Pilot Vanishing Point Clipectomy

31 03 2018

I’ve done about 25 clipectomies now, so I suppose it’s past time to share my thoughts about the process for those others who may be interested in taking the clips off their Vanishing Points.

I save the clips like trophies. But in a good, sportsmanlike way, not a serial killery way

Step 1: Read Richard Binder’s guide. Read it many many times.

Step 2: Purchase supplies. This included K-D Tools 135 Sprk Plug Terminal Pliers from Amazon (I should get Amazon affiliate links going, shouldn’t I?), a rubber mallet from Home Depot (because leather and rubber are basically the same substance right), then one by one from Michael’s so I could use a coupon each time: G-S Hypo Cement, a heat gun (no, Michael’s Store employee, I do not mean a glue gun), and some chain nose pliers.

Thus begins the tribulations

Step 3: Attempt to follow the instructions. Embrace despair. Realize the instruction statement “some nozzles can be very stubborn” is a vast understatement. Some nozzles are possessed by demons of a most perverse nature, glued together by a bond as yet unaccounted for by mere physical forces. Hallucinate that progress is being made. The hallucinations will keep you from giving up.

The hardest part about a clipectomy is…every part. Literally every part. Especially whatever part you’re working on at the moment.

Step 4: After much suffering, the nose cone will come off. Or it won’t. Still waiting on my original matte black, my yellow, and a blue carbonesque for Alan to reach this step. I’m trying to get better at identifying some tell that will help me figure out which VPs will be easy to take apart and which ones will prove to have been fused together at an unbreakable molecular level. Nose cones that don’t seem seated as tightly, for instance. But I’m not always right. This is the primary reason I have yet to offer/advertise doing clipectomies for other people, because the amount of effort involved is a wild unknown. A tip: put something, like a bit of masking tape or a soft cloth, under the clip where it touches the body, unless you want the wiggling action of trying to get the nose cone off to cause the clip to rub off some of your matte black finish. Oops.

::laughing crying emoji here, and everywhere, segues to just crying emoji::

Step 5: So You Managed to Get the Nose Cone Off. Great! Lay down on the floor and contemplate existence, because there’s a too-good chance that took way too much effort to accomplish.


Step 6: Removing the little retaining clip. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to use any tool under the sun to pull this clip out. I have always had to knock the clip out (typically using a small nail turned upside down so the nail head is able to push down on the retaining clip, inserted from the small end of the nose cone, propped on a nib block, and hammered with a smallish metal hammer), except in one memorable instance where I had to file the little wingfeet off and knock it out the opposite way. That was a tremendous hassle.

This is the fun part

Step 7: The nose cone is free of clip. This is the home stretch. Sunshine and angels singing. Now to decide what color to paint. I like to pick colors that pop. I use either Testor’s enamel paint, or random assorted fingernail polish. Both have served me well.

So fun! So Fancy!

Step 8: Once the paint is dry, reassemble the pen as per Richard’s instructions. Don’t put TOO much glue on or you get a mess of glue oozing out when you reassemble. Oops again.

I’d like to say it gets easier. No, I’d like for it to just actually be easier and I can just say nothing

Step 9: You did it, enjoy! Or, if all this is too much for you, you can always buy one of the clipectomy VPs I’ve done for Crazy Alan’s Emporium. There will typically be a couple available per pen show. I’m glad I learned how to do this procedure, because it would be prohibitively expensive for me to have someone else taking the clips off all my Vanishing Points. And it has allowed me to make my Vanishing Points uniquely mine.


Warning: lacking clips, these Vanishing Points will roll away if given the opportunity. Pen rests, pen stands, sleeves, cases, etc. are recommended to keep them from escaping to the wild.

Stabilo ‘s Move Easy Left Handed Pen

28 09 2011

Ergonomic grips: the fastest way to make your handwriting look as terrible as possible

This pen dates from way back when in 2008, before I’d even heard of JetPens. I was studying abroad in Venice, and discovered the office supply wonders of the nearest Testolini. That’s where I first saw this:


in multiple colors, but all were right-handed models. I was not confident enough to hazard my own translation to ask “Do you have the left handed model of this pen? Could you order it for me?”, preferring instead to drown my sorrows in wine and to visit Testolini often, in the hopes that the pen fairy would see fit to take pity on my situation.

Things the pen fairy did not do: exist; take pity on my situation.

It wasn’t until over a month later that I finally found the left-handed model I wanted in some office supply shop in Paris.  Was I delighted? I was so delighted, I didn’t even know what language to use to say thank you. Or maybe that wasn’t delight; maybe that was wine…

Strangely not hypermagnetized to attract debris

I can say that even after almost 3 years, this pen still looks pretty good. It has withstood abuse well. It feels great to hold, curves in all the right places. Of course, I apparently grip my pens in the most ergonomically unsound way possible, so holding the pen and writing with it aren’t precisely the same story, but I think that’s more a function of me than the pen.

Another pen cap that makes me think of a squid

My biggest unfounded concern with this pen was the cap. I figured there would be no way this thing would still be with me after any appreciable length of time. But there it is before your very computer screens. I appreciate the consideration Stabilo put into the cap. It pushes on and/or screws on to close, unscrews to open, and snaps firmly onto the end to post. Doesn’t pull off when it’s shut, doesn’t unscrew by itself, and despite my best efforts, cannot be accidentally knocked off the end when posted.

Place for your name, again in this magical fantasy world where all the children have cool pens

And can we just stop for a moment and admire this minimalist design? It may be a child’s pen, but (at least with this color scheme) it’s far from childish.

Mine came with 3 ink refills, and probably more than one nameplate sticker and laminate sticker cover in case I screwed my name up

In spite of my ergonomic-defying gripping tendencies, I still enjoy writing with this pen, even if my handwriting doesn’t look as good because my mastery of the “ideal” pliers grip is on par with a first grader. There is a kind of velvety smoothness to this rollerball—tactile, smooth but not buttery smooth, deliberate but not in a way that feels like I’m getting resistance. It writes well and consistently from almost every angle, except when I attempt a very unnatural-feeling 90-degree perpendicular approach to the page (at that angle, the ink is thinner, lighter, and there is resistance).

Gimmicky? No, gimmexcellent.

The good news: I like this pen. The bad news: one, I don’t think this particular model is sold anymore? It has been slightly redesigned, with an aesthetically-challenged  snub-nosed cap. Two: I have no recollection of how much this pen cost, especially since I bought it in another currency, at a time when I was pretending that the euro and the dollar were equivalent (because otherwise, I wouldn’t have spent any money at all, because I would have thought everything to be far too expensive). Three: I don’t know a good site to link to for you to buy this pen! Here‘s the current iteration of this pen at Stabilo’s website, but if any of you reading this know of / are a site selling this pen, let me know and I’ll add a link!