Archive for the ‘writing tools’ Category

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Tweaking The Selection of Tools On My Desk

11/05/2021

Does your pen-ink-paper rotation make you happy, really happy? Mine was good but needed a little tweaking in recent weeks. Reviews are in progress for the pens and the paper listed.

  • Four Chinese pens, two fude, one fine and one extra-fine. The latter needed its nib swapped but is good now. The fine is on probation so we shall see about that one.
  • In recent months, either a pen for testing (recently a Waldmann) or a Platinum Century has occupied the last slot in my five pen rotation. Perhaps a stub will be next.
  • Inks are Iroshizuku syo-ro and kon-peki, Herbin Cafe des Iles, Diamine Merlot, Waterman Blue-Black, Sailor Tokiwa Matsu. Six but who’s counting?
  • Tomoe River 52g journal, an inexpensive A5 notebook paper that is very good with FP ink and a planner with MD  paper.
  • Uni Alpha Gel and a Tombow MONOgraph, both shaker mechanical pencils with 0.5mm HB Uni Nano Dia lead.
  • Uni-ball Signo 307 Micro (0.5) when a fountain pen won’t do. It writes on glossy paper and is water resistant. There is one on my desk, one in my handbag and one next to my bed.
  • Muji hard type black plastic eraser that doesn’t leave a pile of dust behind.
  • Other tools include washi tape, an Exacto knife, stylus, clips, candle, watercolor palette, brush, and paper.

It took a few modifications to refine my current choices. In the last six months, I have tried a few brands of paper that were supposed to be FP-friendly but were not good for double-sided writing. Iroshizuku was an infrequent visitor, but is now a staple. Chinese pens were off my list for years but now dominate my current rotation. In mechanical pencils, wide to very wide soft leads have been replaced by 0.5mm HB. A shaker mechanism taxes my hand far less than the traditional clicker so two of those have earned slots.

My desk is more organized with less clutter and instead of spending time deciding what to use, I simply use what is at hand. That means I spend more time working and that is a very good thing.

Links are to products at Amazon. If you purchase there, Inkophile may earn a tiny commission. The Chinese pens might be available through eBay, but the shipping time can be lengthy if from China. Recent orders from two different sellers took a month each to arrive in California.

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Pen, Ink and Paper Links (Hide Your Credit Card Before Reading)

04/01/2021

It is way, way, way too easy to blow your budget when there are so many goodies calling your name. Can you resist or have you been enabled?

Camellias through my kitchen window and matching pen.

 

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It’s National Pencil Day. What Do I Use?

03/30/2021

Do mechanical pencils count? I use them daily and have a decided need in my journal for easily amended notes. The no fuss MP writes without hesitation and requires no special care, perfect for my Traveler’s Notebook Diary.

Recently, I switched from 2B to HB lead to reduce smearing and breakage as well as downsize from 0.7 to 0.5. However, the 0.7 is easier to read so a test of HB at that size is pending. Uni Nano Dia is smooth and relatively sturdy making it my lead of choice. 

Having the right diameter, weight and balance for my hand has made the Tombow MONO graph the mechanical pencil I return to time after time. Next in line is the Zebra DelGuard 0.7. For variety, a Uni Kuru Toga and a Pilot Opt round out my rotation. Yes, I have a mechanical pencil rotation just like a fountain pen rotation. 

A Pentel Clic Eraser (ZE21T) is an essential tool with all of them considering my fickle nature and obsession with editing.

The fact that a pencil will write on any paper is very convenient. However, I still favor quality paper although writing with MPs has made it possible to use some of the lesser quality notebooks like the Moleskine that have come my way. 

Did I mention mechanical pencils are economical? Few cost more than $10 and most cost less than $7. A package of 120 leads costs about $7. Not bad, eh? It isn’t a fountain pen but it will do nicely for everyday use.

Shopping list for products mentioned. Inkophile may earn a tiny commission and I do mean tiny.

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On My Desk Today

03/27/2021
On My Desk

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Mechanical Pencils In The Spotlight

07/05/2020

Cult Pens has deemed July 5th as Mechanical Pencil Day making this a good time to review a few models beyond the ubiquitous Pentel.

Autopoint, Pentel, Ibis Sketch, Tombow MONO graph, Pilot Opt., uni Kuru Toga, Zebra DelGuard

For years, an Autopoint has been a staple in my rotation while a few uninspiring MPs accumulated in a drawer. No love for that lot. Then came the quarantine and the time to play with the unloved bunch to which I added one that is especially comfortable in my hand. Much to my surprise, I now like all of them if to varying degrees.

Just as pens and inks need to be matched for best performance and a satisfying writing experience, mechanical pencils and leads benefit from similar consideration. How could I have missed this?

Lead properties include diameter, lead darkness, smoothness, sturdiness and durability. Pen characteristics include grip, diameter, materials, lead advancement, and eraser size. Color and form are less varied than in fountain pens as MPs are more workhorse than eye-candy though there are a few pastel and neon models in addition to black, white, and red. Doesn’t that sound simple compared to the vast world of fountain pens and inks?

Best features:

uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip – Lead advances with only a gentle shake but the mechanism broke quickly.

Pilot Opt. – Shaker advance with wide barrel.

Tombow MONO graph – Locking shaker advance with long needle tip.

Zebra DelGuard – Tip design reduces breakage to zero for me.

Uni Kuru Toga – Lead rotates producing a very uniform line.

Pentel icy – Best value and availability.

Autopoint Jumbo All-American – Very sturdy. My first one lasted 15 years.

Ibis Art Sketch – Wide 1.8mm rectangular lead.

Zebra DelGuard, uni Kuru Toga, Pilot Opt., Tombow MONO graph

Comments:

Only the Autopoint 0.9mm with HB lead stood up flawlessly to heavy-handed use.

The Zebra Delguard 0.7mm with 2B lead did very well with soft to medium pressure. With HB lead, the tip did not break easily. This pencil is a very comfortable diameter for long writing sessions.

The uni Alpha-Gel Shaker Soft Grip 0.5 HB has a gel grip and advances the lead with a gentle shake rather than having to press a button. This significantly reduces the interruption of writing flow. Uni Nano lead is less inclined to break in it. Unfortunately, the shaker mechanism broke after only two weeks of modest use.

Pilot Opt. 0.5 has the shaker mechanism so lead advances easily. It is a bit heavier than many of the other pencils with a slightly wider diameter than most and has a soft grip. The clip is far and away the easiest to use. Just push the top against the barrel and the clip opens.

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 is another pencil with a shaker advance but this one locks so the lead won’t advance if jostled in a case or pocket. The metal sheathing for the tip is very long making it especially suited to precise lines and for use with rulers. It is paired with Uni Nano Dia 4B lead for a dark line.

The Pentel Icy 0.7mm with Pentel B or HB lead is a little more prone to breakage but it is inexpensive and available everywhere.

The Uni Kuru Toga 0.5mm has a unique tip that rotates the lead so that it maintains a consistent line shape. The tip gives a little to accomplish that feat and for me worked best with a light touch. I like it best with Uni Kuru Toga 2B lead.

The Ibis Art Sketch Mechanical pencil is unique. It comes with a flat 1.8mm 2B lead that puts down a very wide line.The lead is too solid to break and very smooth.

Ibis Sketch 1.8mm lead

Conclusions:

I already own four Autopoints, so there is no need for another. If I were to purchase a second pencil from one of the other models, it would be the DelGuard 0.7mm. In addition to lead not breaking easily, the grip and balance suit my hand very well. Uni Nano Dia lead is strong and a good match for it whether HB or 2B.

The shaker pens are very convenient to use. The Tombow MONO graph with its needle point is perfect for tiny writing and fine details because the lead tip is highly visible.

As for 0.5 and 0.7mm leads, I used Kuru Toga, Pentel, and uni Nano Dia. The latter wins as it breaks less easily in the 0.5 size than the others.

At 0.9mm, the Autopoint HB lead does not break at all. For those who are heavy-handed, this lead in an Autopoint pencil might be just the thing. The line is a bit soft but that for me has been an acceptable trade-off.

The erasers are very similar in size with the Pentel and the Autopoint being somewhat larger. I rarely use them and prefer a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser when needed.

Not a day goes by that I don’t use a mechanical pencil. It is an essential tool in my kit and a bargain at the price.

Teoh review of the Uni Kuru Toga.

Product Links:

Available at Amazon from which I might receive a tiny commission should you purchase through these links.

Autopoint All American 0.9

Tombow MONO graph 0.5 pastel, neon or gunmetal

uni Kuru Toga 0.5 colors or black

Pilot Opt. 0.5

Zebra DelGuard 0.7

Pentel icy 0.7 (newer model)

Uni Alpha-Gel Shaker 0.5

Ibis Art Sketch 1.8mm

Autopoint 0.9 HB lead

Pentel 0.7 HB and B leads

Uni Kuru  Toga 0.5 2B lead

uni Nano Dia 0.5 4B and 0.7 2B leads

Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser block or stick

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A Dozen Distractions From The Pen World And Beyond

06/04/2020

An odd mix of things that provided much-appreciated distraction this past week…

Five years on, I still love this duo.

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Lockdown Distractions Plus A Few Links

05/03/2020

To keep the lockdown from being a bore, I’ve spent a good deal of it investigating my under-appreciated and unused writing and watercolor paraphernalia. Exploring several empty journals and an assortment of gel, rollerball and brush pens has provided colorful distraction. My first choice in mechanical pencils, an Autopoint 0.9, has been joined by a Uni Kuru Toga 0.5 and a Pentel Icy 0.7 providing gray-scale variety for sketching as well as writing. My planner has morphed into a diary as well as my log of binge-watching that includes several BBC series, film noir features, Wynonna Earp, Longmire, How the Universe Works with Mike Rowe plus a variety of science programs.

How are you staying busy?

If you want to play along, these are the mechanical pencils I am currently using:

Autopoint 0.9 mm with HB lead

Uni Kuru Toga 0.5 mm with 4B lead

Pentel Icy 0.7 mm with HB lead

Drawn from a photo on Instagram…

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