I work as a biology field technician. My mechanical pencils live a rough life of being stuffed into backpacks, sat on, left out in the rain, or otherwise neglected.
I have looked for the perfect mechanical pencil for years. Most mechanical pencils on the market have one fatal flaw; the metal sleeve (the very last tiny piece of metal pipe that the lead comes out of) is delicate and sharp. They are prone to snapping off or bending when you sit on the pencil and they also tend to poke through backpacks, puncture waterproof bags, etc.
The Skilcraft Fidelity sliding sleeve mechanical pencil solves all of this by allowing the user to retract not only the lead but also the entire metal sliding sleeve back into the pencil when not in use. To retract the lead and sleeve, push down the clicky eraser cap and then push the lead and metal sleeve back into the pencil as you slowly release the clicky eraser cap. These pencils are dead simple and not over-engineered. I was first given one of these pencils from an employee working for the department of fish and wildlife and still use that same pencil today.
I have a dilemma with most notebooks: for me either they are pocket size and affordable but get shredded in my pockets (the spiral bound ones you get at the drug store), or they are too expensive and nice and I don’t want to write in them or tear out pages (Like Moleskine and similar).
When I found the Rhodia Pad Holder and Pad, I realized I found the right balance of durable and affordable.
The holder is made of black leather, and sort of looks like a wallet. It has a front and back pocket. I have found I like to keep two note books in it, but I’ve also carried one note book and some business cards. It’s size and shape fit easily into a pocket. The holder is just bigger than the pad: so it takes a beating, while it keeps its notebooks looking fresh.
The pads that they make for it are great as well. The are backed with stiff cardboard, bound with a staple, thin plastic cover to keep the elements off, pages perforated. Lined or grid: your choice. And, their color scheme is orange and black! They are just nice enough that you want to keep them around, but no so nice you don’t mind marking them up.
Another thing: it includes a pen loop that fits a Fisher Space Pen perfectly, but I’d very much recommend adding a pen clip to your pen. Because what good is a pad with no pen? It’s easy to pull the writing part of the pen out to make a quick note, or to pull the pen and cap out to make a full pen and do some writing.
One added bonus: this sort of looks like a mini version of the pad that the transit cops use in the NYC subway. If you pull it out and start writing in it, it is sort of fun to watch which people move away from you, and which ones give you side eye.
I use the Kadomaru Pro Corner Cutter to round the corners on gimmicked playing cards I make to perform magic tricks. The cutter can also be used to round the corners of postcards, business cards, photos, and any other paper or card stock (as long as it isn’t too thick – it resists when I try to cut two playing cards at the same time).
It has three slots, labeled S (3 mm), M (5 mm), and L (8 mm). The 3mm is perfect for Bicycle playing cards. To use it, insert the corner of the card into the slot until it stops, then press down on the handle until it clicks. The cuts are very clean.
I work at a French school here in San Francisco, and our French teachers require students to use these pens for editing purposes. Apparently they are quite popular in France, their origin of manufacture. In fact, many of our American teachers have begun using these pens for their utility, and I myself have found the four colors useful for taking notes, as they allow me to differentiate between the types of notes I am taking. Funny enough, I recently ran across an homage to these pens in the New York Times, so it appears they have attracted a cult following.
I have been using a rubber finger tip for about 4 months, 5 times a week, 2-3 times/day for approximately 5 minutes a session. It enables me to flip through a large stack of pages quickly.
If you want to flip through a large stack of matte paper, your finger just won’t do. The oils on your finger are not enough to grip letter paper and licking your finger to improve grip gets tiring, is messy, and leaves you… parched. This tool leaves no mess, is cheap, and highly consistent in its usefulness. Different sizes available.
There have been a lot of reading and camping headlights featured on CoolTools over the years. But I’ve not found either to very practical, in so far a reading lights are often limited in their utility by the clip on the back — some are better than others — and their utilization of watch-type batteries; headlamps on the other hand are often expensive, somewhat tricky to fit on one’s head, and dorky.
The Huglight offers the best of both worlds. First, it is cheap. Second, it runs on two AAA batteries, which makes it convenient. The dual lights wrap around your neck and can be angled independently, or bound together with a rubber connection provided with the lamp.
The lights are bright and you can switch them on and off individually. They offer four modes, three white — which, frankly, don’t differ much in intensity — and one red one to help you maintain night vision. The white and red are both plenty bright.
Like headlamps, they leave both of your hands free.
I took a pair of these camping with my kindergartner and they were the most practical tool we took with us. She could put them around her neck, turn them on, and walk around at night. I wore them while cooking and washing dishes at the campsite, and then turned them face up inside the tent for illumination.
I use the red at home in bed for late night reading, as it also doesn’t mess with my sleep cycle (or that or my spouse).
Simple, cheap, and practical. I’ve had them for months and continue to be more than happy with my purchase. They are available at Amazon, but I bought mine at Costco at an even deeper discount.
This’ll be a short review because there’s not much to say other than that it works great and it’s American Made. Oh yeah, it’s a pencil extender.
What’s a pencil extender? It’s not a lead holder, which is an easy mistake to make. It’s for your regular pencil when it gets down to the very end and you don’t want to throw it away yet. I use a lot of Prismacolor Col-Erase pencils. They’re not super-expensive but art supplies can add up and I hate to waste anything. My General Pencil Co. extender, “The Miser,” has kept dozens of Col-Erases alive beyond what would have been an early retirement.
I’ve not tried it with any other pencils so I can’t comment on how well it does on a classic No. 2 or a Mirado Black Warrior. I do like it much better than the fancier-looking aluminium-bodied extender I tried around a year ago. That one was a bit too light-weight and once a pencil is worn down to a nub, I like the extender to add a bit of heft.
Love your pencil? Love it just a little longer with a good extender.
I’ve been a brush pen user for years. I love them. They’re my primary sketching tool & I always have at least one in my bag and one in my car. My first was the Pentel Pocket Brush. From there I moved on to the Pentel Standard Brush and the Kuretake No. 8. Then I was given a Kuretake No. 13.
I still have all the others, and still use them, but the Kuretake No. 13 is the finest of the lot. Being able to move, in one stroke, from a thin, fine line to a fat, smushed line is what makes all brush pens so fun. Even my least favorite brush pen is a blast to use but it’s the Kuretake that gives me the most control. My thin lines are thinner, my fat lines are more consistent and I get more variety between the two than with any other pen. Further, after a broad, smushed stroke, the bristles return to shape immediately, allowing me to move onto a more delicate line without having to dab the brush back into shape on a piece of scrap paper.
Further, the ink flow is just right. A lot of brush pens, with a full ink cartridge, have a tendency to be “wet.” When you press the bristles down for a fat line, the ink can puddle on the page, leaving a shiny wet line just begging to be smeared across your sketch. Great, if that’s the effect you want. I rarely do. I like an ink line that’s controllable and dries quickly enough that I can move around the page without worrying too much about where to put my hand.
The pen is uses water-based dye ink refill cartridges and the default ink is just a bit blacker than the default Pentel ink & reacts similarly with water. Because I’ve ruined two Pentel brush pens trying DIY refilling tricks, I’ve no idea how well the Kuretake reacts to other inks. If someone wants to try it, please let us know how it goes.
I found this product over a year ago. It comes in yellow, green, pink, and white, on a dispenser similar to scotch tape. The paper feels like the same paper used for the original Post It notes, and works well with a Sharpie pen for labeling. The back of the paper is fully-covered by the adhesive (unlike Post-It notes, which have a strip of adhesive only along the top).
I can label anything, remove the label and reuse it. I do this frequently with food storage as I shift things around from one container to another. The labels don’t roll up at the edges or fall off after a few months. I first used the tape when I was moving, because I was using a lot of plastic storage boxes, which I couldn’t write on, and the tape (I bought neon green) was so much easier to use than masking tape.
3M has terrific products in their Post-It line, (including a Post-It glue stick, which I used to use for gluing appointment and business cards into my Day Runner), but this is my favorite product for around-the-house. (Not that it wouldn’t have a million uses in an office, classroom or lab.) They also put thought into designing the dispenser: the tape tears easily and cleanly, and it isn’t such brittle, cheap plastic that it cracks if you drop it. I have used Avery removable labels, but they come on sheets, which are cumbersome and can get bent, come only in white (as far as I know), and require finding a pair of scissors if you need a small label. The tape is far more convenient.
I don’t own the pen where this product is used as a refill, but I do use this in situations as an emergency back-up micro-pen.
I keep one in my wallet for the times when I don’t have a regular pen, and they’re the right size for a pocket-sized or mint-tin survival kit.
It has a good flow for a pen without a body. Not good for long-form writing, but it’ll more than do for a quick signature or short note.