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The downside of hoarding paperwork of all kinds is that you either need a very organised filing system to contain it all or as many ringbinders as you can find. I was born disorganised so I need the second option; amongst my folders, document wallets, box files and expanding files, Iíve got a few of these Snopake ring binders.
They are practical, with a cover made from textured clear, quite thick plastic (ice cream tub thickness, except the folder is transparent) so itís tough enough to protect the contents, just strong enough to act as a writing surface (if you wanted to do this, Iíd suggest waiting until the folder is full of papers; the thickness makes all the difference, on its own itís a bit too thin) but still flexible enough that it would curve slightly to fit into a narrower rucksack or shoulder bag. The clear pocket inside the front of the binder is handy for shoving loose bits of paper in, with high enough sides that A5 paper wouldnít flap around; I think it would rip if you were heavy-handed but it copes perfectly well with ďnormalĒ use; Personally find itís good for sticking Post-it notes to. Being thin plastic, they donít stand up on shelves very well unless theyíre leaning against something. You could easily wipe them clean if they got food or sticky substances on them.
The 4-ring clasps are tough and snap shut with an audible crack (I try to avoid getting my fingers anywhere near the rings - they take some effort to open and close so Iím not risking any painful imprints on any digits that get in the way!) Although they canít take any paper bigger than A4, the covers are a little wider and longer (Viking Direct gives the measurements as 315mm by 255mm), giving enough room to file a sheet of paper in a plastic sleeve without it sticking out of the covers; as I keep family tree-related birth, marriage and death certificates in one of mine, the size is just right for keeping each one in its own plastic sleeve without the edges getting crushed or bent - copy certificates are £9.25 each now, I certainly donít want them getting damaged! The rings close tightly enough that I can easily turn plastic wallets or pages over without them catching where the rings meet.
Iíd guess it would easily accommodate a 150-200 page refill pad, but for presentations and projects, especially those where each page goes into a separate plastic sleeve, Iíve found that this can take roughly 40-50 sleeves, each filled with one or two sheets of paper. Itís not bulky but can still hold lengthier written documents etc - Iíve used them for printed family tree reports etc. This is a ring binder not a display book so, of course, no integrated plastic sleeves are included.
The separate clear pocket on the outside cover is also something Iíve found useful, for labelling the file (you can easily slide A4 paper inside) and for presentation purposes. To finish my family tree research off, I printed a collage of family photos onto glossy photo paper; even paper of that thickness can be slotted in; the cover pocket isnít over-flexible so a card cover sheet might need trimming slightly to fit properly.
The spine is also covered by a clear pocket, but I donít find this especially practical; it extends round to the front by a good couple of inches and holds a slip of paper, which is useful for labelling in theory (if you keep files on shelves) but in practice, although biro or felt tip will mark the shiny paper clearly, the length and narrow width of the paper combined with the spine pocket being curved makes it awkward to slot back in, unless I open the folder face-down so itís flat, which isnít a practical option if itís already filled with paperwork.
Being ring-bound, you either have to punch holes in anything you want to file (added to which, you either need a 4-hole punch or a 2-hole version and an accurate eye for distance) or use plastic sleeves but the folders give a professional look to any kind of project or a long piece of written work. Mine were pale blue, pink and yellow so would suit school or work projects, although I think the available colours are now clear, blue or purple.
Mine still look virtually unmarked after at least eight yearsí use - they were ordered as a set of ten from Viking Direct, who still sell them for £3.29 each plus VAT (this drops to £3.19 each if you order between 10 and 39, and then £2.69 for orders of 40 or more), which is a lot for what is basically a plastic-covered ring binder, but theyíve withstood being carted backwards and forwards to university. The plastic cover copes with everyday wear and tear better than many cardboard covered alternatives, where the corners tend to get scuffed.
Iíd recommend them on practical grounds but certainly not on economic ones - Snopakeís own website only lets you buy them in packs of ten, costing £78.80 including VAT, which is a ridiculous price, however light and flexible the folders are. Shopping around is probably the best option.
I wish there was a photo on here to know what you're referring to - Snopake make tons of different binders and I have quite a few too.
rosebud2001 05.05.2012 21:42
I love their press stud plastic wallet files...I get them in Costco for my daughter and they are very sturdy - if expensive.
pgn0 05.05.2012 21:13
I'm increasingly of the opinion a lot of what gets filed could actually be shredded and recycled as bedding for the hamster cage... but should I feel the need to retain my various bits of paperwork, I'll certainly take a look at these.