Ask the Desk: Refills, Sharpeners & Stamp Pads

Kiran asks:

I love your blog! I had a pen that used Schneider topball 850 refills. I liked that pen but it has been damaged so I’m looking to replace it with something similar that uses the same refills.

Do you know how I would find pens that fit the Schneider topball 850? I tried googling it to no avail.

The Schneider Topball 850 is a standard Euro Rollerball refill that is about 110mm long so there is a lot of options available for pens that would accept that refill.

BigiDesign would be a good option for a pen. They make several pens that would hold the refill including the Ti Arto, Ti Pocket Pro, Ti Arto EDC, and Ti Click EDC. Monteverde Rollerball pens will usually take the standard Euro refills and most high-end rollerball pens from Montegrappa, Aurora, Visconti and Diplomat. Pelikan rollerball pens and refills are listed as being 111mm so they are really close.

Custom pen makers will design their rollerball pens to take either a standard Euro refill or the Schmidt 8126 (not what you want) 90% of the time, Kickstarter projects being the exception where there is a lot more customization for specific types of refills.

If price is an issue, I’d lean towards a Monteverde pen but the BigiDesign is the most compatible should you decide to use a different refill in the future.

Mike asks:

Looking for a ball point refill for a Montblanc Meisterstück Platinum High Detail Solitaire Doué Signum Ballpoint Pen. Originally manufactured in the 90’s. My recent refill purchase came up short, in a very literal way. Seems that I need a refill more on the order of 4.5 inches versus the 3 15/16″ current refill. Any suggestions? Beautiful pen, would love to use it. Thanks.

Mike, whenever I have a question about pen refills, I visit Refillfinder first. In your situation, I’d look in the size guide. While in your case, this did not prove helpful, it usually gleans some useful info.

After some further research, I came across this Ebay listing for a modified refill that will fit older Montblanc pens. Looking at it though, it appears to have a plastic cap added to the end of a modern Montblanc ballpoint refill.

My inclination is, rather than to pay $14 per refill ($7 for the refill and $7 for shipping), to modify an existing modern Montblanc or Monteverde for Montblanc refill by adding a plastic plug to the end of the refill. I suspect this could be done using a plastic cap that comes over the tip of a refill. In a pinch, a drinking straw might work if its sturdy enough (maybe from a child’s sippy cup?) or maybe a sleuthing trip to a local hardware store or hobby shop that specializes in model building for a small diameter dowel. This might be a little too much DIY.  If so, I’d say just buy a few refills from the Ebay vendor and then see if you can pop that plastic cap off and reuse it on future refills. Happy refill hacking!

Dina asks:

I have an old Uni-ball 500 pen. I can’t find refills anywhere. Do you know if there are any compatible refills? The last I one I have is a “Uni ball refill for Uniball 500 and uniball Exceed UBr5-P or UBR 7-P.

In my hunt to find a rollerball replacement for your pen, I found a dead link for a Pentel refill that claimed to fit “Fits Pentel’s EX25 Excalibur pen, Waterman rollerball pens and any pen using Uniball Exceed (UXR-5), and Sheaffer Rollerball II refill.” That leads me to believe that your pen may take a Sheaffer Slim refill ($6.50, available in blue or black) or Waterman Rollerball ($8, also blue or black). I’m making educated guesses here and the refill might not fit but it may be worth trying.

Let me know if you try either of these and if they end up working. Good luck!

Kristin asks:

I have struggled with finding an effective way to sharpen my REALLY big pencils like the Faber Castell 9000 Jumbo, or the Koh-i-Noor Magic chunky pencils. None of the sharpeners I’ve found have an orifice big enough to accommodate this size. Do you have a suggestion about how best to sharpen them?

I ran into the same problem but Caroline at CW Pencil Enterprise had the answer for me: the Möbius & Ruppert Brass Round Double-Hole Sharpener ($8.25). It’s worked with just about every pencil I’ve thrown at it and has a sharpener for Bridge-sized pencils, large jumbo pencils, standard round and hex pencils. It has replaceable blades too. You won’t regret this purchase.

Alex poses a question, like a plant in the audience:

Do you carry any archival stamp ink pads along with your stamps? If not, which ink pads would you recommend for use when using stamps in conjunction with ink swatching?

Funny you should ask! I have been working to stock my favorite ink pads (Ranger Archival) in the shop and I’m happy to announce that some of them have arrived and are now listed in the shop. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, not all the colors and styles have arrived yet but I didn’t want to wait any longer to let everyone know.

Ranger Archival Ink pads (like stated on the proverbial tin) are archival making them acid-free, permanent and waterproof so they are perfect for using with your fountain pen inks, on envelopes and in your journals with other media. Because of their permanent nature, they can bleed through some papers so be sure to do a test either in the back of your notebook or on a scrap piece of paper before committing to a final design — just in case.

I will be stocking the “regular size” ink pads ($6) which feature a 3″x2″ raised inking area. I will also be stocking the mini sets of stamp pads ($12 per set) which offer four colors with small 1″x1.5″ raised pad surfaces. Unlike traditional stamp pads you might find at a big box office supply store, these raised surfaces allow for stamps larger than 3″x2″ to be inked on the pad by gently tapping the stamp across the pad until it is completely covered with ink.

The one color ink pad I desperately wanted to stock — BLACK! — is not in stock yet (Breaking news! I just got a shipping notification from Ranger that our black ink pads are on the way! I should have them in the shop by the end of next week), but we do have some regular-sized ink pads and some mini ink pad sets available. I had been holding off unveiling our ink pad offerings until I had the black pads in hand but you convinced to at least reveal my plans.

Ranger Archival inks also offer re-inker bottles so that pads may be reused for some time. I will be stocking black re-inking bottles but would be happy to add other colors in as demand requires.

Please let me know what colors and ink pad sizes you’d like to see stocked in the shop. And thanks, Alex, for being the question that broke the silence!

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