September 2015

Wopex vs Noris


After a bit more than three years and many posts later the Bleistift Facebook page reached 100 likes this week. Well, I have to confess that I cheated and invited some of my friends to like the page, anyway: next aim: 200 likes by 2018, but that will be more difficult, as I have already invited some friends plus some people will probably unlike the page over the next three years. We will see…

Wopex vs Noris

Anyway, onto the real blog post:

You might remember the blog post about the Staedtler 501 180 sharpener. Staedtler’s rotary sharpeners start with 501 and their Wopex pencils are associated with the number 180. Despite this sharpener being officially available in the UK I didn’t come across it yet, so I keep using my Deli to make a great Wopex point. Here’s a comparison of a Wopex, sharpened in a Deli 0635 and a Noris, sharpened in the same Deli.

A Wopex sharpened in the Deli 0635
A Wopex sharpened in the Deli 0635



A Noris sharpened in the Deli 0635
A Noris sharpened in the Deli 0635

If you like this you might also like Sharpening a Wopex.

More Wopex posts can be found at



Pencils and other things

Pencil Revolution


No clipboard as we know it

tobewoodenboard4The Banditapple carnet x ToBe wooden board

Because of Kent from Pencilog I got to know Arnie, the guy behind Banditapple, and because of Arnie I got to know Eun Suk Bang, the designer behind ToBe Story.

I really love the Banditapple carnets, I must have used them for more than five years now (just because my first review of them was a bit more than five years ago) and together with Atoma they are definitely one of my two favourite notebooks. Banditapple has the better paper, Atoma is more practical in terms of reorganising/reshuffling things around within the notebook.

My recent Lamy Line Friends and Banditapple carnet order also included two items from Eun Suk. One of them was the “wooden board”, being described as a little table to write on. The idea came from the fact the carnets are made from a tree, as should the surface be you put them on.

tobewoodenboard2The wooden board is not only designed by her, she is also making them herself. Each board takes three to five days to manufacture, which involves cutting beech plywood with a CNC machine as well as applying three oil coatings before they get to dry.

They were sold in May this year as the Banditapple carnet x ToBe: wooden board. The price was $15. It was one of a number of side projects Banditapple was taking part in, all with low numbers of items being handmade and all of the items sold out very fast. There’s a good chance the wooden board will be available again if there is enough demand.


If have used the board many times when I needed a surface to write on and when the board was nearby. It was always very hand. There are three strings, so you can attach three notebooks if you want, but I usually just used it as a surface to write on.  tobewoodenboard6

Despite my admiration for the simple beauty of this board I have to say that there are also drawbacks, mainly that I haven’t figured out whether there’s an easy way of writing on the left pages of your notebooks if you use the wooden board as a clipboard and that the wooden board is only useful is you have it with you, but for practical reasons you usually wouldn’t have the board with you when you need it, unless you use it as a stationary notebook holder / organiser. In any case, it is a beautiful board!



Just a reminder, since I changed the WordPress Theme a few months ago most images are available in high resolution. Open them in a new tab for the hires version.

You can read more Banditapple related posts here. The Well-Appointed Desk has reviewed them, too.

You can read more about the John Lewis pencil used in the last photo in this blog post.

You can read more about the Noris colour used in the last photo in this blog post.

Tasty Cedar

There are quite a few cedar wood related blog posts by now, so I have created a page where I link to them all.

I made a recent non-pencil relates sighting of cedar wood on the Finland episode of
the TV programme The Hairy Bikers’ Northern Exposure. Our two favourite bikers were preparing salmon on cedar wood planks in front of a fire …looked really tasty.

Salmon on cedar planks (Image © BBC)
Salmon on cedar planks (Image © BBC)

The screenshots in this blog post has been taken from Episode Four of The Hairy Bikers’ Northern Exposure. I believe that the use of the screenshot shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

Sharpening pencils…

Just two quick points to mention:

I found this by coincidence.
There’s a TV show from Germany, where the winner gets at least half a million Euros. The first task (out of thirteen) in a recent episode was to sharpen a pencil. There’s a video on their website, but as far as I know you can’t watch it outside the German speaking countries …so unfortunately I wasn’t able to see it looks like when you sharpen a pencil for so much money.

As mentioned previously Sean posted some exciting reports about his recent trip to Japan (Tokyo and Osaka). I have now seen photos of a very cool pencil sharpening knife he bought there. Dare I say it? Depending on your taste you might think this is potentially even more exciting than the Faber-Castell knife. It’s called the Scutter, made by Yoshiharu, and it’s a pencil sharpening knife with a guard, similar to a Lancashire peeler – but it’s for sharpening pencils, not for peeling vegetables.  As far as I can tell the price in Japan is quite cheap, between ¥300 and ¥400 (~$2.90; £1.90; €2.60). You can find a photo on the manufacturer’s web site. I hope there will be a blog post about this knife on Sean’s blog.

Price and exchange rates: September 2015

Zebra DelGuard

I realise that the blog post about the force needed for the sliding sleeve of different mechanical pencils was not very popular, so please bear with me for a similar blog post, before I get back to more traditional blog posts.

In January this year I bought the Zebra DelGuard mechanical pencil in 0.5mm. You might have come across it on Lexikaliker, where it was mentioned in October 2014. I bought mine from Japan, through Amazon Marketplace where it was sold as the Delgado pencil, instead of DelGuard, based on the Katakana spelling of the pencil’s Japanese name.

I paid £5, but I noticed that it is now available for £4.26, including free delivery.

Two different mechanisms

This mechanical pencil’s ‘specialty’ are two different mechanisms that help prevent the leads from breaking.

If there is too much axial pen force, i.e. pressure is applied to the lead towards the centre of the pen, the lead will retract, i.e. it is cushioned, somehow similar to the Faber-Castell TK_Fine Vario L.

If there is too much normal pen force, i.e. pressure is applied to the side of the lead, a protective guard will extend to protect the lead from breaking. This guard can obviously only extend a certain amount, so it is possible to break an excessively long lead, more about this later.

Axial vs Normal Pen Force
Axial vs Normal Pen Force (open in new Tab for details)

Not working as advertised?

The packaging states that ‘If you advance lead more than 4 times breakage is possible‘. I wonder whether they either explained it wrong or whether I got a dodgy DelGuard, because using my normal writing angle on my DelGuard the lead will also break if the lead has been advanced 4 times. More on the clicks later. Maybe the text should read  ‘If you advance lead 4 or more times’? Maybe other DelGuard users can comment on this.

Comparison with another mechanical pencil

I compared the pressure that will cause the lead to break to another mechanical pencil. I chose the Kuru Toga, previously mentioned here, thinking that both are from Japan, so there is a higher probability of the leads they come with being similar in terms of softness and strength [1]Comparing the breakage point to a pencil with much harder or softer lead would be less exciting.. Both mechanical pencils were tested with the leads they came with using an angle of 45°.

What force is needed to break a lead of what length.
What force is needed to break a lead of what length.

The axis at the bottom shows the lead length in millimetres, with the number of clicks marked as well. You will probably have to enlarge this image to see it well (right click and open in new tab/window). The axis on the left shows the force needed, in Newton, to break the lead.

To put things in context: The highest force needed for moving sliding sleeves was 1 N, but even to break a very long lead you need more than 2 N.

Personally I don’t extend the lead more than 0.5 mm or 1 mm, so I don’t really have problems with lead breakage anyway, but that didn’t prevent me from getting a DelGuard to marvel at the engineering ingenuity that built this pencil.

As you can see, the longer the lead extended on the Kuru Toga (red line) the easier it is to break.

For the DelGuard (blue line) it is virtually impossible to break the lead if it”s extended less than 1.5 mm, because of the guard that will extend. The dotted blue line represents the situation if you count bits of the lead being chipped off as breakage, the solid blue line represents proper breakage.

The warnings that came with the diagram from the Color Eno blog post apply here as well [2]Here’s a copy and paste: I have neither the training, nor experience, nor the equipment to take these measurements properly, so you better take these measurements with a pinch of salt, or even … Continue reading.

Leads and millimetres

One click on the DelGuard will advance the lead by ~0.52 mm, less than what you get with the Kuru Toga, where one click will advance the lead by ~ 0.57 mm and certainly less than what you got with many pencils reviewed at Dave’s Mechanical Pencils. The break safe ‘zone’ for the extended lead is therefore everything between 0 mm and 1.6 mm. I usually don’t extend the lead more than 1 mm, so the lead is quite safe, but other people might use their pencils in different ways.


Please have a look at this little video I made to see the DelGuard in action (Watch in YouTube for higher resolution).


If you like this blog post you might also like the blog post about the Noris colour wear and tear.


You can find a review of the DelGuard at The Pen Addict and at That One Pen.

You can read more about Axial and Normal Pen Force in this paper. 


1 Comparing the breakage point to a pencil with much harder or softer lead would be less exciting.
2 Here’s a copy and paste: I have neither the training, nor experience, nor the equipment to take these measurements properly, so you better take these measurements with a pinch of salt, or even better with a whole lorryload full of salt.