Review – Helix Architects Triangular Scale

Rulers. Well, we all need them at some point. Whether you need to draw a straight line or know the distance between two points, they come in real handy. But sometime the information you need is just not on your ordinary ruler. So you get an architect’s triangular scale. But which one? Let’s look at one of the cheapest: the Helix Architects Triangular Scale.

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First off, the plastic this thing is made out of is very brittle and sharp. Little burrs and notches line the sides. There are no rounded corners, and you can easily stab yourself on the triangle points. However, there seems to be no fear of shattering or snapping in the piece, it is quite sturdy.

The information is printed in a nice, readable black over the very-slightly off-white plastic. From what I can tell (truth be told I’m not entirely sure about what all the sides are for) they are accurate. I have compared them with several other units I have. The ink used is resilient, but also raised and will rub off with prolonged use as will most rulers and the like.

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Overall, for it being fairly cheap, it is a nice piece. It does its job well and will probably serve for several years before needing replacement with proper care, though there are many more comfortable or longer lasting alternatives out there.

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Review – X-ACTO 3-hole binder Punch

Sometimes you need to do stuff with your art that isn’t art stuff. Sometimes you need to file it away, or keep it safe in a cover, or organize it in a binder. If you’re looking to do the last one, then you might need the X-ACTO 3-hole binder punch.

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This semi-sturdy piece of transparent plastic is designed to fit in a binder and easily punch holes through a few sheets of paper. I stress a few because on the box it says the limit is three. And yes, even three sheets is very stressful to this thing, and after that it just starts tearing the paper.

I said it was plastic earlier, but the punching apparatus is actually a nice metal piece on a hinge. It is easily as sturdy as any other hole punch I’ve used. The hinge, though, is so close to the paper that it is what you have to use to get a nice clean straight punch line and because it is a hinge this is very difficult.

Off to the bottom there is a guide that you can place your paper on and it works well. There is also a flimsy piece of loose-fitting plastic that I assume is supposed to act as a guide so the paper stays down, though it will hardly do this job well and seems as if it will snap at any moment. It also jiggles unnecessarily. On the front is a 10-inch ruler, which would be nicer if it was ruled correctly, as it is, it is about a quarter of an inch short.

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And finally on the back are a pair of fold-out binder loops that will allow you to stick this thing in any 3-hole binder you desire, though they will make a horrible grating sound and the plastic they’re screwed into looks like it can break in a hurry. They will never break off the binder rings on their own though.

Really this is just a cheap hole punch. The actual punch is quite nice, but its housing is lacking. If you only need to punch a few sheets every once in a while this is alright. Any more hole punching and this thing will be useless. It will certainly break within a year or two but it is quite cheap. So if that is what you want or need from your hole punch, go right ahead, otherwise try something further up the ladder.

Review – Clairefontaine Spiral Classic wire bound French Ruled Notebook

Do you have trouble with making your handwriting look good? Do you feel that many of the lined notebooks are ruled just to small for you? Then the Clairefontaine Classic Wire Bound French Ruled Notebook may be for you.

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The notebook’s size is about 6¾” X 8½”. It comes with 60 sheets of 90 gram paper. The paper is a nice, crisp white. And it really is white, it’s brighter than the white in a composition notebook, and is a very stark contrast to most of the higher quality off-white, moleskine-type notebooks.

The quality of the paper is superb. It is buttery smooth and provides a great writing surface. There is no feedback to speak of; so if you like feed back you should be looking elsewhere. The thickness and smoothness of the paper means it handles ink very well. Pencils, ballpoint pens, technical pens, and even fountain pens are handled with ease; though there is a prolonged drying time. Some very wet writing implements, like heavier fountain pens or the Nano-liner, do ghost and occasionally bleed through, but for the most part you can use both sides of the sheet if you so desire.

The ruling on the particular book I have is French ruling, or Seyès if you will. It is designed to make one’s handwriting better. It has five thin lines between each pair of thick lines, which allows for the various heights of minuscule and majuscule letters (upper and lower case). It also has lines running vertically that act as indentation guides for paragraphs and the like. It is great for practicing handwriting or for easy spacing of lines, though it can seem overwhelming at times.

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The binding is a simple spiral that is heavy duty and will allow the book to lie flat easily. The cover is a simple piece of card stock that has nothing special about it. It is covered in a design that I frankly find ugly, but then again I like plain black books so what do I know? It serves its purpose well.

Over all this is a superb book. The paper is incredible, both to write on and to look at. The French ruling is very helpful in writing and can also serve as a general (stress that) guide while drawing little sketches and the like. The binding is nice and simple, doing its job well. It’s not particularly an art book, but it’s a very good writing/note book.

Review – Uni Paint Pen

So you want to paint, but you’re better at drawing. Or you want to mark on some surface unsuitable for Sharpie or other permanent markers. Well, the Uni Paint PX-21 by Sanford may be for you.

This pen is oil-based and needs to be shaken up like a spray can before use. It has a “fine” point, which means a medium or even broad point if you compare it to anything that is a not a paint pen. The line it writes is solid and about as thick as a large Crayola marker. This particular version is the black version which is especially solid, though it is fairly shiny, somewhere between a Sharpie and a matte black spray in terms of marking on plastic. It does mark on literally anything, though some shiner plastics and polished metals have it wear off easily.

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The body of the pen is metal and feels solid in the hand. A shiny label has all the necessary information printed on it, including warnings and such. This label makes the pen slightly slippery in the hand so tight gripping is necessary.

The cap matches the color of the paint. It has ridges that are sharp and cut into the skin. It also fits very snugly onto the end, meaning it is quite difficult to remove, which is both a hindrance and a benefit.

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Also be warned that since it is an oil-based pen it stinks mightily and will give you a headache after a few minutes of constant exposure. The label even tells you to put the cap on immediately after use, though this is most likely also to not let the paint dry out.

Overall this is a great little painting device. It is especially handy for touchups on plastic and metal painting. Or, if you’re like my relatives and have a shop were regular markers and price tags have a hard time sticking to the stock. It’s not really a home item, or one that will be useful to canvas painters, but it certainly will have its place with sculptors and model builders.

Review – large Blank Moleskine

A little while ago I reviewed the Moleskine blank pocket book. Now in the same notebook direction I’ll take a quick look at the Moleskine blank large book. Will the classic renowned Moleskine hold up to closer scrutiny? We’ll see.

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The cover is cardboard wrapped in faux-leather. It’s fairly sturdy, though it does begin to wear at the corners with continuous use. Though if you find a notebook that doesn’t I’ll be amazed. The binding is rounded, flexible and lies flat. It does have a tendency to crease when opened for too long. It also tears eventually, and if the book is really old it even begins to split down the back. This only happens toward the end of the book’s life (the last twenty pages or so). Around the cover is an elastic band which does a good job holding everything together but will eventually bend the cover in.

The pages are super thin. There are 240 of them in this half-inch book. They are of okay stock. Anything heavier than a ballpoint pen bleeds through but not usually onto the next page, it can just be seen through the page. The paper is smooth and writes well, the fine texture is just enough to prevent slips of the hand.

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The first and last pages are attached to the binding, rendering them mostly useless. In the back is the standard pocket, which contains the story of Moleskine (and a quality control number which is actually quite useful). In the front is a ‘who owns this’ page with a reward blank. I don’t find those particularly useful but they are there.

So are they worth it? Like all notebooks it depends on what you’re looking for (unless they just fall apart, those are useless no matter what). They are great for free range writing with sketches to enhance the look. As a sketchbook they work best with pencil as most anything else will bleed through. They are very solid in construction, the front cover especially can take a severe beating. They have very few organizational features, which some may find liberating and some infuriating. Like I said, best as a free range writing/sketch book. Alright as a travel log or such. They’re decent, and the ones I use all the time.