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Hammermill Premium Laser Print (24lb) first-impressions review


Bluethumb
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Hello!

 

I've enjoyed lurking here for a while, so I'd like to share a first-impressions review of some paper by way of saying "thanks."

 

The paper:
Hammermill Premium Laser Print: Paper for Color. 24lb, 98 brightness, stock no. 104604. US$14 at retail for letter size, 500 sheet ream as of December, 2020.

 

Summary:
My comments below are offered from the point of view of a perfectionist, where the smallest flaw is worth mentioning. For pragmatic purposes, stop reading this review and just buy the stuff.

 

I'm more than satisfied with this paper for everyday writing. It will mildly feather when very wet and colors take a while to set, so this wouldn't be a my choice for calligraphic showpieces. It is almost annoyingly smooth: enough that I sometimes don't feel when my italic flex nib, which eats everything else, is no longer touching the page. It is also quite functional, as I doubt I'll ever manage to unintentionally smear my writing, and it is stiff enough that I'm comfortable using it in a disc-bound journal.

 

Physical:
This is a smooth, brightened white paper. It is blank and has straight edges.

 

I want to reiterate: this is smooth paper. Smoother (and whiter) than my Rhodia pads. Smooth enough that my chisel-tipped italic nib, which I'm used to dragging and cutting on any paper when it isn't ideally aligned, seems as forgiving as any ball-tipped fountain pen. I haven't tried papers known for smoothness -- I'm thinking Tomoe River FP -- but I also haven't ever used anything smoother than this that wasn't marketed as shiny photo paper. Pencil strokes were noticeably lighter on this paper than I am used to; yet I felt I had more control over shading than usual. Remarkably smooth, so I'm remarking.

 

(I print photos almost exclusively using matte paper, so I find this smoothness mildly discomfiting, but that's neither here nor there.)

 

It feels dense (rather than thick) for its weight, it cuts cleanly, and seems sturdy enough for my disc-bound journals. Curiously, the smoothness extends to the edges: it is almost annoyingly hard to lift a single sheet from the edge, and I failed to give myself a papercut even when trying to.

 

I wonder if this isn't halfway between pulped paper and photo "paper" that is mostly a plasticky, resinous coating with not so much paper on the surface. Still, unlike some Epson photo papers, there is no warning that this stock should not be recycled, so it hasn't gone entirely synthetic.

 

The packaging does not mention inkjet printing, so I presume it is optimized for high heat/low flow laser printing, which in turn should reduce fountain pen feathering and bleed.

 

The package suggests loading it with a particular side facing up, but I do not know if that is to minimize jams due to the cutting and packing of the paper or to maximize quality due to coating. I was unable to detect any meaningful difference in behavior within a given sheet or from one side to another using a fairly wet Noodler's flex nib. If this paper has one-sided coating, I have not yet seen any consequences of this.

 

No watermarks are apparent. Held up to the light, there is mild blotching with light/dark areas about the sizes of various coins. To me, this looks like paper and as such is pleasant, but if a sheet were to be presented backlit it would be mildly distracting and I would prefer one of my photo-paper stocks. There is also a fairly small and faint grid pattern, but I wouldn't have seen it unless I was both examining the paper at very close distance and looking specifically for it.

 

With writing:
I tested with two fountain pens, a Lamy Safari and a Noodler's Konrad. The Safari was used with a Lamy blue-black cartridge and the stock fine nib. The Konrad was used with Noodler's Polar Blue ink and a Noodler's untipped italic flex nib that I ground to a tip just shy of 1mm wide; the ebonite feed and nib had been adjusted to my preference and then heat-set; the nib is wet enough to figure-8 across a page without railroading but not so wet as to make its finest lines more than barely visible.

 

I also tested with a big felt permanent marker (Sharpie) and a 0.5mm mechanical pencil with I don't know what kind of lead in it.

 

All performed well.

 

There is always some see-through. When writing on the back of a sheet, I can see the lines on the other side, but not clearly enough to make out words. I do not find it distracting and, if I did, I could not fault a 24 pound paper for behaving like 24 pound paper.

 

There was bleed-through, but only when using a wet pen. When practicing flex control (with beginner's copperplate), the densest of the ink begins to get through to the other side, but there isn't enough bleed through to prevent me from using both sides to practice on. The felt pen, however, is always so wet that I wouldn't use that on both sides. There was no bleed-through otherwise, including with the flex pen doing its thing during everyday, quickish writing up to mildly (but not maximally) flexed figure-8 drills.

 

There is always some feathering, but never enough that I can see it unless I examine the lines. I can see the pixels on my Retina monitor before I can see this feathering. The worst was when practicing copperplate figures with slow, flexed lines. This paper is more than good enough for practicing these figures, but I know art pieces are almost always closely examined and the paper would be a disappointment at closer than a hand's breadth away. Therefore, this paper is not for final pieces; but if you expected that quality at this price, then you should tell us where you buy your other paper.

 

Really, what I'm calling "feathering" is different enough from what appears when ink strikes out in fuzzy lines down slivers of pulp that I think another word is called for, but I'm not aware of a better alternative. This isn't the gregarious, Pixar-fur kind of feathering that I've seen on inkjet paper, but is a constrained, blocky aliasing that falls into the grid pattern of the paper. By rough guess, I'd say that the grid lines are about 0.1mm apart and the feathering distance significantly less than that. Edge acne? Line stuttering? Bark? Do you folks know what I mean? If not, I'll see if I can get a photo of this.

 

I found it difficult to induce smearing. When I wrote something then rubbed the edge of my hand back and forth over the lines, I could not make anything smear, including ink from the felt pen or flexed nib. To induce smear, I needed to rub the ink with my thumb or other hand immediately after drawing the line. I do not think I could cause this paper to smear unintentionally with my normal writing. I don't know about drawings or left-handers, though I suspect this paper will still be better than normal.

 

However, the paper still takes a while to dry. I didn't time it, but I feel like the ink was still changing color (getting lighter) after a minute or so. It probably isn't a good choice for writing in the rain.

 

I do not have much experience with or affinity for the art of shading, so my thoughts here lack nuance. There is shading. Where lines cross, the intersection become darker. I can see, faintly, the gap between my tines where the nib was flexing. I can see where my normal writing slows down at curves or the end of a word. But I have to look for it. And I don't know how these inks would shade on a shade-friendly paper. So, it is there, but you might have to look elsewhere if you want a more thorough opinion.

 

The one test I haven't done, and probably won't get to do for a few months yet, is to see how well it handles being set down in a bit of water -- say, a ring of beer at the pub after work in a moment of weakness when I turn away from my notes and toward another human being. Ah. Nostalgia. But I suppose that human-interest stuff is supposed to go at the top of a review. Oops.

 

Overall, I'm very pleased with this paper. I bought it because I had problems getting a ream of HP Premium 32, then read that maybe the old standby isn't as good as it used to be ... and I bought at retail from the one place nearby which sold copy paper, which had this option and the cheapest possible stuff, and nothing else ... so I had low expectations. Still, if I had expected good everyday paper, I would have expected something like my Rhodia pads, and even those expectations would have been surpassed. If you like the frictionless glide of a fountain pen for writing and don't need fine-art quality, I commend to you this Hammermill Premium Laser Print stock.

Edited by Bluethumb
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Thank you for a very well written and detailed review.  I have the same paper in 32lb and didn't like it. For my (wet) Pelikans there ws too much show through and some bleed through. Oh how I miss the old HP 32lb Laserjet paper!!

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova

 

 

 

 

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you for posting this amazing review! I'm looking for a FP-friendly printer paper so I'll add this Hammermill one to the list to sample. It sounds excellent.

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  • 7 months later...

Excellent review.

 

Went and bought a bunch of paper from Amazon and immediately tested it...and it performed horribly. Tons of feathering with every pen I tried in every nib size from multiple manufacturers. I went back and rechecked the description of what I received, but it matches your description verbatim.

 

It's not all a loss though - I actually needed some laser printer paper anyways, so I'll use it for that purpose.

 

Guess we got different batches! But yeah based on my recent purchase, I definitely would not recommend it.

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