Is the Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil really perfect?

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

I have been eyeballing the deluxe version of the Perfect Pencil for years with the aluminum cap and luminous golden pencils but a set starts at $50 but can go up to $500 for the platinum version. This Perfect Pencil, on the other hand, was purchased for $30HK (about $4US) and the set of three refills for $15HK ($2US) at LOG-ON in Hong Kong. I suspect that there’s a bit more “perfect” in those higher end versions but I was willing to take a chance for $6.

This Perfect Pencil is a fully-rounded black-on-black pencil with a pale grey stamp of the trademark and “Faber-Castell”. While I don’t normally prefer rounded pencils the matte finish makes it comfortable to hold.

The pencil came with a red plastic cap with a black grooved end that can be popped open to reveal a built-in pencil sharpener that doubles as an extender. The first thing I noticed is that the pencil and the replacements are much shorter (5″) than the average unsharpened pencil (7″-7.5″). I would consider the five inch length to be that pencil “sweet spot” when you’ve had a pencil for awhile and its been sharpened a few times so its at that perfectly balanced length. But, since this is an actually wood pencil that will require additionally sharpening, it won’t stay this length forever. The cap/sharpener can be posted on the end of the pencil like a fountain pen cap to extend the length of the pencil but I find that it throws off the balance of the pencil, at least at its current length. The cap also covers up the eraser.

The cap/extender fits snugly over the pencil and protects the point when traveling. There is a small rubber ring inside the cap to keep the cap on the pencil. I tested it and the cap/extender can be used with other non-Perfect Pencils (including hexagonals), if you’re so inclined.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil writing sample

I did not find any information about the hardness grade of this pencil but I would guess its around a B or HB. The higher end versions list the pencil grade as B so I suspect these are as well. The pencil really does write smoothly and the eraser on the end is adequate (which, in the world of pencils, is quite high praise).

The sharpener works well and has a visible screw so theoretically it could be replaced if it got dull though I’m not sure where proper sized blades might be found.

Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil

I wonder if the aluminum cap/extender on the higher priced versions is lighter than the plastic cap. While I find it convenient for protecting and sharpening I can’t get past how much heavier it makes the pencil. In general, I don’t find this pencil perfect but merely nice. I think the actual pencil quality could be improved. Compared with the Castell 9000 HB, the Perfect Pencil was noticeably scratchier on the same paper stock.

For a different perspective, check out Economy Pens‘s review on a different version of the budget Perfect Pencil and Pencil Talk’s 9-part series on the Perfect Pencils.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Indeed – a great post. I would recommend the “green version” – meant for the 9000 pencils. It is light and slender – which makes it more perfect, as extender and point protector. The current silver and silver-plated versions are heavy and will only take Graf von Faber Castell pencils.
    BTW :There should be a newer version of the one you reviewed – with an even bigger “cap” – with room for the shavings. From the looks of it, I can’t recommend it as anything but a portable sharpener… IMHO the perfect pencil has become less perfect over the years..

  2. I also think you might enjoy the green version better – it is easily the best tool of its type for the money, at least that I have found. I’m sure the higher-end ones are really delightful, but I cannot justify the investment at this point. If you end up trying some of the other ones, please let me know!

    Thanks for the mention, by the way.

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