Review of the Pilot Decimo – Fountain-pens as souvenirs?

During the summer of 2016 I went on a trip to Japan. Prior to setting of to my destination I was aware about the rich tradition the country had on stationery and in particular fountain-pens. I had therefore planned to start a new tradition of my own where I would purchase a locally produced writing instrument as a souvenir to mark my travels starting in Japan.

I was not certain about which pen to choose but I was always attracted to the utility of a retractable nib pen. Even though initially the Pilot Vanishing Point did not catch my eye in terms of beauty, it slowly grew on me. It thus became my pen of choice when I finally visited the iconic Itoya stationery shop in Ginza, Tokyo.

SIZE AND DESIGN

The pen I purchased was the Pilot Vanishing Point (Capless in Japan) Decimo in the blue trim with silver furniture. Compared to the normal VP, the Decimo is slightly thinner and lighter. Naturally the clip is also thinner making it easy to grip and I have found to often use it as a marker in order to grip the pen consistently comfortably without looking.

Another visual difference to the larger brother is that the two metal rings that connect the two sections of the barrel for refilling are not the same size. The one towards the nib is slightly smaller than the one on the back. While this is not a deal-breaker for me, I would have preferred for the rings to have been more proportionally sized as it does stand out a bit. The overall size is comfortable to use even though I would not mind the slightly heavier feeling of the classic.

NIB

One of the biggest selling points of the pen in my opinion is the nib. It is an 18K gold nib and writes like a dream. I chose the medium size which does write thinner than a European medium but its wonderfully calibrated wetness makes it the perfect daily writer size. Thankfully, if I wish to keep my current nib, if I purchase the larger size, the two sections are interchangeable. The nib is slightly soft however and taking into account its small footprint I feel that I have to treat it with a lot of care when I write to not spring the tines or damage it in any other way. Maybe this is just in my head but it keeps me from fully engaging with this pen as the daily workhorse it is designed to be.

FILLING SYSTEM

The decimo is a cartridge-converter pen. While it does not come with a converter in the box, I was able to easily purchase a CON-40 in a local stationary shop while in Japan. The converter however in my opinion is mediocre at best. It  holds a tiny amount of ink and I find it extremely difficult to get a full fill as the piston stops almost an entire centimetre shy of the actual opening point. That one centimetre is a substantial amount of ink considering the small capacity and size of the converter. While I do sometimes try to flip the nib section upside-down to release the air and get a larger fill, it is far too messy and time consuming so I mostly stick to cartridges. Thankfully, the ink selection of the Pilot proprietary cartridges is good in terms of variety and quality but I do prefer using bottled ink.

WRITING SAMPLE

FINAL THOUGHTS

While the pen does suffer from some negatives I think that the one-handed ease of use of the buttery smooth retractable nib make this pen an excellent purchase. For me, thanks to my new-born tradition, every time I write with the pen I day-dream about my trip to Japan making this pen have a special place in my heart.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:

Pen: Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoInk: Pilot Namiki Blue
Paper: Rhodia Orange Dot Pad
Converter: Pilot CON-40

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:
Goulet Pens Blog Decimo Review
The Pen Addict Decimo Review
The Well Appointed Desk Decimo Review

 

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Bellroy Note Sleeve Notebook Hack

I am a big fan of Bellroy products. I purchased my first wallet from them two years ago when I picked up the black Bellroy Note Sleeve and it has not left my pocket since. It is almost perfect! The leather and construction are top quality and the layout is so smart that you can throw everything you have at it and it will still be thin enough to fit nicely in your front pocket. It does however lack one important feature —space for a notepad.

This is obviously expected as it is a detail left unnoticed by pretty much all small-wallet makers, but this did not prevent me from trying to make it work.

WHERE TO PLACE THE NOTEBOOK?

In my opinion there are two ways of incorporating a notebook into a small wallet. You either find a wallet small enough to fit entirely inside one of the pockets, or you fit only the cover such as in a passport holder. Since the Note Sleeve is such a small wallet, the first choice would mean that the notebook would have to be absolutely tiny making it extremely hard to use it in any practical way. I therefore chose to go with the second method.

BUT WHICH NOTEBOOK?

The choice of notebook is very important. At the start I used to make my own staple-bound notebooks which I cut specifically to fit the inside pocket of the Bellroy wallet. The problem was however that they took too long to make, they did not look very nice and they were still quite small. In the end I decided to go with the Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook.

It is slightly taller and wider than a credit card, measuring at 6.7 x 1 x 10.5 cm and so I had to cut the front cover to the dimensions of a credit card to fit inside the wallet’s left side pocket. In the end, the cover fit securely inside the wallet’s pocket also leaving enough space for cards.

FINAL THOUGHTS

In conclusion, I am very happy with this transformation. It addressed all the issues of the Bellroy Note Sleeve, making it my perfect pocket companion. The only issues that I can think of are that firstly, the notebook slightly protrudes from the wallet on the top and bottom. For me this is not a big problem as it does not offend me visually and it gives me some extra writing real-estate. If it is does bother you however you could trim the top and the bottom to address this issue. Secondly, the cuts with the knife are not as perfect as those cut from the factory. Maybe in the future I will invest in some better cutting equipment but for now I still never leave home without it.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:
Wallet: Bellroy Note Sleeve Leather Wallet, Black
Noteb0ok: Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook

Tools:
Knife: Precision Caving Knife
Corner Cutter (Optional): BCP Corner Cutter R5

Photography equipment:
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:
Toolsandtoys.net wallet review
Thegadgeteer wallet review
Rushfaster wallet review

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Pilot Parallel Highlighter Conversion

I was always a fan of reusable pens. I believe this was one of the reasons why I was attracted to fountain pens in the first place. I always hated having to throw away my highlighters every time the ink ran out even though the felt tip was in great condition.

Once I saw the Pilot Parallel pen naturally one idea sprang to my head. How about I use it as a highlighter? I quickly purchased a couple from the local art store and started experimenting. I chose the 3.8mm green version as its width most closely resembles that of normal highlighters.

INSIDE THE BOX

Once you open the box, it comes with two cartridges and a bulb syringe for easy cleaning. The little plastic balloon is shaped to the dimensions of a normal Pilot cartridge and thus fits perfectly every Pilot fountain pen.

CONVERTER VS CARTRIDGES

The first hurdle was how to fill the pen. It turns out that since it takes standard Pilot cartridges, the Pilot CON40 converters fit perfectly. Luckily I had one lying around from my Pilot Capless Decimo. While it worked fine and I could easily refill the pen like a fountain pen one problem became apparent. Its capacity was minute and it was no match for the ink hungry 3.8mm nib.

I ended up using the cartridges that came along in the box by rinsing them and filling them using a small syringe I purchased from Amazon. At some point I will try to convert this pen into an eye-dropper but until that day cartridges are the way to go.

INK

The second problem was what ink. In the beginning, I started diluting normal fountain pen blue ink in water and trying to use that as a virtually unlimited source of highlighter ink. I could never though, for the life of me, get the proportions right. It was either too dark or way to light. I ended up giving up on the idea and decided to purchase a dedicated fountain pen friendly highlighter ink. My choice was the Pelikan M205 Highlighter ink.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Overall, I think this is a great substitute to a normal highlighter. It works as it should and the Pelikan ink looks great over printed text. There are only two problems that I can think of. One, the pen is way too long. As a desk highlighter it protrudes over all other pens in a normal pen holder and if you have a pen pouch or pencil case for the road, chances are it will not fit. Secondly, while the ink does not bleed through in even lower quality paper, it does feel a bit scratchy and it takes quite a bit of effort to hold in the proper angle to get a smooth consistent line. Ease of use in a highlighter is vital for me. When I read I want to focus on what I am trying to understand rather than how to hold my pen and I ended up using the normal felt tip ones quite frequently.

If you can however oversee the above I think the Pilot Parallel pen to be a great substitute to normal highlighters which will save you money in the longterm and minimise waste. For now I use my Parallel pens for what they were initially designed for. Drawing and calligraphy.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Items mentioned*:

Pen: Pilot Parallel
Pen: Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoInk: Pelikan M205 Highlighter ink
Tools: Syringe
Converter: Pilot CON-40

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:

Wonder Pens: Pilot Parallel Pen as a Highlighter
Writer’s Bloc Blog: Using Fountain Pens and Calligraphy Pens as Highlighters

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support StationeryBlogger.com, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.