Favorite tools?

Have you got a favorite pen and nib combination?  Ink?

And are there steno pads that don’t feather?
The Ampads from Walmart feather.  I like the color of the paper and the lines.  Will be getting an extra-fine nibbed pen soon, but the fine nib feathers on these papers.  I’m using Skrip which I like very much.  I know Pelikan is a drier ink, but I do so like Skrip.  Am hoping the finer nib will solve the problem.
What combinations of paper, pen, nib and ink do you like?

(by Shorthand-learner for everyone)

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18 comments Add yours
  1. I've only got into writing with fountain pens and bottled ink recently, and the major drawpoint is simply that those 5 dollar 50ml bottles seem to last half a year of everyday use.

    I have two Lamy Safaris, a medium and an extra fine. Used medium for a long time, but with horrible results in the case of engineering notes. The extra fine with a black Shaeffer Skrip ink does the job much better.

    I have two inks, I've used up around have of a Parker Quink Blue, and just got a black "Skrip" bottle which I like the colour of.

    I do notice that some paper is good and some is bad for writing, especially with my EF Lamy, although I haven't yet figured the method to the madness. The general rule though, the cheaper it is, the worse it is. Also, have noticed the recycled notebooks are really good to write on, maybe the paper goes through a more rigid quality control or something.

    Not a fan of metal fountain pens. They are just so cold to the touch, plastic is much better in that regard.

  2. For most of my work, I use Staples steno pads and a Bic Softfeel medium ballpoint. I've tried several ballpoint brands, and was happy to find one that I liked that was sold in bulk. With my family, any "boring" pen is apt to travel and get lost, so bulk buying is good. (I keep my good pens on a higher shelf.)

    My pads feather when I use cheap roller tips. Pilot V7s also feather on it, but not as badly. I use them sometimes just for a change — they really show if I'm hesitating with the pen on the paper!

  3. It's interesting to read what people use. I'm hoping someone has found a steno pad with green paper that doesn't feather.

    Anyone using a Pelikan steno pen, either an old one, or the new version?

  4. Am testing the Esterbrook dip-less pen with a 9555 Renewpoint nib. It is a bit firmer than the 9556, and does all right. It was designed as a shorthand nib, as were the 1555, and 2555. Here's a chart of the Esterbrook Renewpoint nibs: http://www.richardspens.com/?page=ref_info/estienibs.htm

    These nibs are interchangeable. The nib is attached to the feed. The whole section screws into the pen barrel.

    The desk set I'm using is the 407. Here's a link to Esterbrook info: http://www.esterbrook.net/nibs.shtml
    (I bought my dip-less desk set from Brian, who runs the Esterbrook site.)

  5. The Esterbrooks are good pens. I use an old Schaeffer Gregg Shorthand pen, and it is great. For inks, after testing lots of brands, the Private Reserve brand was the best for my pen, since it is a little thicker than the regular inks. It also works well with the Esterbrook that I have. They are a little pricier than the others. In terms of notebooks

    (1) for regular steno pads (6 x 9), Ampad used to make good notebooks, but you have to try them.

    (2) for reporter (4 x 8) notebooks, Sparco was a good brand with very little bleeding, though I’m not sure nowadays. The Tops brand used to bleed too much.

    (3) for court Reporter's Notebook, the notebooks made by the WGFry Corporation, Style RG-62 (though the RG-63 is more available: Pengad):

    The Ampad Steno notebook also comes in Green. To avoid the "feathering", check your nib (does it scratch?) and also the recycled contents of the notebook (less recycled, smoother writing).

    I hope this helps.

  6. Mcbud, thanks much for posting photos of the steno pads. Do you know which model of Sheaffer you have? Does the nib have "ST" on it?

    I have found that paper which has recycled content usually feathers quite badly. I've been using the Ampad Greentint Steno book. I buy them in 3-packs at Walmart. I like the color of the paper and the lines better than the green steno pad sold at Office Depot. I do like the green paper. Much less glare than the white.

    Can someone post a comparison of writing with the Esterbrook 9555 shorthand nib and writing with the Pelikan steno fountain pen (the new one)? Thanks.

  7. I prefer to use the Pengad Court Reporter's notebooks. The paper is very smooth and it takes all kinds of inks very well. I'm finding that my favored pen for dictation is the Pilot Better Retractable. It's a medium point and it writes easily and is reliable. I had used Zebra Z-Grip brand pens and found them to be really unreliable. New pens would suddenly stop writing. I had one pack of the pens where the failure rate was 50%. The only reason I liked them is because they were exceptionally smooth.

  8. I tried all kinds of steno pads over a year ago (I think I even made a comparison chart but I lost it), and what I remember most is that I hated Ampads, they all feathered, you could see through the paper what you wrote on the other side, whether recycled or not, or of whatever colour.
    Though some better than others, and I realize it may be because of my unusual ink.

    National Brand, Tops, and Mead slightly better; Universal and Sparco pretty good.

    Then a year ago I bought two dozen of Corporate Express' #EXP03299 for the simple reason that it was cheap (I think it was eighty-something cents per pad), and it turns out it's perfect for me; no feathering , no see-through, colour a relaxing greenish yellow, lines not blurry, and cheap.

    As for the aforementioned ink, I use Platinum Carbon Black. I read somewhere it's pigment rather than dye-based, so it's a little thicker and glides nicely and is very very black, plus once it has dried it is entirely waterproof.

    Downside is if you don't use the pen for a while it might clot, and if you happen to get some on your finger you will have to go around with a grubby fingernail for a couple of days.

    And ah yes, the pen. I was originally using Platimun fountain pens, but found Carbon Black can be used with other brands, and my present favourite is the Monteverde Artista Demonstrator. You can see how much ink you have left, it feels solid but not too heavy, and the tapering curve of the grip feels snug in my hand.
    At first I thought the nib was a little too stiff for my liking, but eventually discovered it was less tiring to write with than a broad flexible nib (which I'd thought I liked for many years).

    I'd turned to knock type gel ballpoints for a while, because the cap was a bother with a fountain pen, but when I went back to the fountain pen, wow what a difference!

    By the way, I don't like to put the cap on the pen when writing, but I lose it if I put it down somewhere, so the safest place seems to be … in my mouth.


    P.S. A little late to be saying this, but thanks Chuck for this lovely new site!

  9. I finally have the 9450 Esterbrook Renewpoint nib. It is listed as a firm extra-fine for posting. The 9555 which is listed as the Gregg Shorthand nib, at least the particular nib I have, is too wide for my writing. I put the 9450 in my dip-less today and was able to practice very well. A most pleasing improvement, and the finer line feathers less on the paper. I know that no two nibs, even of the same number, are alike. Perhaps a different 9555 would be super. Mine is better for writing letters. The 9450 is very firm, and the bit of tooth makes a clean start when putting pen to paper. It works very well in the dip-less.

  10. The tines seems to be fine, and the feed flows evenly. I've discovered that I quite like extra-fine nibs. I feel as though I have better control over the lines, whether writing, sketching, or practicing shorthand. It's possible the 9555 Renewpoint which I have isn't one of the better ones. Who knows, it could be that I just prefer a firmer, finer line.

    I have a small Sheaffer Balance off for repairs, and am hoping it will be a good shorthand pen. It would be such a treat to be able to try many vintage pens and compare.

    Mcbud, do you know if your Sheaffer shorthand pen is the model called "Balance"? Is it a lever-fill?

  11. Mcbud, how beautiful! I'd only seen photos of later ones. Those flat-tops are splendid. Thanks much for the link to the photos. That's a dream of a pen!

  12. Hm, my university sells ampad "efficiency" with the cardboard-colored (not the green) cover and I actually like the paper quality. Never really feathered on me unless i struck it hard or the wrong way with my nib.

    Pen: Cross Century II – Starlight Blue, fine
    Ink: Noodler's black-blue

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