Midori Brass Bullet Pencil

Midori Brass Bullet Pencil

Originating in the rural US Midwest, the classic bullet pencil is reinterpreted by Japanese stationer Midori.

This particular item is part of a larger series of brass products meant to be accessories to the highly popular “Traveler’s Notebook”.

Midori Brass Bullet Pencil

The sample shown is almost brand new, yet already shows signs of tarnishing or brassing. There are painted versions (brown and white) that should be more resilient.

The included cedar pencil is beautiful and first rate – one wonders if a full size version could be made available.

The brass is what makes this product really different. It has a truly metallic look, feel, and aroma. While some may love it, this finish will definitely be a matter of personal preference.

Pencil and eraser refills are available. The pencil branding is hidden once inserted into the holder:

Midori Brass Bullet Pencil

It might just be the perfect thing for someone on the go who wants a very sturdy yet inexpensive pencil holder.

Midori Brass Bullet Pencil

I think Midori have created a very interesting interpretation of a classic.

Penol Twin pencils

With many thanks to the kindness of blog reader Henrik (of Denmark), here is a box of Penol Twin 2011 double ended colour pencils.

Penol Twin pencils

Henrik tells me that Penol woodcase pencils are a brand revival. Penol seems to have done some regrouping, and are introducing older product lines, though these products are no longer made in Denmark.

Penol Twin pencils

The set has 18 pencils. They are hexagonal and factory sharpened. There is no statement of origin, though the packaging has text in Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish.

Penol Twin pencils

All in all, a lot of fun!

See also: Double ended colour pencils. (pencil talk, October, 2009)

Steinbeck’s favorite pencils

“My choice of pencils lies between the black Calculator stolen from Fox Films and this Mongol 2 3/8 F which is quite black and holds its point well—much better in fact than the Fox pencils. I will get six more or maybe four more dozen of them for my pencil tray.”

“Pencils must be round. A hexagonal pencil cuts my fingers after a long day. You see I hold a pencil for about six hours every day. This may seem strange but it is true. I am really a conditioned animal with a conditioned hand.”

– John Steinbeck, The Paris Review No. 48, Fall 1969

Steinbeck's favorite pencils

Three pencils that we know John Steinbeck praised – the Eberhard Faber Mongol, the Blaisdell Calculator, and the Eberhard Faber Blackwing.

The Mongol 480 shown here is a less common round version. It writes very nicely!

The Blaisdell Calculator 600 is one of those pencils I thought I would never see – it is definitely the rarity of the trio. I find it to be an incredibly nice writer. It has much of that waxy smoothness of the better known Blackwing.

And, the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602, a pencil that Steinbeck praised, contradicting his requirement that pencils be round.

Steinbeck's favorite pencils

Decades old, each one still writes well and sharpens with ease. What high standards they had back then!

Steinbeck's favorite pencils

My thanks to Sean from The Blackwing Pages for sending me the Calculator and Blackwing.

See also:

Blaisdell 600 v. Blackwing 602 at The Blackwing Pages

Paris Review, John Steinbeck, The Art of Fiction No. 45 at The Paris Review

Tombow Mono block erasers

Tombow Mono block erasers

As a new pocket calculator tribute demonstrates, the Tombow Mono eraser is a design icon. It is also a mighty fine eraser. And similar to other successful products, the Mono has several brand “extensions”.

Looking just at the traditional block format erasers, here are five variants:

PE-04A, the basic Tombow Mono.

EN-MN, the “Non Dust” version.

PE-LT, the “Light” version.

EL-KA and EN-MA, which don’t have English names.

The EL-KA is distinguished by a slight blue tone – the other four erasers are bright white.

Readers of this blog are probably aware that top modern erasers are all first rate. The Pilot Foam, the Mitsubishi Boxy, and many others are great erasers. Differentiating between their performance is often a matter of discerning slight variations.

So I’ll admit to some curiosity about what might make these five PVC erasers from Tombow different from one another.

First observation: all five are excellent, and share much in common.

The name of the Non-Dust confuses me, as it seems to produce the same residue as other erasers. Perhaps there is some specific type of particle that it isn’t emitting? It is denser than the Mono, but the results seem very similar to me.

The EN-MA is spongier and lighter, but it also produced a very similar result. I like the feel.

The Light is the first one that truly feels different. It feels exceptionally smooth on paper – it does feel “light”. You also experience something the photo partially reflects – it excels at attracting and absorbing graphite. I don’t love the design of the sleeve (versus the original), but it is definitely an eraser worth trying.

Finally, the bluish EL-KA seemed to produce a different residue type – finer particles. Yet, the performance was similar to the others.

Are all these variations worthwhile? I imagine that for certain specialty pencil/paper combinations, one of these erasers might just be perfect. But for most general pencil users, I’m not so sure.

Does anyone like one or more of the Tombow Mono variants? If so, what do you like about it?

Handheld multisharpeners

A few ambitious handheld sharpeners attempt to offer multiple options.

Handheld multisharpeners

Here are four.

Upper left: Kutsuwa T’GAAL
Upper right: Kutsuwa K’ZOOL
Lower left: Flute-like sharpener, name unknown
Lower right: 5 steps pencil sharpener

Handheld multisharpeners

The T’GAAL mainly moves a backstop, and slightly moves the (large) blade’s angle:

Handheld multisharpeners

The K’ZOOL manipulates the angle of sharpening, a feature that seems amazing to me in an inexpensive sharpener:

Handheld multisharpeners

The wooden sharpener is quite different – it is aimed at five different diameters of pencils, rather than five variations.

I wasn’t sure where this was leading, and thought I might be chewing up a lot of pencils in these tests, so I bought a budget pack of pencils: the Dixon Economiser. What I’ll say about these pencils is that friends shouldn’t let friends use the Dixon Economiser! Rough basswood (though not the worst) with rich unpleasant chemical paint aromas, it is no ambassador for pencildom.

Handheld multisharpeners


Handheld multisharpeners


Handheld multisharpeners

Note how nicely the K’ZOOL creates those obtuse points. Various readers have asked how to get this type of point rather than a long acute point. The K’ZOOL can do it!

For a full review (in German) of the T’GAAL, with quality pencils tested and some great photographs, please see Lexikaliker.

My thanks to isu from the uncomfortable chair for the Kutsuwa sharpeners.

[Update: January 22, 2011]

For completeness, here are some Aruna/CalCedar ForestChoice pencils sharpened in the “5 Steps” sharpener. For a product costing about $1, it seems okay. Notice the stop point in action:

Handheld multisharpeners

And regarding the V-15 Dizi: The five holes are 5mm, 7mm, 9mm, 11mm, and 13mm in diameter. Here is a ForestChoice in the 9mm hole. It does not sharpen to a point (or even close), though the 9mm hole would seem to be the best fit for a standard woodcase pencil.

Handheld multisharpeners