Made in Japan

A broken Orenz

If you read Bleistift blog regularly you might have noticed that I really like the Pentel Orenz. I think it’s the best sliding sleeve pencil since Staedtler’s Microfix.

The sliding sleeve works well and the pencil’s design is great, too, but unfortunately there is one weakness in the design that caused one of my Orenz mechanical pencils an issue: The metal clip is very close to the push button and there is only a very narrow strip of plastic to hold it in place. This narrow strip of plastic is will have to bear the brunt of any outward pressure the springiness of the clip cannot handle.

If you regularly clip the pencil onto slightly thicker pockets (or notebooks etc) the plastic will weaken over time and will eventually break off. In my case I regularly carry the Orenz in a pen pocket on my jacket. The pen pocket is not that thick, but apparently thick enough to cause this issue.

If you are squeamish please look away, the following photos, showing pencil mutilations, are not a sight for the faint hearted.

When the plastic from my Orenz broke off I didn’t initially notice as I was in a meeting. I just noticed that, when holding the pencil, the clip seems to be very loose.

Some closer inspection revealed the true horror and damage, though.

Here is a comparison how this looks like on an undamaged Orenz.

Please keep your Orenzes safe…

Silver

When I bought the Chinese New Year pens from BIC I also put a few more items in the basket to get free shipping. One of them was the BIC Silver Set: Seven silver-ish pens and a silver-ish notebook. The official UK price is £16.99 (~$22.70; €20.50). I saw which pens will be included, but didn’t know what to expect in terms of material. Will some of them have a metal body?

In case you wonder: all of the pens are plastic-y, none have a metal body. The 2mm Criterium lead holder would have been amazing with a metal body – a bit like the Caran d’Ache Fixpencil 884. The American made marking pencil is quite interesting. You can use it to mark any(?) surface with nice, opaque silver-grey paint – good to label black plastic or metal.

I really like that the packaging shows where the different pens are from.


Price and exchange rates: March 2022

ippo! x MONO

Thanks to Shangching from East…West…Everywhere my family got a parcel with some nice stationery surprises and our son, and by extension I, were able to try out Tombow’s ippo! pencils for school children as well as the corresponding eraser.

My understanding is that the pencils from this set aim at being easily erasable, so they have soft leads that produced nice, dark lines and the special eraser makes it easy for kids to erase any mistakes cleanly and nice, making the page ready for the next attempt.

Like many other Tombow pencils, the ippo! pencils, this set came with two in red, two in blue, two in yellow, are all made in Vietnam. The eraser was manufactured in Japan.

Hats off to Tombow, this set definitely achieves what (I think) it set out to do.

The eraser performs very similar to other dust free erasers, but feels softer, so makes for pleasant erasing. The pencils, being (Japanese) 2B, are very soft. The softness of the lead will probably help in making the user press less hard, so the writing is more likely to be on top of the paper whereas a harder lead might have made the user press down more, resulting in compressed paper where the line was. No compressed paper -> no deep lines, which will still be visible after erasing as a sort of crevice on the page -> the erased area looks very clean.

I also like the fact that the eraser sleeve is perforated, so you can easily shorten it when the eraser gets used up.

Compared to another dust free eraser on paper from the Monocle by Leuchtturm notebook

Overall a very nice pencil and eraser set. Similar to other Kakikata pencils the pencils have an area for labelling with your name and are uncapped.

Masuwa’s pencil knife

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

More about Staedtler’s 925 15

Today: a closer look at Staetdler’s handsome 925 15 mechanical pencil. You might remember it from a previous blog post from 2017.

It’s quite affordable and surprisingly light, maybe even too light for some users’ liking. In this video we’ll have a closer look at the 925 15.


Open in YouTube to watch in high resolution.

I bought the 0.3 mm version, so the video is about only covering this version, but this pencil is also available in 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm.

All parts of the pencil have been designed beautifully.

The official price is ¥500 (~$4.40; £3.30; €3.75), but by the time you add shipping from Japan (when you buy from eBay) the price is a bit higher – still not expensive though.


Price and exchange rates: December 2017