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


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?

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2 comments / Add your comment below

  1. You have a notebook you love except no elastic and no pocket? Hack it! One inch black elastic at the sewing notions store and some card stock with matching duct tape. You-Tube will show you how.

  2. I also found this you tube video for hacking an elastic band into a hardcover notebook. There is another one for soft covers too.

    I usually just an an envelope to the inside cover of my notebook for a pocket if I need it. But if you want to create an expandable pocket there are videos for that too.

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