I haven’t been so exited about a new pen for a while, finally got my hands on the new Jetstream Edge 0.28 mm from Japan 😍 (more thoughts on this to come!)
If anyone ever asks me which mechanical pencil is the best, I always tell them to look at the Kuru Toga.
There have been three main variants I have used day-to-day as my favourite pencil since the first one came out in 2009:
From top to bottom, we have the “Original” all plastic design, the “High Grade” design featuring a smooth metal grip and a thinner overall barrel, and the “Roulette” which swapped the smooth metal grip of the High Grade with a knurled grip.
This is also the order they became available and I’ve always switched as the newer models came out. The Roulette has been the most recent design and it has been the version I have used almost exclusively since then.
While the barrel design has got (subjectively) better each time, the internal workings of the Kuru Toga has always been the same:
As you can see above, the Kuru Toga takes a unique approach by rotating the lead. This drastically improves the consistency of the lines produced from the pencil and reduces the chance of breakage.
With the Kuru Toga, the outside edges of the lead are worn down first. To aid this, a special kind of lead was made to complement the Kuru Toga:
Earlier this year, an updated version of the Kuru Toga became available but, unlike previous revisions to the barrel, there have been changes to writing experience too…
Uni Kuru Toga Slide Pipe Mechanical Pencil
In late 2015, a new variant appeared. The Kuru Toga “Slide Pipe” has two new features:
- You can retract the lead sleeve or pipe for storage
- The sleeve slowly slides up as you use it
This is really great addition to an already fantastic pencil mechanism.
Being able to push the lead pipe up into the barrel makes the pencil much nicer for storage because the overall length of the pencil is reduced and the tip is a lot kinder to pen holders and pockets.
It makes it safer too. There have been a number of times when I’ve accidentally stabbed myself in the hand with my Kuru Toga Roulette, a less than pleasing experience – trust me.
In addition, the lead pipe slowly slides up the lead as you use it. This means you don’t need to propel the lead as often, and there’s no way that the tip of the metal pipe will ever scratch against your paper when the lead gets worn down. I hadn’t actually had this on any of my pencils before and it’s also a really great addition.
Saying that, I tend to propel the lead anyway, as I like to be able to see a larger tip. But I found that I was able to write nearly twice as long as I could with the Roulette using the same B grade Kuru Toga lead. That’s pretty amazing.
Finally, while I am pleased to see this kind of improvement come to the Kuru Toga, I must say I’m a little disappointed that they chose to only update the original design.
I have a lot of pencils I can choose from and using the same plastic design of the original Kuru Toga isn’t appealing enough to grab my top spot, I’d much rather see the Roulette design feature this new pipe.
I can only hope an updated Roulette is on the way, and I’m keeping an eye out for it.
A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine got back from Japan with a very healthy supply of stationery, and I was fortunate enough to receive a number of shiny new pens and pencils to try out. (Thanks Jordan!)
The Zebra Sharbo X ST3 was one of these gifts, and I quickly decided it had to be the first I would write about.
I have already been using a Sharbo X LT3 for the last six months, so I know how great the Sharbo X line of multi-pens pens can be. Of course, I was not disappointed.
The beautiful glossy-white painted finish is different to my standard choice of black, and having something out of the ordinary has made this pen stand out even more as one of my favourites.
All Sharbo X multi-pens can be filled with compatible D1 refills ranging from gel, ball point, emulsion and pencil and stylus. The ST3 is in the same price range and extremely similar to the LT3. There are a few differences though:
- The ST3 is thicker than the LT3, though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I’ll discuss below
- The threading in the ST3 is plastic, compared to the brass in the LT3
- The logos and labels on the barrel have a slightly different style
- The clip joins to the barrel in a slightly different way
The thicker body may mean that it probably fits a wider variety of D1 refills – when I first got my LT3 the thickest of my refills actually scraped on the inside of the barrel.
Above you can see how the side of the LAMY refill has rubbed off inside the LT3 (front), and it seems that the ST3 (back) will not have this problem.
I also have a feeling that the thicker barrel will allow me to write for longer periods of time. The LT3 is a bit skinny for extended use, and over time I noticed that it is less comfortable to use than my Jetstream Prime, even though there are only a couple of millimetres difference in the circumference.
For my refills, I have gone for the same setup as a my LT3:
- Position I: 0.5 mm B Nano-Dai Lead
- Position II: Black 0.7 mm Jetstream
- Position III: LAMY Orange Highlighter
Overall I’m thrilled with this pen and it has already made its way into my all-time favourites. For the moment I am using it in place of my LT3, but I am not sure which one I will use as my daily pen moving forward. As they’ve both got the same setup I can easily swap between them or keep them in different bags.
- Sturdy construction and no rattle
- Standard D1 refills with the trademark Sharbo twist selection
- Great pencil implementation with lead width selection, knock, and eraser
- Feels incredibly well made and expensive
- Beautiful white finish
- Not the cheapest multi-pen body, your budget may vary
- D1 refills are small and don’t hold much ink, especially gels
- You cannot swap the pencil out for another component
- Thicker than a standard pen
- The white finish can be an ink magnet!