Yearly Archives: 2015


Labelling notebooks 1

Just a quick blog post about the label roll, mentioned previously. Like Post-Its the label roll is very easy to remove, but sticks well, because the whole back is ‘glued’. I’m using it to label all sort of items, but have now started using it to label Field Notes. I think it’s another great purpose for it.

3M Label Roll, Field Notes and Rustico

I only have three types of Field Notes, but out of those three two, the County Fair edition and the Cherry Wood edition, are difficult to label, so the label roll comes in quite handy.

3M Label Roll, Field Notes and Rustico

3M Label Roll, Field Notes and Rustico

Other notebooks are often easier to label. For Banditapple carnets I use a white pencil1.

Banditapple carnet, labelled with a white pencil

Banditapple carnet, labelled with a white pencil

For Atoma I just use ink.

Labelled Atoma notebooks

Labelled Atoma notebooks

 


You can read more Atoma related posts here.

You can read more Banditapple related posts here.

You can read more about the Rustico Leather Notebook here.

  1. The stamp was done using my block printing kit. []

Lee Valley’s Little Shaver 9

Introduction

I recently bought Lee Valley’s Little Shaver. According to their website the sharpner this replica is based on

was patented by Edward L. McDivitt of Belvidere, Illinois, in 1904. Sold until 1910 under various names including “The Handy Sharpener” and “Little Shaver”, it was offered for a price of $1.00 U.S. ($1.25 for a nickel-plated version); replacement blades were available for 25 cents. (Lee Valley web site)

If you have come across this sharpener before it was most likely in How to Sharpen Pencils by David Rees (p. 103), but it also mentioned very briefly in episode six of the Erasable podcast. My interest in this sharpener got reignited when Sola mentioned it recently. My wife was kind enough to buy me this sharpener for my birthday.

Price

The official price is just under 50 Canadian Dollars, but unfortunately we chose the UPS delivery and I have to tell you, UPS is not exactly modest when it comes to fees. UPS shipping was about half the price of the sharpener, which is fine, but they made a really nice profit when they charged for handling customs clearance, plus they only take cash and don’t provide a receipt(!). It all felt quite dodgy (with no receipt), but otherwise they would have kept the parcel with the sharpener, which got really expensive by now. In the end, including all other costs, I paid quite a bit more than £70 (~$100; €100).

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

Build Quality

The sharpener feels built like a tank. It is quite heavy and as far as I can judge it is very well made. Lee Valley described it as “cast steel with a black gloss powder-coated finish”. Lee Valley started offering the Little Shaver Pencil Sharpener in 2011

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

How to sharpen

To sharpen a pencil you place your pencil in the support notch and move the hinged lever arm, similar to sharpening with a knife, to shave wood off. The lever arm is constructed in such a way that the blade cannot cut into the cast steel by mistake, as it will slide along what I can only describe as a sledge, the sledge will ensure you always keep the minimum distance from the cast steel. You then rotate the pencil, I think the official recommendation is you rotate it by 1/8 and repeat this step.

Not easy to use

To be honest, I’m not the most skilful person on the planet, but I am not exactly dexterously challenged either. I have no problems sharpening a pencil with a knife in a few seconds, producing a fairly nice point, but I really struggled with the Little Shaver. By now, several butchered pencils later, I achieve better results, but I still find sharpening with a good knife easier.

Problems

I think my problems stem from three different sources.

  1. The blade either wasn’t anywhere near as sharp as a knife’s blade or this saver’s blade got dull very fast
  2. Pencils don’t stay in place in the support notch. When you try to shave wood off with the blade the pencil will be pushed forward which means the newly created point will be shaved off next time you use the blade. Instead of sharpening the pencil from all sides towards one point every move of the blade will shorten the pencil and create a new point further down
  3. You might very well think that the sledge is there to keep the blade at the correct distance, when you sharpen the pencil, but it is (probably) only there to prevent you from ramming the blade into the cast steel support notch. You have to keep the right distance for optimal sharpening yourself.

Solutions?

The first problem can be fixed by sharpening the blade.

To prevent the pencil from moving forward, which was the second problem I listed, you can grip it very tight near the border of the sharpener. This will help to stop it moving forward. If you have a very sharp blade and don’t take too much wood off in one go it should be possible to hold the pencil in the right place and to prevent it from moving forward1.

I guess dealing with the last problem requires some practice. Somehow I find it not that easy to keep the correct distance with the Little Shaver’s blade, even though I have no problems doing something similar with a knife. Based on other reviews of the Little Shaver I would say it can’t be too difficult, but then, if you think of buying the Little Shaver, keep in mind that these reviews are by people whose hobby is woodworking.

Conclusion

It’s one of the most interesting and unusual sharpeners that is still being produced today. As this is not a mass produced product the price can’t be very cheap, but there are much more expensive sharpeners out there, e.g. from Cara d’Ache, El Casco or Graf von Faber-Castell. I think I’d definitely buy one again if it wasn’T for all the fees associated with importing goods into Europe.

What Lee Valley say in their YouTube video is certainly true: this sharpener has nothing to do with efficiency and more to do with fun and nostalgia. It is fun to use and there’s also the challenge of trying to produce a better and better point using the Little Shaver.

Lee Valley's Little Shaver

If you liked or disliked this blog post, why not leave a comment? I’m always happy to read or reply to comments.


Price: October 2015

Exchange rates: November 2015

As usual, please open images in a new tab to see them in high resolution.

To watch the videos in full resolution please watch them on YouTube.

You can find reviews of this sharpener at Popular Woodworking and Full Chisel.

Since this blog post comes with videos: At Lexikaliker you can enjoy what I think must be the world’s first ever pencil blog post with a video.

  1. as moving forward would result in the next cut of the blade shortening it again instead of shaping the existing point []

Sean, Sport and Dr. Martens

Another blog post made up of different small bits put together.

Another blow your socks off blog post by Sean

First: a link to Sean’s blog. He has written another amazing and detailed blog post of the imho highest quality you will find in the stationery blogging world.

This blog post was a cooperation of Sean and Lexikaliker. What else did you expect if the greatest minds of pencil blogging get together..

Bleyweißstefftmacher: The Vagaries of Pencil History

A Question of Sport

I’ve never watched A Question of Sport ( am not interested in sports), but when I turned the telly on this weekend I saw this pencil (held by Osi Umenyiora). The pencil looks like the Impega / Lyreco to me. They are extremely common in offices in the UK. It’s the only wood cased pencil my employer provides and in the past Henrik has told me that this pencil is also very common in offices in Denmark. I think Henrik’s employer also provides them for staff (we both work in education). This is not the first appearance of the Impega / Lyreco on a BBC show. Who knows, maybe this sis the pencil you find in the BBC’s stationery cupboard. Contestants on other BBC shows tend to use ballpoint pens – but on QI you can find other cool stationery, like Muji’s notebooks.

An Impega / Lyreco pencil on A Question of Sport (Image © BBC)

An Impega / Lyreco pencil on A Question of Sport (Image © BBC)

There is a similar looking pencil from Lyra, but this one is most likely the Impega / Lyreco pencil.

Dr. Martens kids logo pencilDr. Martens pencil

I am not sure whether Dr. Martens is popular outside Europe, so just a quick explanation: It’s a British company selling WWII German army style boots in all sorts of colours. They also sell other shoes, but with similar soles.

I came across their kids line logo this weekend. It is a pencil, but it’s not any pencil – it’s a Staedtler Noris style pencil.

 


The screenshot in this blog post has been taken from Episode 13 of Series 45 of A Question of Sport. I believe that the use of the screenshot shown in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Peanuts Orenz 0.2

Today: another Orenz related blog post.

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz

Vintage Peanuts

Cover of the Atari VCS 2600 Snoopy cartridge

Image © probably Atari

My new Orenz reminds me of a summer probably about 30 years ag when I was playing Snoopy and the Red Baron1 (borrowed from a friend) on my Atari VCS 2600. Around that time I also had a red, mechanical Snoopy pencil2. I even think that the Snoopies printed on that pencil were quite similar to the ones you can find on the Orenz.

I bought this ‘Vintage Peanuts – Snoopy’ pencil from a Taiwanese eBay seller and paid £11.65 (~ $18; €16.35) – £8.15 for the pencil and £3.50 for postage.

A use for the Orenz

Like all Orenz pencil it is great for someone with small handwriting or if you need to make small annotations in documents.

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz

 

Price

This is actually my third Orenz. My blue one arrived in a letter from America, thanks to Shangching‘s generosity and my white one was bought from Amazon for £4.23 (~ $6.50; €5.90).

Vintage Peanuts Snoopy Pentel Orenz

 

 

Peculiarities of 0.2mm leads

Unfortunately there is one of the problems you will find with 0.2 mm leads that you probably won’t encounter with more traditional mechanical pencils. When I got the white Orenz and tried to use it for the first time the 0.2 mm leads are so light, the static charge of the plastic barrel made them stick to the inside barrel of the pencil and it wasn’t possible to get the leads to forward the normal way. In the end I had to take a lead and feed it though the sleeve / front of the pencil. Once that sleeve was used up the pencil was clogged up, too – but it was then possible to unclog the pencil by disassembling it. Not great, but still much better than the kind of mess I experienced with a Rotring Newton.

0.2 mm leads, stuck to the barrel because of a static charge

0.2 mm leads, stuck to the barrel because of a static charge

 


Price: January 2015 (white Orenz) / October 2015 (Snoopy Orenz)

Exchange rates: November 2015

As usual, please click on the images for a larger version or open in a new tab for a really big version of the image.

You can read more about the Orenz in this blog post about sliding sleeves and this blog post about the force needed to slide a sleeve.

You can read more about the Peanuts 60th Anniversary Moleskine in this blog post.

You can find reviews of the Orenz at Lexikaliker (Google Translation), The Pen Addict, One Lone Man’s Pens and Pencils and So I Herd You Like Pencils.

The cover of the Atari VCS cartridge has been taken from Wikipedia, where it has been provided by user NBATrades. I believe that the use of the cover falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. I still remember the title screen music []
  2. Now that I think of it I think it might have been a Zebra pencil, but I am not sure. The pencil should still be in my mother’s house so I’ll check next time I’ll be there. []

Pimp my Rotring rapid PRO 0.5

This is a follow-up blog post to my earlier blog post about the Rotring rapid PRO 0.5.

The Rotring rapid PRO is a stunningly beautiful mechanical pencil, at least the black version is …for my taste. As you might remember the sliding sleeve was the worst performing sliding sleeve I have seen so far.

My Rotring rapid PRO 0.5 taken apart

The purpose of a sliding sleeve

The main purpose of a sliding sleeve is, in my opinion, to slide back while you write so that you can keep writing without having to press the button / use whatever mechanism there is to advance the lead.

If the sliding sleeve doesn’t slide back easily you might as well got for a retractable sleeve, one that is either all the way in or out. This make the pencil pocket safe and allows work that is more suitable for drafting purposes, too.

On the unmodified rapid PRO 0.5 you had to use a force of about 1.2 N to get the sleeve to move – far too much to make the sleeve slide back automatically while you write.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve

The sleeve

Pimp my sliding sleeve

Having never explored how the sliding sleeve mechanism works I assumed ‘simple’ friction is responsible for the force needed to slide the sleeve. The problem is: I thought it’s the friction between the sleeve and grip section holding the sleeve (the grip section can be seen on the left in the first picture). To reduce the friction I took the sleeve out and started removing material from the sleeve on my Spyderco Sharpmaker. This made the sleeve thinner, something I had hoped would reduce the friction, but after a while I noticed that this treatment didn’t help making the sleeve slide easier at all.

The Rotring rapid PRO 0.5's sleeve on a Spyderco Sharpmaker

Trying to reduce the friction – the wrong way: the sleeve on a Sharpmaker

I then figured out that the friction holding the sleeve in place must be caused by the white plastic holder at the bottom of the sleeve. I started using the file from my Swiss Army knife1 to remove some of the plastic, i.e. making the plastic holder narrower, but that took too long, so in the end I just cut bits of the plastic off with the knife.

This time it worked. Great!

Trying to file some of the plastic off....

Trying to file some of the sleeve holder’s plastic off….

From 1.2 N to 0.2 N

The result: You now only need about 0.2 N to slide the sleeve of my rapid PRO, which makes it suitable for writing without having to advance the lead all the time. This is an amazing result – because of the bigger lead diameter you can’t compare an 0.5 mm sleeve directly to the 0.2 mm sleeve of the Orenz. Just the friction caused by the 0.5 mm lead in the rapid PRO’s sleeve (i.e. just these two parts, ‘outside’ the pencil) means that you need 0.1 N just to slide the sleeve down the lead – that’s without the additional force needed to slide the sleeve within the pencil barrel/ grip section.

If I’d have to do it all again I obviously wouldn’t make the metal sleeve narrower. It made the sleeve a bit more wobbly, but it is not really an issue. It is certainly still less wobbly than a Kuru Toga or Muji’s flat clip mechanical pencil.

That's one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.

That’s one small scrape off [a] sleeve, one giant leap in the friction chart.


More about the Cloud Book in the blog post, I’m still using it regularly.

  1. Fun fact: I got this knife from my godfather in the 1980s and I believe it is the same model as the one that the astronauts used on the Space Shuttle, just mine has a cork screw instead of a screw driver. []