Uni 0.5mm Kuru Toga Slide Pipe

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:

Kuru Toga
The “Original” Kuru Toga design
Kuru Toga High Grade
The “High Grade” Kuru Toga design
Kuru Toga Roulette
The “Roulette” Kuru Toga design

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.

(Note: there have been a few other designs, ranging from an “α gel” grip, to simple Disney designs – but I’ve mostly skipped trying those)

While the barrel design has got (subjectively) better each time, the internal workings of the Kuru Toga has always been the same:

Kuru Toga Drigram

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:

Kuru Toga Lead

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:

  1. You can retract the lead sleeve or pipe for storage
  2. The sleeve slowly slides up as you use it

This is really great addition to an already fantastic pencil mechanism.

Kuru Toga Slide Pipe

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.

Kuru Toga
The “Original” Kuru Toga design
Kuru Toga Slide Pipe
The “Slide Pipe” Kuru Toga 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.

Follow @desk_of_jules for more stationery photos!

More Stationery Photos on Instagram

My stationery addiction is a big part of my life – of course the whole point is to be productive, but it often looks gorgeous too.

I have decided to create an account on Instagram purely for the purpose of sharing more photographs and information about the stationery I love and use every day. Check it out if stationery is your thing!

Follow @desk_of_jules on Instagram.

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Analogue Note-Taking System for 2016

For 2016, I have changed my analogue note taking system for the first time since I started using two Moleskine notebooks in 2012.

The centre of my 2016 setup is an Arts & Science leather case for the A6 Hobonichi Techo. I went for the bright option with this vivid orange, a colour which I often link to energy.

It looks absolutely gorgeous and feels great to hold.

hobonichi-case-closed

When closed, the whole kit is a similar size to the dual Moleskine notebooks I used to carry. It’s a little shorter and wider, but generally, they feel to be around the same size in terms of having something to carry around.

leather-sitching-closeup

One of the benefits of using this case is that the whole thing zips up to keep the notebooks inside, nice and safe. This means that, rather than carrying two Moleskine notebooks and a pencil case, I can now just carry the single case with me every day.

Right now, I have the following items inside:

  • 2016 Hobonichi Techo (A6, Japanese)
  • Two Field Notes Notebooks (XOXO Conference 2015, DDC Dead Print)
  • Seven note cards (one currently used)
  • Bookmark (a thankyou card from Landland)
  • Arts & Science Pencil Board
  • A Minecraft sticker I acquired last week

knolling1

This is simply a snapshot of time at the start of 2016 while writing this article. The items inside will change over the year, with the Field Notes changing at least monthly. Most times I’ll only have one Field Notes, but there’s a lot going on at the start of this year so I’ve started with two.

hobonichi-case-open

Opening up the case reveals the notebooks inside. The Hobonichi Techo is on the right hand side, easy to open and look things up. I usually take it out when I’m going to be at a desk for hours, but I can also write and review various things directly in the notebook when it is still in the case.

I will write some more about the Hobonichi Techo in a couple of weeks, but I mostly use this for time-based planning and daily journaling, rather than some of the more creative uses that the notebook is famous for.

I do like to customise the outside though, and both sides are covered in stickers.

inside-pocket

I fell in love with Field Notes in 2015 and now I use them for just about anything. If I have only one Field Notes notebook with me, then I tend to put it in the left hand pocket as above. Since I am using two at the moment, I tend to just put them inside rather than stuffing the pocket.

band-of-rubber-close-up

I also like to have a Band of Rubber on hand for if I need to hold them together.

Anything goes in these notebooks. I burn through these books faster than anything else, and mostly they’re used to record current thoughts, plans and help support my longer term goals.

note-cards

The pocket on the left also includes a couple of card slots. I use them with some blank, white note cards that are used for rough notes, ideas, and pretty much anything that I used to use index cards for – just in a smaller form factor. I don’t like to tear pages out of my Field Notes, so this is what I use if I need take a note for somebody else.

I’ll write some more about my use of these cards soon, but I find that this form factor is much more useful to me than index cards. They easily fit in a wallet too.

note-closeup

On the right, there’s a slot for a pen, and my current pen of choice is the Jetstream Prime (single version – I reviewed the multipen version a while back) with a 0.7 mm black refill. This has become by far my favourite go-to pen of choice, so it gets the pride of place here.

both-cases

Obviously, I am a huge stationery nerd and I can’t just have one pen, so I still keep a main pencil case, which I also carry if I’m using my work bag or something similar. It’s an optional extra though, so it’s not always with me.

This is also a snapshot in time, but here is what’s inside right now:

knolling2

The Kuru Toga is favourite of mine and it still gets plenty of regular use. I’ve also found myself using the Uni-ball Air with large sheets of A4 to work my way through some ideas I have. I find it to be much more enjoyable than a Jetstream when working on a bigger scale or sketching rather than writing.

bb-8-drawing

Most of the other items in my pencil case are going to change fairly regularly. I like to try new things so I often put pens or pencils in here for me to experiment with on a whim. An example is the Field Notes No 2 pencil: it has been there for a couple of weeks, but I simply have not used it yet.

knolling3

There are a few other extras I often tend to use. A cotton bag for the Arts & Science Hobonichi case, a DDC Stuff Sheath, and a Field Notes Band of Rubber – just in case.

hobonichi-case-and-stuff-sheath

I regularly use the DDC Stuff Sheath when just carrying a single Field Notes notebook with me. It’s a fantastic little leather sheath that can be used for anything, but easily fits a couple of Field Notes and other loose materials.

I have this on hand when I need it and often carry it with the Arts & Science leather case for my Hobonichi. They make a great pair.

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Like the pencil case, it’s an optional extra, but it’s most helpful when I am travelling or visiting somewhere and want to take a single notebook out with me.

It’s way durable and very orange.

landland-field-notes

Also worth a mention, is my seemingly never-ending supply of Field Notes notebooks. I keep these at home and choose a different one as soon as I finish the one I’m using. I love working my way through the many designs I have and I’m enjoying each one of the differences in paper and manufacturing techniques.

These are the fundamentals of what I’m planning to use for 2016. It’s quite different to the way I worked before, but I feel that it allows me more flexibility and the ability to write more often with my analogue tools. I feel more connected to analogue note-taking than I ever have.

Follow @desk_of_jules on Instagram for more stationery photos!

The Great Pencil Debate

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of many different kinds of stationery, but that doesn’t mean I want to have to think about which pen or pencil to use at any specific time. However, there have been two pencils that have been fighting for my top spot for a while now…

Uni 0.5mm Kuru Toga Roulette

great-pencil-3

I have used various Kuru Toga pencils since they first appeared on the market, starting with the original all-plastic design, moving to the amazing High Grade and then to the perfected Roulette model. Each of which has been even nicer to use than the last. The main idea behind the Kuru Toga design is for the lead to rotate as you write, ensuring that the pencil end never gets flat on one side – a trait to most mechanical pencils which means that your writing is not consistent. This gives you an amazing thin line, which added with my B grade lead is dark and bold enough for the majority of writing tasks.

Before using a Kuru Toga I used to manually rotate the pencil every now and then just to make sure I was still writing with a sharp tip. While this is not the biggest problem the world needs to solve, I applaud the Mitsubishi Pencil Company for coming up with an elegant and solution to the problem.

The Kuru Toga Roulette is solid, well weighted, and built with high quality plastic. The grip on the Roulette version is a painted metal which could potentially scrape, but at the moment has held up very well. As with most mechanical pencils, there is also a small eraser at the end which can always be used in situations where there is no full sized eraser available to use.

Quite simply, the Kuru Toga Roulette is the most advanced and gorgeous looking pencil I have ever used. But is that enough?

Uni 2mm Field Lead Holder

great-pencil-2

Enter the 2mm Field Lead Holder. I first started using a lead holder regularly in August 2012, even though I’d had one in my pencil case for a while. On the technical scale it’s pretty much at the opposite end to the Kuru Toga – it’s a stick of 2mm lead with a plastic and metal surround. There’s no rotating lead and not much in the way of fancy technology.

It is also not ideal for writing mathematics or large amounts of text – but I haven’t been doing this much since finishing my university course a couple of years ago. Usually used for drafting, sketching and other art works, the larger 2mm lead actually started to look really nice when set on the Moleskine notebooks I use for my personal and professional endeavours. The thick, bold lines are fantastic for making lists and doing mind maps or diagrams.

Who wins?

Between these two pencils I have decided on both.

Most of the time, I use a squared Moleskine notebook for work. Here the Uni 2mm Field Lead Holder is used to make task lists, draw diagrams and make notes.

The Kuru Toga Roulette is used in my Moleksine weekly diary – making smaller notes, mind maps and task lists.

great-pencil-1

Uni 0.5mm Kuru Toga Roulette

kuru-toga-1

I have primarily used mechanical pencils for my note taking more than a decade now, and there are two particular kinds that really stand out in my memory. The older Pentel model that I first really grew to like, and the modern Uni Kuru Toga pencils made by the Mitsubishi Pencil Company.

I have used no less than four different designs of the Kuru Toga (and a number of colours of each) but all of the Kuru Toga pencils share the same important feature – the lead automatically rotates as you use it.

kuru-toga-2

Long term users of mechanical pencils will surely know the biggest problem is that the point of the lead becomes flattened on the edge that is drawing the line. The trick is to manually rotate the pencil in your hand as you write to avoid getting uneven lines. Here’s where the Kuru Toga’s rotating lead mechanism comes in handy – it does all the work for you so that all you need to do is write.

The version I’m currently using is the Kuru Toga Roulette 0.5 mm with 2B NanoDia Lead* – and it is by far the best of an already fine bunch.

kuru-toga-3

Pros

  • A true innovation in pencil technology
  • High quality black plastic components
  • High quality painted metal grip
  • High quality silver coloured trimmings

Cons

  • Not easy to get in the UK
  • Not super cheap at $16 + tax + shipping

* Mitsubishi actually produce leads specifically designed for the Kuru Toga. I have not tried them out yet though.