Friday, September 24, 2010

Low-Tech on the Go: Cheap Pocket Pencil Hack

I've talked about pocket notebooks in recent posts, they're handy things to have for keeping organized and jotting down ideas, but what do you use to write in them?

If I'm wearing a jacket or carrying a bag it's easy enough to carry a pen, but otherwise a pen in a pants pocket, where it's subject to being bent and banged up by whatever my clumsy posterior collides with, which can lead to a messy leak. In these cases, the humble pencil is a better choice.

Carrying a pencil does have one or two small disadvantages, first, a good point on is is vulnerable and easily broken, and two, one needs something to sharpen it with. You can carry a separate sharpener and keep renewing the tip if you like, but I like an all-in-one option. If money is no object, you can get one of these (and apparently there is a more affordable plastic option which I fully intend to snatch up if I come across one), but for those of us who are looking for cheap and easy, I've got another way.

Materials you'll need are:
Your pocket notebook (of course)
A pair of small binder clips
A piece of fine-grit sandpaper
A knife
A pencil
A cheap "stick" pen

Start by cutting the pencil down to about the length of your pocket notebook. You don't have to, but I find this makes it easier to carry the two together. Then put a bit of point on it with the knife or a sharpener.

Next take the pen. Remove the cap from the pen, and toss the pen back in your desk drawer (it doesn't need a cap there). The plastic cap should fit nicely over the point of an average Number 2 pencil.

Now, cut a piece of the sandpaper small enough to fit inside your notebook. Clip it in place with a binder clip.

Attach another binder clip to the edge of your notebook, you can then slip the clip on the pen cap through that, attaching your pencil to your notebook.
And there you have a pocket writing system. The sandpaper is all you need to sharpen your pencil (with patience you can sharpen it from completely flat, but for the sake of efficiency it's easier to cut your point and home and use the paper to refresh it as it wears down) and the pen cap protects the tip in your pocket and provides a clip.

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