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.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Misubishi Uni M3-552 Drafting Pencil

In 1887 the Masaki Pencil company was born. They made some of the finest wooden pencils in the world. After WW II they became the Mitsubishi Pencil Company, Ltd.  They company now makes some of the worlds finest mechanical pencils under the Uni brand.  The most famous of these is undoubtedly the Kuru Toga line of auto rotating pencils.  To learn more about these pencils see my reviews "uni Kuru Toga Family of Mechanicals pencils" and "The Kuru Toga Roulette".  But The Mitsubishi Pencil Co., Ltd. makes other mechanical pencils as well.  Among them is the Uni 552 series of pencils.  These simple, sturdy entry level drafting pencils are often overlooked and neglected because of the overshadowing of the better known Uni Kuru Toga line of pencils.

This review will be about the M3-552, the 0.3 mm version.  However the pencil also comes in 0.4 mm,0.5 mm, 0.7mm and 0.9 mm lead sizes.  So let's start with every bodies favorite, the stats!  The M3-552 measures 141 mm long from the end of the lead sleeve to the tip of the push button.  It's round body and grip measure 8 mm and 8.5 mm respectively.  The nicely knurled metal grip measures 27 mm.  From the end of the lead sleeve to the beginning of the grip measures 17 mm, for those of you who like to grip there pencils very low.  The balance point is 61 mm, measured to the tip of the pencil.  Last, but not least, the pencil weighs 12.7 grams.  How's that for stat lovers.  Gee, you guys need a hobby...

...  Sorry boys and girls, but the Old Geezer is feeling pretty old tonight.  I wish it were more like the early days with Tommy Turquoise and Tussy Pink and that green guy from Zetta 1, Zedragon the Zephoid.  (Sigh) I sure miss them.  I wonder where they all got off to...
"We're right here, Geezer.  Well at least I am.  I think Tussy and Zedragon are around someplace..."  TOMMY!  Tommy Turquoise!  Man, I'm so glad to see you!  Where have you guys been, Tommy?  "Right here, Geezer.  We've all been right here in your imagination.  All you've had to do was call upon us and we'd have been right here to help you out."  Gosh.  You sure are a good friend, Tommy.  I'm, I'm sorry that I haven't called upon you guys lately.  I guess that I sort of, eh, well,...  "You thought that we were not as sophisticated and as elegant as other peoples blog assistants?"  Well, yeah.  I'm sorry for not believing in you guys so much any more.  I...  I don't know how to make it up to you guys!  I...  "Relax, Geezer.  Why don't you sit back and let me take it from here?"  Man, you are a life saver, Tommy.  Take it away.

"Thanks, Geezer.  The Mitsubishi Uni M3-552 is an entry level drafting pencil, but it has a feature or two that make it stand out among starter pencils.  It's body is plastic which helps make it light weight, but the grip is made of a lightweight metal, probably aluminum.  The grip screws onto the body just below the lead grade indicator.  It is nicely knurled and has a very good gripping surface.  The tip is probably non-magnetic stainless steel while the lead sleeve has a ting magnetic attraction.  Both are chromed and highly polished.  So are the end cap and the spring steel pocket clip.  With the black body the pencil has a classic look."

"Now one of the nice features of the M3-552 is the lead grade indicator.  It is made of a colored plastic, in this case, yellow, indicating the lead size*.  The ring is made with a gap. like a split ring, where the window is. The exterior of the ring is round but the interior is octagonal with a series of de-tents near the edge of the lower end of the ring.  A set of corresponding circular raised bumps are on the pencils' body.  The lead sizes, from 2B to 4H, are  imprinted in a silver color on a black self sticking band and placed on the pencils' body.  When the ring is placed on the pencil the LGI turns a set distance set by the de-tent system exposing one of the lead grades.  Unlike the LGI on some more expensive pencils the ring stays put once it is set, yet it is easily reset when desired.  This is the very best LGI that I have encountered to date."

"The grip is easily removed without removing the tip of the pencil.  Just why the pencil was made with this feature is unclear.  However the design leaves the possibility of different grips wide open.  I can see how easily a variety of different grips being available for the pencil, like a rubber grip, a silicone grip, a plastic grip, a fatter metal grip, etc.  Just why this potential has not been exploited  is beyond me.  While loosening the grip will make turning the LGI it is not necessary to do so as the LGI will turn without loosening the grip albeit with a little more effort.  The reason that the grip can be removed over the tip is because the tip is the same diameter as the pencils' body beneath the grip.  Now that I think about it the reason that the grip is designed in this way is so that it can be loosened when setting the LGI!  Now what is it they say, something about learning something new..."

"The M3-522 is so light that despite its' being a little nose heavy it hardly feels like it. The pencil feels light in the hand and writes almost effortlessly.  The unusual knurling on the grip, broken by 10 horizontal lines, is not only aesthetically pleasing but is quite functional as well.  It provides a nice gripping surface without being overly rough.  The lead reservoir is large enough to hold enough lead for days and even weeks of writing.  The bright chromed push button is adorned with the lead size impressed into the top of it.  Pressing it is almost as effortlessly as writing with the pencil itself and just two presses of the bush button exposes enough lead to start writing.  There is an eraser under the push button, but as geezer says, such erasers are useless and should only serve to hold a clean out rod, which the pencil does not come with.  You'll need to supply your own."

"A good way to get 2 stand alone clean out rods, one for .4 mm and below as well as one for .05 mm and above and get a set of 5 erasers that will fit the M3-552 pencil (I knew you would be using the eraser that come with the pencil) you can buy, from, jetpens.com, a set for one of the Pilot pencils.  Its' the MS-10 box set.  It comes with 5 erasers clad in a plastic holder that just fits the reservoir tube of the M6-552 plus 2 wire clean out rods.  The green box that they come in is a handy storage case as well.  This way, for under 2 bucks US you can get both clean out rods and erasers.  Every time that you have to buy easers you'll get a new set of clean out rods.  Believe me, for 0.4 mm and 0.3 mm lead sizes these rods are a must."

So for a good entry level drafting pencil, or just a good all around writing instrument (especially in the larger diameter lead sizes) do not over look the 522 series of Drafting pencils from Mitsubishi/uni.  These and many other fine drawing and writing instruments can be found at our friends at jetpens.com.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

GoPens.com Pen/Pencil Trays

Regular readers of my little blog know that over the years I have come up with various ways of securing my precious (and expensive) drafting & mechanical pencils in converted boxes.  I've converted over a dozen boxes of various types into pencil boxes using foam board, fabric, vinyl,, string, clear vinyl sheeting, and wood.  I've glued, stitched and used every method I know of to secure my pencils so that they can be displayed yet not move.  My last method was no better than my first.  In general I would always use some sort of material to secure the pencils to a fabric covered foam board.  No matter how I tried I could never get the loops so that they held the pencils in place without them moving and touching one another without getting them too tight on some pencils and too loose on others.  Part of the problem is that pencils vary in diameter from pencil to pencil and even along the length of most pencils.  And mechanical pencils, especially drafting pencils, being constructed with lots of 90 degree angles instead of nice smooth rounded edges, getting the pencils in and out of restraints always caused problems!  In at least one case, the fabric I had chosen as a base material was so abrasive and the loops so restrictive that it wore a flat spot on the rubber grip!  And in my last such box I had to make two differently sized loops for differently sized pencils.  But still the rubber grip from one pencil stretched out so much that it was ruined!  It just seamed that I just could not build a box that would secure my pencils and let me have instant access to them at the same time.

But the answer was really simple!  A pen/pencil box made just for such devices.  And they make them.  They make lots of different ones.  Small ones.  Big ones.  Plain ones.  Fancy ones.  Some with a single try.  Some with multiple trays.  All are expensive!  All out of my price range.  But  for sometime now, I mean for several years, I have been admiring the pen trays available form gopens.com.  These trays are made from plastic and coated with a fine layer of some sort of material resembling suede.  It reminds me of the stuff one model car maker included in one of their car models.  It was a small packet of fabric shavings that, when applied to the interior of the model, made the seats and dash look like it was covered with lush fabric.  It is meant to cushion the pens/pencils as well as help keep them from sliding all over the place like they would on slick plastic.  The trays are advertised as being 12-1/8" by 16-3/8", with 24 slots.  That meant to me that each tray could hold 2 pencils per slot for a total of 48 pencils per tray.  So I would need at least 2 trays.  They come in Black, Red, Green, Burgundy, Blue and Gray.  Well recently we had a bit of "spare" cash so I ordered 4 in gray, the most neutral color.  They arrived in just 3 business days!
When they arrived I measured them to discover that they measure in actuality 12" by 16-3/8"!  I was counting on that 1/8" as a cushion so that I could place the pencils 2 to a slot!.  But I worried in vain as with even the longest of my pencils there was enough of a cushion, barely enough, but enough.

Now I had some very nice trays in which to lay my pencils but no box to put the trays in!  What a quandary!  Not really.  I knew when I purchased them that I was probably going to make some boxes out of foam board.  So, with hobby knife in one hand and a straight edge in another I beset the poor unsuspecting foam board and cut out a top, bottom and 4 sides from a single sheet of foam board.  Little did I know that sheets of foam board would give up their shapes as I experimented with design, form and function!  At one point I even laminated sheets of corrugated cardboard together in order to construct a box when I ran out of foam board and could not run to Wal-Mart  to get more!  Such was my frenzy!  I was a madman possessed with a single purpose!  To make the perfect pencil box!...  To bad I was working with foam board and not wood!  Oh well!  We make do when we have to!

The final 2 boxes ended up being constructed the same way.  One was a retrofit.  Basically they are just a simple box with a removable top secured with small super strong magnets in top and bottom edges with the addition of 4 straps of felt using the same magnets and strips of mild steel.  I didn't want the tops growing wings, or feet and moving off on their own.  The trays fit into the boxes with a snug fit but with enough wiggle room for me to remove them should I have too.  And I had to!  About that later.  Once I had felt that I had the interior finished I set about decorating the exterior of the boxes while I contemplated how to keep the pencils inside from sliding into one another.  You see, I did not want to cut the tray inserts in half!  Why, you ask?  Well...  They were just to darn pretty as a whole unit!  Anyway, I spent the next several days letting my artistic spirit loose on the boxes I had made.  Poor boxes...
What I used to decorate the boxes was a mixture of colored card stock, various stickers and florescent and phosphorescent paints!  I've never outgrown my likeness of florescent/black light colors and decorations.  My computer room/workroom at one time had as many as 7 working black lights.  Alas in all but one the bulbs have burnt out.  Never fear, though I have plans for a really nice black light/white light set up.  But I digress.  I had a lot of fun squeezing out the dimensional paint.  Even more fun looking at it under my remaining black light.  in the photo above the box on the left is shown in regular light.  The box on the right is shown in black light (ultraviolet).  While the phosphorescent paint does glow a bit in UV light, the UV light charges the paint better than regular fluorescent light.

 So much for the outside.  I'll bet all of you want to see the inside, don't 'cha?  Before I show you the inside, remember earlier that I wrote that I built the boxes so that I wouldn't have to cut the trays?...  Well, try as I did there just seemed like there was no other elegant way to keep the pencils from hitting each than to halve the trays at the 6" mark and insert a divider between the opposing pencils. It almost hurt to cut those beautiful trays in half!  On the website the owner, Gary, recommends the use of clear plastic edge protectors, the kind used on the edges of walls to protect wallpaper from being scuffed up.  But these are approximately 1” by 1”, which makes them far to tall to use in my homemade pencil box.  So I cut strips of gray card stock and folded it over to form a more ridged boarder.   I cut it the correct height and joined the too short pieces together then inserted them between the halves of the trays. The fit was a tight one for the OHTO Super Promechas as they are the longest pencils that I have, to date.  They measure just a 1/16th of an inch shy of 6”!  But as long as they don’t move very much and are not restrained in any other way, I’m happy!  In fact I have to admit that now that the deed is done, it doesn’t look as bad as I had feared.  The card stock is quite a close match in color to the trays and it acts as an effective barrier between pencils in the same column.  

All in all I am quite pleased with the trays that I bought form GoPens.com.  They were easy to cut, as advertised and they look great!  I just wish that I had had some nice ¼” cedar with which to make a nice pencil box with four drawers.  I’d bisect each tray with a ¼” piece of cedar.  That would be so sweet.
But even if you can only make boxes the way I do, it’s well worth the money to purchase the pen/pencil trays from GoPens.com.  Short of routing out custom grooves from a piece of  ½” cedar they are about as good as you’re going to get.