My Favourite Sketchbook Journals

From Entry Monday 6th February 2017

My journal preferences

I am often asked about my journals, where I get them from and so on. When I lived in the USA I began using these for two main reasons. One, the smoothness of the paper – I didn’t want texture in the paper to influence my drawings, whether they were technical drawings, drawings or sketches. Two, I write only with refillable, waterproof Parker ink using a traditional fountain pen.

The smoothness of the paper again is important and then the hardness of the paper. I don’t want the ink to bleed.

“Uh oh! Back pain here I come!!!”


Paul says, “You can’t plait sawdust so don’t cut your bench legs too short too soon.”

So, anyway, here’s the thing. I asked Cristina to order a year’s supply from the only supplier which is the USA’s Barnes and Noble. She checked for delivery and asked if I was in a hurry because delivery would be March–I said, “No, but we have no choice”. She added six on Friday 3rd February and 4 days later they arrived in good condition and well packaged here in the UK – so how about that for a non-priority shipping order.

Oh, they have perforated pages too, so if on the rare occasion I want to remove one of 96 sheets (192 pages), I can do that too. The books are smith-sawn faces and have a silk ribbon page marker/locator too.

The cost of the sketchbooks? Still, after many, many years, a mere $9.95 (USD). Shipping was about the same so still good value.


  1. Just a slightly different tack. Upon a previous recommendation of yours I picked up a packet of Tircondoroga pencils (the ones with an eraser at the top) whilst I was on holiday in the US recently. I forget exactly what I paid but I think they were less than $10 for a pack of 20 from Woolmart. I have to say they are the equal of the Faber Castell Columbus pencils that I normally use but with the added ability to rub our mistakes with a decent quality eraser. I always take note of your recommendations as I have never been disappointed, thank you.

  2. Very nice, must try that when I finish my current one. Though the size is a bit large; do you carry this with you everywhere or do you have a smaller notebook you keep in your pocket in case you’re struck by an idea while away from the larger notebook?

    I tend to use smaller A5 notebooks because of this; the Leuchtturm 1917 dotted hardback notebooks seem to be the best of these at the moment.

    1. Three things that never leave my side; my MacBook, my camera and my note/sketchbook. I carry all three in a Tamrac backpack that’s well padded for cameras and laptops with enough room for my sketchbook.

  3. Paul,
    Have you considered having the sketchbooks published? There are so few sources for this type of raw and unfiltered information, that it would be a great seller! Masterclasses students like myself would likely gobble them up!

  4. I too am a fountain pen user. I’ll use a pencil to mark things, but if I’m putting pen to paper it’s a real pen with real ink.
    Finding good paper to use with fountain pens is difficult so I’m thrilled to hear about this journal. I’ve been using Clairefontaine, but they’re closer to you than to me. I’m switching. Thanks.

  5. HI Paul and the Group,
    Being new to Masterclasses, the website is like being a kid in a candystore.
    My situation is a little different from most woodworkers in that I have no detail vision and can’t see a lot of what you would normally use for a guide. Such as a line to follow in cutting a board. I need to use fixtures to keep things in line.

    Is there any information on the guide you used in cutting the mortises in the doors you made for the tool cabinet?

    Back to the topic, my drawings are now put on of 11×17 sheets of paper using a wide dark blue sharpie. They are not pretty, but most of the time, I can figure them out when I go back to them. Most of the info for projects is laid out using the spreadsheet Excel. and once I learn to use the CAD system that is comparable my vision software, there will be more traditional drawings.
    Thanks for all you and your team do to show how it can be done.

  6. Hey Paul,
    Any update on these at Barnes and Noble? I ordered some last year at your recommendation and now I can’t locate them on the site.

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