Tag: ask the desk

Ask The Desk: B6, 8126 Long, Swivodex, Filofax Refills, Frixion for recipes

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I have such a huge back log of Ask The Desk questions that I thought I’d try to get a bunch done this week. I’m so sorry for the delay! I do hope I’ve gotten a bunch answered here. If you are waiting for an answer, please drop me a line and let me know. If you’ve found a solution, please let me know — ¬†I’d love to do a whole “TELL the DESK a thing or two” post!

Clara asks:

I need a plain notebook with 100gsm. I’d like a B6 size, but A5 is ok too (just to understand, the ISO A sizes are a little too tall).
I’m looking for a sewn notebook with soft cover, with about 160pages or 192 at most. Its a everyday journal, with sketch, writings and so on.
It seems easy, but it’s not ūüėÄ
Paper-oh is perfect, but it has only 112pages, there are opposite review about monsieur notebook (about a bad build quality?). Do you know Nu Elite Kraft notebooks?

Clara, I have wracked my brains (and my endless lists of notebooks) trying to find something that fit into your requirements and I’m coming up empty-handed. If I find the right size, its not the right paper weight. If its the right weight, it doesn’t have enough pages, etc. I have not taken Monsieur Notebooks out for a test drive in a couple years. I know they have been adjusting their materials so I can’t speak to their current configurations. The Nu Elite Kraft notebooks look interesting. For the price point, it might be worth trying it out, though I suspect the paper quality is probably not fountain pen friendly but may be great for pencils and collage.

The Midori MD notebooks don’t list their paper weight but its very¬†good quality, its a soft cover, sewn binding and quite durable. The page count is 88 sheets/176 pages. It is an A5 so it misses there but meets almost all your other criteria.

Midori MD Notebook cover

If anyone has a better suggestion for Clara, please leave a comment below!


Jerry needs:

I have an original Schmidt Rollerball one with a 8126 refill but the length of it is 108mm NOT 98mm as most on sale are. The writing on the refill is “bluRafia Capless System 8126” made in Germany

Can you help with a replacement refill please.

Jerry,

I think you are looking for this:

This would be the Schmidt Long Black Rollerball Refill. Also available in blue. It’s available for $4.50 from our friends over at Refill Finder who pull my proverbial refill out of the fire more times than I care to count.


Steve wants to find:

Do you know where to get instruction manual for swivodex inkwell?

Steve I scouted through all the old posts on Fountain Pen Network in search of any information about the Zephyr Swivodex and all I could find was a photo of the disassembly (in this thread)  of a one but no actual operating instructions. Readers, if anyone has any information that might help Steve, please leave it below in the comments. Thanks!


Daphne asks:

I have searched your blogs but would just like clarification before I order anything. Do the six outer rings of a Franklin Covey Classic ring binder match the position of the six rings on a Filofax A5 binder?

I love Filofax’s binders but don’t like the quality paper of their refills. I have used the FC Compact refills interchangeably with Filofax personal binders but I haven’t found a precise answer to my question above for the larger size systems.

Alternatively, could you recommend A5 size dated planner refills that are on higher quality paper?

Daphne,

On your first question, NO. Franklin Covey rings do not align with Filofax rings because that would be too convenient. Steve over on Philofaxy tried to shed a bit of light on this in his deftly titled article The Great Organiser Hole Conspiracy. I’ve looked at the diagram he created several times which makes the whole matter as clear as mud. It’s like all the different computer cord dongles. Why do they all have to be different sizes?

Filofax stripes insert writing test

As for Filofax paper quality, I can recommend the new Filofax 2017 Illustrated Inserts. The paper quality is far superior to the regular stock inserts and the designs are actually quite nice. Goulet Pens is still stocking the full line for both personal-sized and A5. Other alternatives are Hello Forever blank refills (which I reviewed here) or Yellow Paper House on Etsy.


Nancy is searching for:

I wondered if these (Frixion) pens would be a good idea for recipe cards? I am making a cookbook for a family member, but I don’t want to use a regular pen. I don’t want to have mistakes crossed out, and it would be inevitable when writing 100 recipe cards. I don’t want to type the cards, since it would be more personable in my writing. Would the plastic pockets in the book protect the writing? I obviously don’t want to write out a ga-zillion cards just to have them disappear when under light. Suggestions?

I think Pilot Frixion Gel Pens would be a great option. One thing to consider is that Frixion pens can be affected by heat, making the ink disappear. However, since the cards would be in the kitchen, any “disappearing ink” can be easily solved by sticking the cards in the freezer for a short amount of time to make the ink reappear.

According the the Pilot UK FAQ:

Our FriXion products‚Äô ink ‚Äúerases‚ÄĚ due to PILOT‚Äôs exclusive thermo-sensitive ink technology. When you want to make corrections on your page, simply turn around your FriXion pen and rub with the FriXion eraser tip as if using a regular pencil eraser. While rubbing, the ink heats up to over 60¬įC and becomes invisible. Conversely, the ink reappears at temperatures of under -10¬įC.

If this seems to finicky for you, you may want to use a regular pen of some sort and consider making any corrections using correction tape which is fast and tidy.

Ask The Desk: Lamy Fountain Pens over $50

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Niles asked:

I’m looking for a left-handed fountain pen.

You wrote an article that said:

Lamy nibs are awesome and if you are ready to invest in a fountain pen over $50, I have plenty of Lamys I can recommend.

Any change you could name a few – would really appreciate it.

As it turns out, Niles isn’t the first person to ask me to provide some clarity around what are my favorite Lamy pens. On many occasions, I’ve mentioned that I really like Lamy nibs and prefer their higher end models over the molded grip Safari and AL-Star models but I have never been specific about which models. Partially because I pretty much have all of them except the Dialog which is enormous and the Imporium which is¬†pretty expensive (but gorgeous!).

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For left handed writers, I prefer the round barrel shapes on the higher end Lamy fountain pens like the Lamy Studio, the Lamy 2000 and the Lamy CP1.

The Lamy 2000 is a classic and is totally unusual in the makrolon black material and brushed aluminum grip. It also has the hooded 14K nib which, for many, is their first experience with Lamy’s gold nibs. It’s also a piston filler which is pretty unique in the¬†Lamy as well. It’s definitely the most expensive option I’m listing, retailing for about $160, but it is an icon and something every pen collector should have in their collection.

I find that the Lamy Studio is aesthetically similar to the Lamy 2000 in many ways without the hooded nib, with a more tapered¬†clip and a wider array of finishes available. Pricewise, it’s also not nearly as expensive since it comes with a steel nib. It starts at about $80 but can be upgraded to a gold nib and a palladium finish for about $160.

At present,¬†I don’t own a Lamy 2000 but its mostly because I haven’t pulled the “buy it now” button yet. I do own a Studio in brushed aluminum. I frequently fondle the 2000¬†in friends’ pen cases and pick¬†them at pen shows debating if this will be the day I finally fold.

The Lamy CP1 is a much more slender pen, available in a black titanium finish for about $56. It’s a very simple, clean looking pen. Very functional and utilitarian. I don’t think it could be anymore German if it tried. The Lamy Logo is very similar but has a spring-loaded clip.

Then there’s the Lamy Scala that also has a spring-loaded clip that I find to be considerably heavy and makes the pen way too top-heavy if you try to post it. Aesthetically, I like the looks of the Scala¬†and the model I have actually has the 14K nib on it which means it writes like a dream but the cap is just too heavy. If you don’t post your cap when writing, then you might consider the Logo as an alternative to the CP1. The price is a little lower. And with any Lamy, you can go crazy ¬†upgrade it with a 14K nib.

Lamy fountain pens are available from my fine sponsors: JetPens, Anderson Pens and Pen Chalet.

Ask The Desk: 2017 is Coming! Planning Emergencies!

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Heather is looking for a very specific planner replacement:

I’m looking for a new academic planner 16/17 (or second best choice would be kraft paper notebooks with lines and grids / dots) for the one I’ve just finished using from Paperchase. I’ve been looking and looking and not having much luck. I bought a really lovely, inexpensive monthly planner – it has a month on two pages (grid layout), followed by approx 40 lined pages and 40 grid pages, all kraft paper with black and white ink so lovely on the eyes. Its great to write on (gel pens, biros, not fountain pens) and is perfect for my needs as a TA. Paperchase have released one like this for this coming year and I can’t find another supplier that does them in the same size. The notebook is 190mm wide and 245mm high, and has a sewn edge binding. Short of making one myself (wouldn’t even know where to start on that route!), can you advise where I might find something of comparable size and paper? I’m ok with setting it all out by hand, but I’d prefer to buy one ready made. Maybe a blank date one? Its the size that I need most, followed by the kraft paper element.

Heather, I have to admit you’ve left me a bit stumped. I can’t say that I’ve seen a kraft colored planner before your letter. On my search, the only options I found for kraft paper planners was a vendor on Etsy called Letter C Design who makes small planner booklets in kraft paper. I don’t think that’s at all what you were looking for. If anyone else has seen anything in the wild, please leave information in the comments.

Cole asks:

I’m wondering if you can help me find a thin gridded (dot or cube) notebook that could fit inside the pocket of my Leuchtturm 1917 medium? Something similar to the address book that comes with the planner? I LOVE my “official” Bullet Journal, but I’ve noticed there are a few things that I will want to migrate from Journal to Journal, WITHOUT having to recopy it into a new journal. My best example would be my room x room floor plans with paint/color samples. I like to have my floor layouts and color samples with me so if I’m antiquing, garage sale-ing, etc I can quickly reference them to see if I’m buying something that won’t go in my house. I’m now carrying my Bullet Journal everywhere, so I’d love to have it in there, but I don’t want to have to recopy the floor plans every few months. Is there a small “travelers” type notebook that would nicely fit in the pocket that could be transferred from journal to journal?

An A6 (approx. 4×6″), B6 (approx. 5×7″), Field Notes or Passport sized book would fit easily into the back pocket of the Leuchtturm1917 A5. In A5 or B6 sized, I recommend the Life Pistachio or Vermillion notebooks. They have good quality paper, available in grid and are about $4 each. The Pistachio have green lines and the Vermillion have, you guessed it, red lines. Of course, Field Notes are readily available from many shops and the Pitch Black edition is dot grid. Passport sized Traveler’s Notebooks would also work but are quite petite.

Chris needs helps:

I’m eagerly awaiting an A5 Roterfaden, and need a week on two pages insert for the remainder of 2016. Yes, I could just use my existing Midori TN calendar, but I’d like to find something A5 that is already bound and printed. No luck searching Etsy and the Midori version is sold out on Baum Kuchen. Ideas?

I spent weeks looking for a solution for Chris and came up empty handed. Traveler’s Notebook calendars in the classic TN size¬†are in abundance as are the Field Notes/Passport sizes but A5 versions are as rare as Snorlax these days. Unless you are willing to go the print-your-own route, there just aren’t options for A5 calendar booklets to fit custom covers like the Roterfaden or leather Traveler’s Notebooks.

My best suggestion at this point is to finish the year with the standard Traveler’s Notebook calendar and then move to a 2017 A5 planner calendar. The other option is to embrace the DIY option and print out the large cahier format from Ray Blake’s My Life All in One Place printables page.

If anyone knows a good alternative for Chris, please leave a note in the comments.

Ellie seeks:

I’m starting to look for my 2017 daily planner. I’ve used Moleskine at first, but the paper quality kept getting worse every year. I then switched to Paperblanks, their daily option was a bit small for me but their Fabriano paper was quite good. After they changed their paper supplier last year I’m once again in need of new options. I’m looking for an A4 or A5 daily diary with a minimalistic, Moleskine-like page layout. Hobonichi is too expensive and Leuchtturm is not an option, the paper is beautiful but the ghosting is so bad I only write on one side of my Leuchtturm journal. I need sturdy pages since I tend to ask a lot to my journals, draw, write with wet inks, glue scraps of paper on it etc. I’ve seen Fabriano Ecoqua makes beautiful planners, and they would be easy to purchase here in Europe, but I can’t find any feedback online and I don’t want to buy blind. is the paper the same quality as the Ecoqua pads? What about the binding? I’m hoping some of your readers have tried the Ecoqua planner or know of any other options. Thanks for reading!

 

fabriano 2016-2017 planner

Has anyone seen the Fabriano Ecoqua planners in person yet? I haven’t but I am just as curious about how they will stack up. ¬†I found the Ecoqua 16-month¬†($22.50), the 2017 weekly planner ($12.50) and the 2017 Daily Diary ($12.75 and $17.75, depending on size). The paper on these books looks quite thin as you can see the numbers printed on the reverse in the photos so I suspect they went for thinner paper for portability over thicker paper for legibility. Sigh.

Amanda wants to know:

Who offers the thickest paper stock (hopefully smooth) for 2017 diary refills for Kikki.K and Filofax Personal, Pocket and A5 planners? Thank you!

So far, the best pre-printed planner pages are either Kikki-K or the new Filofax Illustrated refills are the thickest stock. I also had some personal sized refills purchased at Michael’s from their Recollections line that used some great paper. If you happen upon this collection and are using the personal-sized planners, I can definitely recommend grabbing a few packets if they are still stocked at your local store.

Ask The Desk: Broad D1s, Baron+Elastic, Neo Smartpen & Zebra F701

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Khreyselle asked me some time ago:

I’ve been struggling to find the perfect notebook to hold all of my graphic design sketches and notes. I have fallen in love with the paper quality of the Baron Fig/Code & Quill notebooks, but they are both missing the elastic closure and pocket/envelope feature that I would really love to have.

Would you happen to have any notebook suggestions that could possibly have what I am looking for?

PS. If it helps any, I am not a Moleskine fan. (;

Is it possible that the Shinola journals or sketchbooks might meet your needs? I recently purchased the sketchbook which has been getting decent reviews for paper quality and the notebook is definitely a step up in terms of paper quality from the Moleskine. The paper is probably on par with the BAron Fig and Code & Quill but includes the elastic you are wanting. For reviews of the journals, check the Pennaquod blog search tool. For opinions about the Shinola Sketchbook, Roz Stendahl at Roz Wound Up has tested a lot of different materials on the sketchbook with good results.

Cindy is searching for:

I am looking for a non-branded pen refill that is similar to a D1 but 2.0 mm in diameter. Where could I get such a refill?

The widest refill I could find was the Monteverde Soft Roll in Super Broad which is listed at about 1.4mm. Anyone know of a wider D1 refill?

Jaime has quite the conundrum:

I purchased a Neo Smartpen recently and I really like it EXCEPT that the ink refills (they recommend Zebra 4C which came with the pen) blob and I can’t stand it!! They have other brands that they say make a similar product (standard D1 ink cartridges), but that it has to be ballpoint, not gel, etc. to work with the software. I’m not crazy about a fine-tip ballpoint anyway – would rather have medium if possible. I don’t mind the color whether black or blue. Do you have any recommendations that I could try? They start out fine, but within a few pages – far from running out of ink – they are smearing and when I pick the pen up off the paper, it ha a little line of ink that comes with it, like a string of cheese from a pizza, smearing my work.

On my Refill Guide, under the D1 refills, there are several other manufacturers that make ballpoint refills in D1 fine point sizes. I’m surprised that the fine ballpoints are giving you more “string cheese” issues than a medium point might but I’d recommend starting with the Uni Jetstream refills in 0.7mm and see if you have better luck with them.

Adam asked in the Refill Guide thread:

The zebra style of refills seem to be a family all of their own… I’m keen to get the F701 all metal zebra, but I hear their ink is inferior to many other pens. Wondered if there were better alternatives to Zebra refills?

I’m not the only one that hacks refills to fit pens. Over on the EDC Forum, someone went into excruciating detail to hack refills to fit the Zebra F701 because, to your point, Zebra made the most unusual refill to fit this pen. This will allow you to choose the refill based on your preference. Are you looking for gel, permanence or tip fineness? Maybe just easier availability?

Ask The Desk: Random Questions & Follow-Up

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On my review of the Leuchtturm 1917 Sketchbook Teresa asked:

Did you test it on copic markers? If so, did they bleed? How did the paper hold up?

Teresa’s question was quite timely.¬†I had just started experimenting the day before she asked with my Copic Sketch markers and I just happened to test the colors in my¬†Leuchtturm 1917 sketcbook so I had the answer for her right away. I added these photos to the review (should anyone stumble across it in the future) but I thought I would also post them here¬†as well.

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On the front of the paper, the Copic colors look good. The colors are smooth and look almost like watercolors. I have a lot of pale, pastel Copic Sketch markers but the paper in the Leuchtturm Sketchbook handled the colors nicely.

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There was definitely bleed through on the reverse of stock. Oh, yeah. But if you’re aware that it will bleed through and plan accordingly, the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook makes a good sketchbook for Copic markers.

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I do recommend putting a sheet of scrap paper under your page though because some darker colors will bleed through to the next page and through the back of that like a damn laser beam. If you have one of those flexible plastic pencil boards, I would slide it under your drawing page to protect the next page from unwanted transfer. Otherwise, the Leuchtturm 1917 sketchbook takes Copic markers pretty well and doesn’t make the color look splotchy or weird.

Matthew asks a few questions:

  1. What is your favorite pen that you are currently using?
  2. What is your favorite gel ink pen to use?
  3. What are your thoughts on the Midori brass pen?

fc-45s

My current favorite pens right now are my two Franklin-Christoph 45 XLVs (shown above) and my Pocket 20. All three have been purchased this year at various pen shows so they have sentimental value as well as being beautiful pens with nibs selected and tuned just for me. Its hard to decide which one is my absolute favorite and they are all small enough to fit in bag so they all travel with me regularly. I mean, really, which one would you leave behind? Each one has a different style nib and a different ink color so I enjoy switching it up throughout the day.

ballsigns

My favorite gel ink pens (at present) are the Sakura Ballsign Knock Gel Pens in 0.4mm (shown above in my custom Dudek Modern Goods pen holder). I have a rainbow of colors on my desk. They are comfortable to hold and write smoothly but with a nice fine point. I haven’t had any issues with hard starts with them either. The more exotic colors like the pastels and neons have some hard start issues but the standard gel pens work flawlessly.

And finally, I have the Midori Brass Pen but it actually in the bottom of a drawer. It does ship with a very fine tip ballpoint refill and it looks like you could probably modify a gel pen refill to fit into it instead pretty easily. I own a lot of vintage bullet advertising pencils so I guess I just never gave the Midori Brass Pen the attention it deserved. I should probably pull it out and give it a fair shake.

Jennifer asked:

A friend of mine asked for recommendations on rough paper for general journaling/writing. I am at a loss. I primarily use Rhodia and Tomoe River. She doesn’t want to spend a lot and uses Pentel RSVP pens. Any ideas? Thanks so much for your help. Jennifer

I was at a loss to think of a good, inexpensive paper for journaling and writing but I stumbled across a very inexpensive sketchbook this week that may be a good option for your friend. The Peter Pauper sketchbook in the 5.5″x8.5″ (roughly A5 size) has very nice 128gsm paper. For me, the bonus was that is was only $7.99 at my local Barnes & Noble. Now, I assume she’s not looking for blank sketchbook paper but I’m going somewhere with this so stay with me.

Peter Pauper also sells an assortment of lined journals including a competitor to Moleskine called the Essentials in A5 and A6 sizes for $12.99 and $8.99 respectively. This might be a good option, especially if your friend is working mostly in ballpoint. Many of their other journal products are available at Barnes & Noble but not the Essentials line since B&N carries Moleskine.

I have lots more Ask The Desk questions in my queue so bear with me. I will try to answer them swiftly.

Ask The Readers: B5 Hardcover Notebook

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Okay, gang, now I need your help! Sometimes, questions come into my inbox and I ponder and query and google and I come up with nothing. So, I’m hoping that the massive collective hive mind of stationery genius out there can help out. Maybe you use or have seen something to help¬†Linda.

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Linda is begging for help:
The notebook I have used since 2008 is now out of print. I bought all the stock I could find and am down to my last two. I need a suitable replacement but haven’t had much luck. Perhaps the Desk can advise?

What I Need:

  • Hardcover
  • B5 or a tad bigger, but not A4
  • White pages, not cream or ivory
  • Thick pages that do not bleed (Sharpies excluded, of course)
  • Dot grid, graph, etc. Even lined, maybe if the lines are unobtrusive
  • Smooth paper

I’m a fan of Apica, Kokuyo’s Campus notebooks, Rhodia dotgrid. But I can find nothing both hardcover and B5.
Any tips?
Please?
I’m getting stingy with my notetaking and brainstorming in order to make my current notebooks last.

I am at a loss to find a good replacement for you, Linda. B5 size is close to a US Composition notebook and, for some reason, this size notebook always seem to have a flexible cover, whether they are US, Japanese or European. Moleskine’s XL size is a B5 but the paper is warm white and not everyone’s favorite. The only bright white options I could find were Leucthtrum 1917 but I couldn’t find that they offered this particular size configuration in hardcover. Only softcover. So, I’m rallying the troops! Do you have a recommendation for Linda?

Ask The Desk: Karas Kustoms RETRAKT/Cross Selectip Hack

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My favorite pen is the superb Cross Selectip rollerball. Sadly, all but two of the Cross pens that take this refill (and I’ve got a BUNCH) require you to uncap it to use it. Only the diminutive Cross Click, which is too small for my hand, and the Cross Edge, which I find impossible to open with one hand, operates without a cap. I’m looking for a pocket pen I can operate with one hand – either push-button or twist – that takes the Cross Selectip rollerball refill. Does anyone else make one? Thanks, Gary

The new Ti Arto Kickstater project from Big Idea Design claims to accommodate 200+ refills would be perfect but it, too, is a capped pen. So, I turn to the Karas Kustoms RETRAKT and a little refill hacking to solve your problem. The RETRAKT is available in aluminum and brass and is a wider barrel pen body, comparable in width to a Sharpie permanent marker so should feel quite substantial in the hand. I use and aluminum barrel version which is weighty but can be opened and closed with one hand. My husband has a heavier model with a brass grip section if you want something even more substantial. Prices for the RETRAKT start at $55.

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When you purchase a Cross Selectip rollerball refill, it comes with a little plastic cap. Keep this! It is the key to my little hack. Though I suspect a rubber band or string could be used as an alternative. I cut the wide part off and used about 1/8″ or 3mm of the plastic sheath as a spacer between the base of the refill and spring to provide a bit more length to the refill barrel for the spring to travel along. I also needed to shave a little bit of the nubs off the blue cap in order to fit into the barrel of the RETRAKT. You might find a little more plastic is better (or a little less) but there is more than enough left from the cap to experiment a bit.

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This last photo shows the Cross Selectip rollerball refill fully extended, with my little plastic mod and the spring inside. Voila! As Tom at Goldspot Pens likes to tease, I’ll hack any pen and any refill.

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