to write it down. Then all becomes clear; He has a congenital speech impediment. They all do. I love’em.
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