Tag: tool

Ink Miser Inkwells

I’d been looking for a solution to getting to the bottom of those many bottles of Robert Oster Signature inks I’ve been acquiring lately. I’d considered purchasing some empty bottles from Vanness as one option but that’s a lot of bottles and I might do that for a few of my favorites like the Fire & Ice which I seem to be using on a regular basis. But I do like how compact the Oster bottles are to store so for most of the bottles, I think I will probably leave them as they are because I had the idea to try out the Ink Miser Inkwells. I thought maybe the intra-bottle inkwell ($5) might work but as you can see from the photo below, the intra-bottle design is too wide to fit into the Oster bottles. The standard Ink Miser freestanding design ($6) works just fine though.

I decant a bit of the ink from the Oster bottle into the Ink Miser and fill a pen, then return the remainder back into the bottle and rinse the Ink Miser clean. Easy peasy.

I do have some Noodler’s Ink bottles in which I can use the intra-bottle Ink Miser so it won’t go to waste.

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by JetPens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Review: Blackwing Point Guard

Blackwing Point Guard

I received my Blackwing Point Guard in the mail last week. As a subscriber to the Blackwing Editions, I only had to pay shipping to receive it so I was willing to try it out, even though I had already heard through the blog phone tree that it wasn’t worth it. Curiosity killed the cat and cost me $3 in shipping and a trip to the PO Box.

The first thing I noticed is that its heavier than any other pencil cap I own. Not like brass-heavy just more substantial, and larger than any of the other pencil caps. Since Blackwing pencils are already exponentially larger than pens and other pencils, sticking a Point Guard on one makes it almost impossible to get it to fit into any pencil or pen case. Euphamistically, its friggin’ huge.

It also does not fit onto the pencil very far. In the photo above, I aligned the cap with the marks on the pencil to show exactly how far the cap fit onto the pencil. I know some people can get a pretty long point on their pencil but that still leaves an awful lot of clearance at the end.

Blackwing Point Guard

Shown above, the Point Guard appears with a Sun-Star plastic pencil cap, a generic aluminum pencil cap and a Kutsuwa Stad Aluminum Pencil Cap. I also chose a selection of pencils to test all the pencil caps to see which worked with the most pencils.

Blackwing Point Guard

I chose common favorites beyond the Palomino Blackwings like the Prospector, Tombow, Mitsubishi, CDT, General’s Cedar Pointe, Natajar, Faber-Castell Grip 2001 (for its triangular shape), and the Mitsubishi Colour Pencil (its a round barrel and slightly wider) to get a range.

Blackwing Point Guard

My experience with the Point Guard mirrored many other’s. I found it very difficult to actually get it on to a Blackwing Pearl. I practically had to wrench it on. It sort of broke my heart a little to do it knowing I was marring the paint to do it. I really like Pearls.  But for you, I did it. And here’s the proof. Yep. It marked it up. And I had to wrench the Point Guard off again. I mean I looked ridiculous trying to pull the cap off. I can’t imagine trying to pull that cap off in a  meeting. I looked like I was wrestling a candy cane out of the mouth a rigor moritised-earthworm. It was not pretty. In a public place, I would have inevitably lost purchase on one or the other and let them fly across the room.  Hence, the need to bring in the other pencil caps for comparison. Were they all this difficult to use? Or did they all fall off?

Blackwing Point Guard

So I started testing the other pencil caps like the transparent plastic Sun-Star and the aluminum caps.Between the plastic Sun-Star caps and the aluminum caps, I was able to cap and shake test all of the pencils shown above and easily remove the caps without endangering those around me. They fit snugly but not TOO snugly. Mostly, these caps keep the points of your pencils from poking you or your carrying case or from the lead breaking in transit. Some of the caps fit better than others with some pencils but clearly the price points are drastically better so its easier to have an assortment of Sun-Star and Kutsuwa Pencil Caps on hand than it is to have more than one Point Guard.

The aluminum caps have slits up the side to make it possible for them to fit wider hex and round barrel pencils more easily. Of course, this means its also possible to stretch the aluminum out so that they no longer fit snugly around a standard hex pencil and wouldn’t pass Blackwing’s rigorous “3-shake test”.  But you can find two 8-packs of aluminum Kutsuwa Stad Pencil Caps on Amazon for under $9 so you can outfit an entire dozen of pencils and then some for the cost of ONE Point Guard.

Blackwing Point Guard

The bottomline: Don’t waste your hard earned pencil funds on the Point Guard. Buy an assortment of these other pencil caps instead or do a search on JetPens for Pencil Caps or ask at your favorite shop or web site for other pencil cap recommendations. I appreciate that Blackwing tried to innovate the pencil cap but in this instance, it just didn’t work.

Align Stapler

Align Stapler

Have you ever wished you could make your own booklet or wish the stapler arm was just a little bit longer? The Align Stapler might be just what you need. The stapler and base are held together with a magnet and can be pulled apart to give you a longer reach when needed. You can staple anywhere with the Align.

And since its magnetic, the stapler would stick to your fridge!

Align Stapler

This would be a good option for anyone wanting to create their own inserts for the Midori Traveler’s Notebook for sure. While it would not be as heavy duty as a long arm saddle stitcher (that’s the technical term!), for a mere $7, this would be a good option for the casual booklet-maker.

(via Quirky)

Black Erasers vs. Black Pencils

Black Erasers

You know you’re a pencil nerd when you think to yourself, “How well do black erasers perform?” And then you think, “I’ll test them with all BLACK pencils!” Yep, that’s how I think.

Black Erasers

So, which erasers did I put into my black eraser head-to-head? The classic Papermate Black Pearl (2-pack for $2.39), the Uni Boxy ($1.40 each) and the Pentel Ain hi-polymer (2-pack for $2). And the pencils? A Palomino Blackwing ($21.95/dozen), General’s Layout Extra Back ($5.40/dozen), and a Mirado Black Warrior ($2.99/dozen).

Black Erasers

Let the scribbling begin!

Black Erasers

And then I started to erase. I left the eraser dust in the photo because it was interesting to see how each eraser dust was different. The Black Pearl is the least crumbly and the Pentel Ain was the most crumbly with lots of small bits. The Uni Boxy was crumbly but the pieces were bigger than the Ain.

Black Erasers

Once the eraser dust is cleared away, the results were quite varied. The Ain worked great with the Mirado Black Warrior but was not as successful with the General’s Layout. The Palomino lays down such dark soft lines that none of the erasers did particularly well with the wide swaths of erasing. And the Black Pearl wasn’t a super performer with all the pencil tested here but its the least messy and easy to find at local US big box stores.

in the end, the black erasers are nice to look at and I love the “worry stone” feel of the Black Pearl but if what you really want is clean, complete erasing you want a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. It really is the premium eraser.

Dux Varibel Brass Sharpener with Leather Case

dux-variabel-1

I was very excited to find CW Pencil Enterprises and to see that they stocked the Dux Varibel brass sharpener in the leather case ($22). It can be dialed in to three different sharpnesses depending on the type of lead. The #1 position is for soft pencils and colored pencils, #2 is used for standard graphite pencils (“#2 for #2 pencils!”) and #3 for the sharpest point for harder leads or pencil weaponry.

(Pictured above is Mirado Black Warrior pencils sharpened with #3, #2 and #1 settings from top to bottom)

dux-variabel-3

The sharpener blade is sharp and fits standard round, hex and triangular pencils. The leather carrying sleeve just makes it awesome.

dux-variabel-2

The point is still not as sharp as a Classroom Friendly sharpener or my old  Boston hand crank sharpener but for a portable pocket sharpener, the quality of the points is good and I didn’t have any breaking issues while sharpening.

If you are a pencil enthusiast or know someone who likes a fine tool, you might want to pick one of these up.

Target Threshold Zip Pouch

target-zip-pouch-1

This zippered pen and pencil case is another find from Target. It’s from their Threshold line and I found in with the office supplies and binders. The case is made from a heavy-duty canvas with a deep indigo color and casual dot pattern. It has one large zipper pocket for storing tools and then a smaller pocket on the front of the case for smaller trinkets.The inside is lined with a dark navy nylon and despite the rustic look, the zipper is nicely finished on the end. Its a really nice case for not much money.

The case measure about 6×9″ which makes it suitable for an A5 sized notebook or larger. It would probably fit most snugly over a letter-sized binder or notebook but the biggest notebook I could find was my Quo Vadis Habana and its covered the cover almost completely and the elastic was tight enough to be functional. This would be the perfect case for a conference or a day of meetings. It provides plenty of space to carry tools but stays secure to your notebook.

target-zip-pouch-2

On the back of the case is a matching elastic running across the length of the case. I immediately realized that the case could be looped over the cover of a notebook.

target-zip-pouch-3

The case comfortably held a dozen or more tools. It’s defintiely long enough to hold a freshly sharpened pencil (even a Blackwing with giant eraser ferrule!) as well as most other writing tools. I tucked an eraser and a small hand sharpener in the front pocket. I was hoping the front pocket would be long enough to store an iPhone but it was a bit too short. It would hold small cards like an ID or business cards though. I was able to stick my phone in the larger pocket with my pens though with no problem.

The case cost  $7.99 and is available for purchase on the Target web site.

Eraser-off

Eraser comparison

One of the most awesome things about pencils is the ability to erase what you’ve written or drawn and change it. But which eraser works best?

I decided to put a few different types of erasers head-to-head and see which one works best. Its not the brand of eraser that is the key attribute but rather the type of material used to create the eraser. There are two common types of erasers for everyday use: plastic/vinyl erasers (usually white and almost all are now latex-free) and compound rubber (a bit gritty with a pumice-like material embedded in rubber).

There are also more task-specific erasers like kneaded erasers for artists, “pen-erasers” which have metal pumice to basically sand off a layer of paper and dozens of different shapes and sizes to meet whatever specific purpose you might have. There are lots of type of erasers encased in plastic cases, electric erasers and more. Too many to cover in one post so I’ll stick to the traditional block erasers. Most of which can be purchased at any shop that sells stationery products, from a drugstore to Target, the office big box in your area or your local art supply shop for $2 or less.

I pulled out the most commonly available erasers in my stash including the full range of Pearl erasers from Papermate: the classic Pink Pearl, the Black Pearl and the White Pearl. I also wanted to test my go-to eraser, the Staedtler Mars Plastic against these. I threw in a Koh-i-noor MAGIC (while not the easiest to acquire, its a compound rubber eraser and features fabulously unique looks). The Sanford Magic Rub is a plastic eraser like the Staedtler Mars and, finally,  the Mercur i-eraser is a translucent PVC, latex-free eraser which I recently picked up at the local art supply shop to round out the mix.

Lots of pencils come with an eraser cap and these block erasers are often made of similar material. I would compare the look and feel of the Black Pearl to the black eraser cap found on a Palomino Blackwing 602. The Ticondergoga has a pink eraser cap similar to the the Pink Pearl. I find however that the small eraser caps on pencils often just collect lint in my pencil case and, due to their smaller size, dry out quickly. The drier the eraser, the more likely it will be to smear or crumble making a bigger mess than necessary. This is why I tend to prefer block erasers. Since they are larger, they don’t dry out as quickly and if a bit of it does dry out or get too dirty to use, I can trim off the end with a utility knife and have, not only a clean bit of eraser but a crisp sharp corner as well. WIN.

eraser testing 1

I chose three pencils to test: a Mirado Black Warrior HB, a Palomino Blackwing 602 and a Faber-Castell Grip 2001 2B. I did a scribble for each eraser.

eraser testing 2

I erased each scribble but I left the eraser dust in place to show how much dust each eraser created. Each eraser left about the same amount of eraser dust.

eraser testing 3

What surprised me was that different pencils erased differently. The Mercur i-eraser didn’t erase the the Mirado Black Warrior hardly at all but erased the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 almost completely. And, as I would have expected, the Staedtler Mars Plastic erased better across the board than any of the others. The Black Pearl worked pretty well across all three pencils. I would definitely pair the Mercur i-eraser with my Grip 2001s from now on. It erased very cleanly with both the Blackwing 602 and the Grip 2001. So strange.

My expectation, when I tested these, was that one eraser would be a clear winner, and if I had to pick one, then I would choose the Staedtler Mars Plastic. But each of these erasers performed better with some pencils than others.

There’s one other aspect of erasers that I really like. Its the feel of it in my hand. One of the gentlemen on Erasable (I think it was Andy but I can’t remember at the moment) mentioned the Black Pearl as a “worry stone” — an object to hold in your hand while thinking and that is why I love the Black Pearl. I often find that I press it into the palm of my hand like a little river stone while I’m writing. Its strangely soothing. They can also be used to weight down the corner of your notebook or keep your pencil (or pen) from rolling off the table. Even if you’re not inclined to use it to erase pencil marks, erasers are quite handy and a must-have for any well-appointed desk.

In the end, erasers will be a preference for each user but any one of these would be a good place to start.

More about erasers: