Category Archives: Review

Review: Doms Fusion Pencil

There is a lot to like about the Doms Fusion pencil. It’s a rounded triangular pencil with black paint and metallic accents. You all know I’m a sucker for black pencils. This pencil is matte black with a rubberized grippy finish. It feels really great in my hand. I’ve spent a lot of time with it shoved over my ear and under my hat. It stays put.

The sides of the pencil feature metallic red, blue, green and silver printing. The point end of the pencil has either red, blue or green stars printed on each side. They aren’t especially tactile but they look great. Further up the imprint and bar code are printed in silver. The end dip on this pencil looks like a cap and it’s very smooth and well done. The pencils have a red, blue or green around their dip. The dip is super shiny.

The designation for this pencil is X-TRA SUPER DARK PENCIL. I’m hear for it. I love an extra tag line, this one is on par with “Manufactured by elaborate process.” I like it.

Review: Doms Fusion Pencil

Review: Doms Fusion Pencil

All of the exterior stuff is printed onto a pencil body that smells like it it made of bass wood. Which is wrapped around the Doms dark smooth core. I really like the Doms X-TRA super dark cores. I find that while they are very dark and smooth they hold a point for writing reasonably well, they are a dream on smooth papers that don’t have a ton of tooth.

It sharpened well too. I popped mine into a hacked Apsara Long Point and the point is excellent. I’ve written a few pages in my current bullet journal with this pencil and it’s great. I’ve wrote the writing sample in a Baronfig Confidant.

This pencil arrived bundled with a short point sharpener and eraser combo plus a 15cm ruler. The Sharpener it arrived with is a short point and not very useful, though the eraser is pretty good. The ruler is made of clear plastic and does it’s job.

I paid $9.50 for these via Amazon and at roughly 80 cents per piece (eraser sharpener combo and ruler included) feels a bit spendy. The Doms Zoom has the same core and can be found in triangular format, though with metallic pastel paint. The Zoom can be purchased for $5 or so for a 10 pack. I really like the Fusion but I’d wait until it comes down in price to buy another pack.

Continue reading

NovelPad Opening Screen

Review: NovelPad Cloud-Based Writing Part 2

For part 2 of this review I want to look at some of the parts of NovelPad that I don’t use as much. NovelPad is a cloud-based writing app, that lets you draft your novel using any browser.

Plot is a tool to assist you in plotting out your novel. Here you can add scenes and chapters to the main plot or side plots. You can search through the novel and organize your search based off color coding, scenes and chapters. It’s an interesting tool, and one I’ve yet to use to it’s full potential as it seems to become of full use in the later finishing and first edit stages of the novel.

Characters keeps track of all your characters and where you mention them in the novel. I have found this far more useful than I ever expected. To use it you enter in a character name and all their nicknames. NovelPad then logs each chapter and scene where that name is used in a column for you. This is great if you want to check and make sure that you have written about a particular character in a particular scene, it’s easy and fast to check it. Open the character page, scroll to that character, and check for that scene and click.

Locations is similar to the character page. You can map out all the locations in a novel in advance and NovelPad will find all instances of that location in the novel. I found this useful in my Nano novel as I plugged in each location I realized I changed the name of a bar mid novel and was able to quickly go back and change it to the new name, which was so much better. In the new novel I’ve been outlining it has helped me thing about settings and locations in advance, which has helped my writing of scenes in those locations. Knowing that a desk faces the door, and that there are two chairs or a bench in front of it is immensely helpful at writing scenes fast and consistently.

Goals is the page I use far more often than the others in this section of the review. It let’s me set word count and time goals. Then based on my actual numbers of works per day it gives me a finish date, and nifty little charts to show progress, or stagnation. This combined with reminder notes, really helps keep me on track.goals

Insights allows you to look at all the parts of your novel in comparison to all the other parts. That’s not very clear but it’s the best way I have to describe that page. I have found it helpful to find the various sections I’ve color coded for more writing and work. It’s useful and I think an interesting way to quickly explore the piece while comparing it within itself.

These tools are largely what I would use when I’m doing my first round of edits rather than as I write. For my use I need the chapter, place, character tab, and the goals tab while I’m drafting. I can plan out most of my novel using these tabs. For my use, everything else is for the first round of edits.

Overall these tools combine to make NovelPad a really powerful tool for writing and editing your novel. The big downside that I see here is that there is no ability to have an editor edit within the app itself. I can’t share my NovelPad with an editor or beta reader. I’d have to download in whatever format I use, and send it out. That means I’d have to cut and paste any edit into the app if I want to keep using it. So for now NovelPad is an excellent drafting tool, but as the team adds in more usability, NovelPad could become a viable contender when writers are debating what tool to use for writing and editing. Frankly I really like NovelPad.

Jinhao Candy Fountain Pen Bright and Fun

Review: Jinhao Candy Fountain Pen Bright and Fun

I ordered this pen on a whim, specifically for the neon green plastic pen body. At $4.50 it’s not the cheapest but it’s certainly not expensive. It took a very long time to arrive from China and was tied up in customs for months. (It’s currently not available on that link, but keep an eye on eBay as it’s likely to pop up again, possibly under another name.) You might notice that the color of this pen does not photograph well, it’s so bright and truly neon that it looks washed out on the notebook. The Jinhao Candy fountain pen is bright and fun.

Jinhao Candy Fountain Pen Bright and Fun

Jinhao Candy Fountain Pen Bright and Fun

It arrived in a simple bubble wrapped envelope and sleeve. It barely fit into the package. Fortunately the pen is made of very sturdy plastic and arrived looking great and in pristine condition.

The plastic pen body is made of thick sturdy plastic. When I looked at it I was surprised at how thick the plastic was. It’s not heavy but feels good. Some plastic pens feel cheap, this one does not. The grip is slightly short but isn’t uncomfortable. It’s narrow so this isn’t going to be for those large fingered big fisted folx. It’s not a dainty pen but sort of in between. The body of the pen is short-ish, and I found it uncomfortable to write more than a few notes without *gasp* it posted. Yes I post this pen.

The cap posts perfectly and tightly on the end of the pen and extends the pen to a perfect balanced length. This pen is surprisingly well balanced for my writing and grip style. I’m not gonna lie, I love that ball end wire clip. It’s fun and works surprisingly well.

The nib as it arrived was a fine, with a fair amount of baby’s bottoming and while I did attempt to smooth this out, it would not work for me. It worked intermittently and they the ink just wouldn’t flow. So I ripped it out and replaced it with a similar nib. If you decide to play around with Jinhao and WingSung pens, do yourself a favor and order a package of replacement nibs. The money spent is worth it. With the new nib in, the pen is an extra fine with a smooth wet flow.

Honestly I like this pen FAR more then I ever expected. It is a cart/converter pen but it’s fun, bright and a joy to write with. The tiny converter means I get to switch ink colors every few days, though I’ve been cycling through green inks.

Jinhao Candy Fountain Pen Bright and Fun

I’ve been using this pen daily since it arrived. It’s tough enough to stay strapped to my ScribblSheets Orange Opal journal and get tossed in my bag.

Continue reading

Review: NovelPad Cloud-Based Writing Tool Part 1

As part of my new series on writing processes I am exploring a series of websites and apps that are similar to Scrivener but are a little different. NovelPad.co is a browser and cloud based novel writing app. It features a chapter and scene card based outlining and writing tool, a character and scene tracking and outlining tool, goal tracking, an insights tool, and the ability to export into a variety of formats. I’ll explore all of these tools in detail in this review of the cloud-based writing tool, NovelPad.

Everyone’s writing needs are a bit different from another person’s, but I need an app that will sync across devices and can be used on my PC* laptop, android** phone, and Fire*** tablet. Whatever I use to write, needs to work as well, if not better than Docs on these 3 devices. When I hit save on one I want to see that work on all 3 as instantly as possible. 

I currently writing in the morning and evening on my cheap laptop, on my lunch break on my tablet or phone. In the pre-Covid times I wrote in a café on Friday evenings and Saturday days. When I’m out and about my tablet and a small compact BT keyboard are a lighter weight option so it is important that any of these writing tools I review work seamlessly on the tablet and phone.

To start this review out, NovelPad works well on all my devices. It has been speedy and smooth my my cheap laptop, slick in the Silk browser, and great on Chrome on my phone. Chrome is sideloaded onto my Fire tablet and it seems that the ‘Zon interferes with sideloaded apps and their ability to use BT devices connected to the tablet. I have been able to work in all my usual manners in almost all my usual locations using NovelPad.NovelPad Opening Screen- Review of the cloud-based writing tool, NovelPad.

NP has a simple and clean interface. At the website you are greeted with a clean page that include icons that look like books with the titles of your novels. When you mouse over, or tap them, they open the book and offer for you to open that document. It opens to the “edit in context” option, where you can write directly into your novel. Along the left side of the screen are a series of icons. It took me a moment to figure out the icons and their meaning, and the tutorial is pretty clear.

NovelPad Navigation Bar

The icons are as follows:

  • Edit in Context
  • Chapters
  • Plot
  • Characters
  • Location
  • Insights
  • Goals
  • Save
  • Export
  • Settings
NovelPAd Chapters Horizontal View

Horizontal View

NovelPAd Chapters Vertical View

Vertical View

I really wish it opened to chapters for many reasons. Chapters is what makes NP really stand out. Chapters allows you to set up chapter cards and scene cards within each chapter. You can then easily drag and drop scenes and even whole chapters into new locations. Chapter 3 not working between 2 and 4? Does it need to be between 7 and 8? Drag, drop then renumber. It’s ridiculously smooth and easy. And I love it.

As I was working on my NaNo novel, I realized I’d left out a scene at Thanksgiving. I dropped a scene card in that said, “Add Thanksgiving angst.” I then highlighted it in orange so that it would stand out as I worked on my novel. The color coding is meant to assist you in tracking plots and scene changes, but I have found in my raw writing stage it most useful to remind me of where I’m currently writing and what scenes need more work.

I really like that I can open the chapters tab, click the pen icon for a scene, and a writing area pops up. The writing area can be half or full screen. With this I can keep an eye on the outline as I write. I can easily toggle between my writing and my outline. It really helps to keep me on track.

Each scene has an associated notes section, the icon looks like a tiny sticky note in the corner. This allows you to drop in research notes, character ideas, and other associated information into the body of your work. The notes section can also be set up with a reminder, that can be set to remind you in an hour, a day, week, or month. Nifty.

Because I’m finishing my NaNoWriMo novel I decided to stress test all the apps I’m testing with a cut & paste of the 58k words in a Google doc into each app. I wanted to see if the app would 1. divide the doc up into scenes and chapters based off my heading structure 2. use three * to divide into scenes 3. be able to handle the giant number of words dumped into the app.

I don’t recommend dumping nearly 60k words into any app, heck even Docs doesn’t handle it well and Word’s online version was shaking apart at the seams. It took several tries for NovelPad to accept the cut and pasted doc. It did not divide into chapters and scenes in a way that made sense, though it did break the novel up into several scenes, though they seemed to be rather random. Instead of cutting and pasting 60k words at a time, I’d suggest pasting the novel in a chapter at a time.

This might seem like it’s a negative, but does anyone really expect any app to handle that large a document in one large cut and paste? I would like to see NovelPad include an upload feature that works as well as their download feature.

Once your novel is finished you can download it in markdown, ePub, and Word formats. The process is simple and easy. Best of all it works well.

In Part 2 of this review I’ll look at the Plot, Character, Location, Insights, and Goals sections of the app.

Continue reading

Review: ScribbleSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal

ScribblSheets popped up in most of my social media feeds and I admit I was quite taken with the pretty edges. I reached out to the company and requested a copy for review, I’m really glad they said yes. Shipping was delayed due to the current state of the USPS, but wasn’t as bad as some of the other things I’ve ordered recently. The journal was packaged in a bubble mailer and within that a crisp cellophane wrapper.

At first glance the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge journal looks like a standard moleskine style journal, and in many ways it is. It measures 8.25×5.75 inches or 21x14cm also known as A5. It includes a sturdy elastic and a generously long narrow ribbon. The ribbon arrives heat sealed but I hit mine with a lighter just to get that seal a bit extra.

The covers are black vinyl or what everyone is calling vegan leather these days, and I won’t rant on the disingenuous nature of the idea of vegan leather. It’s plastic, and vinyl at that. It’s a nice vinyl and feels grippy and slightly squishy. On the lower back cover the ScribblSheets logo is debossed. It’s small and tastefully done.

The back cover sports an elastic loop for a pen, it’s large enough to accommodate a fountain pen, mine is currently holding my Wing Sung 3013. But It’ll hold a Preppy snuggly. It will not hold a pencil. I find that it’s a tad narrow and my pen flops around a bit, but in my Lihit Lab Bag in Bag it’s fine.

The inside back cover lacks a pocket, but I added a little slash pocket of my own. Inside there aren’t any markings at all. No logos, no square or lines to write your name or address. I used a ruler and added mine own in pencil then cleaned it up. Easy. There aren’t any page numbers either.

The grid is perfect. It’s the palest grey imaginable, so it completely disappears behind your writing no matter the color. I love it. At 5mm it’s a perfect distance for my writing. Each page has 40×28 dots per page. It’s a good number for a bullet journal- enough spots for a monthly log and more than enough for a day’s task list. My Peter Pauper ruler works perfectly with this grid size.

The paper is amazing with pencil, it’s got just the right amount of tooth for an HB like the Musgrave Harvest Pro or even the firm core of the Blackwing Eras. I also really like it with ballpoint and gel inks.

The paper does okay with finer nibs and well behaved fountain pen inks. You’ll be able to see in the images some long fibery feathering that reminds me of the old moleskine paper. But then it does fine with other inks and nibs. Generally, thus far I’ve been sticking to my Wing Sung 3013 loaded with Shaeffer Skrip Peacock Blue. It has been doing really well with this ink.

Now, let’s talk about the Orange Opal edge on this journal. It’s incredibly pretty. I’m not sure how they get the edge colored, I’m assuming that it is some sort of printing process, what ever it is it’s great. The colors are lovely and soften as the journal is opened. I really love the pattern and how it looks. It’s a nice touch on a nice journal.

Inside there are 160 pages stitched in using the Smythe (the same as the moleskine) style. They lay flat and the pages stay open. I had a few loose stitches in the start of my journal, but it didn’t impact my use. I had absolutely no glue creep between signatures or at the stitches. The block of the journal is affixed to the covers well. Like most journals the spine is stiff at first but then opens flat and is flexible.

Overall I really like the ScribblSheets Orange Opal Edge Journal. With 160 pages I’m not looking at more than 3 or 4 months use before I have to start a new journal, but I like starting a new journal. At $16.99 it’s not cheap but the pretty edge is a nice design element, and while the insides are sturdy and useful, that edge makes this journal stand out. It’s a pretty element that might seem a little frivolous at first, but it’s an understated design element that only the keen observer of your bullet journal will notice, but I notice every time I open up the journal. I like that.

This isn’t going to be your fountain pen journal, but the journal you use on the go with a pencil or gel pen, maybe even a Bic Cristal.

Continue reading

Review: Wing Sung 3013 Vacuum Fountain Pen

The Wing Sung 3013 vacuum filling fountain pen is 100% copy of a TWSBI Vac 700. I won’t lie, I purchased the Wing Sung because the price of the Vac 700 is out of my reach right now  especially for a pen that I wasn’t sure I would like.

For $7.42, the 3013 is a steal. It feels well made when compared to some of my other knock off pens. The body is sturdy, threads well molded, and generally looks pretty nice. The cap continues the TWSBI knock off theme and looks startlingly similar to TWSBI’s caps. The clips is generic looking but sturdy. The finial is plain domed chrome. The cap is postable but throws the balance of the pen off.

The nib is the classic Wing Sung Pilot knock off, and mine is fine, and writes smoothly. The feed is clear plastic and also a Pilot copy. The grip section is round plastic and reminiscent of the TWSBI Diamond series.

The back end has a cap that unscrews. One must be careful to NOT unscrew the silver band just below the cap as that will allow you to removed the mechanism. Once the cap is unscrewed the piston slides in an out much like the plunger on a hypodermic needle.

The mechanism builds up a vacuum until the plunger reaches the bottom of the body of the pen, at which point the vacuum releases and sucks up ink. Getting a full fill takes some work and practice, but once done, this pen sucks up an enormous 2 ml of ink. To compare, most pens take up about 1 to 1.5 ml. A converter gets about .75ml, while a cartridge has around .5 to .75ml. 2ml is a huge amount of ink!

The only problem with it sucking up that huge amount of ink is that only only get to fill it once in a long while, and frankly, I really want to watch this thing suck up ink!

The nib is smooth and the grip is nice. I did fine that the body of the pen is a bit sharp, but this didn’t actually impact my use. The sharp area didn’t rest on my hand or under my fingers. I did use a sharp knife and patience to knock the sharp edge off the body of the pen. I know that the sharp edge was a complaint of some early Vac 700 users.

Overall, I really like this pen. At $7.50 it’s a steal. The combination of the fun filling mechanism, nice heft, and smooth nib makes this an everyday use kind of pen. That is to say, that since I received this pen and filled it I have not put it down. There is no getting around the fact that this pen is a direct rip off of the TWSBI Vac 700. After using this pen, I’m convinced I will like the Vac 700 and I’ll be using the Vac 700 as a carrot on a stick.

Continue reading

Review: Peter Pauper Metal Stencil Bookmark for Bullet Journals

The name of this ruler is ridiculously long. It tells you everything you need to know about what this thing is in one giant mouth full.

I have been eyeballing this stainless steel ruler for a few years. It would go out of stock then jump up to $10 then drop down to $5 and go out of stock before I got home from work. Bonkers.Stencil bookmark for bullet journals

I finally say it was $4.95 again and IN STOCK! After ordering it arrived in a few days. The ruler/bookmark is wonderfully thin. If you ever used an eraser shield, it’s slightly thicker and sturdier. The ruler is laser cut into the metal and looks great with metric on one side and imperial on the other. Between the two are a variety of dashed and solid lines, rectangles and ovals, as well as an assortment of little icons sized for a standard 5 or 6mm dot grid bullet journal.

I purchased this for the bookmark and ruler aspect. I find a thin ruler like this incredibly useful when setting up my bullet journal pages in my Every Thing, Every Where Journal (ETEWJ.) Even better is that a slim ruler can live in the pocket of my ETEWJ and not make a giant bulge to write over.

The ovals and rectangles will be the shapes that I most use in the stencil part of the bookmark. I don’t use icons when I habit track but I did test them out. The stencils work pretty well when used with a fine liner or felt tip pen. It did not work well with any of my gel pens and in fact ruined the tip on an Energel Pro refill! Luckily it was almost dead anyway. I did not test this with a fountain pen, but I would image it would kill the tipping on a good pen.

The little icons did fit in the 5mm squares of my BaronFig journal and I did not think to test them in my work Leuchtturm 1917. While I don’t see myself using the icon stencils in the future, I know a lot of people who are less confident in their ability to draw an envelope than I am, this is for them.

Overall, I really like this as a ruler and as a bookmark. It’s sturdy and the laser etched markings mean than the ruler will last. For $5 this is a great add on to any journal purchase or gift.

The link is an affiliate link to the ‘zon. If you follow the link and make a purchase, Amazon tosses me a few pennies sometimes halves and quarters of pennies. I did purchase this with Ko-Fi funds.

Maker: Writer Processes- Using Docs

A slightly different port today. If you’ve been reading for awhile you know that I write novels (4 years winning NaNoWriMo) and I’ve been using Google Docs for this since, well, what seems like forever. I adopted it early on as a way to work on the go and on my breaks at the DayJob, as well as for my thesis in graduate school. My work style has evolved as docs has evolved. Let me go over my current method then we’ll compare how other writers’ tools work in future posts.

Docs is primarily a place to churn out words, and it’s great for drafting large volumes of words especially if you are collaborating with others. Several self published authors I know use docs as their primary writing tool. In part because it’s free and available on all their devices. It also makes it easy to share with beta readers and editors.

Docs has offered an outlining tool that allows you to create an outline and add headings. The headings appear on an outline bar to the left of your work area. You can toggle this on and off as you are working. My current method is to outline in a doc as so: (I apologize for this not looking like the outline style in docs, it did not translate well to WordPress.)

  • Title of Piece
  • Chapter 1(This gets a description)
  • Scene 1 (one sentence description)
  • Scene 2
  • Chapter 2
  • Scene 1
  • Scene 2
  • And so on.
Outline

This is what it looks like in the writing area.

Outline on left bar.

This is what the outline looks like on the left bar of the page. It looks very much like a table of contents.

All of this appears in the sidebar as soon as I designate them with a heading style. This is easily accomplished with a quick highlight and select.

The side bar lets me navigate through my document quickly and easily. Say I want to work on scene 5 in chapter 10, well I can easily find that one the side bar and navigate to it. Or if I decide to change a character’s last name in chapter 3, and she’s not mentioned again until chapter 10 I can toggle to chapter 10 and leave myself a note, “Don’t forget Jane’s last name is now Dough not Doe.” I can highlight this or use a comment on the chapter title.

How has this worked in practice? Really well. It’s simple and brainless. While I didn’t plot my 2020 NaNoWriMo novel once I started and got an idea of the characters and setting, I plugged in chapter ideas and went back into the story and added in scenes and chapters as I needed them. It was very flexible. I wrote some of the scenes out of order and then cut and pasted them into the spaces where they needed to be. This was easily accomplished by toggling through the chapter and scene headings on the outline bar.

I use a similar method for the blog. I write a long list of the items I have for review, and turn each one into a heading:

  • AmazonBasics Mechanical Pencil
  • Wing Sung 601
  • Jinhao 51A

Super easy and this lets me quickly and easily toggle through my list of items and find them when it comes time to post them to the blog, then it’s a quick copy and paste.

I mentioned in a recent post that docs worked better than ever before for my NaNo win. In past wins I broke my novel up into 10 to 15K docs. After that loading took forever and it wouldn’t register as I typed, then an entire paragraph would slooooowwwwly load. It was enraging. I’d stop typing waiting for the doc to catch up with me. Loading the doc when I opened it would also take forever, the larger the doc the longer it would take. I remember waiting for one doc to load and it took a full five minutes! Not this year, even at 40k words the doc loaded quickly and kept up with my typing. It wasn’t until I hit 45k that I noted longer load times and any lag in what I had typed loading.

Some positives:

  • It’s free
  • Available anywhere I take my phone or have access to a computer with wifi.
  • Works well on all my devices, now that I have docs sideloaded onto my Kindle.
  • Outlining is fast and easy.
  • Load times and lag are better than ever before.
  • Many add ons to make it work better.
  • Super easy to just open up a doc and write.

Some Negatives:

  • Moving scenes and chapters is hard if you work out of order, cut and paste can leave you with missing work, create a copy before you cut and paste stuff!
  • Significant lag times at 50K or more words, even on high speed internet.
  • Add ons can slow the app way down.
  • No concentration/typewriter mode. (One of my favorite tools in JotterPad and Dabble.)
  • No dark mode.
  • Uses Google Drive storage and does not back up elsewhere, so if google deletes your account, well, you’re SOL.

Obviously this has worked for me thus far. When I mentioned the idea of “if it ain’t broke why try to fix it?” to a friend, she suggested that I might LIKE the ease of use of a few other apps and sites. That the ability to easily drag and drop a chapter like a file is worth learning a new process. I’ve requested review access to a few pieces of writing software and apps. Thus far the learning curve isn’t that high and they are easy to use. More on that in future reviews.

Review: Midori Caliper

I have an inexpensive pair of Vernier Calipers they include a depth gauge. The pair I have are shiny chromed steel. They reflect a blinding glint of light. I find them pleasing on a number of levels.

They photograph poorly. All that reflective chrome just buggers up every photo I’ve taken with them. My camera’s sensor goes wild with it. When I saw the all black with white printing Midori Caliper on Notegeist, I hit ADD TO CART darn fast.

Can one have too many pairs of calipers? 

The Midori calipers will never compare to my chromed stainless steel set, but they aren’t meant to- they are for ease of photography when I start another nerdy post like the pencil points post.

They are made of lightweight glossy plastic and are well made. The slide is effortless but does not lock into place. I am going to tighten the slide to see if that helps hold it into place. 

Overall this inexpensive caliper does the job of measuring and does so well enough. It photographs well which was the whole point of purchase. Continue reading

Review: AmazonBasics Mechanical Drafting Pencil

You might ask yourself, “Less didn’t you learn your lesson from the AmazonBasics fountain pen?” I did, but I ordered these on the same day. The fountain pen was much easier to review since well, it was not great. The pencil on the other hand was more difficult. Why? Because it’s unusually good. No really.

Okay first off let’s talk about looks. It’s okay in the looks department. It’s plain silver with blue accent (red if you go with 0.7mm) and a simple rolled clip, with the Basics logo in right hand orientation. It’s minimalist in looks. And really, not bad. But it does have a feeling of being a knock off of another brand, and I do wonder who manufactured it for Amazon, because it’s made in Japan, and for other reasons that I’ll harp on in a moment.

Breaking it down, it’s mostly metal with a plastic sleeve inside. The entire body of the pencil is aluminum and steel. The bit of plastic inside is what holds the leads. Everything screws securely together. The cap covers a nugget of eraser that is useless in size. I’m disappointed that they didn’t include a lead clearing wire in the eraser end, but you can’t have it all.  The cap is nice enough with a rolled end that is open. If you lose the eraser you’ll end up dealing with your leads spilling out.

One of the reasons I want to know who made the pencil for Amazon are those leads. I’m not usually a fan of HB leads, usually they are trash and I replace them with NanoDia leads in B grade. Not these, oh now, sign me up for a tube of these AmazonBasics HB leads. Buttery smooth without that plasticy feeling of some leads. These are better than the NanoDia HB leads and look dark. They feel smooth too. So nice.

The pencil has a retracting pipe and a double nock. I won’t lie, I was very confused at first. I kept clicking the nock to see how much lead was deployed and kept retracting the nock. I only discovered the extremely gentle second nock for lead deployment when fidgeting with the pencil. The first click exposes the pipe and a small amount of lead. The next click pushes out about 1mm of lead, and every click after gives you another mm of lead. Perfect. To retract the pencil, you click the nock fully again while pushing the lead into the pipe. The tip then retracts. Easy.

I found the weight of this pencil to be perfect. The balance is slightly toward the front of the pencil, which I find to be very comfortable, it is a subtle shift in weight that I really appreciate.

I also really appreciate the packaging. Unlike the fountain pen this pencil is sent in the usual AmazonBasics cardboard box with clever slots to hold the item. The pencil is in a simple plastic sleeve in the box. With the exception of the plastic sleeve the rest of the packaging can go into cardboard recycling.

Overall I found this to be a perfectly enjoyable mechanical pencil with features not usually found on one so inexpensive. It’s surprisingly well built and the double nock and retractable pipe make this an excellent choice for someone looking for a gift for a kid or a pencil to toss into a bag for everyday use. At $9 bucks it’s money well spent. Now if they made it in matte black it’d be killer. Continue reading