Video: Make Your Own Midori-style Traveler’s Notebook

Make your own Midori-style Traveler’s Notebook in any size (traditional Midori sizes or a leather cover perfectly sized for your Field Notes-sized books) with this great video tutorial:

After you’ve made your own Midori-style TRaveler’s Notebook, don’t forget to check out my previous post about customizing your notebook.

(Thanks to @mattwillgo for the tip)

Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

H. C. Marks (@HCMarks) on Twitter asked “do you know of any stencils with which to draw ruled lines in blank notebooks?”

may14 1

I have something so much better, at least in my humble opinion. I use a sheet of lined paper that I tuck under my blank page to create perfectly straight lines that are there. But not. Using a guide sheet does not require any prep time. Just slide the sheet behind your current page and start writing.

may14 2

And his request could not have been more timely as I’ve been planning to make up a few different line widths to share with readers so that you too can try this. The sheets have pretty thick dark lines that can be seen through most standard writing paper. I’ve tested these sheets in my Rhodia Uni Blank for several weeks.

Guide Sheet, 6mm

With Guide Sheet under Rhodia Paper, 6mm rules

Writing after guide sheet

With Guide Sheet removed.

I have created lined paper guides in 6mm, 7mm, 8mm and 10mm spacing. Each .pdf file includes a full 8.5×11 US Letter sized guide and a smaller 5×7″ guide that you can trim to fit in the average A5-sized notebook. Print out your favorite line width spacing on a laser or ink jet printer. One copy of the guide sheet can be kept in each of your favorite notebooks and should last for a long time. The guide sheet often doubles as a blotter sheet, pen primer or to protect the next sheet from pesky bleed through.






FieldNotes 6mm.pdf

FieldNotes 7mm.pdf

FieldNotes 8mm.pdf


Full Set of Guides (incl. Field Notes size).pdf

When printing, be sure that you choose to print at 100%, do not choose the “fit to paper” option. I ran the lines to the end of the template to maximize guides. Let your printer trim them where it must. For the 5×7″ size, just trim it out. If your favorite notebook is smaller, just trim it as needed.

Using a guide sheet with a blank notebook gives a lot more flexibility. You can sketch and free form on some pages and then use the guide sheets when you want to write. Guide sheets are great with letter-writing pads too.

If there’s interest, I can make up some graph paper sheets as well. Just let me know in the comments what size squares you prefer.

UPDATE: Corrected the 8mm line set to include both sizes. Added a “Full Set” download. And folks asked for Field Notes sized paper. I only did the 6, 7 and 8mm because the 10mm only got a few lines.


Review: Pilot Plumix 1.1mm

Pilot Plumix 1.1mm writing sample

I confess that I quite specifically got the Pilot Plumix Medium Flat Italic (comparable to a 1.1mm) fountain pen ($7.25) to cannibalize the nib for the Pilot Metropolitan ($14.50) pen I have. I had the chance to try out the Plumix thanks to a local pen geek (Thanks, Geoff!) and immediately went home and ordered one. While the shape and overall outside aesthetics leave me wanting, the nib was silky smooth. I had heard other folks mention what a great nib it is for the price point and after trying it, I was sold. It is really as good as everyone says it is. Silky, silky smooth.

Pilot Metropolitan and Plumix

My first order of business was to disassemble both pens in order to swap out the nibs. While I think the medium nib on the Metropolitan is a fine nib, it doesn’t make my heart sing so I was ready to swap it out. I like the metal body of the Metropolitan line over the plastic of the Plumix and its weird, stumpy, wingnut cap even if my Metropolitan is a bit blingy in metallic gold.

Pilot Plumix disassembled

I couldn’t be bothered to clean the pens before disassembly so I used a shop rag to grasped the nib and feed and gentle shimmy it out. Its basically help in the grip section by friction so it didn’t take much force or effort to remove it.

There is a notch inside the grip section that keeps the nib and feed in a specific spot but otherwise it was just a matter of shimmying it back into the other pen body to make the swap. I’d have diagrammed it more if there was anything else to it but really its: grasp, pull and then grasp and push. Also, we are talking about a combined retail value of $22 so I wasn’t too concerned about potential damage if I didn’t do it correctly.

New Improved Pilot Metropolitan

Voila! The completed and fully customized Pilot Metropolitan italic! Total cost: $22.  This same surgery can be done if you want an extra fine nib on a Metropolitan by purchasing the Pilot Penmanship pen ($8.25).

Pilot PLumix 1.1mm writing comparison

DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

(Tested on Rhodia Pad No. 18 Uni-Blank)

Render K + Uni-Ball Signo = LOVE!

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill Writing Sample

While I was in SF, I found some refills for Uni-Ball Signo. I couldn’t remember if these would fit in my Render K but I was willing to take a chance. It was blue-black ink in my favorite 0.38 size. At less than $2, it was a gamble I was willing to take.

The package was labelled UM-151 0.38mm. Jet Pens does not seem to stock this particular flavor refill but Maido’s online shop, MyMaido does stock them.

UPDATE: Eagle-eyed reader, Adamfmoore found the proper refill on JetPens. It’s the Uni-ball Signo UMR-1 Refill and it sells for $1.65.

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill

I discovered that the refill was about an 1/8″ too long so I trimmed it down with a trusty X-acto blade. The plastic is quite hard so if you try this yourself, be careful! It would be easy to slice your finger in attempting this. Once trimmed, the Render K screwed closed easily and voila! Deep green pen with blue-black silky ink. JOY!

Render K Uni Ball Signo Refill

Written on Rhodia No. 18 Uni-Blank Pad. Render K from Karas Kustoms.

Paper Mechanic Typewriter Calendar

Paper DIY Typewriter Calendar

When someone mentions “typewriter” and “calendar” in the same sentence, my ears prick right up. Add in a little paper mechanic magic and I am already writing the blog post in my head.

This darling little desktop calendar stands in its own 3D foldable typewriter. Just print out the pieces and assemble. Consider it as a great Tuesday morning office project. It is available for instant download for $4.99 via Sky Goodies on Etsy.

(tip via Teri of Fiberterian)

Rustic Pallet Desks


In my search for woodsy, natural feeling workspaces, I stumbled upon the idea of building desks, tables and shelving out of reclaimed shipping pallets and wooden crates. There was an extensive article on where I found many of the photos shown above. Some refinished the pallets, sanded or stained to a lovely finish while other options left the material in its raw state with all the stains and wear-and-tear from its previous life clearly visible. The fold-up pallet desk is a good option for those with little space or for the kids to use for homework or craft projects.

Instructions for building your own pallet fold-away desk cane be found at Thistlewood Farms.

Holiday Cheer: Office Style

holiday red desk

Do you string fairy lights across your cubicle wall or put a tree on your desk to get into the spirit of the season? If not, maybe its time to put a little holiday cheer in the office? Hang some decorations from your bulletin board or wall.

free Santa Claus stationery

Maybe download some printable stationery “From the Desk of Santa Claus” to write your lists and notes?

wreath over desk

Hang a wreath or a stocking from your chair or on the wall in your office?

Holiday Desktop Wallpaper

Or for an understated sense of holiday cheer, download a desktop wallpaper and tune into a holiday radio station or Spofity playlist and sing along to a little Bing?

DIY Eraser for Palomino Blackwings

DIY Replacement Blackwing Eraser

The gold standard for graphite erasers is the Steadtler Mars Plastic. I’m not sure if its filled with unicorn horn powder or what but I’ve never found a better eraser. So I was wondering if I could figure out a way to make a replacement eraser for my Palomino Blackwings. It turns out, I can.

You’ll need:

  • Staedtler Mars Plastic Eraser (standard size, available at any art supply store)
  • X-acto or other craft blade
  • Cutting matt
  • Eraser from Palomino Blackwing to use as a guide

The end of a Mars eraser is just about the same width as the Blackwing eraser so I just needed to slice off an similar width piece and then trim the excess. Then slide your newly created eraser into the clamp and slide it into the ferrule.

The new white eraser is a little flimsier than the black/pink/colored erasers that you can buy to fit but it erases much better so I’m willing to accept its shortcomings for better erasing power. One Stadetler Mars eraser can easily make refills for about a dozen pencils.

Nib Tuning, The Amateur Approach



Remember a few weeks ago I was a little sad about the fabulous Esterbrook #2442 Falcon nib that Cliff sent to me because it was scratchy and didn’t always put ink on the paper? And then remember last week I posted the FPGeeks Nib Tuning video? Well, I decided it was time to marry up those two things and I would attempt to tune that pesky nib.

I own a few folding loupes which are not as high-end as the ones shown in the video but at least I could get a look at the tines and see if there was anything wrong. There was! The tines seemed a little twisted, like crossing your fingers. Using the technique demonstrated in the video, I press the tines to the feed and used my nails to gently bend the tines. Then I tested on paper and noticed an improvement in writing already, but it was still scratchy. So I peeked with the loupe and pushed a bit more with my fingers and tried again. Ink was flowing much more consistently but still scratchy.

I confess that I immediately recognized the buffing block in the video to be a high end nail salon product. So I grabbed the nail buffer I had in the bathroom and decided to use the smoothest side first marked “Shine Nail” to cause the least damage. I did that a couple times and tried on paper again. Still scritchy. I went to side #3 “Buff Nail” and did a few more strokes and then applied it to paper again.



Voila! It’s now a fully functional nib. Its not quite as smooth as my age old #2442 but its light years better and completely usable. I plan to do more writing with it now that the flow is good and consistent and if it need more smoothing later, I feel confident I can solve my issues.

DIY Notebook Tote

DIY notebook tote

With a simple canvas tote and a some thread, you can easily make a notebook-style tote bag. Stitch the blue lines with a sewing machine, a little wonky gives it character and then use embroidery thread to create the vertical red margin line using a simple embroidery stitch like backstitch, running stitch or stem stitch. How charming!

(via Say Yes To Hoboken. For stitching tips, check out Sublime Stitching)

Makeshift Ink Cartridge Caddy


I found this vintage metal Kodak film canister in my stash recently and wondered if it would hold some of my European short ink cartridges.


It does. Acutally, it easily holds 14 if you alternate directions. The cap screws on nicely and keeps the cartridges from getting knocked around in the bottom of my bag while keeping any potential leaking contained (not that I’ve ever had a cartridge leak but just in case). For my recent trip I wanted to have some ink options but didn’t want to deal with the potential mess of packing a bottle of ink. This method let me bring several different colors with no mess.

The canister also lets me play “ink roulette” since I filled it with several different colors but did not label anything so its anyone’s guess which color I’ll pull out.


I imagine newer plastic 35mm plastic canisters would also work as a good place to stash a few cartridges too. How do you carry spare cartridges?

DIY Desk Caddy


If your desk, drawers and cubbies are filled with as many pens, pencils and various desk implements as mine, this quick and easy DIY project might be just the thing to corral all of them neatly. Using a shoebox covered with paper or cloth, fill it with various sized cradboard tubes from paper towels, bathroom paper or maililng tubes cut to different lengths and fill the box. Then insert your tools and voila! Tidy desk and you can see and access that massive pen collection easily.

(via Unconsumption)

Solutions for Whiteboard Clean-Up


Does you whiteboard eraser work poorly and leave you with ghosted writing from your previous notes, meeting or brainstorm? I know ours sure did until one of my clever co-workers grabbed a baby wipe in an effort to clean off the whiteboard. Lo and behold, the whiteboard was completely spotless and looked brand new. We use unscented baby wipes with moisturizers, to my co-worker’s point, “When I have to wipe off as many whiteboards, as often as I do, I want my hands moisturized.”


Our only tip is to wait a couple minutes for the board to dry a little but we have a theory that the moisturizers and whatnot in the wipes actually make the board easier to write on rather over water on a paper towel.

Link Love: Brown, Instagram and Feedbin… to name a few


Favorite products in brown by A Penchant For Paper


Here are a few of the great photos I found on Instagram this week: (clockwise from top right) Empty cartridges from Brad Dowdy, well-holstered pens by Patrick Ng, an old Parker Washable Blue cartridge from Ivan R, notebooks from PaperBlanks, Osmiroid nib from Ivan R, typewriter at Arch Drafting Supplies Letter Writing Social by The Black and the Red, Pelikan ink cartridges from Rad + Hungry, demonstrator fountaun pens by slotracer and "Smooth writing" sample by Bakesan

Here are a few of the great photos I found on Instagram this week: (clockwise from top right) Empty cartridges from Brad Dowdy, two-toned pens by Patrick Ng, an old Parker Washable Blue cartridge from Ivan R, Shiraz notebooks from PaperBlanks, Osmiroid italic nib from Ivan R, typewriter at Arch Drafting Supplies Letter Writing Social by The Black and the Red, Pelikan ink cartridges from Rad + Hungry, demonstrator fountaun pens by slotracer21 and “Smooth writing” sample by Bakanekosan


The new Palomino Blackwing Pearl Review is coming! Check out these great photos from Pencil Revolution

The new Palomino Blackwing Pearl Review is coming! Check out these great photos from Pencil Revolution while you wait.

Digital Bits:

And finally, I hope you will all take a moment to read and comment on 13-year-old Kayte’s post on how she became a pen addict. Its inspiring to see her enthusiasm and passion. Let’s support her!

Specialty Printable Papers


Are you working on a digital project that you might need to sketch out on paper? Geekchix collected an assortment of iPhone templates, wireframing templates, “paper browsers” and grid templates that can be downloaded and printed out as needed. There are also links to pre-printed sketchbooks specifically useful for planning your next digital project. See? Even when its digital, you need paper!


Update: One of the links lead to a stencil kit for iPhone UX elements which I just love! This stainless steel laser template sells for $26.95. Lots of other tech models are available in sketchpad and stencil form. Think on paper with these super cool tools!

Print Your Own Post-It Notes


If you ever wanted to have better looking post-it notes, How About Orange has a DIY waste-time-in-the-office project for you! Download the template, adhere your own post-it notes to the template and then run it back through your printer. Be sure you know how your printer feeds so you don’t jam it up. Nothing gets you busted for goofing around at work like gluing post-its to the inside of your printer.

Go forth and while away your Monday morning!

Thumbtack Upgrade


You never know where inspiration might strike. Modcloth had a great idea for jazzing up those plain silver or brass thumbtacks. Grab some old nail polish colors and paint those caps to be something that you want to see rather than something you’re trying to ignore.

A tip for paint thumb tacks is to pierce them into a piece of corrugated cardboard so you don’t have to hold them or balance them as they dry. Paint them solid, stripey or with dots. Voila! Crafty project that makes your office look fancy or so you know when someone steals your supplies.

(via Modcloth)

DIY: Personalized Coffee Mug Revisited

I posted recently about the DIY custom coffee mug from A Beautiful Mess and I got a lot of feedback from readers that using a Sharpie on a mug would not work well. So I went on a hunt for a better solution to customizing your coffee mug. I knew there had to be another option and there is: its the Pebeo Porcelaine 150 pen.

Pebeo Porcelaine Pen 150

The pen is available in nine different colors and in either a broad or fine tip for about $5 per pen. Draw on your mug and then let the ink dry. Then pop the item in a 300℉ oven for 30 minutes and voila! The artwork or writing is now permanent and dishwasher safe though they recommend keeping the artwork to the outside of your mug and not where your food or mouth might come into contact with it.

(via Dick Blick)