Friday, March 22, 2019

Pencil highlighter



I saw on the internet that Kaweco has a 5.6 mm highlighter lead, and I think it is just awesome. I like the idea of using a pencil highlighter, you do not get smudges, no bleed, and the pencil will not fade with time. But it is pretty hard to get the 5.6 mm leads, as they don't seem to be very popular. From the searches made almost the only place you can buy them is jetpens.com
They come either mixed, a yellow, a red and a green or a pack of 3 with the same color inside. At the moment of writing this post, the pack of 3 is $ 6.5 and a free shipping in USA for orders above $ 25
They look cool and vibrant but why not use a regular color lead instead of the "highlighter" ones?

I made a short test with the Koh I Noor 2 mm lead 6 color pack. All the colored leads are very good as a highlighter, as they are vibrant enough to be seen but not too intense that they obscure the writing beneath. The downside is the small diameter, and the fact the leads are not extra soft. Because of this, you will need a shading move of the pencil to highlight the row. So maybe a little extra work. I wonder how the 5.6 colored Koh I Noor leads work for this kind of stuff.
Bellow is the Kaweco highlighter (picture from jetpens.com) and to the right is the Koh I Noor regular color lead.

picture from jetpens.com

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Stabilo HB and 2B lead review


Today I tested a not very popular lead brand, Stabilo. The brand is best known for its highlighters and I would say not so much for pencils and leads.
The price of the lead was pretty good. 1.63 $ or 1.32 Eur for 3 pack of 12 leads. Two of them HB and one 2B. It is cheaper than big brand names in some cases even by half. The lead comes in a classic barrel, that is clear with a little quirk to it and a nice red cap. I like the simple and clean look.
The first thing you notice is the length of 75 mm instead of the standard 60 mm. So not only you have a better price than bigger names you get more lead for your money, 25% more.

I tested the 0.5 mm HB and the 2B. To have a base point I compared the results produced by the Stabilo to Rotring.
The lead writes well, the HB feels a bit hard and a bit scratchy. I would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.
The line is a bit light. It feels a bit harder compared to other HB leads. Compared to the Rotring it feels very hard, but the pro is the ease of erasing it.

After doing the writing test for the HB I used about 0.5 mm of lead.
The good thing is the lead will last a long time, and you will not need to click the advance mechanism so often.
If I compare it to the Rotring HB, Stabilo HB is scratchy, hard, light but it will last longer. Rotring HB is smoother and almost as dark as the Stabilo 2B. At smoothness, Rotring gets a 5 out of 5. But the darkness and the smoothness comes at a cost. To do the same writing test the Rotring used a little over 1 mm of lead. That is more than double if you compare it with Stabilo

The Stabilo 2B is very soft and smooth. It leaves behind a black dark line but wears up quite fast. The same writing test used 4.5 mm of lead. A very significant increase. You will have dark lines on the paper but you will be clicking a lot. The erasing of the lead was very good, no residue was left behind.
But the Rotring 2B did better overall. It was a hint darker but nothing significant or worth worrying about. The smoothness was similar in both brands. But Stabilo needed 4.5 mm to do the same test while Rotring needed only 3 mm.
The Stabilo 2B seems too soft, and this does not translate into extra dark lines. So I would not recommend it, as you will have to do a lot of clicking to write.
There is a definitive gap between Stabilo HB and 2B. HB being a bit too hard and the 2B a bit too soft. If you are not put off by the hardness and scratchiness of the HB, Stabilo offers a very good deal. 75 mm of lead, 12 leads/pack at just 0.44 Eur or 0.54 $.




Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Magic pencil Koh I Noor


This has been my view this last few days, during my ride home from work. To better understand some explanations are due. I live in a city that is surrounded by hills, and close to it, approx 30km there are small mountains. I would say it is a pretty nice place. But during winter it gets very depressing. Mostly because the day is short and it gets dark early. And second, when it is not dark outside everything is gray. The sky is covered by gray mushy clouds, the light is very flat, and the snow in the city gets gray fast. Not to mention the buildings that look like this all year round. It is unusual to see a beautiful clear sky, especially when you are trapped in an office all day long. But spring is coming and the day is growing in length.
Now when I go home from work I get to enjoy this type of scenery (somewhere in the black bottom part of the image is where I live).
And each time my brain connects it with the Koh - I - Noor Jumbo Special Coloured Magic Pencil. If I could paint or draw, this would definitely be my weapon of choice for such stunning scenery.
    jumbo special coloured MAGIC pencil 3405 fire
jumbo special coloured MAGIC pencil 3405 TROPICAL

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Match the watch to the fountain pen.

It starts to become a trend, Rolex plus a fountain pen are the best matches. Previously I showed a possibility to match the Montegrappa Rainbow fountain pen with your watch, a Rolex Rainbow. This would give a very interesting vibe I guess, matching the belt with the shoes seems very outdated. :)
Another Rolex and another cool fountain pen. The TWSBI Diamond red-blue (Pepsi) would go really well with the Rolex Explorer GMT Pepsi bezel. I would choose the white dial version of the Rolex for a better match.
I could have gone with any of the beautiful watches available with pepsi bezel like the Seiko, Orient, Tudor, or other. But I think when you think pepsi bezel you immediately imagine a Rolex.

 
Rolex Explorer II GMT Pepsi bezel
 
TWSBI Diamond Red Blue (Pepsi)

I think you could use as well a Koh-I-Noor red-blue pencil or another brand that you like, to complete the look of your EDC.

Friday, February 8, 2019

KOH-I-NOOR 5340 5,6 mm lead holder

koh_i_noor leadholder 5340So here it is, the Koh-I-Noor lead holder 5340 5,6 mm in gold. My initial impression was this thing is a lot bigger than I was expecting. I thought that it would be shorter. It kind of feels like holding a weapon. Big, bulky, all metal.
The design is simple and elegant, the mechanism inside is made out of brass, the outside is made out of aluminum and the barrel is painted goldish, while the rest of the parts are polished bare metal. The barrel is an octagon, and on a side, it is written in black KOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH. I guess this is not a subtle pencil so why would the writing on it bee any different.
Inside the mechanism's button, there is a sharpener for the lead. Also because of the thickness of the lead, you can use a regular pencil sharpener.
When you remove the cap, you have access to the lead inside, meaning you can fill or empty the pencil from the back, if the lead is not clamped in the clutch jaws.
The pencil was delivered with a lead, 2HB I think. It is plenty dark and smooth, so the writing experience is nice.
One of the bumps in the road is the consistency of the lead thickness. Some of the leads I bought along with the pencil are a bit too thick and they do not go in or out without persuasion. I have to pull on them or shake the pencil to force them out. And I can see little crumbles of graphite from the friction with the clutch.
After playing with the pencil for a few days I found it's role in my life. I think the designer of the pencil had artists in mind, but I do not draw. Or because of it's intimidating size it could be used for manly things. I read on a blog some time ago you can design a shed with it, and I think the one who did the review was pretty close to its purpose.
My use for it is "Visual Note Taking and Markings".

koh_i_noor leadholder 5340
There is a good variety of leads to use for this pencil. You can use regular lead. I do not know if you can get HB, but the softer lead is just fine. Also, you can use chalk, coal, metallic colors, sepia. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Fountain pen nib work, my story

There are a number of good videos from competent people that show you how to do that.
After watching and reading I did my own thing, of course. But we make mistakes and sometimes we learn from them.
First I did a little work on my Preppy. It was scratchy in one direction so I thought I should address it. Aligning the tongues on the nib was the first step. After very many tries I failed and gave up the strategy.
My second step was to "polish", more like grind the nib using ceramic. The back of a cup which was smooth enough for the task. I tried sandpaper 1200 but I only made it worse.
So back to the cup. After a lot of figures 8, circles in both direction and rocking the nib left to right, right to left, up and down, I came to an acceptable finish.
I also spread the tongues a little bit to make it wetter (this made it broader also). The last step was the polishing. I used a glass and done figure 8. The glass is smoother than the ceramic so it made it a little more paper friendly.
But after this experiments, I am pleased with the fountain pen. It does not scratch in any direction, it writes well with no feed problem, the ink keeps up with the nib regardless of speed or direction.
Of course, I did not stop here.
I had to tweak my other fountain pen the Faber Castell Loom.
There was a lot of voices in my head saying don't do it, for God sake DO NOT DO IT, but being the person I am I could not help myself.
I noticed a problem after I took it apart and reassemble it for the first time.
It wasn't writing as I remembered it. It was drier. If I was moving my hand quick to underline something or sign a paper the ink would not keep up with the nib.
I could not leave it like this knowing that is something wrong with it and the pen could write a lot better.
At a later time, I figured it out, how I managed to ruin the nice feel of it. The nib was not set properly from the factory and it had a slight wobble. Being my first serious pen I did not know I could just push it inside a bit more and I was constantly realigning the nib to the feed by pressing the tip of the nib to the paper I was using. This made the tongues to get closer and closer at the tip. I did this so I would not get ink on my fingers.
Anyway..

So I tried to make it wetter. I applied light pressure on the nib to spread it apart. But it didn't work very well. I fell the nib after a short time just takes its initial form. So I brought out the big guns.
The first problem, I do not have a magnifier glass
The second problem, I do not have a brass shim

But where is a way there is a solution.
First I took the nib out of the fountain pen and used the bathroom fluorescent light to see if the spread between the tongues is consistent. It shows very well, just put the nib in front of the light.
It has to be a fluorescent because is a source of light that does not blind you.
The tip of the nib was really close. So without a shim, I improvised. I picked up an old style razor blade and used it as a shim.
One important note. Be gentle! when prying the nib, I put a little too much pressure and I slightly bent one of the tongues (very slightly) to the left. Because of this, the nib would scratch a little bit as it grabbed the paper. To fix this I used something I do not recommend. Cover your eyes and ears, I used a plier and extra light touches as I couldn't straighten it by hand.
To check how I need to align it I did vertical up-down lines and horizontal left to right and vice versa, and finally a 45 degree angle. This way you can determine if one of the tongues is misaligned. Another method to check it out is using the camera on the phone plus a flashlight as you need a lot of light to focus well and see any imperfections, or just buy a cheap magnifier. I did finally buy a magnifier but after I went through all the trouble. It is much more fun this way.
Because the Faber Castell Loom has such a great nib I did not try polishing it in any way. I just checked the alignment after I made it wetter.
I am happy the pen writes very well now, and the feel of it in the hand is great. Also, I am glad I did not ruin it.

And before you get into nib work, make sure you have cleaned it. Also, consider that the nib will feel different on different papers and when using different inks. Some inks are more fluid than others.
Plus, never use Pelikan 4001 Brilliant Red, there is nothing brilliant about that :)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Moleskine digital pen

I do not always have to run through the airport to get in time for the flight, so I had the time to visit a Moleskine store.
The first thing that caught my eye was the Moleskine digital pen and notebook.
Moleskine digital set
The set costs 229 EUR and you get the pen and a notebook. The digital pen works only together with this notebooks so you can't write on anything and get the thing digitalized (or at least this was the claim of the seller). It has a replaceable cartridge, that can be easily swapped when it runs out of ink. It connects through Bluetooth to send the digital version of your writing to the app. The pen has a tip that tries to mimic a fountain pen. Its shape makes it pretty comfortable in hand. Beneath the writing tip, there is a small infrared camera that is responsible for digitizing your writing.
The pen I tested in the shop required a little pressure to record in a digital version what you write. If you just make a fine line on the paper there is a chance that it will not be recorded integrally. Another negative is, like with every digital part of your life, it requires juice.
As cool as this thing is I do not think this is the future of the pen. Somehow for me, it seems a bit outdated. A few years ago this was the coolest new thing, taking notes and having them digitalized instantly.
But now I think there are better options. As a student, you could use a tablet to take all the notes, which is small and compact. Or you could still use the classic pen and paper and then scan the notes or even better, use the phone to "scan" the documents and digitalize everything.
Phones are getting so much better, and cameras on them are more than enough for this type of thing. For a long time now I stopped scanning documents. I just take a picture of it. And there are a ton of apps, free and paid to straighten the paper, crop the excess, OCR the writing and so on.
Plus you can scan this way any kind of paper.
pokemon, harry potter, moleskine, notebook
Pokemon and Harry Potter Moleskine notebooks
Of course, this is what I think, and I could be totally wrong about it. I would be really curious to see the impressions of people who own and use digital pens.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Review of the Otho Conception mechanical pencil

Merry Christmas to everyone, even if it is a bit late. This is a late Christmas special post featuring the very interesting looking OHTO Conception 0.3.  To be honest I meant to write it for some time now but got distracted with work, life, and laziness. I meant to write it just before Christmas but I have lent the camera so I couldn’t take the needed pictures.
Excuses aside I want to review the Conception mechanical pencil which I have mentioned about in a previous post. Tanks to Matthias from Bleistift blog, Dave from Dave's mechanical pencils and
Brad from The Pen Addict.
This pencil was reviewed by Mathias from Bleistift.com some time ago, so please check his post and the youtube video.
I have seen them at that time but can’t remember the conclusion so this will be my view on the mechanical pencil. It will be interesting to see after, how each views the same product.
First of all the color, which I find it to be very nice. It could be seen as a bit feminine, but I think it works for everyone. It is an all metal body, with the barrel a light pale purple, a midsection with a darker violet. The grip is a mat finish gray that has a bit of tactile feel to it and it has enough grip. The rest of the pencil: tip, clip, and pusher are glossy gray.
The pencil has very subtle markings, OTO and Conception along with lead size, that is written in a color that is close to the barrel color and in a small font. It gives the pencil a clean look and technical feel.
This pencil has 2 very interesting features that make it a bit unique. The first thing that you notice are 4 holes in the side of the barrel that show you how much the lead advances. Yes, you can control it. So if you ever felt the traditional mechanical pencil doesn’t got this right you can opt for the Conception. At the maximum setting, the lead will advance 15 mm after 10 clicks and the minimum setting will offer 4 mm of lead for 10 clicks. A huge difference, and of course you can set it any ware between this 2 values.
The second unique feature of this mechanical pencil is the fact you can have a fixed sleeve or a retractable sleeve. By screwing the barrel to the grip you make it a fixed sleeve, that is very good for technical work, and precision lines. While for general writing you might prefer to have a sliding sleeve, so you will click the advance mechanism a lot fewer times. This makes the pencil pocket safe because the sleeve slides all the way in.

The clip and the eraser are good and I do not have complaints about them. One thing that is reminiscent of older pencils is a pointy tip imbedded in the eraser for unclogging the pencil. Rotring has dropped this after the first generation of Tikky, so I do know how to feel about it. Is the pencil not reliable enough and the manufacturer knows you will get into trouble? or is it there just to give you comfort and ease of mind in case something goes wrong? Take it the way you want, I am a bit skeptical.

One thing I have not talked about is the lead size. The pencil in my possession is a 0.3 m lead. It is the first one for me.
I don’t know how to feel about it at this moment, as I have not used it enough. Lately, I am incline to use 0.7 mm more often than the 0.5. I think this is because I rarely need the pencil to do detailed work and mostly I use it for notes. Engineer or not computers are used for the real work stuff while paper and pencils are mostly used to put down some thoughts, ideas and notes.
The fine point is a very different experience even compared to the 0.5 mm, and it offers a lot of control and precision. In the end this lead size to me seams to be a more specialized thing, making it less practical. I mean it is very good for detailed work and taking small notes in a limited space, for example, a book, but will not be very good for writing as you will frequently need to click the advance mechanism. Having a fine point makes it more fragile and having a sliding sleeve will make your lead break fewer times or not at all.
So in my opinion the purpose of the sliding sleeve in this pencil is more for protection, and not for long writing sessions. 

The pencil offers a very nice feel in hand, for me is a great fit. One thing that I would change is the transition from the barrel to the grip section. It should have been better grinded to make a smoother transition.
One other thing I would like to mention is the screwing mechanism that makes the sleeve fixed or slide and the click of the lead advance. You can feel the spring that offers resistance and it is not smooth or quiet. It is not too bad, but I feel there is room for improvement.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

10 $ or less

If you ever wondered what would 10 $ buy you, stationary related, wonder no more:
Here are a few ideas

For the South Park fans, here are some Cartman quotes on the side of pencils
You can buy them here


If you enjoy the good attitude and hard-working spirit of Sponge Bob you can go for the eraser set, that includes figurines of Mr. Krabs and Patrick as well.
Eraser set

And where better to put the pencils and erasers you just purchased, if not in a gross fish like pencil case. I guess you could keep it between real fish for a few days just to offer the realistic feel, smell wise. It also looks really spacy
Fish pencil case




Saturday, November 24, 2018

What lead size to use for general writing

Finally a "scientific" test for what is the best lead size to use in an everyday situation. I don't think anyone has asked the question, but I am here to find out the answer.
Science is hard, or at least my pseudoscience. The general norm for lead size is 0.5; 0.7; 0.9 or 1.0
0.9 and 1.0 is the same size but marketed as 0.9 or 1.0 by different producers. From now on I will refer to both this sizes as 1.0.
I guess you already have the answer, which one you like the most is the best, and I think 0.7 is the most usual of them all.
In the so-called test, I wanted to see how much lead is used for the same amount of text using each of the lead sizes mentioned above.
This is hard work, and I do not think I will be doing science anytime soon after all this experimenting.
I used Rotring HB lead size 0.5; 0.7; 1.0. Other brands might offer different results because of the lead hardness "... 2B B HB H 2H ..." is not standardized. So HB from other suppliers might be softer or harder.
I started the test by writing 1-page size A4. I used "math textbook grid" paper and wrote in every single cell of the paper using very little pressure. I did this instead of freehand writing because I tried to write as consistent in size and pressure as possible so the results will be as scientific as possible
After, I measured the lead used to write all this.
The results:
In theory, I could write with a single lead size 0.5 mm - 30 pages but I have to take into account that when the lead becomes too small you have to throw it away, so more realistic I would say 27 pages
Of course, this depends a lot on how small or big do you write, how condensed, how much pressure etc. But this value is not important. The difference between the test results says the story.
The 0.7 mm can write in theory 60 pages and the 1.0 mm over 120 pages. This means that the writing you are able to do with 1 lead doubles every time you bump up the lead size.
Because I could not measure the lead used up on a single page with size 1.0 (under half of mm) I cranked up the pace and applied extra pressure and made a bunch of lines and X.

So after the endurance test the 0.5 mm lost 3.5 mm; the 0.7 mm lost 1.5 mm, and the 1.0 lost 0.5 mm from its total length
It does not seem a lot but, if you could use the entire lead, for a normal 60 mm lead size 1.0 used to do as much writing you would need 3 pieces of 0.7 mm lead or 7 pieces of 0.5 lead.
Similarly, if you would take the 0.7 mm as a benchmark then you would need 2.33 pieces of 0.5 mm lead to do the same amount of writing.

In conclusion, you should choose the thicker lead, especially if you have a heavier hand for three reasons.
The first reason is the price. The price of lead is usually the same for all sizes.
You will pay 3 times more if you use 0.7 lead instead of  1.0
You will pay 7 times more if you use 0.5 lead instead of  1.0
You will pay 2.33 times more if you use 0.5 lead instead of  0.7

The second reason is the advancing of the lead. The less lead you use fewer clicks you will have to make. So in a long writing session, a thicker lead is bliss.
Third, the risk of breaking the lead is smaller with thicker lead.

Ok, you may ask "Won't the line be too thick if I use 1.0 mm?"
It will, but not by a lot. There is a small difference between the 0.7 mm and the 1.0 mm.
A downside is that you have to rotate the pen in your hand more often
      
1.0 mm vs 0.5 mm lead
1.0 mm vs 0.7 mm lead