Tag: tool

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


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)


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


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


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.


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.


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 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:

Koh-i-noor Magic Erasers

koh-i-noor magic erasers

Are these not the most amazing looking erasers? These are Koh-inoor Magic erasers available from a seller on Ebay. They are almost too pretty to actually use but use them I did and I was pleased at how well they actually worked. They are not as good as the white plastic Staedtler Mars erasers that are my go-to but the rainbow colors will surely brighten my day.

Koh-i-noor Magic Eraser test

Kickstarter: HMM Rule One

HMM Rule One

Have you seen this Kickstarter project? This is a multi-functional tool made from black anodized aluminum that includes a pen, a ruler and an optional strap or touch stylus. The whole object is a teardrop wedge shape that can be used as a bookmark. The pen closes with a magnet and can accept any refill comparable to the Mitsubishi UNI like Pilot, Lamy, Uni-ball, Signo, Pentel, EnerGel and more. Backing options to receive a HMM Rule One start at $45. There’s only two weeks left to back this project and they have not reached their goal yet.

UPDATE: I tried to embed the video here but it didn’t work so I’ve added a photo instead. Sorry!)

Ask The Desk: ID Protection Stamps

Ask The Desk Header

Sandy asks:

Think this is good idea?

I assume the question regards any sort of blotting stamp for security purposes. Folks seem to like these as an alternative to paper shredders as they are smaller, quieter and portable for obscuring personal information on printed material. While shredding makes sense for a lot of papers, sometimes you just want to throw those credit card offers in the trash and the only incriminating information is your address. A quick stamp, stamp, stamp might be enough to make it possible to throw the papers in the recycle bin.

The general term to describe these stamps is ID protection stamps or ID Guard stamps. I definitely think that the Max Korkoro model, with the rolling stamp and ability to refill the ink easily makes a good option. The price for any ID protection stamp seems to be about $10 which seems reasonable.

The only thing I don’t know looking at the photos and description is whether the ink is water resistant when dry. That would be the winning feature. If its water-soluble, then someone might be able to wash the ink off reveal your address or account numbers.

So I suppose I ought to order one and put it to the test, huh?

Link Love: Official Mascot and more catch-up

Link Love Link MascotFirst, I’d like you to all admire my new and fully customized Link mascot thanks to my pal and co-worker Adan who, clearly, is a fabulous illustrator. I think I need Link on a t-shirt!

Now, on to the links:







Kickstarter: Tiletto


By now, I’m sure you’ve probably already heard about the Tiletto. Tiletto is a Kickstarter project that’s a multi-function letter opener made from titanium, of course. It can also be used as a bottle opener (my favorite additional feature), hex wrench, straight edge, pry bar, box opener, and the list goes on. Its durable, functional and pretty elegant looking. You can get in on the ground floor for $30. The project has just eleven days left.

Link Love of Epic Proportions!

Clampersand (via Domesticated Desk)
Clampersand (via Domesticated Desk)



Life Imitates Art: Vector Pencil Art (via Woodclinched)
Life Imitates Art: Vector Pencil Art (via Woodclinched)


Writing & Letter-Writing:

Paper & Notebooks:

10 Tools I Can’t Live Without


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the tools I use everyday, my absolute must-haves. While I love having an assortment of gel pens, fountain pens and a bevvy of different notebooks, I realized that there are a few tools I use everyday, without fail. I also have some tools very specific to my job that might not be of interest to readers but I thought I’d share the everyday go-to tools, in no particular order.

  1. Hobonichi Planner ¥2,500 for the planner, covers start at ¥1,500
  2. 3×5 blank index cards $1.49/100 cards
  3. Field Notes $9.95/3-pack (or comparable pocket-sized notebook. I always have one on me)
  4. Kaweco Sports Fountain Pen $23.50
  5. Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser $1.25 THE eraser by which all other erasers are measured.
  6. Marvy LePen $1.15 (could potentially substitute a standard Sharpie marker here though I’m more likely to use the LePen everyday than a Sharpie)
  7. Palomino Blackwing 602 $19.95/dozen
  8. Tombow Mono Adhesive Permanent $7.29, refills $11.99/3-pack (I know this seems odd but it’s excellent for sealing envelopes and a much tidier way to attach scraps to my planner or notebook)
  9. Evernote FREE (I am now storing all sorts of text bits, digital detritus, links and blog starters here. I can access the content on all my digital devices)
  10. Alfred FREE (Until you’ve used the Alfred App, you don’t know what you’re missing. I hate working on someone else’s computer that doesn’t have Alfred installed. It’s free, go try it)

What are the tools you can’t live without?

Review: Beans Cut Mini Scissors

Raymay beanscut

While in San Francisco, I picked up the Raymay BeansCut mini scissors. It is a teeny tiny pair of snippers and a side slit for opening envelopes. Its extreme portability and fine jelly green color made it something I really wanted to try. At $6.50, it seemed like a reasonable investment, one way or another.

Raymay BeansCut

I wanted to compare it to my usual letter opener and you can clearly see that the BeansCut is considerably more portable. The flipside is that the scissors are so tiny  (compared to a dirty pair of 4″ scissors I keep on my desk) that they are only usable for snipping threads, trimming washi tape and possibly opening taped packages. Alternately, as a knitter, its a perfect tool to snip yarn and its small size made it easy to fit in my knitting kit.

When I tested the slicer on the side for opening envelopes, it worked well on plain paper envelopes like bills and air mail envelopes, but if the envelope was even slightly heavier like a wedding invitation it really didn’t work very well. I ended up using the scissors to open heavier paper envelopes and the slicer for lightweight papers.

The Raymay BeansCut is available in four colors from JetPens for $6.50. I bought mine at the Maido shop in SF in Union Square.

The Paperclip and WWII


Johan Vaaler, a Norwegian inventor, is credited with inventing the paperclip. It was patented in the US as were several other variations but it wasn’t until the English company GEM streamlined the design to the double oval we know today and an American, William Middlebrook, of Waterbury, Connecticut, patented a machine for making paper clips of the Gem design in 1899. The design for the GEM paperclip was never patented.

During WWII, Norwegians were prohibited from wearing any insignia on their clothing with the king’s likeness so they wore paperclips in their lapels as a symbol of resistance to the Nazi occupation.

Alternately, after WWII, the Americans started a project called Operation Paperclip to recruit former-Nazi scientists to work in the US after the war.

Oh, little paper clip, what an intersting life you lead!

Link Love: Notebooks, Scanners and Places to Go


Places to Visit:



long point sharpener




Video: Staplers and Glass Pen

My husband stumbled across this video of  staplers found in Japan by this colorful Brit from The Grand Illusions web site, a site that sells toys, illusions and other novelty items.

I dug through his videos in search of other tidbits that might be interesting to readers and also found his glass pen demo. He comments that washing the tip with a little soapy water helps to make the ink adhere much better. Good tip!

My Daily Carry for the Week of Aug 18

Daily Carry for the week of Aug 18

I haven’t done a daily carry post for awhile so I thought I’d give you all a peek into my bag, its a Letter Writers Alliance member pencil case, in case you were curious. I have a few of my favorite pins stuck to it as well. Paper geek pride!

I’ll go from left to right:

The various and sundry bits at the bottom from the left:

  • Vintage letter opener
  • Lefty Pencil Sharpener
  • Pocket Swiss Army Knife
  • Wireless USB controller for my Wacom tablet
  • a couple spare SD cards
  • a USB flash drive (8GB)
  • my name chop I got in Stanley Market in Hong Kong

Its probably way more than I need but I like to be prepared and have options. I don’t have my own office at work so I tote a lot more with me each day than most people. How many tools do you carry with you each day?

Link Love: Write It, Erase It, Stick It

The Cake Eraser (via DovBee on Instagram)
The Cake Eraser (via DovBee on Instagram)

Paper & Notebooks:

Pens and Inks:

Pantone swatches matched to the world (via Laughing Squid -- Thanks, Annie!)
Pantone swatches matched to the world (via Laughing Squid — Thanks, Annie!)


Coccocoino paste from Italy (via Patrick Ng on Instagram)
Coccocoino paste from Italy (via Patrick Ng on Instagram)


Created with a Copic Sketch Marker (via 26Symbols)
Created with a Copic Sketch Marker (via 26Symbols)


My Favorite Dymo: The M-6

My favorite labeller

I collect Dymo tape labellers with the same enthusiasm that I collect other desk accessories. I have a whole plastic bin full of tape labellers, mostly Dymo brand though occasionally I’ll stumble across a store brand or off-brand. They all take the same 3/8″ labels though some will also accept the harder-to-find 1/4″ label tapes.

My favorite of them all is a Dymo M-6 which came with two different removeable type discs: one in the classic blocky letters and one in a lowercase script. Did I mention the labeller is green? Why yes it is one of the items on the “if the house is burning down and the family is safe, I’d grab” list.

The M-6 in hand

A close up of Dymo lettering disks

I’ve seen other discs that can be used with this Dymo on the internet but have yet to find any I could purchase. Yet another collection to grow!

Dymo tape collection

I also have a label tape collection. My favorite is the wood grain which is running dangerously low and the cloth tape for labelling clothes on top. I want to get some of the metal tape to use with my larger industrial Dymo.

Solutions for Whiteboard Clean-Up


Does you whiteboard eraser work poorly and leave you with ghosted writing from your previous notes, meeting or brainstorm? I know ours sure did until one of my clever co-workers grabbed a baby wipe in an effort to clean off the whiteboard. Lo and behold, the whiteboard was completely spotless and looked brand new. We use unscented baby wipes with moisturizers, to my co-worker’s point, “When I have to wipe off as many whiteboards, as often as I do, I want my hands moisturized.”


Our only tip is to wait a couple minutes for the board to dry a little but we have a theory that the moisturizers and whatnot in the wipes actually make the board easier to write on rather over water on a paper towel.

Link Love: Inky Minky Meinie Mo

Love Objects via Behind The Curtain
Loved Objects (via Behind The Curtain)

Pens and Pencils:




(via East...West...Everywhere)
(via East…West…Everywhere)

Review: Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Classroom Friendly Sharpener

The nice folks over at Classroom Friendly Supplies sent me one of their desktop pencil sharpeners to review — in green, of course! It is a perfectly vintage shade of green too.

Classroom Friendly Sharpener

This sharpener has a clamp to attach to the table so there is no drilling necessary to keep it from moving. The only issue I had with the table top mount is that it mounted so that it was positioned sideways on the table instead of having the crank and the pencil parallel to the table like I am accustomed to with the older table mount sharpeners. But it worked fine in this position, especially since my table is oval.

Classroom Friendly Sharpener

The case is metal with a clear plastic drawer to catch shavings. The handle is silver with a plastic grip. On the pencil side of the sharpener, there are two black squares at the top on a silver segment that can be pulled out to support the pencil as you are sharpening. It took me awhile to work through how the design worked. With the silver section pulled out, squeeze the black squares to insert and clamp the pencil in place. Then sharpen. As I sharpened, the silver section slowly moved in a bit until it stopped. This prevented the pencil from being over-sharpened. Then I squeezed the black plastic squares again to release the clamp on the pencil and remove it. The silver section can then be contracted back into the green body by releasing the center silver bar and pushing the section in.

the tip and the chew marks

I did not think that the sharpener was noticeably quieter than other table-mounted sharpeners but it is pretty easy to use and much quieter than an electrical pencil sharpener. It gives pencils a wickedly sharp point but it does leave a little chew mark on the pencils from the clamp.

Super Pointy

It makes a fabulously long, sharp point. Wow! (Disregard the little stray wood bit, I didn’t wipe it clean before photographing it.)

General Layout Pencil super-sharp!

What got me really excited was when I sharpened my General’s Layout pencil which has a wider diameter lead than a traditional graphite pencil sharpened to a ridiculously long length and it was still strong enough to use.

point comparison

To compare, I sharpened the red pencil (Palomino Golden Bear HB #2) with my old Apsco Giant desktop sharpener (the classic) and the other three pencils (a round black pencils stolen from Geeks Who Drink trivia night, the General’s Layout pencil and another Palomino Golden Bear HB #2 with the Classroom Friendly sharpener.

Classroom Friendly Sharpener writing samples

The pencils I sharpened wrote so well. Good quality pencils and cheap giveaway pencils sharpened equally well with the Classroom Friendly sharpener. I even wrote with the Apsco sharpened for comparison and it is noticeably blunter. Since its a clamp mount, it does not damage tables or desks but can still be placed wherever is most convenient and removed when not needed. No longer does your sharpener have to live in the basement!

I like how the Classroom Friendly sharpener so much that I feel obliged to overlook the chomp marks on my pencils. For most of my pencils, the nicks are not a big deal but I think I’ll keep using my Palomino Long Point sharpener for my higher-end pencils like the Blackwings.

The Classroom Friendly sharpener is available in four classic colors (groovy green, cool blue, firehouse red and midnight black) for $24.99 each. Prices are discounted if you make a bulk purchase.

(The Classroom Friendly sharpener was sent to me for review but my opinions are my own and unbiased.)