Welcome To My Thoughts On Pens And Pencils

I will respect your right to disagree with what I have to say about Pens and Pencils as long as you respect the fact that I am an Old Geezer.

My Obsession

My Obsession
A Beauty Every One... And There's More At Home!

All Jammed Up?

If you need detailed instructions on how to clear a lead jam from a mechanical pencil then click this link, "All Jammed Up?" or the link in the pages header.


Please enjoy your stay at my humble blog. Please feel free to leave a comment about any article that you read
. Also please notice that there are four reactions at the bottom of each article. If you find any article funny, interesting, cool or helpful please so indicate. Thank you for visiting my blog.

The Old Geezer
Please Excuse My Absence

I have not blogged since July of 2015 due to the fact that my Lovely Wife was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer. A new case of breast cancer which has metastasized and gone to her bones, mainly her back. She had a mastectomy of her left breast which showed the type of cancer that was in her bones. She has been taking an oral med. every day and she has a port under her skin to receive a liquid med. She has gone through one round of radiation treatments to stop some pain in her back. That gave her GERD and the med for that was nasty tasting. The bone cancer has caused the vertebra in her lower back to pinch her left sciatic nerve causing her pain, numbness and foot drag. She also has skin cancer that has only been partly addressed.

I have been busy taking care of her as the treatments have left her weak and sickly. She can not drive so I have to drive her to her appointments and treatments. I also have to do all the cooking and most of what cleaning we do. So I do not have a lot of time for blogging. However the installment of the review of the Schaeffer Ultrafine 0.3mm pencil marks what I hope will be a new review every month. However some of my future reviews may seem familiar as they may be a review of a pencil or pen that I have reviewed before just in another size due to my limited collection of writing instruments and the economic state of our nation.

I am grateful to George Fox for wanting me to do a review of another one of his pencils. I think that as a reader of my humble blog, may fine of interest as the Schaeffer Ultra Fine is a very unusual pencil.

So please excuse my absence and as a reader of my humble blog I hope that you enjoy the review of this unique pencil.

Coming Soon...

Thank you,

The Old Geezer.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Poem

I found this at Associated Content. It's a poem entitled Lament of a Pencil. I hope you like it. I did.

TouchMatic Eraser Refills

I got an e-mail notice from JetPens the other day that the E-Knock erasers were back in stock. I ordered some refills and 1 complete eraser, in blue. They arrived Saturday. Upon inspection I discovered that the E-Knock and the TouchMatic were almost identical twins. The only real difference (besides one being transparent and the other opaque) was that the push button end caps were different. The end cap on the TouchMatic is solid while the end cap on the E-Knock has 4 vents in the top. It also locks in with a snap. The TouchMatic's is held in by friction. The push buttons and nozzles are however interchangeable.

So, after all these years, I now have a source for refills for my beloved TouchMatic. Way to go Mitsubishi and JetPens.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clear Heat Shrink

I liked what I did to the Pentel Graphlet PG503 so well that I have now put it on my Koh-I-Noor 5633, my Mitsubishi uni0.3 M3-522 and my Pentel GraphGear 500 PG523, all which had metal grips. This not only protects them but gives me a non-slip plastic grip that I like. Instructions on just how to apply the heat shrink, as well as where to find it, see the heading "Pentel Graphlet 500 Grip Fix". Just be sure that you have a very sharp hobby knife blade when you do it. That's very important as is waiting for the heat shrink to cool down completely before starting the trimming. Happy pencil moding.

btw DO NOT try this on a plastic grip area as the heat will soften the plastic and cause the grip/pencil to wrap and or bend out of shape.

Update. 10/15/2008. I have now also applied clear heat shrink to my new Alvin Draft/Matic DM03 and my Ohto Promecha SP-503M, both of which have metal grips. By using items of equal diameter I have also been able to apply the heat shrink grip to my Pentel Graph PG303 and Zebra Drafix DM3-300. Great stuff, clear heat shrink!

Ticonderoga Meets Kuru Toga

I just learned of the Ticonderoga Sensematic Auto-Feed Mechanical Pencil. "No clicking, no twisting, no sharpening! The Ticonderoga Sensematic is the world's only auto-feed mechanical pencil. Simply touch the pencil to paper and the Sensematic "senses" how much lead you need, advancing just the right amount as you write. You'll never again have to stop writing or drawing in order to sharpen your pencil." So goes the hype on the on-line store I found it at. Just imagine the kind of pencil that we could have if they combined the "auto-feed mechanism" of the Ticonderoga Sensematic with the "auto-rotating pencil" mechanism of the Kuru Toga! We'd have a pencil that always feed out lead automatically and would always stay sharp. Who knows, maybe one day it will happen.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Pentel Graflet 500 Grip Fix

Recently I purchased a Pentel Graflet 500 series PG503 0.3mm automatic pencil from an on-line retailer. It's a handsome pencil being dark brown in color, almost black, with a chrome colored grip area, pocket clip, brown and chrome end cap and integral black plastic and chrome cap with stainless steel lead sleeve. The pencil is well balanced, but just a tad top heavy, not that you'd notice while writing the pencil is so light. The grip sleeve also serves as a lead grade indicator, an obround hole highlighting the white colored grade letters. All in all the pencil is very nice, except for the chromed grip sleeve.

The grip sleeve, which is removable, is thin
chrome plated brass. Because it is so thin it is very lightly knurled and grooved. Because of the lightness of the knurling and slickness of the chrome the pencil is difficult to hold and write with comfortably despite the pencils weight, or lack there of. I found it so unpleasant to write with that I was beginning to regret my purchase. What I wanted was a thin rubber sleeve to go over the chromed grip sleeve, but where was I going to get an obviously custom made part like that? So I put the pencil aside for the moment, being unable to write with it comfortably.

Then one day I had a thought! Heat shrink tubing! I could make my own custom sleeve using heat shrink tubing. I had some old black heat shrink tubing that I had been saving for just such a purpose. In the package was a piece large enough in diameter to fit over the chromed grip sleeve. Using a heat gun I shrank the tubing over the grip sleeve and let it cool before using an X-acto knife to trim of the excess tubing from both ends and to open up the lead grade indicator hole. When the newly revamped grip sleeve was replaced and the cap restored I was pleased to discover that I could now hold the pencil with relative ease. My idea had worked.

As practical as the black heat shrink was it wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as the chrome had been. So I went on the Net to look for a better, but same, idea. I found what I was looking for. Clear heat shrink tubing. I bought some and it arrived today. Cutting a short piece from the length that came I removed the black heat shrink and shrank the clear piece over the grip sleeve. After trimming the ends (I didn't bother to trim out the lead grade indicator window) I replaced the grip sleeve. What a difference! Not only was the clear heat shrink every bit as good a non-slip grip sleeve as the black had been but the pen's original aesthetics were restored.

So if you have a Pentel Graflet 500 PG 503 automatic pencil, or a similar pencil with a similar problem then by all means try my fix. You will need a minimum length of 1-1/2" of 3/8" clear PVC heat shrink tubing (available over the Net from cableorganizer.com and sold by the foot), a heat gun of some type (mine is a Milwaukee Precision Hot Tool, the kind sold in craft stores) and an X-acto knife (or similar knife) with a very sharp blade. With my heat gun I was able to hold onto the grip sleeve at one end while shrinking the tubing at the other without getting burned. Let the heat shrink tubing cool and harden before using the X-acto to trim up the ends. Once finished you'll have a custom made plastic grip. Since my 'fix' it has become one of my favorite automatic pencils.

(Photo courtesy of JetPens.com)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kuru Toga Pencils

I was writing a few reviews on various drafting/mechanical pencils on the JStationery web site when I saw the Kuru Toga 0.5mm pencil ad in a sidebar. I was curious so I took a look. The more I read about this amazing pencil the more interested I became. It seems that this offering from Mitsubishi of Japan, under the uni label, is a very unquie pencil indeed. While the concept is simple the inner workings of the pencil is not, at least not to this blogger.

Anyone who has used a drafting/mechanical pencil for any length of time has noticed that they all have one little flaw, the lack of rotation of the lead. Drafting students are taught to rotate the pencil between thumb and fore finger as they draw a line. A tricky thing at best and not an easy thing to master. The result, in theory, is that the pencil lead maintains a sharper profile there by producing a more consistent line width. While writing however this is impossible.

When writing the pencil remains in a fixed position in the writer's hand. As the writer writes the tip if the lead, which when new starts out with a face perpendicular to the shaft of the lead, begins to wear down at the angle the writer is writing at. This produces an oval face on the lead broadening out the line that the lead makes. Thus a 0.5mm pencil lead begins to make a line closer to 0.7mm's wide. When you are used to writing smallish, like I am, this makes one's writing a little cramped and smudged looking. If the writer turns the pencil a few degrees then the line, temporarily, become finer. The drawbacks here are two fold.

One the writing now looks and is inconsistent in line width. This looks untidy at best. Soon the line width is broader once again. If the writer rotates the pencil to much then a very sharp edge is presented to the paper and often this causes the pencil lead to snap off. This generally leaves the face of the lead ragged. This often leads to another breakage of lead as the writer tries to flatten out the lead once again. This has been the bane of all users of drafting/mechanical pencils ever since they were invented.

Now comes along the Kuru Toga, which means "auto-rotate pencil" in Japanes
e. Every time the lead is pushed against the paper, the internal gear automatically rotates the lead 9 degrees. This means that the lead never forms a chiseled edge. The lead face remains sharp, forming a cone instead of a flat surface. Simple, really. But the pencil's internals, the Kuru Toga Engine, is not. Even though the pencil (sometimes) comes with a booklet explaining the workings of the Kuru Toga Engine it's all in Japanese! So until I either learn to read Japanese, hire an interpreter, or they publish a booklet in English the inner workings of the Kuru Toga Engine will remain a mystery, at least to me.

Now as far as hands on experience goes, well I've had some. My first offering in this pencil was in 0.5mm. I was so impressed with the thin line it produced that it almost instantly became my favorite pencil. In reality it acutally produces a clean, consistant 0.3mm line! It really works! You can actually see the engine at work as the mechanisim turns the lead as the grip area, where the Kuru Toga Engine is, is clear. There are two Kuru Toga symblols on the rotating part of the engine, 180 degrees apart so you can actually watch the engine work.

The pencil is almost completely plastic so it's very light. It feels good in the hand and is easy to grip thanks to some thick ridges on the clear plastic grip. The pencil's slightly top heavy, but not that you'd notice while writing. You can feel the engine working, there's a slight up and down motion to the tip as you write. But I find that after a short while I don't notice it anymore. The pencil is handsome with a metallic blue finish, clear grip, chromed cap, black and chromed tip and a white pocket clip. The chrome cap has a blue rubber grip ring around it which comes in handy as the cap must come off to remove the black plastic and stainless steel lead sleeve. The sleeve just snaps of and if done with ease you won't even break the lead.

There are three drawbacks with the Kuru Toga, all of them minor. One is the eraser. I's tiny and useless like all such token offerings on drafting/mechanical pencils. No biggie as I have used a stick eraser these many years. Second, there is no clean out rod beneath said token eraser. Inconvenient, but no deal breaker. However I suggest that if you have one from an old pencil, tuck it away up under the eraser because as good as the Kuru Toga is lead breakage is inevitable. Lastly the lead reservoir is small compared to other such pencils and the lead feed hole is tiny. I'm used to large reservoirs and gaping holes that I can shove dozens of leads into. But I guess it's a small price to pay for such a great pencil.

Last but not least, shortly after I'd started using the 0.5mm Kuru Toga I was lamenting the fact (or so I thought) that they didn't make the Kuru Toga in 0.3mm! Then lo and behold I saw a black 0.3mm Kuru Toga for sale on
eBay! I wasted no time in buying it (though it was at a premium price and my lovely wife almost had a cow). I was not disipointed when it arrived and I started using it! It produces a sub 0.3mm line! I've done a side by side comparison with my uni-ball Signo bit in 0.18mm and found that when drawing a straight line with a straight edge the 0.3mm Kuru Toga produces a line at least as thin as the Signo bit!

Bottom line is that the Mitsubishi uni Kuru Toga, in either offering, is a fantastic pencil! I hope that I'm never without one. I give them 5 out of 5 stars *****.

The Kuru Toga is available from JetPens.com

Pilot Pockel Mini

Well it seems that even before I was able to make my 0.38mm G-2 Mini Pilot beat me to it, well almost. They now produce a mini called the Pilot Pockel Mini (no, it's not misspelled, they actually call it a Pockel). It's made in a 0.5mm point and comes in 10 delicious colors, Black, Blue, Caramel, Green, Light Blue (Turquoise?), Light Green (Lime?) Orange, Pink, Red and Violet. You can see the entire lineup at JetPens.

The Pockel line of minis will be a welcomed addition to the growing trend in miniaturization of pens and pencils. I'd love to have a set, but my lovely wife has but the kibosh on shelling out any more of her hard earned cash on my obsession. So click on the Google ads so I can earn enough money to buy some Pilot Pockel Minis!

Ever Wanted A Pilot G-2 Mini in A Finer Point?

I did, and do! I keep a Mini in my Blood Glucose Monitor in order to record my blood sugar levels. I like the convenience of having the pen (and a small notebook) with the kit so I don't have to go looking for one every time I need one. Plus on the road it's far to convenient not to have one. But I dislike the 0.7mm tip! So I have come up with a solution, at least for the color black.

I have a full sized G-2 0.38mm that I have been using for a short while so the ink supply has dwindled a little. I removed the refill from it and a Mini and laid them side by side, tips even. Using a black Extra Fine Point Sharpie I made 2 marks on the full sized refill. The first mark indicates where the Mini's clear plastic refill barrel ends (not where the black end cap ends). The second mark is 3/16" lower (towards the tip). This marks where the black plastic cap ends inside the tube.

As I write with the 0.38mm G-2 I'll watch the ink supply closely. When the clear gel gets just below the second mark I'll carefully cut the refill at the first mark, keeping it as square as possible. Then I'll remove the black end cap and put it on the "new" Mini" refill. Then I'll have a 0.38mm Mini!

Well I made the "cut" and installed the 0.38mm black G-2 refill into the black G-2 Mini. I now have a nice ultra fine point G-2 Mini!

A Rebuttal (Needle Point vs Conical Point)

Very true that there are uses and preferences for both needle and conical points. But it should also be added that the fragility factor comes into play in not only heavy handed writing, but if a pen is dropped, or otherwise not handled cautiously. This does not always have to be the fault of the user....things happen, pens hit the floor, etc. It seems the needles are far more likely to be damaged in those situations, but it also depends on the overall pen construction and so on.


You are so right! I completely overlooked that little detail. Chalk it up to old age, my friend!

The Old Geezer

Monday, September 15, 2008

From TouchMatic To E-Knock

Long time ago, so long I forget just when, It was after I was married so it couldn't be over 21 years ago but I don't believe it was that long ago so I must have been married a while... I digress, the prerogative of an Old Geezer. Anyway my lovely wife and I were at the closing of an office supply store and among the great things I found to buy were a dozen Faber Castell Touchmatic erasers. These little gems have a black barrel and the skinny plastic stick eraser comes out when I click the barrel's top button, just like a drafting pencil. I really like them because the plastic eraser is thinner than a normal stick type eraser. That reminds me, remember the days of the peel down stick erasers? Ah, you're probably to young to remember such things. Anyway I used these nice erasers with abandon because I liked them so much. Then, way to late, I discovered that they were no longer available (at least under the TouchMatic label). This was sad, very sad indeed...

Over the years I tried every now and again to find them on the Internet but to no avail. Not one trace of them was to be found. I had all but given up hope of ever finding them again. Sad when all hope is lost... Then I was looking at the JetPens web site the other day. I was browsing the "New Arrivals" (yes, all 2140 of them) when I cam across a very curious item. It was an eraser by uni-ball called an E-Knock. They offer 4 clear plastic barrels each with a different colored accent and a package or 3 refills. The closer I looked the surer I was that this offering was indeed the reincarnation of my beloved TouchMatic erasers! Joy of joys! Be still my beating heart! (Believe me at my age it's not too good to have a heart racing that fast!).

As cute as the eraser pens were I was most interested in the refills. They were 3 for $1.50 US. I was all set to order a few dozen packages (but I'm sure that my lovely wife would have let me order only a couple of packages) when I went to the eraser section of the JetPens website. There only to discover to my utter horror that they were all-sold-out! How could this be! What kind of cruel joke has fate played on me? Is this to be my lot in life? To always want and to never have? So I did the only reasonable thing a man in my position could do... I put in a request to be notified by e-mail when JetPens gets in new stock. By then I may have the 3 bucks necessary for the purchase.

Needle Point vs Conical Point

Generally speaking by design a conical point is going to be stronger than a needle point. A cone is stronger than a rod (unless that rod is very, very fat). Generally a conical point is made for writing while a needle point is made for mechanical drawing where a straight edge is used. The conical shape allows for writing at various angles while remaining strong. A needle tip with it's thin sleeve allows the nib to get very close to the straight edge for more accurate lines. Also needle points are usually the ones made in the smallest diameters for thinner lines. For free hand drawing it's my guess that it's whatever suites the artist best.

Ink flow depends more on ink chemistry than pen point, to a degree. Some needle points flow better than some conical points and vice versa. It's a matter of trying out the one that flows best in the point style of your choice. Of course nib size does play a factor in ink flow. Generally the broader the point the easier the ink flows, but not always. Again it's a matter of trial and error to find the right combination of point shape, size and ink chemistry that best suites the user (hey, if we were all the same then we'd need only one pen! How boring would that be? ).

While a conical point is stronger than a needle point this does not mean that one is overall better than the other. Purpose has a lot to due with the point shape chosen, as discussed. However there is some cross over of purpose between the 2 styles and either can be used for either purpose. But some posters have written that needle points are fragile and that they break easily. I'd like to address that point (pun intended) this way, don't be so heavy handed! Literally.

When I first started using the then new 0.5mm drafting pencils I busted the sleeve right off of 3 pencils before I learned not to be so heavy handed while writing and drawing, something I've had to relearn a time or two. HB lead in a modern pencil makes a dark enough line one shouldn't have to press hard to make a perfectly legible mark. The same goes for the modern gel/liquid ink pen. The only reason anyone needs to press hard when writing is when making carbon copies (and copy machines have almost freed us from that). BTW a medium or broad point ballpoint pen is best for carbons, less tearing of the paper.

So my final thoughts (in this post anyway) on the subject is pick your point wisely. Consider all the factors involved in your choice. If possible, try as many pens as you can before buying. Lastly, write softly and carry a BIG pen!

Pens Vs Pencils

I am a pen/pencil addict. Are you? I'm don't have the affliction as bad as others but I've got it bad. You can read some of my thoughts on Pens and Pencils at the JetPens forum. Later I'll post some of my thoughts on the subject here.