Erasers Revisited

by Craig Stark

1 April 2013

Is It Time to Pop for an Electric Eraser?

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I say "revisited" because, back in the Dark Ages (pre-BookThink days), I wrote an article for another blog on erasers.

In preparing for that article I tested a number of erasers, one of which was the Sakura Electric Eraser, which I was allowed to try out in an art supply store. I didn't buy one at the time, but in retrospect I think I should have. Why? Have any of these things ever happened to you?

  • Have you ever erased a price or other marking from the top right corner of a front free endpaper and torn it in the process?

  • Have you ever erased something from pulpy and/or age-toned paper and left a ragged, discolored area that actually made things worse? Or gone through the paper entirely?

  • Have you ever erased an underline and removed some of the ink in the line above or below it via pressing down too hard?

I've done this kind of damage and more with erasers over the years. The issue, essentially, is control. With a handheld eraser there just isn't much - and even less as you apply more pressure. A lso, though an eraser may start out with edges, which do give you at least some control, they are quickly rounded over.

I must tell you that I investigated a large number of electric erasers before making a purchase. I read numerous reviews, watched videos, etc., and was surprised that some of the most highly sought after EE's are no longer manufactured, nor are the erasers that were used with them. One model in particular - you can find a video demonstration of it on YouTube if you're interested - was a bulky, corded contraption that was prized for its silky smooth rotating head. Present day models, apparently, vibrate more. However, rather than set up an eBay search for one of these things and hope that it would pop up sometime, I bought what appeared to me to be one of the best available brands - a Sakura SE2000 Electric Eraser Kit.

At $34.50 (with free shipping, of course) this EE snagged the most consistently favorable reviews on Amazon and also included batteries, a spare holder and 20 eraser refills. There's a lot to like about it. It's cordless, ergonomically friendly - it feels like a pen in your hand - quiet, smoothly operating, and the metal eraser holder fits into the head of the EE very snugly, allowing for the application of heavier pressure when necessary.

The first thing I noticed about the Sakura was the pinpoint control I had over the erasing process both in directing it precisely at the marking I wanted to remove and applying as little pressure as possible to get the job done. The result was an erasure that left little or no evidence behind on a variety of surfaces - and I'm sure that all of you know that manual erasing, though it may remove a marking entirely, often leaves an area of surface abrasion that can be seen, sometimes to the considerable detriment of the book. This is especially prevalent with age toned, coated, colored and pulpy surfaces. Colored surfaces are very problematic if the color has been applied to the surface as opposed to dyed throughout during its manufacture. I should also add that the erasers themselves are vinyl - that is, there is no grit impregnated in them, so the surface being erased is less subject to abrasion. A bonus: Vinyl erasers to not accumulate dirt or graphite, unlike the notorious Pink Pearl.

The next thing I noticed about this EE was the speed with which markings could be removed - noticeably faster than I could have manually erased them. If you're erasing a dozen or so underlinings, this can make a significant difference in time and effort. If you're ever done a lot of erasing, you know that it can almost become an athletic event. The Sakura requires remarkably little effort.

Now, as you're using this EE, holding it at an angle to the surface, you'll naturally form a pointed tip, and it's this tip that allows for truly precision erasing - in fact, artists use it to draw exceptionally fine lines for, say, hair.

I've also experimented some using the Sakura to remove soiling from book covers and the bottom edges of text blocks, where soiling often accumulates near the fore edge end, and had good results, in some cases surprisingly good. When erasing along edges of text blocks, apply very light pressure and make sure the rotation of the EE is parallel to the edges of the leaves. Direction of rotation is also important when erasing markings near the edge of a surface, always making sure that the direction is toward the edge, not away from it.

Oddly, ink eraser refills were once available for this unit but no longer. They were solvent based, not grit impregnated, so their effectiveness may not have justified their continued manufacture. Look for them on eBay, however, if you're interested in trying them.

If there is one caution about using the Sakura, it's to stay alert to the metal holder in relation to how much of the eraser is projecting beyond it. If the eraser wears down to it, you could quickly and dramatically damage a surface.

Anyway, here's a link to purchase it if you want to give it a whack:

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