Unsharpen

Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

Unsharpen Team

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The team handles writing and curation for Unsharpen.com. This includes writing most articles, writing pen, paper, etc. reviews, and building out the site's data catalog. Have a question? Reach out at hello@unsharpen.com.

Ink Types Guide

Pelikan 4001 Ink

When you start to dig into pens just a little bit you’ll see that they are separated ink a few major varieties based on the type of ink they use. These categories are blurry and ultimately not very well defined, but it’s helpful to know the basics about them so you have some idea of what you are buying. This guide will run through the major types of inks in order to help you get a better understanding of the major types of pens, how they write, why you might prefer one over the others, and the best uses for each.

Don’t miss our Pen Refills Guide so you can learn about the types of refills these inks go into.

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Hobonichi 2020: Everything You Want To Know

Think about it, 2020 is just around the corner. The signs are all around you! Maybe that Hobonichi Tech0 Avec half-year journal is already starting to look a little broken in, or your 2019 Hobonichi Cousin is looking a little bit aged. Or, you know, maybe it’s just cooling down (or heating up) a little bit outside, depending on where you live.

It’s August, which means the Hobonichi 2020 lineup is just weeks away.

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What Fountain Pen Does Neil Gaiman Use?

Lamy 2000 Fountain Pen

Neil Gaiman, author of American Gods, Norse Mythology, The Graveyard Book, and many other titles is a dedicated fountain pen user. He’s talked publicly about his love of fountain pens many times, so with some research it wasn’t too hard to figure out what he’s been using over the years. He famously handwrites the first draft of his books using a fountain pen and then later edits them.

Gaiman, in 2012, mentioned that he has had between 40 and 60 pens, so this list will not be in any way complete but we’ll cover the pens he has talked about publicly.

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Sailor Fountain Pen Buying Guide

Sailor 1911 Fountain Pen

Choosing a fountain pen isn’t always an easy task and a surplus of information can be almost as bad as a total lack of information. With that in mind this guide is designed to help you choose a Sailor fountain pen. Sailor isn’t is common as Pilot, Platinum, and a few other competitors here in the US, but they make some really exceptional pens.

This guide will help you decide the right Sailor fountain pen for any buyer at any price level in 2019. We’ll be focusing on the most popular Sailor lines, with the assumption that if you are looking for something expensive or rare, you probably don’t need a buying guide!

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Fisher AG7 vs CH4 Space Pen: What’s the Difference?

Are you trying to choose between the Fisher AG7 and CH4 space pens? They look so much alike, but there are some differences in shape and price that makes then quite different when in use. So how do you choose? This article will help you tell the difference between these two pens and to find that one that’s right for you.

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The Best Pens and Pencils for Adult Coloring Books – July 2019

Adult coloring books have moved from being a quirky fad to being a real thing. A real, relaxing, nothing-to-be-embarassed about thing… and we fully endorse them. If you want to relax and do some art, with none of the stress of painting or figuring out what to draw, a coloring book can be the perfect way to zone out and destress.

So what are the best pens and pencils, and whatever else, for your coloring book?

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Pen Refills Guide

Pen refills adhere to ISO standard 12757 and the later revision ISO 12757-1:2017. This isn’t something that’s mandatory — custom and proprietary refills certainly aren’t illegal — but for practical purposes if you are making a certain refill type, it makes sense that yours is the same dimensions as that of all the other makers.

The standard has two main components: one for general use and one for “documentary use,” basically a stricter standard. This latter application is ISO 12757-2, and it would cover the legibility of letters as well as writing for archival documents.

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ISO Drafting Pencil Color-Coding Guide

Did you ever notice that your drafting pencils have different color text printed on them? You might not know this, but those colors aren’t randomly assigned. The color-coding applies to mechanical pencils, but also to drafting pens, like the Rotring Isograph/Rapidograph, and was popularly seen on professional tools but not so much on consumer-focused items.

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Fountain Pen Help: What is a Music Nib?

Pilot Custom 74 Fountain Pen

If you have been learning about fountain pens and have dug deep enough to get into the world of specialty nibs, perhaps you have come across the term “music nib.” After some immediate confusion perhaps you took a guess and figured out it’s a nib for writing musical notes… or is it a nib that produces wonderful music as you write? Just kidding — it’s definitely the former — but what does that mean in practice? What is a music nib and why might you want to own one?

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The Best Pens for Writing a Lot

Rotring Tikky

Picking the best pen is never an easy task, but one thing is clear: there is a big difference between a pen that you will use for a few minutes here and there and one that has to be used for sustained periods of time. Just like when you are running and marathon shoes are different from sprinting shoes, pens for writing a lot tend to be very different than other pens.

The thing with pens though, is that there is no category of pens for extended time periods or distance, so we need to come to our own conclusions.

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Akkerman Fountain Pen Ink Review

If you are looking for an excellent family of inks, you can’t go wrong with Akkerman. This is an extensive set of inks and its size and language can make it a bit difficult to navigate… but don’t let that stop you! Akkerman inks are too good not to try. Here is our Akkerman ink review after trying a number of samples and buying a few large bottles of this fountain pen ink.

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What Are The Best Pens for Moleskine Notebooks?

Moleskine Notebook

Moleskine notebooks are excellent and easy to find, but they have notoriously lightweight paper. The company doesn’t say exactly what the weight is, but give most premium notebooks (Clairefontaine, etc.) are in the 90 grams per square meter (gsm) range, Moleskine feels to be about 70 gsm. This number might not feel too light, but it’s under a critical number at which many fountain pens and broad — often even medium — rollerballs will bleed through.

So, with that lightweight, possibly uncoated, paper in mind, what are the best pens for using in Moleskine Classic notebooks?

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Best Chinese Fountain Pen of 2019

Wing Sung 3003 Fountain Pen

If you are shopping for a very affordable — as in sub-$20, sub-$10, or even sub-$5 — fountain pen and you want high-end features like screw-on cap, included converter, or piston-filling mechanism then you are shopping for a Chinese fountain pen. Brands like Wing Sung and Jinhao offer incredible value for the money, but do have some shortcomings that we don’t expect from standard fountain pen purchases.

These Chinese fountain pens are very affordable, but they don’t have websites with clear explanations and offer don’t come from vendors we know and trust. Plus that often have very slow shipping times (sometimes 2-4 weeks to the US) so remembering what you bought can be an issue. It was with those challenges in mind that we set up this top Chinese fountain pens of 2019 roundup.

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