Sunday, 2 December 2012

Filofax M2 - turning the M2 into a really useful bit of kit.

As most readers will know, the M2 is a wallet sized filofax that is no longer in production, very similar in size to a "Filofax Mini" but in horizontal format. Here's a video that shows the M2 I'm currently using, but in a way that might have kept the M2 in production if only Filofax had had the same idea all those years ago.

I'm absolutely convinced that there is a market for a traditional wallet with a ring binder mechanism that holds a notebook of useful size. And, when I say useful size, I mean as big as possible within the dimensions of the wallet - a man sized notebook capable of seizing the written word by the scruff of the neck, not some apologetic collection of inserts barely able to satisfy the requirements of ladies (or indeed gentlemen) who "do lunch"!

A wallet combined with an "organiser" has limitations, and is difficult to assimilate into a broader system involving one or more additional filofaxes, but a wallet with a useful notebook to use as a daily input device is a great idea, and Filofax are failing to spot a gap in the market in my not so humble opinion.


  1. Thanks for this Neil, I also have an M2 but a light blue Cross model. It slips in to a shirt pocket almost unnoticed!

    I use the Filofax Mini pen in mine it slips in the loop just fine and the barrel is cross milled and fits my fingers just fine.

    But thanks for pointing out those pads, I hadn't thought about using one of those before I will look out for one in the supermarket tomorrow.
    Steve in France....

    1. Thanks for your comment, Steve.

      It is just possible to use a Rhodia no. 12 notepad and fit a pen into the pen loop. It puts some side pressure on the note pad but, since the sheets of paper don't stay in the M2 very long, it's not a problem.

      If you buy a Rhodia pad, you'll see that I'm using the orange flip front as the backing for the sheets, after dispensing with the original backing entirely, but I use an electric drill before I strip down the notepad.

      Personally, I prefer to carry a Kaweco Sport, an ultra short fountain pen that turns into a much longer pen when in use, so I don't use the pen loop, but using the pad in the way shown means that the loop lies flat underneath the full width pad, so it's not a problem.

    2. I've just cut some paper to A7 size and punched it slightly off centre and it fits in ok without a problem with the pen in the pen loop.

      I've read somewhere or been told about why they discontinued the M2, but I forget the reason why. I will try and track it down. Mine always is admired if I'm carrying it.


    3. Steve - There's a Mulberry product that is virtually identical to the M2. I read somewhere that the M2 is a reponse to the Mulberry, rather than the other way round, but that both companies found that the format never took off.

      Far too small to be used as an organiser, but fantastic if you just want to be able to jot down a note or two when you're out and about. I also find it saves me having to carry another binder around the house and garden.

      Offsetting A7 paper is a great idea for those that want to use the pen loop. Thanks for that, I'll do some experimenting.

      I find the M2 full width pocket also happens to be a perfect size to keep a couple of personal size sheets of paper.

      I really do think Filofax should re-introduce this product.

  2. Neil,

    Saw this video earlier today. I agree, it's a great size and could be very useful. I tried diligently to make a mini filo work for me as a notebook but found eventually that just toting my personal was more sensible for the way my brain functions. Plus, the idea of the mini was to combine wallet with idea capture, but I could not back-pocket my mini for fear of crushing the rings, so it ended up being inconvenient.

    The M2 is pretty brilliant, though. Unfortunately it's one of those binders I've never been able to find when I fancy one. Maybe someday.

    I cribbed your make-decent-paper-filofax-compatible recently, butchered one of the smaller size clairefontaine notebooks, trimming off a bit, punching. Fits the personal perfectly and gives me a damn nice writing experience.

    I've got a Kaweco Sport too, mine is from the late 1950's and writes beautifully. Unfortunately, the piston seals are pretty shot and so it is extremely difficult to fill with ink. I almost sent it out to be rebuilt but see the vintage ones are available in like-new condition from German online auction sites for little money, so I might just buy a replacement. Is yours of the newer type? How do you like it?

    Sorry for the long-winded comment!

  3. Josh - you must try the M2 if you can. It's pretty silly as an organiser, which is how it was originally marketed and why, in my opinion, it failed, but as a notebook it is great. I still don't think those rings would last in a back pocket, though.

    I can't vouch for other models, but the quality of my Belgravia version is outstanding for a post 1991 filofax. No complaints at all, even though I prefer traditional calf leather to this padded stuff we see so much of these days.

    My Kaweco is virtually new, because it's a great pen, looks identical to the vintage ones and is extremely good value given the superb writing experience. It is all very handy to just keep in a jeans pocket. I have found the fine nib on my one needs cleani g every month or so, even though I am using plain old Skrip ink, rather than something more exotic from, perhaps, Noodle's.

    I saw you've got a great Winchester from the UK, so maybe you'll be lucky with an M2.

    1. Noodle's? Lol, I meant Noodler's. The iphone key pad is rubbish to write with - you can tell from my posts whether I've used a proper keyboard or not.

    2. Yes, I cannot manage with touchscreen text input. I tried both on phones and tablets, and it's just crap.

      I've found that for day-to-day use a basic ink is much more convenient. I use primarily Parker "Quink" which is very low maintenance and dries quickly. It is not in waterproof at all, which can be a problem. When I tried to use Noodlers in my pens I had lots of trouble both with clogged feeds and with horrendous bleed-through on lots of papers.

      I might just put the modern Kaweco on my christmas wish list. The old ones look very similar but are quite different in construction, being piston feed and having gold nibs. Mine is just amazingly smooth on paper and has a bit of flex so you can get a thicker line by pressing down a bit harder.

      I'm so pleased to have purchased a Winchester even if I did possibly pay far too much for it. It's basically perfect and seems sure to wear like iron. Since I got it I've lost some of my interest in looking at Filofax because I'm so keen on the one I've got.

  4. Josh - I think your Winchester is the bargain of the year. There can't be many English made filofaxes around that have never been used.

  5. Many thanks for introducing me to the Filofax M2 it was a very interesting post it was very interesting. I found both your posts on paper weight and ARC also very interesting. I have considered buying a micrometer, some are reasonably priced. I have some sheets of plastic and card I would like to know the thickness. Would a micrometer be capable of measuring thicknesses at this level.

  6. Thanks for your comment, Anthony.

    The accuracy of a micrometer would depend not just on the calibration parameters of the instrument, but also on it's ability to avoid skewing the measurement through inadvertent compression of the material being measured.

    My advice would be to measure a stack of sheets, or scarifice one of your sheets of plastic by cutting it up into small squares, and divide the result by the number of sheets in the stack, considerably reducing the margin of error, both in the material and the instrument.

    If you're using the stack method try a vernier guage, as opposed to a micrometer, ensuring that the room temperature is within the limits specified by the intrument (tpypically 20c).

  7. Thank you very much for the method and description. I'll take your advice and see how the results turn out. Regarding your videos they have for me been the most interesting and quite engrossing.

  8. With what you you punch the papers? Do you need a special item for that?

    1. I use a drill. The advantage is you can make holes with a smaller diameter than a standard hole punch.