Wopex

Handicraft with Bleistift IV – epic fail

A fake Noris. They didn't try very hard, but I'm sure many customers who are not so familir with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns.
A fake Noris. The company behind it didn’t try very hard, but I’m sure many customers who are not so familiar with pencils will buy this pencil because of the familiar colours and patterns. It even features a black strip between two yellow sides.

Long time readers might remember my blog post about the Reynolds 432 and the Nataraj 621, both of which look pretty much like a Staedtler Tradition. There are also countless Staedtler Noris copies – previously I’ve mentioned the Fox Essentials. Recently, I’ve come across a quite cheeky copy of the Noris, when one of my students was using it in class. I call it a cheeky copy, because it features a red cap, just like the original Noris …but the copied pencil’s cap is rather ugly in compared to the original.

Noris eco in a Leuchtturm Loop
The Noris eco is my daily pencil. The Leuchtturm Loop has been reused from a previous diary, thanks to a paper riveter.

A few weeks later I also finally got my hand on a Noris eco. I planned to get one from Cult Pens when I order from them again, but then I saw the Noris eco in WH Smith, where they sell for 85p (~$1.40; €1.05) each. I also had a look at my local Ryman, but they didn’t sell them there, even though they sell them in their official eBay outlet [1]It’s difficult to find there, though – they spell Staedtler wrong, even though they do sometimes get the spelling right, e.g. for the Staedtler Traditional [sic] pencil..

Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

The lovely Noris eco is now my daily pen in my diary’s loop.

One thing I noticed: the green colour of the Noris eco seems virtually identical to the Wopex in 2H.

Top: Noris eco - Bottom: Wopex 2H
Top: Noris eco – Bottom: Wopex 2H

While the Noris has a more complicated pattern [2]The six sides of the hexagonal Noris are painted like this:
black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow, black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow.
, the Noris eco has a simpler pattern [3]The six sides of the Noris eco are painted like this:
black, green, black, green, black, green.
. I assume this is because it’s not so easy to extrude a thin black strip precisely over a corner.

Now, if the Noris eco is just a green Wopex with black strips and if there are fake Noris (plural: Norises?) anyway, why not make your own (fake?) version from a yellow Wopex?

Yellow Wopex and a Noris
I’ve only ever seen the yellow Wopex in Asda and on Ebay. I assume the ones on eBay were bought in Asda, where they are very cheap.

To increase my chances of getting acceptable looking black strips on the pencil I decided to cover the areas not to be painted with a tape.

The taped Wopex
The taped Wopex. The tape dispenser in the background is an old Bakelite model.

I then used a permanent marker to paint the Wopex. As you can see it all went belly up. Somehow the tape didn’t stick well and the lines from the black marker were not very straight …so I didn’t bother to do the thin strips carefully either. If you want to try it and are successful: Try to do the red cap using nail polish. Pencil Revolution has further instructions.

Epic fail!
Epic fail!

 


Price and exchange rates: January 2014

I’d like to thank Kamil Musial for showing me the “Stationery” Staedtler Noris copy.

References

References
1 It’s difficult to find there, though – they spell Staedtler wrong, even though they do sometimes get the spelling right, e.g. for the Staedtler Traditional [sic] pencil.
2 The six sides of the hexagonal Noris are painted like this:
black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow, black, yellow (thin black strip) yellow.
3 The six sides of the Noris eco are painted like this:
black, green, black, green, black, green.

Sharpening a Wopex …again

My previous experience with KUM sharpeners wasn’t very good. Some of the models I have are good, some are not so good and overall I usually prefer sharpeners from other brands.

You might remember that the Staedtler Wopex is a difficult pencil to sharpen. Nevertheless, I like it so much that on an average day it is my most used pencil. Even though sharpening it with a knife yields good results I thought I should try sharpening the Wopex in KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M, a sharpener I haven’t used in a while because of the unsightly marks it leaves at the base of the exposed graphite [1]These marks are one of the reason why I prefer the Deli 0635 or the Eisen 402.. To my surprise I got fantastic results when I used it to sharpen a Wopex.

KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M and Staedtler's Wopex

I get best results if I align the Wopex with the top of the sharpener during the second step. If you have a Wopex and the Automatic Long Point 2M try them out. My Long Point sharpener performs much better than the dedicated Wopex sharpeners I have.


Pencil talk has a review of KUM’s Automatic Long Point 2M.

References

References
1 These marks are one of the reason why I prefer the Deli 0635 or the Eisen 402.

Sharpening a Wopex

You might have already noticed that the Wopex is one of my favourite pencils. It is the pencil I use most often when writing on paper where ghosting/graphite transfer might be a problem. There is however one problem that makes using a Wopex an experience less exciting than it could be: sharpening this pencil.

Wopex, presharpened

Desktop sharpeners are not good at sharpening pencils with such a hard casing. They won’t stop automatically, too, which means that you might shorten the pencil too much when using a desktop sharpener and you’ll got a less than exciting finish where the blade cylinder stopped.

Wopex, prism sharpener sharpened
Click to enlarge

A normal prism sharpener does a better job when it comes to sharpening a Wopex, but the lead tends to look rather porous after sharpening and the fine point created will break much easier on a Wopex than on a pencil with a traditional lead.The special Wopex sharpeners don’t seem to do a better job than any other prism sharpeners. At least they don’t do for me, maybe I don’t use them the way they should be used. One example is shown here, but the point doesn’t always look that bad. A better looking point, made using a prism sharpener, has been shown in a previous blog post.

Wopex, knife sharpened

The presharpened Wopexes [1]Wopeges, Wopeces? or whatever the plural may be are looking and performing best. They are sharpened on an abrasive surface, something that is not necessarily practical for home use because of the time and dust involved. Searching for an alternative, better than a normal prism sharpener, I thought of using a knife to achieve a point similar to the one of presharpened Wopexes.

Unlike most other sharpening techniques, in which blades engage the pencil’s wood (and later, graphite) at an angle more or less parallel to the shaft, the pocketknife’s blade is applied perpendicular to the pencil’s shaft.” (Rees 2012, p.46) [2]Rees, D., 2012. How to sharpen pencils. Brooklyn, New York: Melville House.

There is a special pencil knife for sharpening and erasing, but I used a normal knife. In this case one with a high carbon steel blade, but stainless steel blades work just as well. The results are good, better than what I get from a prism sharpener, including the Wopex sharpener, but are slightly worse when compared to a presharpened Wopex.

 


I would like to thank

References

References
1 Wopeges, Wopeces? or whatever the plural may be
2 Rees, D., 2012. How to sharpen pencils. Brooklyn, New York: Melville House.

The yellow Wopex

As a complement to Lexikaliker’s yellow Wopex, here a photo of the yellow Wopex blister pack available in the UK. I bought this pack of five Wopex plus eraser and sharpener  this April for £2.99 [1]plus 90p shipping (~$4.69; €3.70). Unfortnately I haven’t seen the eraser-tipped version from Lexikaliker’s blog post yet, but I will definitely buy it if I ever see it.

East…West…Everywhere wrote a blog post about the green version, available in the USA, that comes with Staedtler-made eraser caps. These eraser caps are basically a white version of the eraser caps that are quite common in North-America [2]Some pencils in North America come with these erasers attached to them, the Magic Writer for example.  You can also spot them fairly often in American TV shows, e.g. in Two And A Half Men..


Price: April 2012
Exchange rates: June 2012

References

References
1 plus 90p shipping
2 Some pencils in North America come with these erasers attached to them, the Magic Writer for example.  You can also spot them fairly often in American TV shows, e.g. in Two And A Half Men.

Staedtler Noris 120

Top to bottom: Malaysia, Great Britain, Germany

In a previous blog post I compared three Staedtler tradition 110 pencils, made in three different factories – the one in Wales, the one in Australia and the one in Germany. Today I want to look at three different Staedtler Noris 120 pencils – made in Malaysia, Wales and Germany. I bought a dozen of the Malaysian Noris in March 2010 for £2.24 (~ $3.40; €2.78) from a Malaysian seller on eBay.

Noris presharpened, top to bottom: Malaysia, Great Britain, Germany

The only pencil from this comparison that is still in production is the Nuremberg-made Noris. The factory in Malaysia closed down two years ago and the factory in Wales closed down four years ago. You can still find Welsh-made pencils in the UK, but there are very few shops left that still have stock. I am not sure about the situation in Malaysia, but I assume most of the Malaysian Noris are also sold by now. In a previous blog post I mentioned that 2B is the most common pencil grade in Malaysia. It is so popular in Malaysia that the Malaysian Noris is only available in 2B, therefore I’ll compare it with the Welsh and German Noris in 2B.

Different caps – Top to bottom: Malaysian 2B, Welsh 2B, Welsh B, German 2B

The colour of the Noris cap normally indicates the pencil grade. The HB Noris has a red cap. Strangely enough the cap colour is not consistent. The older Welsh and Malaysian 2B Noris have black caps, while the newer German Noris, bought in April 2012 at Müller in Volkach, Germany for €0.59 (~ $0.73; £0.47), has an orange cap, similar, but a slightly lighter in colour than the orange cap of a Welsh Noris B.

Noris sharpener (511 004) and two wedge sharpeners (510 10 and 510 50)

Which eraser could be most suitable to sharpen a Noris? None other than the Staedtler Noris sharpener, of course. Bought at Currys / PC World in Preston, when they tried to get rid of their stationery in December 2011 this sharpener was part of a ‘study set’ that came with 2 Noris HB, one Staedtler Mars plastic eraser and the Staedtler Noris sharpener for £1.17 (~ $1.79; €1.45). The blister pack says “Made in Germany”, but the wedge sharpener in the Noris sharpener is made in China, or at least the the metal body of the sharpener inside is. I wonder why Staedtler put a metal sharpener in there. Most people probably wouldn’t notice and Staedtler sells plastic sharpeners with the same form factor that could have been used in the Noris sharpener to keep the price down…

The W wedge sharpener in the Noris sharpener

The bottom of the metal sharpener 510 10 in the Noris sharpener features a ‘W’, which indicates that this sharpener is one of Staedtler’s newer sharpeners, optimised for use with the Wopex. It has a sharpening angle of 23°. The thickness of the shavings produced by the Wopex-optimised sharpener is the same as the one by the older model, usually just under 0.3 mm. I assume the difference is in the way the blade has been sharpened.

The older 510 10 wedge sharpener

I used a notepad from Brunnen [1]bought in August 2011 at McPaper in Schweinfurt, Germany for €1.19 (~ $1.46; £0.96) to compare the different leads in terms of smoothness, reflectiveness, darkness, erasability, graphite transfer to another page and how long they keep the point. As far as I can tell the three different Noris perform very similar. The graphite from the Malaysian Noris might transfer a bit easier to another page, e.g. in a diary, but it’s only every so slightly worse than the other two Noris pencils.

No bar code on the Malaysian Noris

In terms of exterior appearance the Welsh and German Noris are nearly on par, with the paint on the Noris from Nuremberg being slightly more even. The paint of the Malaysian Noris is however much worse, but still better than the no name or own brand pencils you usually get in super markets. The Welsh Noris has a diameter of 7mm, which is slightly more than the 6.9mm the Malaysian and German pencils have.

For me the Noris is THE typical pencil. Previous blog posts showed the Noris being featured on TV. Today I want to add two more screen shots. One from Episodes, where Sean Lincoln (played by Stephen Mangan [2]…who recently, as Dirk Gently, used a Faber-Castell Grip 2001 ) is using a Stadtler Noris in the USA, even though it isn’t officially on sale in the USA. The character must have brought it from the UK, the desk is full of Noris pencils ..or, in the real world, this scene might have been filmed in the UK.

Episodes (Image © Hat Trick)

The other screen shot is from episode 705 “Liebeswirren” of German/Austrian/Swiss crime TV series Tatort. One of the actors in this episode from Munich was Christoph Waltz of Inglourious Basterds fame.

Tatort (Image © Bayerischer Rundfunk)

Exchange rates: June 2012.

I believe that the use of the following images falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service:

  • The screen shot of Stephen Mangan and the Staedtler Noris, taken from episode three of the second season of the TV series Episodes
  • The screen shot of Udo Wachtveitl and the Staedtler Nori, taken from the Tatort #705  Liebeswirren

References

References
1 bought in August 2011 at McPaper in Schweinfurt, Germany for €1.19 (~ $1.46; £0.96)
2 …who recently, as Dirk Gently, used a Faber-Castell Grip 2001