Posts Tagged ‘pencil’

News: Creative Types on Their Favorite Tools

Illustration by Kulapat Yantrasast

Illustration by Kulapat Yantrasast

There’s a great article on the NYTimes about Creative Types From Manolo Blahnik to Milton Glaser on Their Favorite Writing and Drawing Instruments. Thanks to Milton Glaser, I really want my own Koh-I-Noor multi-colored Magic Pencil.

While we’re on the topic of the NYTimes and its love of articles about pens and pencils, here’s a couple others to check out:

Pencil Review: Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood 348 HB

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

What can I say about the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood 348 HB pencil? Its beautiful. It also costs $5.45 per pencil. Who pays $5.45 for a pencil? I do. Why? Curiosity. And its pretty.

Aside: Caran d’Ache is known for producing some of the best colored pencils and watercolor pencils in the world that can also cost upwards of $5 per pencil and I’m considering investing in those too. Does that make me crazy? Maybe.

The Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood pencil is a beautiful beech wood pencil, stained dark with no additional shellac. It smells like a campfire. (Yes, I sniffed the pencil). The end is dip-sealed with glossy red enamel and the white Swiss cross is printed on the end. The lettering is printed in a crisp white foil along one fact of this hexagonal pencil.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

I love hex pencils and the Swiss Wood is slightly wider than a standard hex pencil. It may be too wide to fit some standard sharpeners but it fit fine in my  Palomino/KUM two-step long point sharpener.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

The experience writing with this pencil seemed to be “oh, this is how a pencil should feel.” It was smooth and silent on the paper. When scratching back and forth, I got a good dense color. The Swiss Wood just coasted along on the paper and kept a good point in the process. With some effort, I could smudge it but while writing I did not notice any graphite on the heel of my hand which is a true test for any lefty.

It erased with almost no trace of the previous scribblings with my “oops!” eraser that lives on my desk.

When compared to the Field Notes pencil, it was so apparent how much grittier the FN pencil was than the Swiss Wood. Of course, the FN pencil is a freebie but I assume most of my fine readers own at least one of these pencils so when I say the Swiss Wood is leaps and bounds better to write with than most pencils, you have basis for comparison. I also compared the Swiss Wodd to my favorite go-to pencil, the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 HB. The Grip 2001 was definitely a lighter graphite and scratchier than the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood. Am I going to have to throw it over for a gross of Swiss Woods? Maybe!

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

I’m inclined to think that, if you’re a bit of a pencil snob, its worth it to add a few of these Swiss Wood pencils to your collection. I think I might like the writing experience better than the Palomino Blackwings (blasphemous, I know.) but the Blackwings actually look like a bargain-priced pencil next to the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood.

But, even at $5.45 (comparable to the cost of your average Venti Vanilla Latte), the Swiss Wood is worth trying. Just skip the latte today.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

Review: New TUL Serious Ink Pens from Office Depot/Max

TUL Chest

The folks over at Office Max/Office Depot kindly sent me a new sample pack of the new and improved TUL Serious Ink products to try out. When they contacted me, I was expecting some blister packs of pens in a padded envelope. Instead I received this industrial-tough lunchbox with lock and key. Clearly, they are serious about this launch.

Pens in the TUL chest

Inside the aluminum box, in foam cutaways, were four sample tools (TULs?), one for each of the product types: a rollerball, a gel pen, a ballpoint and a mechanical pencil. They also sent along some rub-on tattoos that I forgot to photograph. It was quite the package!

The rollerball is the only capped pen that was included in the kit. The gel and ballpoint pens are both retractable and the mechanical pencil can retract not only the lead but the lead tube as well making it easier to transport and protect the lead tube from damage.

All the pens feature simple, clean design. The overall color schemes are black, silver and clear plastics. The barrels of the pens are plastic, painted with metallic silver and black paint. The cones that hold the pen tips and the mechanical pencil are metal expect in the rollerball.

The logos and graphics are minimal and minimal branding is really quite an appealing feature to me in pens. I find a lot of modern “big box store” pens have way too much text, graphics and branding on them. The TUL series is a nice antidote to this.

All the TULs feature silicone grips, or in the case of the mechanical pencil, the whole body is a soft matte rubber.  The rubber make all the TULs comfortable to hold but prone to collecting dust particles and pocket lint.

TUL Serious Ink writing samples

In writing tests, I was pleasantly surprised with all the TULs. Usually rollerballs choke on me and stop writing a few words into writing but I had no trouble using the TUL rollerball in medium (0.7). The black ink was dark and dried pretty quickly. The gel pen in medium (0.7) was also dark black and quick drying but a little bolder line than the rollerball. Both of these are also available in fine point (0.5) which I would probably love as both the gel and rollerball in medium were a little bold for my daily writing style. But otherwise, they are good “big box” pen options.

The medium (1.0) ballpoint was notably slippery on the Rhodia paper. On standard office stock, this feature would probably be a bonus but on super smooth paper, it felt like the pen moved faster than my brain. It didn’t skip as much as a standard office ballpoints which is a plus. I suspect the ink is closer to a hybrid ink than the traditional oily ballpoint ink. If you favor ballpoints, this would be a good option. A fine (0.7) tip version is also available.

The mechanical pencil writes comfortably with its fully rubberized body and features a retractable eraser on the end. I was curious as to exactly how long the eraser was and untwisted the whole thing. There’s a good inch or more of eraser that is twisted inside the pencil barrel. Very clever design! Spare erasers can be purchased online too. To be honest, the mechanical pencil was my favorite TUL. I even liked the thicker 0.7mm leads though I am inclined to try the thinner 0.5mm lead version as well, just to see. Pencils rock. Pencils with long retractable erasers rock even harder.

I forgot to photograph the water tests! The ballpoint is waterproof. The pencil showed no ill effects from the water but a softer lead might show a little blurring. The rollerball pen is considerably less water resistant than the gel pen. It surprised me a bit that the gel pen is more water resistant since gel ink is not often very water resistant but a wipe with a wet paint brush left a light grey halo but the lines I drew are still visible. The rollerball lines survived my wet paintburush but a lot more of the ink reactivated creating a much darker grey halo.  So if wet conditions are an issue for you, stick to the gel, ballpoint or pencil.

TUL Serious Ink Pens

I’m quite pleased with the overall quality of the TUL line. The writing quality and build quality was much better than I anticipated. Each of the TULs seems to be a house brand competitor to a brand name and I feel like I should probably do a  side-by-side comparison of the TUL version against the name brand versions, particularly the gel pen.  I suspect its supposed to directly compete with the Pilot G2 and the Pentel Energel. I think the TUL version is comparable but without doing a true side-by-side I can’t say for certain if the performance is exactly the same.  As for the rollerball, ballpoint and mechanical pencil, the TUL brand versions are on par with other products in the same category. I think the mechanical pencils is particularly appealing with its retractable, extra-long eraser and rubberized barrel.

I will say that, aesthetically, I prefer the TUL pens and the prices are comparable to similar products. If I were stocking my company supply cabinet, I might purchase the TULs over name brands just for the minimal branding and visual simplicity.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Office Max/Office Depot for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Kickstarter: Penxo 2mm Lead Holder

There’s just 12 hours left to back the Penxo 2mm drafting pencil. There are several backing options at just $29 US for a lead holder and a pack of 12 leads and sharpener. This is a beautiful design and I hope it works as well as proposed. I backed it. I’m looking forward to filling the silver model with non-photo blue leads.

News: Pelle Notebooks and Blackwing Subscriptions

Yafa Monteverde Pelle Journals

Did you know Yafa is listing a Monteverde Pelle refillable journal listed on their site now? Does this mean that Pelle is back in business and working with Monteverde? Exciting news if, like me, you really liked the Pelle version of this popular leather notebook system.

Blackwing Volumes is a new collectible subscription service that provides subscribers with a dozen limited-edition, custom-designed Blackwing pencils, four times a year. Subscribers will receive an additional collector’s pencil, sealed and labeled for archiving, with each set and a guarantee to receive each release, even if they sell out to non-subscribers.

Subscriptions are $99 per year, plus shipping and can be purchased at Pencils.com.

 

Pencil Review: Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Paper Mate Mirado Black Warrior is an office supply store staple. I purchased a pre-sharpened package of 8 pencils in a blister pack for about $2.I ended up re-sharpening them with my Dux Varibel because I could.

This pencil has a smooth round barrel with a matte black paint finish, gold toned ferrule with a cherry red painted stripe and a classic pink eraser top. There were no bar codes or extraneous info printed on the pencil, just the branding and hardness info in gold foil in one line. Everything about it is classic looking which makes it a fairly appealing pencil. The packaging proclaims its the “world’s smoothest write — guaranteed.” Pretty big claim.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The Mirado is a decently smooth pencil for a big box tool but its not anywhere near the smoothest write I’ve experienced. The lead is quite dark and smudgy and the point dulls in a sentence or two.

Papermate Mirado Black Warrior

The eraser, as with most pencil toppers, is lame and I wore it out with one erasing. Even with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, there was still a ghost of the writing left.

The bottom line: Meh. I’d give this pencil a C rating. Its too smudgy, too soft for an HB and the eraser is crap. There are better options available that are only a little more expensive.

Pencil Review: Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark 2B

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

One of my other happy purchases from CW Pencil Enterprises was a dozen box of Indian-made Nataraj Platinum Extra Dark pencils ($0.30 each/ $3.60 per dozen). The package included a dozen pre-sharpened pencils and a plastic pencil sharpener.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencils remind me a bit of the Staedtler Rally pencils with the alternating stripes of color on the hex panels. Where the Rally pencils are navy and white, the Nataraj are black and metallic silver. On one side, the brand name is stamped in silver and on the reverse panel is the pesky bar code. Oh, I hate those bar code but at least its on the reverse from the logo branding.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The lead does write quite darkly as described on the package. It will smudge a bit which could be nice for sketching or if you like a dark line. Even with the dark line, the point did not dull as quickly as I expected it to which is a good thing.

The pencils have a traditional silver ferrule and white eraser but the white eraser cap is CRAP. Its one of the worst I’ve ever used. You might as well flick it off so that you don’t use it accidentally.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The pencil sharpens nicely with a hand sharpener and write smoother once sharpened than it does with the pre-sharpened points.

Nataraj Platinum Pencils

The biggest shocker was the little plastic sharpener. It sharpened an excellent point and made beautiful shaving roses.

I’d grade this pencil a B-. The eraser really killed it for me but the pencil performance is above average. The cheap-y sharpener is really good for a freebie.

Pencil Review: Ito-Ya

ito-ya-1

A big shoutout to Andy Welfle at Woodlcinched and the Erasable Podcast for sending me this treasure from San Francisco. The Ito-Ya pencil is a smooth round pencil with an almost red-lacquer-like finish and a black rubberized dip end. The only printing on the pencil is the gold foil “ITO-YA” close to the rubber dipped end.

ito-ya-2

There’s a little feedback noise on the paper (the scritch, scritch sound on the paper as I write) but its quite minimal and overall the experience of this pencil is smooth. It writes a fairly dark line and smudges a bit which can be a little messy for a lefty.

The lines erased super clean with the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser and did a passable job with the Black Pearl which pairs well with the ITO-YA pencil nicely. Very Japanese together.

My personal preference is for hex or triangular pencils so this isn’t an A+ for me but a solid B+ pencil. If you like round pencils, I’m sure you’ll rate it higher.

The ITO-YA pencil can be purchased online through Pencils.jp for ¥65 each.

Pencil Review: Kaweco Special 0.7mm Mechanical Pencil

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The Kaweco Special 0.7mm mechanical pencil is a bit wider pencil than I expected. It feels in the hand like a jumbo pencil. Luckily the anodized metal, hexagonal octagonal finish is warm and soft in the hand and quite comfortable. I thought the metal finish might be too slick but its not a shiny finish and the tapered end has a bit more tooth to it to keep fingers from sliding down.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The stock lead in the Kaweco Special Pencil is super super smooth. The great thing about mechanical pencils is that you can change lead hardness or lead brands, but the stock Kaweco leads are an excellent option. I was quite pleased with the smoothness.

Kaweco Special 0.7mm pencil

The most unusual aspect of the Kaweco Special 0.7 is that under the presser button is the teeny, tiniest, little eraser. Its absolutely dorky how tiny it is in comparison to the size of the pencil and the lead thickness. Erasing one word with this eraser and most of the eraser is used up. I’d definitely recommend using a handheld eraser instead of this little dude. He’s for emergencies only.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Dux Varibel Brass Sharpener with Leather Case

dux-variabel-1

I was very excited to find CW Pencil Enterprises and to see that they stocked the Dux Varibel brass sharpener in the leather case ($22). It can be dialed in to three different sharpnesses depending on the type of lead. The #1 position is for soft pencils and colored pencils, #2 is used for standard graphite pencils (“#2 for #2 pencils!”) and #3 for the sharpest point for harder leads or pencil weaponry.

(Pictured above is Mirado Black Warrior pencils sharpened with #3, #2 and #1 settings from top to bottom)

dux-variabel-3

The sharpener blade is sharp and fits standard round, hex and triangular pencils. The leather carrying sleeve just makes it awesome.

dux-variabel-2

The point is still not as sharp as a Classroom Friendly sharpener or my old  Boston hand crank sharpener but for a portable pocket sharpener, the quality of the points is good and I didn’t have any breaking issues while sharpening.

If you are a pencil enthusiast or know someone who likes a fine tool, you might want to pick one of these up.

Review: Staedtler Rally #2 HB Pencil

Staedtler Rally Pencil

I found Staedtler Rally #2 HB pencils in dozen packs in the clearance section of my local Office Depot so I couldn’t resist picking up a few dozen. These hexagonal pencils feature clean white and navy stripes on alternating hex facets, they come pre-sharpened and have a silver ferrule and white eraser top. Even at $3.49 per dozen, these seem to be a good value.

The packaging indicates that these pencils are made in Thailand and distirbuted through Staedtler Canada.

The paint on the pencils are nice but there is a pesky bar code printed on the pencil below the pencil brand info which is super annoying. I hate bar codes on my pencils, especially if I purchased them in a box of a dozen or more. What is up with this? My box of granola bars don’t have bar code on each individually wrapped bar, why should my pencils?

Staedtler Rally Pencil

The bright white eraser tops made me hope beyond hope that the erasers were Staedtler Mars erasers. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? But, alas, no. Not even close.

Staedtler Rally Pencil

Though pre-sharpened, I tend to re-sharpen my pencils which give a smoother first experience. I find the pre-sharpened points a little rough. The Staedtler Rally is no different here. When writing with the pre-sharpened point, its a little scratchy but after a couple twists in my Dux Variabel sharpener, the writing experience in much improved.

In writing, I got a little feedback noise on the paper but very mild. For a middle-of-the-range pencil, its totally acceptable. I wish Staedtler hadn’t bothered with the eraser caps if they aren’t going to use their flagship eraser on these. The eraser is utter crap. The paint and graphics are printed better than a lot of American pencil brands these days so in terms of looks the Rally is a nice looking pencil despite the bar code.

I think listening to the Erasable Podcast has made me want to “grade” my pencils. So, I give the Staedtler Rally a C — its a good pencil with a crap eraser that can be purchased at your local big box store. If you pair it with a REAL Staedtler Mars plastic eraser, I’d bump it up to a B+.

 

All the Pencil-Related Things

Sometimes, the stars align and my in-box is full of tips related to one specific topic. This week, it seemed to be all things pencIl-related. So, I thought I’d share my finds.

marshmallow pencil

This darling little pencil twig topped with a big pink eraser “mashmallow”. Perfect for fireside doodles. $13.99 from Animi Causa.

pencil socks yarn kit by Yarn Enabler

Then I found this beautiful hand dyed yarn from Yarn Enabler on Etsy that will stripe as you knit to make these awesome pencil socks. Yellow pencil stitch markers are also available as part of the kit. Yarn kit with stitch markers are $30.69US.

pencil socks yarn kit by Yarn Enabler

Little Red Riding Children's book

And my last pencil-related find this week is a darling little children’s book called Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet about “a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000).” $12.75 on Amazon.

Review: Rotring 600 0.5mm Mechanical Pencil

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

During the whole Black Friday hullabaloo, Jet Pens had a special offer for some of the Rotring Mechanical Pencils. It was an offer too good to pass up as I’d always wanted to see what all the fuss was about so I went for it.

The Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil ($33)  came in a taste, simple black, triangular, cardstock box with the Rotring logo stamped in red and white foil on the end. When I pulled the tabs on the bottom of the box the whole thing unfolded. Good packaging and yet not over-packaged. Totally recyclable box too.

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

Inside was the matte black finish version of the classic mechanical pencil. Initially, I was worried that the pencil would look and feel too masculine, too tactical but when I held it in my hand was when it all became clear. The knurling on the grip is super fine so it did not feel harsh or prickly, just slip resistant. And the pencil is spectacularly well-balanced. It did not feel excessively heavy and yet it felt sturdy and solid. The Rotring 600 is an all-metal body as opposed to the less-expensive 500 model ($18) which features a plastic body but metal grip and cap.

By pulling the click button on the end out and twisting, I can change the lead hardness label to an assortment of common sizes (HB, B, 2B, 2H, etc). This is the reason to have more than one — one loaded with a softer lead and one loaded with a harder lead. Win win!

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

The 600 is the lesser expensive version that does not feature a retractable tip. The Rotring 800 has a retractable tip but I decided to start with the lower priced model and see if I liked the pencil before I considered upgrading to the retractable 800.

The tip has a short thick support that is part of the body of the pencil in black plus a longer-than-usual tip sleeve that creates the feeling of having exposed a good deal of lead without actually needing to have that much lead out. This eliminates the likelihood of breaking the fine 0.5mm lead.

Rotring 600 0.5mm mechanical pencil

The lead the pencil shipped with was a smooth HB grade and made the writing experience a pure joy. The feel of this pencil in the hand is really extraordinary. I get why this is such a coveted tool.

I completely forgot that under the click button is a teeny tiny eraser. But really, pairing a Black Pearl with the black Rotring 600 is the classy way to go.

The Rotring 600 is available in 0.35mm, 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead sizes and replacement knurled grips ($11.50 each) are available so its possible to change the lead capacity of your pencil without having to buy a whole new pencil.

Ka-Week-o! Review: Kaweco Skyline Clutch Pencil 3.2mm in Mint

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

Everyone knows how much I love my Kaweco Skyline Fountain Pen in Mint so you can imagine how tickled I was to see the 3.2mm clutch pencil in the same gorgeous mint color. I’ve got a matched set!

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

This is my first experience with a large diameter graphite pencil and it was a pleasant surprise. I was worried that the point would wear down too quickly but it stayed sharp through a page or more of writing. I will definitely need to look into a graphite point sharpener because this pencil will definitely be getting a lot of use.

The wide lead was smooth and easy-to-use. I think it will be great for writing and sketching.

Kaweco Clutch Pencil 3.2mm Mint

These two beauties snuggle up beautifully together in my leather soft case. Now I’m thinking all my Kaweco pens need pencil pals.


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Kaweco for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Faber-Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

The last time I was in my local pen shop, The Pen Place, I saw this box set of Faber-Castell Grip pens in neon pink sitting on a high shelf. I made the clerks pull the box down for me and I insisted on taking them home. The box set included three neon pink triangular-shaped Grip pencils with laser foil dots along the body, a pink fold-out sharpener and a matching pink fold out wedge eraser. I paid $30 for the set which was probably more than I should have but the Faber-Castell Grip pencils are some of my favorite pencils ever so I had to try this version.

I did find a two-pencil set on Amazon in pink and black for about $15 with the sharpener and eraser. I also found a set that looked more purple-y than pink but did include the three pencils for about the same price on Amazon as well.

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set

In my testing of this version of the Grip pencils, I realized that I much prefer an eraserless pencil. Sorry, Palomino Blackwings! I love the look of those wedge erasers but I find myself reaching for the pencils without the eraser caps more than the ones with the erasers.

Faber Castell Neon Pink Pencil Set writing sample

The pencils aren’t labelled with the hardness but I’d guess these were a HB or #2. Because the dots on the grip area of theses pencils are actually hot foil, they are slightly debossed compared to the raised rubber dots on the standard grey Grip 2001 pencils. This makes them a little less comfortable out of the box. I do like the triangular shape a lot and I have a feeling that, with use, the grip area will feel a little smoother and I’ll notice the foil debossed areas a little less. That said, I’m more inclined to stock up on the classic 2001 pencils with the grippy rubber dots, even though they melt in the heat. The pink pencils can be my “extreme weather” 2001s.

The sharpener worked well and created a short but sharp point. The blade was not labelled but since Faber-Castell is a German company, I wouldn’t be surprised if the blade was from KUM. I didn’t test to see if I could swap it out or not but there was a screw holding the blade in place so I hold out hope that it can be replaced when needed. The closing mechanism covers the sharpener hole so that shavings and graphite chips are less likely to coat the inside of my bag. It won’t hold a ton of shavings but its suitable for on-the-go sharpening needs.

The eraser is a great wedge shape that folds into the plastic carrier to keep it from picking up dirt and lint. The wedge shape also gives it a sharp edge that’s easy to use on a single word or line of writing. I’m sure it will blunt over time but this is definitely one of the most pleasing travel eraser configurations I’ve come across. It works pretty well. The Staedtler Mars Plastic still outperformed it but it is more the adequate for most purposes and the shape and plastic travel cover help make it an eraser that will get a lot of use in my collection.

This unique neon set makes me smile everytime I pick them up.  I love Faber-Castell Grip pencils so I’m glad I bought this. I’d recommend seeking out the less expensive sets which are probably a better value though.

From The Archive: Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword Pencil

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil

The Retro 51 Tornado Mini Crossword pencil is a 1.15mm pencil lead twist in a miniature version of the larger classic pencil.

As a crossword puzzle (and other paper puzzles) enthusiast, I received this pencil as a gift so I am not sure how expensive it was originally and I was unable to find a price for this particular model but plain Retro 51 mini pencils pop up on Amazon for around $20.

Mini Retro 51 pencil size comparison

Compared to a full-sized Retro 51, the mini is tiny! Even the Kaweco Sport and Liliput look large next to it. That said, this is not a pencil I would use for long writing sessions because the clip did end up digging into my hand. However, for twiddling while filling in a crossword puzzle at lunch or jotting quick notes like a phone number or grocery list, it’s totally fine for me. But its just at 3.5″ long — without the eraser which I lost sometime ago.

Mini Retro 51 crossword pencil writing sample

The thick lead is surprisingly easy to write with and its added width makes it unliekly to break easily.  Because of its small size, it often gets tucked into a pocket in my purse so I always have a pencil with me should the need arise.

I like using this pencil enough to strongly consider getting a full-sized Retro 51 Tornado pencil. I could even get a matching Crossword pencil in the full sized model for $33 (Also available in Sudoku or Stealth Black).

Japanese Pencil Comparison: Mitsubishi and Tombow

Japanese pencil comparison: Mitsubishi, Hi-Uni and Tombow

I recently purchased several of the more popular Japanese wood-cased pencils from Jet Pens. I got the Tombow 2558 ($1 each) and three Misubishis: the 9800 ($0.70 each), the Hi-Uni ($2.35 each) and the 9850 ($1 each). All of the pencils are the standard HB/#2 hardness.

Japanese pencils end caps

As far as I can tell, the only difference between the Mistubishi 9800 and 9850 is the color and the 9850 has an eraser top while the 9800 has an unfinished end.

Japanese pencil comparison points

This means that the Tombow 2558 and the Mistubishi 9850 are basically a head-to-head comparison with the same price point, metal ferrule and eraser top. The 9850 is finished in a burgundy, deep red lacquer and stamped in silver with coordinating silver ferrule and white eraser. On one side it is stamped “For Office Use”. The Tombow 2558 is painted in a bright yellow gold, comparable to classic American Ticonderogas. The ferrule is a bronze color rather than silver but it is topped with a classic pink rubber eraser. The 2558 is stamped on “For General Writing”.

Despite the fact that the Mitsubishi 9800 and 9850 should essentially be the same pencil at the core, the 9850 seemed smoother on paper than the 9800. Maybe it was just my perception. I like the looks and I do like pencils without eraser caps because I almost never use them.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

All four pencils wrote really well. They performed light years better than the cheap, no-name pencils found at drugstores or big box stores. When compared to each other though, I found the Mitsubishi 9850 to be my favorite. It just wrote silky smooth, the finish on the pencil was good and it looked good. The Tombow 2558 was an equally good performer and had the classic yellow pencil looks to recommend it. These two performed so similarly it was hard to say if one was better than the other beyond a preference for red over yellow pencils.

I was least impressed with the Hi-Uni if only that it performed quite similarly to the other three pencils but at twice the price. I realize I’m splitting hairs when comparing $1 versus $2.35 pencils. Yes, the lacquer finish is smoother and the end is dipped in black for a smooth cap. There are other design details in the finishing of the Hi-Uni like the white dot, gold foil ring and extra glossy finish, but in actual writing performance, the Hi-Uni was quite similar to the other pencils though maybe a little bit harder and therefore a little lighter on paper.

Japanese pencil comparison writing sample

I forgot to test the erasers but since only two of the four have erasers it is an unfair comparison, right? Besides, I use a hand eraser like a Black Pearl or a Staedtler Mars anyway.

All-in-all, the Japanese sure know how to make good pencils. There really isn’t a dud in this bunch but rather just personal preferences. They all sharpened easily and cleanly with my Lefty hand sharpener and retained their points well (the photos were taken after doing the writing tests).


DISCLAIMER: This item was sent to me free of charge by Jet Pens for the purpose of review. Please see the About page for more details.

Erasable Podcast Sticker

Erasable podcast sticker

Do you have your Erasable podcast sticker proudly displayed? I do.Thanks to Andy for sending me a couple before they sold out. If you want one, put in a request, I’m sure they’ll do a reprint soon.

I guess it’s about time that I made some Well-Appointed Desk stickers. Would anyone be interested?

Pencil Tourism: Crystal Bridges Edition

Crystal Bridges Museum Paintbrush Pencil

My husband drove down to Bentonville, AR to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum and meet up with his parents. The museum focuses on American art and was founded by ALice Walton, daughter of Sam Walton, founder of the Wal-Mart empire. The museum is actually pretty amazing. It sits on 120 acres with lots of nature trails as well as the museum which is housed in a building designed by Moshe Safdie. Not at all what you’d expect to find in Arkansas, is it?

Crystal Bridges Museum Paintbrush Pencil

So, how does this relate to the blog? Because I acquired a unique pencil for my Pencil Tourism collection. Its a paintbrush mounted onto a round pencil. So I can sharpen the other end and have a paint brush and a pencil. Pretty cool, huh?

Crystal Bridges Museum Paintbrush Pencil

Rite in the Rain #99 Mechanical Pencil

Rite in the Rain just launched its own line of super-durable mechanical pencils. The resin barrel holds sturdy, durable 1.1mm lead and capped with a gray rubber eraser.  The barrel can hold an extra 6 leads so you’ll always have graphite when you need it.  Each pencil ships with a couple extra erasers as well so you won’t run out. Additional leads in red or graphite are available for purchase.

The Rite in the Rain pencils look like Autopoint All-American jumbo pencils with custom branding which is a good fit with the Rite in the Rain brand. They are both classic and known for their quality so its a good fit. If you’d prefer this style pencil without he branding, you can order directly from Autopoint.

$10.95 each in black or yellow resin, red barrel ships with red lead.

Rite in the Rain 1.1mm mechanical pencil

Review: Perfetto Pencil

Perfetto Pencil box lid

When I first saw the Perfetto Pencils, I was smitten. The whole project was designed by well-known designer Louise Fili. I’ve been familiar with her design work for years so I would, of course, be interested in any pencil project she might create. The box alone is a work of art. The packaging is beautiful and sturdy and vintage-inspired.

Perfetto Pencil Box

Inside the box is a dozen, beautiful two-colored pencils. It’s graphite on one end and red colored lead on the other. The pencils come pre-sharpened with a decent point, usable for those too impatient to sharpen it properly.

Perfetto Pencil

The pencils inside are just as stunning. The pencils are round and the paint is glossy and even. The silver foil is stamped perfectly and centered evenly.

Perfetto Pencil writing sample

The best news is that they write really well. The graphite is smooth and dark. I’d almost compare it to a Palomino Blackwing. And the red lead is soft like a good quality, artist’s grade colored pencil.

The first pencil I pulled out must have been dropped because the red lead kept breaking. The graphite was fine though. I pulled out another pencil and the red lead sharpened fine so the first must have been a fluke. I used a good quality Staedtler two-hole hand sharpener and got a good, sharp point on both ends. With the soft colored lead, I recommend sharpening with a hand sharpener rather than a desktop or electric sharpener because they’ll just eat through the pencils.

When erasing, the red lead leaves visible ghosting which is good if you want to use the pencil for grading or other indelible uses. The graphite erases cleanly with a the Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, the Cadillac of erasers.

Perfetto Pencil box notes

The whole package was produced by the Princeton Architectural Press and boxes come marked with a $13.95 retail price. According to the box, the pencils are made in Taiwan. I purchased mine through Amazon for about $11.50.

 

House Industries Official Stationery Supplies

House Industries Stationery

House Industries makes some of the most amazing fonts, typography and design. Thankfully, you can now use the same tools as the staff at House Industries uses. Sketch like Andy Cruz with a 6-pack of House Industries branded pencils in a House Industries mini journal. Use an official “House Industries Letter Sharpie” like Ken Barber. And post it all up on the wall with House Industries Carnival masking tape.

House Industries Pencils House Industries Sharpies

 

(This announcement written with tongue firmly in cheek. But I do love the guys at House Industries and who wouldn’t want one of their fabulous pencils? Or a cycling jersey?)

House Industries Alphabet Masking Tape

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