Tag Archives: cheapie

Review: Brandless Softcover Notebook 3-pack

I reviewed the Brandless gel pens over here. My wife likes to add on a new stationery item with every order as a surprise to me. 🙂

Like all the other Brandless items a 3-pack is $3. Each notebook contain 30 sheets or 60 pages. There are multiple signatures in each notebook and they are stitched together and then glued to the cover. The cover is soft and pretty floppy, it is impossible to write in hand with these notebooks. That said they are about composition notebook size and fit into any cover that fits comp books. The corners are square and not rounded.

The matte cover features ridges of texture and a white area to write into, no Brandless info on the front cover. Discreetly on the back is the brandless logo.

The paper inside is college ruled in dark gray. The ruling is dark enough that it doesn’t blend into the background but stands out. The paper is thin, very thin. It does not work well with fountain pens. Some of my inks feathered, but not all. Most all had show through and many had bleed through. Even some of my gel pens bleed through the page. The paper responded best with ballpoint and pencil. Pencil was really nice on this paper.

These aren’t great notebooks but they aren’t bad if you stick to pencil and are just looking for something to jot down a few study notes or thoughts on book reviews. They don’t feel special or particularly nice, but they are okay. It’s not a bad way to get your Brandless order up for free shipping. Continue reading

Review: Pen+ Gear Graph Ruled Index Cards

I pick up index cards for no real reason, other than I like to use them as convenient scrap paper. I used to have dreams of making a Hipster PDA  and becoming super organized and efficient.I much prefer bound pocket notebooks. That said I always have my vintage index card holder on my desk, a few 3×5 cards wrapped in a Gigante card in my Sinclair. I keep them ready for action. INdex cards get used for making notes while on the phone, ideas get jotted down, reminders to myself are scribbled, and plot points are recorded. My point being, I use index cards as throw away scrap paper. I have never expected fountain pen compatibility, though I always test FP on any new cards I buy, you know, just in case.

On a whim I purchased a pack of 100 Pen+Gear graph ruled index cards for 48 cents. The cards are bright white with a sharp bright blue ruling. The ruling is 5×5 squares per inch. On many of my cards the ruling is off around the edges- it’s straight but larger in size. This doesn’t bother me, but I KNOW that this will bug the shit out of some of you. Just take a close look at your package.

I tested all my currently inked fountain pens, gel ink, liquid ink, pencils, and other writing tools I had on hand, and found that my package performed really really well. I had no feathering, bleed through, or other issues. Both sides of each card were totally usable. My pens stayed true to their nib size and ink looked fantastic on this bright white paper. At least one person in the RSVP FB group reported that they had issues with their fountain pens on the paper- feathering and bleed through. Most people in that thread reported no issues with their pens and results similar to mine.

So this brings me to an observation in my experience with buying P+G stuff from Wally World- consistency is an issue. Part of this has to do with how products are sourced by the company- they slap their private label onto the finest cheapest version of that Item that they can find. This year’s Index Cards happen to be really nice for fountain pens, next years? Well we don’t know where they will source those or how they will respond. Last years weren’t very good. As of this writing I cannot determine a good way to tell which package is going to be good. This particular package was Made in India. My suggestion to most people wanting to secure a good index card on the cheap is to stock up on these. Like their pencils you never know when they will change production to a new location and to an inferior product.

Maybe the graph ruled P+G index cards are my key to finally adopting the hipster PDA. Maybe not, but I’m probably going to head to Wally World and pick up a lifetime supply.

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Review: J.Herbin Fountain Pen

I look at this pen as the partner to the J.Herbin refillable rollerball, which seems to have been around for awhile. There is a reason I see it as a partner and it’s hard not to compare the two, as the body and cap and even grip are nearly identical. They differ only in the writing point and the color of the J. Herbin logo on the cap. The fountain is silver gray and the rollerball sports red. Both take standard small international cartridges. An yeah, I tried to stuff a long cart in, no bueno.JHerbin Fountain

The plastic of the body and cap is not crystal clear but has a milky appearance. I suspect this is due to the type of plastic used, as the body and cap have a certain amount of flex. The grip section is a different kind of plastic which is crystal clear and hard with zero flexibility. The cap snaps on for capping with an audible and to me, satisfying, click. For posting, and you must post or the pen is too miniscule, even for my lady hands. It friction fits. I found that I had to jam it on there or it would work it’s way off.JHerbin FountainThe nib at first use/inking/ out of the display (no packaging or box) worked well. I was surprised at it’s smoothness, even with the dry J.Herbin cart I loaded up. I, of course, polished it up a bit, and frankly the nib is great for the price of $15. The nib looks to be a fine or medium, depending on what  you measure it against, I’d put it as right between the two. There are no other options, purely one size fits all on this baby.JHerbin Fountain

I’ve been using this for about a month and have just burned through my mixed cart of Noodler’s Nikita and J. Herbin Indien Orange. I’m pretty happy with the performance and expense. This pen was $15 to the rollerball’s $12 and I find this to be the better value of the two. The nib performs well for this price range and the flow is great, even with dry J.Herbin ink. All in all a good value for $15.JHerbin Fountain

This would be an excellent give for someone looking for a cheap pen to leave in the office, gift to a preteen, or teen. It would be a great beginner pen. This and a few packs of J. Herbin or Diamine inks carts and a journal would make a fantastic gift.JHerbin Fountain JHerbin Fountain

For my pen hacking readers, this is a pen that maybe up for eyedropper mod. With only 3 small, tiny, holes in the back end, this is a prime first seal-it-up pen hack. The little holes could easily be filled with a small dose of E6000 and the threads treated with silicone grease. It would hold a decent amount of ink, probably triple the amount of the little short carts. I might try this and report back.