Sharpeners


Faber-Castell’s Goldfaber pencil set 2

Helping Hands

A few weeks ago David from Helping Hands Craft contacted me. He asked me if I want to review any of their products. I wasn’t aware of their shop before he contact me but was quite impressed by their selection of Faber-Castell products. As a review item I picked the Goldfaber pencil set for £4.50. Looking through their Faber-Castell items I was positively surprised to see other unusual items, for example

The Goldfaber pencil set

Back to the less exotic Faber-Castell item I want to write about today: The Goldfaber set contains

  • 4 Goldfaber HB pencils,
  • a sharpener (presumably from Eisen [1]an underrated sharpener brand I have been occasionally mentioning over the last twelve years),
  • and the big version of my favourite eraser [2]find out more in this 2010 blog post.

The Goldfaber pencils are made in Indonesia, just like the Columbus, its Irish cousin, and the Bonanza, its Arabic [3]The Bonanza used to be more widely available, but seems to be difficult to get outside the Middle East cousin. The pencil set is marked as being Made in Germany, so I was initially surprised and thought Goldfaber production has moved back to Germany, but when I checked with Faber-Castell they confirmed that this is a mistake and that they will fix this in the future. They have also confirmed that the Goldfaber is made in Indonesia. Unfortunately that’s as far as I got. My further request to get my suspicion regarding the wood being used confirmed was not successful.

Goldfaber 1221

The Goldfaber 1221 pencil is a nice writer. It is HB but writes darker than a Castell 9000 in B. I am not surprised though – I always found the 9000 to be lighter than similar grades in other pencils. Pearson’s Graphite 2015 confirms this, the Goldfaber HB is listed with a darkness of 12, the Castell 9000 B with a darkness of 8 [4]higher value = darker. The wood being used in the Goldfaber is also very good. For the price you pay the quality is excellent, but it can’t compete with high-end pencils from Faber-Castell or other brands. Out of the four pencils from the set one is slightly bent, two could have a better centred lead and all four don’t have a perfect paintjob. These small shortcomings don’t detract from the positive impression left by the dark graphite and the nice wood, especially not at this price [5]Eraser and sharpener are approximately half the value of the £4.50. There was also a faint smell of paint when the Goldfabers were fresh out of the box, something Faber-Castell’s Castell 9000 with its water-based varnish doesn’t suffer from, but the smell disappeared after a while.

Sharpener and eraser

The German-made sharpener, presumably an Eisen 040, does an excellent job, as does my favourite eraser, the Malaysian-made 187120, a dust free / no dust eraser.

A video with an overview

Conclusion

Overall, this is a very nice pencil set, especially if you want a nice eraser and want a small sharpener and don’t need it to be a container sharpener.


Just to spell it out, I have not been paid for this blog post or for any other blog posts.

References

References
1an underrated sharpener brand I have been occasionally mentioning over the last twelve years
2find out more in this 2010 blog post
3The Bonanza used to be more widely available, but seems to be difficult to get outside the Middle East
4higher value = darker
5Eraser and sharpener are approximately half the value of the £4.50

Birthdays, retirements and the Noris 7

After teasing the new Noris sharpener 511 120 on two occasions [1]Happy Birthday Noris and More about the upcoming Noris 511 120 sharpener it’s time to show you the real thing here..

I was told that the 511 120 is already available in shops, but here in the UK we are just coming out of lockdown so I have not had a chance yet to see this sharpener in the wild [2]Mine was sent from Germany..

The 511 120 is a nice addition to the Noris line in the Noris anniversary year. You can see it in action in the video below.

By now the English-language anniversary web site has also had an overhaul and, like the German version, it now includes birthday greetings from Noris fans. So far that’s Brad (the Pen Addict), Stephen (the Pencil Talk Editor), famous Disney comic artist Massimo Fecchi, Shangching from East West Everywhere and me. I hope there will be even more in the future.

In Europe, you mainly associate the Noris name with the yellow and black hexagonal pencil, but the Noris didn’t start with that look and even though the yellow and black Noris, the 120, must be the most popular Noris it is by no means the only Noris product. There are also Noris pencils available in a triangular shape, as coloured pencils, sharpeners, erasers and in some markets, you get different colours than in others. Look for example at these nice Noris colours from Iran, the erasable red version (14450-2PP2) from Japan, the learner’s stylus 119 20 that comes with a free app.

Helmut Hufnagl

There are also some news in the Noris anniversary year that are good [3]for Helmut and bad [4]for stationery fans at the same time. Helmut Hufnagl, the designer of the 511 120 and many other exciting Staedtler products, is starting his well-deserved retirement at the end of this month. If you are interested in functional and affordable stationery have a look at this list of blog posts that mentions some of the products he designed.

References

References
1Happy Birthday Noris and More about the upcoming Noris 511 120 sharpener
2Mine was sent from Germany.
3for Helmut
4for stationery fans

Masuwa’s pencil knife 3

Masuwa “Pensil sharpner”

One of the latest additions to my assortment of pencil sharpeners is the rather beautiful pencil knife from Masuwa.

The pencil knife is available in different versions. This is the version that comes in a beautiful case in either cherry or walnut wood. I picked cherry wood as the walnut version, even though it is also very beautiful, looked a bit too serious for my current taste.

The set comes with a bit of ‘paper work’ (see image above), some little feet you can put on the bottom of your wooden case and it comes, of course, with the star of the set: the pencil knife (wrapped in paper in the image above and unwrapped in the image below) as well as the sandpaper-like surface at the bottom of the case (visible in the image below) that can be used to shape the graphite point.

I hope you agree that this set is stunningly handsome.

The blade comes with a notch similar to the one you can find on the blade of an electrician’s knife. It is also extremely sharp as you can see in the video I link to in this blog post [1]I actually linked to the video in the Reddit pencil group, but unfortunately the moderators removed it without any explanation..

The end of the handle shows the manufacturer’s mark.

The design of the box means that the knife disappears in a slot at the bottom of the case. There is an equivalent slot in the lid to enable the lid to sit perfectly on top. There is however nothing to securely hold the lid in places. If you want to take this case with you you will need to secure it with a rubber band or maybe with a more elegant solution I didn’t come up with yet.

The end of the case near the ‘sandpaper’ (more about that in my video) is lowered to create a nice angle when you use the ‘sandpaper’ and to hold pencil shavings if necessary.

The box is well made, not only on the inside, but also from the outside – and the lid fits exactly.

Be aware though, the look will change very soon. Any graphite dust will seep into and saturate the porous wooden surface and will be more or less impossible to get out. I tried to clean the wood using different (non-destructive) means and was unsuccessful. You probably best try to convince yourself that this is an example of 用美 [2]Lexikaliker wrote a blog post about Yo no bi. – beauty through use, like for example a nicely aged product made from leather that changes over time and shows signs of use.

You can also get a cheaper version of this knife with a much simpler rest instead of a case.

Thanks to Stephen who made me aware of this pencil knife.

To finish off: a video from the manufacturer:

References

References
1I actually linked to the video in the Reddit pencil group, but unfortunately the moderators removed it without any explanation.
2Lexikaliker wrote a blog post about Yo no bi.

More about the upcoming Noris 511 120 sharpener 2

The new sharpener on the block

When I saw the Noris 511 120 Sharpener, mentioned in the previous blog post, my first thought was that Helmut Hufnagl was probably involved in the development of this sharpener. Two reasons: like the 562 300 PB ruler it is suitable for left-handed users [1]no wonder Staedtler won an award for non-discriminatory corporate culture and like the 512 60C sharpener the 511 120 tries to provide a mess-free experience, thanks to the cap. The similarity to the Sonic Ratchetta is another thing to notice. The 511 120 , like the Ratchetta, has a ratchet mechanism. This also means you can sharpen without having to ‘regrab’ the pencil and it makes the sharpener easier to use for left-handed users. In the West, the Sonic Ratchetta seems to be more commonly available than other sharpeners of a similar design. Similar sharpeners are being sold under other names (Bostitch, Paperpro and more), but as far as I can tell the original version was not the Sonic Ratchetta but was the SDI Buggy, first released in 2013. (You have to watch that video!)

The maestro did it again

I feel lucky and privileged to have been able to not only get answers to my questions about this sharpener but to even some additional information, directly from Mr Hufnagl. As suspected this sharpener is really his brainchild and even though it is being produced at one of the two factories were Sonic Ratchettas/SDI Buggies, etc, are being made, the Noris 511 120 is a different product, i.e. has different specs.

Super 5 (top) vs Dex (bottom) the photo doesn’t help in understanding the differences

Super sharpener, Super 5

The whole ‘looks similar but is different’ situation reminds me a bit of the Super 5. The fantastic Super 5 fountain pen looks quite similar to Kingsley’s Dex and thanks to Scribble I found out that both of these, and also the Manuscript Master, use Helit bodies. These pens are however quite different in terms of ‘feel quality’ and even function: while the Dex feels cheap and plasticky the Super 5 is a great pen to use and has a very special nib. They are quite different even though both use Helit bodies. As mentioned previously, Helit is actually owned by Maped which brings us back to the topic of sharpeners: The 511 120 isn’t out yet, but I am looking forward to finding out how it will perform.

Testing

Mr Hufnagl asked different kinds of users to test the new sharpener. Doctors / GP practices and hairdressers were particularly impressed with this sharpener. Different employees were sharing pencils, e.g. to write down appointments, and ratchet mechanism made sharpening easy for left-handed users while the shape made the sharpener easy to clean (think Covid). Pupils from secondary schools also loved this sharpener.

I’m really looking forward to the 511 120. It certainly seems worthy of sporting the Noris’ colours and is a great addition to the Noris line in the Noris anniversary year.

Image © Staedtler

PS: You have to watch that video!

References

References
1no wonder Staedtler won an award for non-discriminatory corporate culture

Happy Birthday Noris 6

It’s 2021 and the Staedtler Noris, Staedtler’s pencil with the article number 120, is 120 years old this year.

One of the new anniversary sets from Staedtler’s web site, released for this occasion, looks extremely desirable: it contains a new sharpener that will be available soon. The article number will be 511 120, a nice nod to the Noris’ number.

Image © Staedtler

Staedtler’s keeps trying to allow your pencil case to stay mess-free: Similar to the 512 60C from 2017, the new sharpener can be closed to prevent graphite and wood shavings from falling out.

Are you sitting comfortably? Good: the 511 120 will display when the pencil is sufficiently sharpened and will have a ratchet function to make it suitable for left-handed users. I am not left-handed but like how Staedtler cares for all users – like they did when they introduced the 562 300 PB ruler. The sharpener will be suitable for pencils with a diameter of up to 8.2 mm. I can’t wait for the 511 120 to hit the shelves in the UK …finally some good news in these sad times.

On a more sombre note: if you are from the UK you might find the following article about Paperchase going into administration interesting.


Thanks to Ms Förster from Staedtler for providing additional information about the 511 120.