Tag Archives: jetpens

Review: Kitaboshi Wooden Lead Holder with Clip

My first impression of the Kitaboshi wooden lead holder was that it was very pretty. The warm pinkish hue of the cedar matches Kitaboshi wood pencils perfectly. The chrome hardware goes with this wood perfectly. This lead holder is gorgeous in it’s simplicity.KitaboshiThe clutch holds the lead tightly and does not slip at all, no matter how much pressure I put on the lead. The knock deploys 2mm of lead with a satisfying click. The knock itself is a simple mushroom shape that wedges into the internal plastic mechanism. I really like the look of the knock and how it’s simplicity works with the overall design of the lead holder. The clip design is also simple but it works with the overall look of the pencil. It’s strong enough to hold the lead holder to a pocket notebook without excessive overhang. Kitaboshi Kitaboshi KitaboshiWhen I first received the lead holder where the nose met the wood there was a slight overhang where the wood was slightly larger than the nose. This slight overhang was barely .5mm, but it was just where my fingers rested as I wrote.  Because the wood is cedar and soft this soon wore down with regular use.Kitaboshi KitaboshiThe lead holder is almost exactly pencil sized. It is so similar to a regular wooden pencil in weight and feel that transitioning to it from a regular wooden pencil is no problem. It is well balanced and feels good in hand. Because the lead holder is just over 6 inches in length the clip doesn’t press into the soft bit of my hand, so that is a definite positive.KitaboshiThe only downside I can think of with this pencil is that because it is made of soft wood it dents rather easily. While the minor dings and dents that have appeared as I’ve used the pencil might drive some people nuts, I am not bothered by them. They aren’t as bad as the bite marks my Carl A5 makes as I sharpen regular pencils, and aren’t noticeable.KitaboshiOverall, if you are looking for a good lead holder to help you to transition from wood pencils to lead holders, this is a good option. I find it good looking and comfortable to use.

I picked up mine form Jetpens with my own cash money. Or well cash money I had deposited into Paypal, which I then used electronically to pay for the leadholder. Whatever, you know what I mean, I paid for this.

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Review: Zebra Surari 4C

I really don’t understand the love of the Zebra Surari. I want to love it. The body of this pen is sharp- pretty in a way most multi-pens are not. It’s got smooth lines and it feels really good in the hand. I was able to get mine in a nice dark teal, it’s a fantastic shade. It’s also available in other colors too. The knock is smooth and snaps into place with a satisfying click. The tip has minimal wiggle and wobble. If that were the review, it would get an A+ and we’d move on, sadly, I used this pen for a a couple of weeks and that is where this pen starts to fade.surariI purchased this pen specifically to be on my on-the-go in-my jacket-pocket pen to be paired with my Field Notes, my mind dump Mt Tom, and to use the red or green ink to highlight something important. And for the occasional highlighting it does just fine. The issues arise when I use it for something more lengthy than a couple of words. That’s when the blobs and, for lack of a better description, webs begin.surari surari

As I write with this pen it blobs and from those blobs, as I move from letter to letter, and word to word, tiny strands of the ink stick to the tip and are stretched across the letters. These strands stick to the paper and are ugly. The blobs are bad enough, but the webs are even worse. It makes my already crappy cursuscript look even more horrible.surari

Let’s discuss the drying time. It’s horrible. When I use my Field Notes I fold it over on itself and sort of hold it with my thumb on the page I’m writing on, and move my thumb around to stabilize the notebook. I suspect this is how most of hold them. Sometimes my thumb is under the stuff I’m writing and others it’s over it. When I’m placing my finger on top of the writing it picks up the ink, even if it’s a few minutes old. I also found that this occurs on any paper. Usually all my pens dry in record time on the Staples comp books- they are so absorbent that they dry things fast. Not so with the Surari. I did a brainstorming session of about 15 minutes and found that at the end my fingers were still picking up ink from stuff I’d written at the beginning. I thought that maybe this was simply a one off incident, but then I noticed that it also happened in my Field Notes and my Mt Tom notebook.surari surarisurari

If I want ink on my fingers I’ll use a fountain pen.surari surari surari

The Surari is a really good looking pen that blobs and doesn’t dry quickly enough for my needs. I really don’t get the fervent love for this pen that I see in every review on the net. They mention the blobs, but in passing as if they “aren’t that bad.” They are bad enough that I found them annoying and frankly I LIKE pens like the BIC crystal and the BIC 4-color. I would use the BIC 4-color over this pen on any day. I don’t care how smooth this pen writes. It makes a mess of my ingers in all 4 colors.

Review: Sakura “Super” Foam Eraser

A few week’s ago Johnny Gamber of Pencil Revolution, my comrade in pencils, posted a picture of the always wonderful Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser(SMPE). It’s one of my long time favorite erasers. It’s plastic is gentle on paper and soft enough to clean graphite out of almost any rough paper. It is an eraser that I suggest to friends who are seeking a good eraser. I do this for many reason. First you can’t get a SMPE just about anywhere. Every art, craft, or stationary store carries them. Second, I have used them for years and know they are reliable. Third, there is something safe in recommending this old standard. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like it, it’s a safe recommendation.20150212_100920It has a few problems. The largest is that it’s a messy eraser that leaves crumbs everywhere. It also collects dirt as if it is a magnet. So if you are bothered by your erasers looking filthy, well, this one is going to piss you off. Finally, without it’s paper sleeve it tends to tear into smaller pieces if you don’t support it well with your fingers. Th9is is why I told Johnny to “up his eraser game, and get the Sakura “Super*” Foam Eraser.”SakuraFoamThe Sakura Foam Eraser (SFE) is a soft, white plastic eraser that arrives in a bit of cellophane and a card sleeve. It has a sticky texture that I’ve grown to love. The stickiness allows the crumbs to be rolled into a ball that sticks to the end of the eraser or picked up by pressing the eraser to the crumbs. When I read the sticky rubber info online I thought it was kinda stupid, but oh no, it makes clean up so much easier. That’s not just add copy, that’s a really real useful addition to the plain old plastic eraser.SakuraFoamIt is a super soft plastic that wears down pretty quickly on rougher paper. But it’s also relatively cheap at Jetpens. I don’t find it to be that much softer than the SMPE in use they seem to wear down at about the same rate. It cleans the page of every trace of graphite. On some paper it’s as if the writing never existed at all. It is soft enough to get down into the crevices left by the writing and clean the graphite out. Which is pretty amazing. Then when you are done cleaning, the crumbs are all clumped up and clinging to one another or to the eraser.SakuraFoamI have has small bits break off the edges of my eraser as I used it, but like I wrote, these bits were small, and didn’t affect performance of the eraser. I did not get any cracking where the eraser and the paper sleeve met. I also purchased the smallest offering on Jetpens, though I later purchased a much larger version when I neared the end of my small SFE W60. This should be an indication of just how much I enjoy this eraser. I own over a dozen different erasers and I bought a duplicate. I haven’t bought a duplicate of any eraser save a kneaded, a SMPE, and a few that were required in college. For me to buy a second of any eraser, now, when I can purchase any eraser that I desire. Well, that’s a ringing endorsement.SakuraFoam SakuraFoamSakuraFoamAnyway, you can up your eraser game by purchasing a Sakura “Super” Foam Eraser of your very own.
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Review: Uni Kuru Toga Roulette Gunmetal Mechanical Pencil

David Reese might refer to mechanical pencils as bullshit but I’ve had a long standing love affair with these wondrous pieces of awesome. From my first knurled metal gripped Koh-i-Nor to this pencil, I love ’em. Well, except for that cheap ass Kuru Toga I previously reviewed. 20141203_172208Enter the metal bodied version of the Kuru Toga, the Roulette. I have previously discussed the smooth metal bodied version, this one is knurled. And the knurling is nice, it’s crisp and grip-y and completely not slippery. Which was a problem I had with the smooth metal gripped version of this pencil.20141203_172129

The balance is just right for my hand. With the larger weighted end of the pencil being at the business end and the lighter end being the rest of the pencil. It is also important to note that Uni cheaped out and made the rest of the pencil out of colored plastic.  While the pencil is metallic and perfectly matches the paint, I do wish it was made out of the nice aluminum of the grip section. I find that the plastic is less noticeable on this version than the pink version, possibly because the grip and the plastic are the exact same color.20141203_172032

The tip floats a bit as it needs to be able to move up and down without friction thus has a loose-ish fit in the cone. It’s barely noticeable as I’m writing. The Kuru Toga “engine” does it’s job and moves the tip in miniscule amounts as I write, keeping the edge sharp and crisp. The line doesn’t widen at all, it’s stays the same. IF I remember to not rotate my pencil. Since I’ve been writing with wooden pencils all summer I have gotten back into the habit of rotating my pencil, so in effect I defeat the mechanism.20141203_172136

The key to making these pencils work well, it to not rotate the pencil as you write, something that is hard to stop yourself from doing if you’ve been making yourself do it for a full 4 or more months. It also helps if it’s held at more than a 45 degree angle. Steeper angles don’t provide quite enough force to the mechanism to actually rotate the lead. So it just acts like any old pencil.20141203_172048

Anyway, bullshit aside, this is a great looking and feeling mechanical pencil. I break very few leads with this beauty and my writing is crisp and accurate, well as crisp and accurate as my crappy handwriting can be. The price isn’t bad depending on where you purchase it. I found mine on Amazon for about $10, but they are now out of stock. On Jetpens they are $16. In my opinion, if you are looking for a great mechanical pencil, the knurled metal grip Roulette is a fine choice.

Review: Tombow IPPO!

The Tombow IPPO! is a Japanese pencil targeted toward kids for working on their handwriting. The pencils have bright attractive colors with one of their six sides white. It makes for a really neat looking pencil. The end is capped  off and neatly banded with a bright silver foil. The grade of the pencil is marked on  2 sides with the company name and dragonfly image on a third. I find these to be tidy and sharp (heh) looking pencils. That single white stripe reminds me of wide racing stripes on cars. Tough and serviceable but bright and fun. There are three different colors in each 12-pack. Mine had a bright lime green, a light blue, and dark blue. The pencils arrive in a nice hard plastic case that is reusable as a pencil case. It doesn’t clasp shut but overlap, so would need a rubber band to hold it shut, but is a great way to protect your pencils on the go.IPPO!Inside, the soft B core is well centered in an unknown wood that sharpens with ease. I tested out a variety of sharpeners and was happy with all results, from long points to stubby points. Point retention with this B pencil was good but not great. It is a B pencil, so it is soft, but it’s also not the softest B pencils I’ve tried. It’s delightfully dark without using undue pressure, and is smooth. It’s not the silky smooth experience of a Pearl but has a touch more feedback. It’s fantastic.IPPO!IPPO!

I really enjoy this pencil for written journaling. My words are nice and dark, and it doesn’t smudge too much, but will. For sketching it does well, but for deep dark areas another pencil in a softer grade will be needed.

These were purchased from Jetpens. They ring in around $1 each. The bright colors are fantastic and are eye catching. I can’t help but to have one of each color sharpened and ready for use.

Shipping Services

While I’ve been reviewing products on this blog for a good long time, one of the many things I’ve neglected to talk about is shipping from the various companies. We review shipping on Amazon, so why not from our favorite online pen and pencil companies? Here is my not so exhaustive list of shipping reviews in regards to pen and pencil companies.

Pencils.com: All of my shipments have been discreetly shipped in a white cardboard clamshell style box. Each box has been securely tapped on all edges. They open from the top and are gift-like in the package. Each package has been filled with styrofoam peanuts. I have not checked to see if these are the biodegradable sort, but they don’t look like they are.  The boxes always arrive in good condition, even when manhandled by the idiot delivery guy and not the good delivery woman. All items have arrived in perfect condition. Shipping is reasonably priced, right in the middle of the pack. They occasionally have free shipping sales. I try to take advantage of these sales. Speed of shipping is slower than other companies but not slow enough for me to complain. When they run a free shipping sale, they ship parcel rate, which is slower than the regular first class I usually select. You can pay more for priority shipping.

Jetpens: They ship in bubble wrap mailers. They do put loose pencils into thin card boxes. My last shipment arrived with a square of cardboard to protect the pencils. This is a far cry from some of my earlier shipments where items were sent loose in a bubble mailer.  As we all know that sort of shipping is the death of pencils. However, any order over $25 ships for free. Which is a huge savings. The free shipping is slower, as it’s sent first class and not priority mail.* I get my Jetpens goods within 3 to 4 days. Considering the goods are coming from Cali and I’m  in Mass, that’s really not bad.** I never order unless I can get over the $25 mark so I can’t comment on their paid shipping. I have never had a Jetpens purchase arrive damaged.

PencilThings.com: I placed my first order on the 9th and it arrived on the 14th.  I get the feeling this is a one woman operation so not a bad turnaround to get from New Mexico to Massachusetts. Considering that the good mail lady was on vacation and the moron had her route, really not bad.*** My small order was shipped in a bubble mailer. The pencils were not backed by cardboard or anything else.  Shipping was $5 and the order was shipped first class  and weighed 3 ounces. You do the math. Anyway, nothing was damaged and they are one of the few places that offer things like pencil caps and clips. They have a HUGE range of KUM brand sharpeners that can be hard to find other places.

Goulet: Ever since Goulet did away with their Fountain Pen Network discount I haven’t placed an order. They rarely offer free shipping and when they do it’s on orders over $50, $75 or $100.  However when one of my packages was damaged in shipping and not delivered, they replaced my package free of charge. So their expensive and speedy shipping is guaranteed. When my package eventually was delivered, damaged, to Walgreens about a month later (weird) and Walgreens opened it and called me, Goulet told me to keep both. This is a huge positive. Generally, Goulet packages arrived in 3 days from Virginia.

Any conversation about Goulet bears mentioning that they ridiculously over protect their package. All packages are backed by cardboard wrapped in blue cling film and bubble wrap then shipped in a box. Inks are put into ziplock baggies. The extra space in the boxes is packed with crumpled paper, and there is always extra space since all of the boxes I’ve ever gotten have been over-sized for the items contained within. This makes perfect sense for inks and delicate pens. But is completely wasteful for notebooks and other items . I always shed a tear for the environment when I place a Goulet order. There is no middle ground or variance for different items. Every item is packed with the same excessive packaging. Which I suppose is good, because you pay for it.

Amazon- Every package I order from them is packaged differently. IF I’m getting things from Amazon and not a reseller, it’s generally in a small cardboard box with large air pockets. I’ve gotten things from resellers in bubble mailers, boxes, card mailers, paper envelopes with no bubble wrap, and the list could go on. With all the variances I’ve never had an Amazon order go missing or be damaged.

Rated by shipping price, lowest to highest:

  1. Jetpens (over $25)
  2. Amazon (with prime)(rated lower than Jetpens due to many pencil related items being add-on items)
  3. Pencils.com
  4. PencilThings.com
  5. Goulet

Rated by Packaging, best to ok:

  1. Goulet
  2. Pencils.com
  3. JetPens
  4. PencilThings.com
  5. Amazon (rated here as ok mostly because I never know how something will be packaged.)

Rated by Speed, fastest to Slowest:****

  1. Amazon
  2. Goulet
  3. Jetpens
  4. Pencils.com
  5. PencilThings.com

Overall I’ve got perfectly adequate shipping from all of the vendors listed and I’ve been happy with service. Ratings are subjective and my opinion based on my purchase history.

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Review: Rhodia Pencil

My high school’s arch rival’s school colors were orange and black. I later taught at the rival high school and on spirit day I wore my letter jacket… from my old school. Good fun. If that school could have a pencil mascot it would be the Rhodia pencil.* This triangular pencil boasts a snazzy bright, nearly fluorescent, orange body with a sharply painted black ferrule. It’s fitted well to the pencil. The eraser, also black, is round, and is secured to the ferrule with 6 divots pressed into the ferrule. It’s overkill and finishes the  otherwise beautiful pencil off roughly. But it can’t all be perfect.Rhodia

Inside the pencil is wood that is dyed black. From what I can find, it is not made of cedar. According to PencilRevolution, it’s linden wood. Whatever it is made of, it sharpens with ease and quickly in my KUM Ellipse sharpener.

The core is dark enough . I favor darker cores (leads) as my use is primarily drawing and sketching. I prefer a dark core for it’s range of darkness and lightness. I can get light shades from a dark core, but not dark shades from a light core. So darker is better in my book. Additionally, a nice dark core allows for easier writing. Anyway, the core is dark enough, and hard enough that it holds the point well enough. I didn’t find myself sharpening my pencil after every word or minute of drawing. The core is scratchy. It doesn’t glide over the paper like a Palomino. It gives a lot of feedback sort of like writing on rough paper but finer. Some people might like this but I am not a huge fan of the feeling.RhodiaIn fact the grittiness of the pencil makes it well suited for rougher papers, like that which is in my Staples 100% Recycled School Year Planner.  It also performed well in a Staples Composition Notebook

With both the included eraser and a stick eraser the pencil erased cleanly from paper. Leaving behind a slight trace of the word removed. The included eraser is gritty but not gritty enough to damage paper with general erasing, though, I suspect repeated erasures would leave a hole in more delicate papers.RhodiaThe triangular shape of the pencil was comfortable to hold and doesn’t roll off my table or desk.Rhodia

This is a  very good looking pencil that is gritty in performance. If you favor smooth pencils like the Palomino Blackwing series, you might not like this pencil much. But, it is a good pencil to try out. It’s available from Jetpens as a single only (great for an add-on item to get your order to $25 for free shipping.) but is available in other places by the dozen or at Bob Slate in Cambridge, MA.

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Review: Mitsu-Bishi NanoDia B Pencil

The shining star of my recent Jetpens purchase is the MitsuBishi (UniBall) Nano Dia pencil with a B core, in green and white. They are available in 2B as well and in the following shades green, pink and blue. The white finish of the pencil is pearlized. It’s very similar to the pearlized finish of the Palomino Blackwing Pearl. Howeve,r the NanoDia has green triangles printed over the creamy white finish. They are semi transparent and barely noticeable. There are 2 accents of a darker bright green. One is a diamond shape and the last is a band at the ferrule end of the pencil. Together the colors work well and make for a very nice looking pencil. The green reminds me of the Staedtler Wopex coloring.NanoDia

The ferrule end of the pencil is not finished. The core and the wood of the pencil are visible. the core is well centered. The pencil sharpened to a nice point in my Kum Ellipse sharpener. Because my allergies are interfering I cannot tell if this is cedar or not, however it LOOKS like cedar and sharpened well.NanoDiananodiaThe pencil is graded as a B, and it writes like a B pencil. It’s darker than most HB pencils and is softer and smoother. However, it held it’s point well and didn’t need to be sharpened after every word or scribble. It erased cleanly with both block and stick erasers. It is be well suited to sketching or note taking. If I were to compare this to a Blackwing, I’d say it’s VERY similar to the Blackwing Pearl in darkness and softness of the core.NanoDiaAlso, it is affordable priced, arriving in a 3-pack for $3. This is again, an option to boost your JetPens purchase to being over $25 to get you to free shipping. Don’t like green? You can get it in bright blue or pink. All colors are available in B or 2B. The green is a great spring color.NanoDiaFinal word? A good looking and affordable pencil that will make you happy. I’ll be reaching for this one more than any of the others I ordered in this Jetpens package. I would say if you want the Blackwing experience with a lower cost, the B NanoDia will give you that experience. I’d rate this at a very similar level as the Blackwing Pearl.

If you don’t like wood cased pencils, Uni offers the lead for mechanical pencils. It’s as nice as what is in the wood pencils but offered in more of a range of hard and soft. I have a couple of packs and I’ve been happy with them.

Review: STAD One Touch Pencil Extender

I picked up a STAD pencil extender from Jetpens last week and as my usual review style, I put it through it’s paces before I wrote a review.
I’ll admit my first impression was not good. Looking at the package I was expecting some weight and this extender while chunky is very light weight. I tried stuffing a vintage FaberCatell Design 3800 4B into its grasp and the little white plastic cap didn’t like it, or the extender didn’t like it, whatever it was the pencil is now in hiding and I can’t find it. (Turns out it was just hiding lower in the pencil cup…) Every pencil I stuck in it’s jaws seemed…. Loose.
I took a look at the back of the package. There were some diagrams on the back with all the writing in Japanese… Picture #3 shows some fingers touching the jaw. I thought maybe in that image the fingers are squishing the jaws to the pencil, so I tried it. Oh baby, what a difference. The extender went from loose to thighs of steel. It grips all my regular sized pencils, from my Palominos to Vintage FaberCastell Design 3800s to PrismaColor Col-erase with an eraser.
When you are done drawing or writing you can flip the pencil point into the extender and protect the point from breaking and you from being stabbed. WIN! This holder, like others, allows you to use your pencil down to the last tiny nubbin. The smooth grooved barrel is comfortable to hold and use. It's diameter makes it seem as if you are writing with a nice mechanical pencil or pen. Fancy.
P6014326(Protip: When you get down to the end of your pencil, use a sharpie to write the hardness on the top of the pencil so you always know what pencil nubbin you’re using.)

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