Sunday, March 15, 2015

Eraser Review: Staedtler Rasoplast Combi

Staedtler makes one of my favourite erasers, the Mars Plastic, but they also make the Rasoplast.  The Rasoplast, like the Mars Plastic, comes in both a standard version and a "Combi" version, which is an eraser that includes a white end for erasing pencil and a blue end for erasing ink.

The white end has the familiar soft, flexible feel of most erasers, while the blue end is harder and has a rougher texture.  The eraser is imprinted over its entire length with the Staedtler logo; this is a touch I love on Staedtler erasers.  With the sleeve off, you can see that the white part of the eraser is larger than the blue part.

I was curious to see how the pencil eraser end of the Rasoplast would compare to the Mars Plastic, Staedtler's "premium quality" eraser.  To begin with, the Rasoplast feels firmer than the Mars Plastic, but its texture is just as soft.  When I compared erasing ability side by side with 2H, HB, 2B, and 6B Tombow Mono pencils, the Mars Plastic erased noticeably better than the Rasoplast for all the pencil grades.  (The Mars Plastic appears to have smeared more, but that might just be because my Mars Plastic has worn down more and has no fine corners left to erase with as my Rasoplast does.)  For ordinary writing purposes, the Rasoplast would probably be okay, but I don't know why anyone would choose it over the Mars Plastic, especially since the prices seem to be comparable.

What about the ink eraser end of the Rasoplast Combi?  Here, things get a bit more confusing.  I've owned a few combination-type erasers in the past, and I've always assumed that the blue part was for erasing pen on paper (even though they never seemed to work very well for that).  The Staedtler website even confirms this, with the page for the Rasoplast Combi stating that the "blue part of [the] eraser [is] for ink on paper."  However, a quick test with different types of pens on ordinary copy paper shows that this simply does not work.  The eraser made the gel pen ink look a bit fainter, but otherwise it had absolutely no effect.

This is not what the blue end of the eraser is for!

Out of curiosity, I turned to Staedtler's page for the Mars Plastic Combi eraser.  Here, we get a different story: the "blue part of [the] eraser [is] for India ink on transparent paper (vellum) and matt drafting film."  This was starting to sound a bit out of my league, but Faber-Castell PITT Artist Pens are supposed to contain India ink, and I do own a few pieces of vellum-type paper that were part of a package of scrapbooking paper I bought many years ago.  So I decided to test the Rasoplast with this combination.

Success!  Sort of.  It didn't erase perfectly, but I'm not sure if that's because it's just not a great eraser, or because my supplies were still not quite the ones it was meant to be used with.  I did notice that erasing the ink took a bit more effort and time than erasing pencil on paper.  Also, the eraser left a slight whitish mark on the vellum paper.

Overall, the Staedtler Rasoplast is an okay eraser, but Staedtler Mars Plastic is a better one.  And do not be fooled by the Combi versions of either eraser (no matter what Staedtler tries to tell you); you will be very disappointed if you try to erase normal pens with them.  I don't think that many people would need to erase India ink on vellum or drafting film, but if you're one of those people, I would love to hear from you about how you use erasers that way, and if the Rasoplast is actually any good for this or not.

Reviews elsewhere: Dave's Mechanical Pencils (pencil eraser only).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Follow-up: Binder Clips and Loose-leaf Rings

I received some questions on my last post, so I thought a follow-up post was needed so I could illustrate some of the things I mentioned only briefly last time.
First, binder clips as stands...

I'm sure there are many ways you could do this.  It's not something I do very often, but when I do, I use what seems to me to be the simplest method: two binder clips of equal size clipped as shown in the above photo.  This is probably best for lightweight objects, such as cards (as is shown in the photo), or maybe a pocket notebook (it works for my Field Notes, for example).  Search on Google and you'll find many examples of how to create binder clip stands for smart phones, tablets, etc. (here's one).  Just experiment with different combinations of binder clips and you'll probably come up with something that works for you.

And if you need further proof that binder clips are awesome, here's a post that lists 54 uses for them (some more serious than others!).

Finally, loose leaf rings - these may not be as familiar as binder clips, so I thought it might be useful to show a photo of what they look like in action.  Simply thread them through the holes of your papers and you have a very simple form of binding.  To hold together 8½ x 11-inch papers, you really only need two rings - one for the top hole and one for the bottom - but I usually use three anyway, just because I can.  To hold together index cards, you only need one ring, and holes punched in the top corners of the cards.

Do you use binder clips or loose-leaf rings?  How do you use them?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Favourite Office Supplies

I have previously written posts on my favourite supplies for writing and for art journaling, and now I would like to use this post to highlight some of my other favourite supplies that are not pens, pencils, or paper.  Some of these are familiar office supplies that most of you probably own, while others are a bit more obscure.

  • Hole punch - In high school I owned a cheap hole punch that attached to the rings of my binder and only punched 2 sheets of paper at a time.  It was painful to use it if I had a large amount of papers to punch, so in university I bought myself a real hole punch (mine's from Swingline) and I am honestly not kidding when I say that it was one of the best purchases I made in my university years.  This hole punch made my life better by saving me time and relieving a lot of unnecessary stress on my hand (from punching holes with my cheap hole punch).  And I always found it fun to use as well.  I don't need to punch holes in too many papers these days, but my Swingline hole punch is still one of my essential supplies.
  • Stapler - This was another essential from high school and university, as almost every assignment I completed needed to be printed out and stapled together.  The stapler I used in those years was my pocket-sized Swingline stapler.  This stapler is comfortable to use, small enough to fit in most pencil cases, capable of stapling almost anything that a large stapler can, and it incorporates both a staple remover and a space to store extra staples.
  • Loose-leaf rings - No one ever mentions these, but I have used them for years and I love them.  I mainly use them as a form of simple, temporary binding to hold together 8½ x 11-inch pieces of scrap paper for writing rough drafts and lists.  I've also used them to hold together stacks of flash cards.
  • Binder clips - I only discovered binder clips in the last few years, but I love them as well.  They're much better than traditional paper clips as they can clip together much thicker stacks of paper.  I mainly use them to hold together small pieces of scrap paper to form rough notepads, but I've also used them to hold notebook pages open, as clamps to hold together things that are being glued, or as simple stands.  If you're bored, you can also make sculptures out of them (see below).
  • Graphing calculator - This was a requirement for my high school math class many years ago, but I still use it several times a week today.  While I usually don't need to draw graphs (although, being the geek that I am, sometimes I make graphs just for fun) or use the advanced functions anymore, it's still my favourite calculator to use.  It has a large screen that shows every number and operation you enter, so you can easily see exactly what you're calculating.  (If you're curious, my graphing calculator is a Texas Instruments TI-83+; it's quite old so I assume that much newer versions are now available.)

What are your favourite office supplies?  Do they include any less conventional items?  And does anyone other than me still use a calculator regularly?
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