Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Pentel Twist-Erase III QE519 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Twist-Erase III QE519 Mechanical Pencil Review
The Pentel Twist-Erase seems to have a bit of a following amongst people who like a big eraser on their pencil, so I thought I’d better get one and check it out for myself. Like most Pentels, the Twist-Erase comes in a wide selection of colours and lead sizes. Mine is dark blue, 0.9mm lead, the QE519-C to be exact. And if we are being exact, then Pentels website calls it the Twist-Erase III, so I guess there has been some product development over the years.
The Twist-Erase is a fairly substantial looking pencil, although there’s nothing startling about how it looks. Plain dark blue one-colour scheme with chrome tip and pocket-clip. “Twist-Erase 0.9” and other details are printed in silver at the top of the body. Weight-wise it’s a bit lighter than I anticipated.

The pocket-clip is a strong stiff metal clip. There are three holes punched out of it for decoration. Something about it just makes me suspect it’s a generic buy-in rather than a specific Pentel item. This could well be complete rubbish, but somehow that thought just occurs to me whenever I look at it. The tip section is chrome with a 3mm fixed lead sleeve suitable for draughting, but the sleeve isn’t retractable, so it’s not a pocket safe pencil.

This is a push top ratchet mechanism pencil. The whole top section is the push-top to activate the mechanism, rather than just a button on top. The whole section also pulls off to give access to the lead magazine. The top section is secured to the main body by push-fitting back onto the plastic lead tube. Now I always harbour a few doubts about that concept so I’d welcome any comments from long time users.

The rubber grip is very slightly contoured with a small flare out at the base to help keep your fingers in the right place. It’s a reasonably firm compound but there is a very small amount of ‘give’ under the fingers. It is a fairly ‘grippy’ material that does improve your grip, and it’s a reasonably wide diameter at the grip section so that also helps.

I must say that I don’t use 0.9mm lead very often. Writing with it was definitely somewhat smoother than with my usual 0.5 or 0.7mm. A long time back I had a comment about thicker leads lasting longer than thin leads. I wasn’t particularly sure about that whole thickness vs life expectancy thing so I have done a few writing tests with this 0.9 vs 0.5mm leads and I now agree, 0.9 lasts an awful lot longer. A lot more words per piece of lead.

Onto the main event, the eraser. Well it’s certainly a super size eraser, and you twist the top section around to extend it out. It’s a smooth twist action, and it only advances a short amount with each turn. The eraser appears to be a rubber compound. As much as I love Pentel, I’ve always thought their erasers were their weak point, and it’s the same here. The eraser rubs out reasonably well, but leaves a lot of messy waste. It doesn’t twist up into strands. I just feel that a PVC eraser would be better, like Staedtler or Faber-Castell, better erasing power and less mess. I certainly became less impressed with the eraser as time went by - size isn’t everything! You replace the eraser by simply push-fitting it into its holder - it’s the Pentel E10 jumbo eraser, roughly Ø7mm by 30mm usable length (c ¼ x 1 ¼ inches).
  • Best Points – Well you certainly get plenty of eraser.
  • Not So Good Points – Not pocket safe. Because of the eraser, I could see this being a pencil that some would want to carry around as their everyday writing / sketching pencil, and not being pocket safe could be a point against that.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 136mm, diameter 11mm at widest part of grip section. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

56 comments:

pigpogm said...

Another quality review, Dave. Doesn't sound like this one would compare well with the Faber-Castell Grip Plus - you've done that one before, haven't you?

kiwi-d said...

Yes, personally I'd rank this one below FC Grip Plus and Staedtler Triplus.

Matt said...

THanks for reviewing one of my longer time favorites. I suggest using a 2B lead in these(and all mechies for that matter) The eraser doesnt make as much mess for the darkness of the line. mines a .5 but I was considering picking up a .9 for a spin. now i definately will.

Fu-Manchu said...

Nice review, thanks. Pentel Twist-Erase III propelling pencils are my favourite writing instrument for feel, action, and large eraser. I carry a QE517 0.7mm in my shirt pocket everyday, loaded with HB lead. The eraser is trouble-free and works well; good attribute is that the eraser material doesn't harden with age. Being inexpensive, it doesn't matter if the pencils are damaged or lost. I particularly like the ability to remove the pocket-clip, which makes the pencil even more comfortable to hold and use for long periods of writing.

Dark said...

I have the .5mm version and It is the best I have used so far.

The main reason I bought it is because of the removable pocket clip. I found that I have trouble using any pencil that can't have the clip removed.

Anonymous said...

This is certainly a substantial pencil, I am a student, and this pencil's eraser is a good point, I have seen some replacement erasers of the PVC type, they are worth checking out. The large capacity for leads is another good point, and the one I have is tough, I've dropped it loads of times and not had the lead break, something to be said about 0.5mm.

Jacob said...

does anyone know where i can buy one of these cheaply?

Anonymous said...

It's my first time on this site, but I have to put my two cents in. I absolutely love this pencil, and I am sad that Pentel came out with a new version of it. I've never had a mechanical pencil last me a whole year and this one has lasted me two years. It is very very sturdy and when I hold it I don't feel like it's made of cheap plastic. The new version just doesn't look like it's built to last very long and the metal clip makes this one even better.

Anonymous said...

I love me some mechanical pencils, and this here one is about as good as they come. I needs a .9 lead and this one delivers like a bucket of chicken from KFC. I'm so cheered to find you all here, and will sleep well knowin that there are some REAL people in the world who care about these f***in pencils made in China for cheap wage labor by some non-english speaking communists.

Sue said...

A twisterase .9mm was among the pencils I picked up on my recent pencil buying binge. I got it only because it was the only .9mm hanging on the rack at a local store. I like it so much I ordered .5 and .7 versions. The grip is wide enough to be comfortable and the balance seems just right. The large eraser is a plus, but, as Dave said in the review, it's not the best material. It would be great if there were PVC replacement erasers that fit.

Karthik said...

Wow this pencil is perfect! The office that i work at keeps this pencil in the supply cabinet. We never had to replace them.

Anonymous said...

I am also one who is in love with these pencils. I've been using the twist erase since middle school (grade 9 or something like that) and I am now in college, so that's something around 5 years I've been using these pencils.

Stuart said...

I've never really like the Twist-erase pencils. They somehow seem flimsy to me, and their erasers aren't the greatest.

This one is even worse because of the big squishy finger-grip.

So, I have one of these in my collection, but I don't use it.

I have a couple of Koh-i-noor eraser holders that use the same long vinyl eraser refills that are used in electric erasers for drafting. I think I'm currently using Mars eraser refills in these. They work really well and seem to shed less crumbs than most.

I also have a Pentel Clic-erase eraser for carrying around.

KAP said...

I actually don't have this pencil, I have a Pentel Side Fx which in my opinion is about almost the same pencil except cheaper. As for the erasers, I agree they aren't the best but I use the papermate erasers the long ones used in papermate clearpoint, syncro, phd instead. I just cut the bottom part of the eraser a little so the eraser would fit in with the pentel pencil. It's kind of hard but the papermate eraser is much better.

Yhis is a link of what the erasers look like http://www.staples.com/office/supplies/p4__99614_Business_Supplies_0_10051_SC1:CG11:CL140441

Just remember that you have to cut the bottom of the eraser a little so it will fit with the pentel pencil, also be careful when cutting.

Anonymous said...

I bought 10 twist ease .09 a few years ago. Really like them. If they have changed since then I hope it is for the better- Mostly I like the way the metal clip is on the tail end of the pencil so that the pencil can be clipped in flush into the spring of my sketch pad without sticking out like a flagpole and catching on things- I have no problems with the eraser - My only problem is that my pencils keep slowly disappearing one-by-one. I need more - and that's how I found this website... ha ha

Nick said...

These are by far the best mechanical pencils I have ever used and the .07 is my constant companion. I still have the first one I bought years ago and it works like a charm even after so much use all the printing has worn off. I just got a whole bunch of them in various lead sizes as they do have a habit of disappearing one by one if you let people borrow them. The eraser may not be the best, but is fine for 95% of my writing/drafting and unlike most mechanicals there is enough of it to actually use. It is also the most comfortable writing instrument I think I have ever used.

Anonymous said...

I loved this pencil until it was time to add new lead.....very complicated and it came with no instructions......was never able to get it to function properly again after putting new lead in....ended up tossing it......would never buy another one.

LKW

Matthew R said...

LKW---You have to recognize a subtle warning sign. When the lead just starts to act funny by going back up into the tip, you should click the lead out a ways, then pull it straight out with your fingers. Then hold the eraser end up, shake it a little, and then click until a lead appears.

If you miss the warning sign and keep writing with the lead getting repeatedly pushed back into the tip, it usually requires unscrewing the tip and making sure the tip is clear and the three jaws aren't fouled.

The Pentel style is my absolute favorite mechanism (although I favor the older models).

Anonymous said...

After reading this review, I promptly went out and bought two to go along with my new baseball score keeping book. Perfection!

Anonymous said...

I have used one of these lead pencils for 5 years. It just recently broke. I have grown attached to it and was quite sad. That same day I went out and bought another.

JP Bergmann said...

This is my favorite mechanical pencil I have ever used. I had a blue 0.5mm that lasted throughout my entire undergraduate degree (7 years). The threads on the tip finally cracked and I had to replace it. I actually prefer a non-retractible tip, so that was a plus for me. My new green 0.5mm is sooo sweet, I find any excuse to write with it!

Anonymous said...

I was in school for 13 years after high school, earning a Ph.D. in biochemistry, and even taking some medical school courses. I've done a LOT of pencil pushing in my days. The pentel twist erase 0.9 mm pencil is one I started using in college (Duke). It is by far the best pencil I have ever used in terms of performance and durability. I broke a million leads on other mechanical pencils and even broke many of the mechanical pencils themselves before I discovered there was a way around these problems: the twist erase III 0.9 mm by Pentel. I love this pencil. Buy it.

Dr. S

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review - The good 'ol Twist-Erase is my favorite! I've used one for as long as I can remember....

The grip has been improved recently, I know a couple of years back it was terrible. The grip does wear down with time and becomes rather slippery.

The lead sleve does give a lot of troubles - I've had a couple of twist-erases ruined.

The Twisting Apparatus wears down with age, so it doesn't give that strong, firm twist.

On my first twist-erase, the twist-eraser mechanism cracked (It's just cheap plastic) and the lead advancement mechanism just broke completely. In more recent models this has also been improved.

I love the eraser. It reminds me of the stanford magic rub, which I have fond memories of.

It's very, very sturdy and will last for years - a great deal for four bucks!

All things considered, definately my favorite. I would put in in the top 5 - but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

Despite my criticism below, I like your blog and appreciate your point of view, however ...

In my opinion, the key element and the primary reason for using a pencil as opposed to a pen is the ability to erase. Therefore, the size and capability of the eraser should be the primary consideration in a mechanical pencil, everything else being equal. As a consequence, I believe that the Twist Erase is one of the best mechanical pencils available, despite the fixed sleeve.

It is ironic that in your rating scheme, pencils classified primarily as drafting pencils seem to get a pass on the size of the eraser as well as the lack of a retractable sleeve. On the other hand, general purpose pencils seem to receive negative ratings when they don't have a retractable sleeve. I admit that [unfortunately] the size of the eraser seems to be largely irrelevant in your rating scheme.

I believe that it would be more appropriate to separate the drafting pencils from the general purpose pencils. General purpose pencils like the Twist Erase should receive a lower rating due to the lack of a retractable sleeve. All mechanical pencils, including drafting pencils should receive a lower rating if they have a small eraser, or worse, no eraser at all.

Of course, eraser size is limited by the diameter of the barrel. Needless to say, that should be a mitigating element in terms of the rating relative to eraser size.

Thank you,
Bob S.

kiwi-d said...

Hello Bob
Thanks for your comment. Well I agree that the ability to erase is an important reason for using a pencil for general writing, etc but artists might have other reasons. I don't agree that the size and capability of the pencils eraser are therefor the primary consideration. The primary consideration of a pencil is to be a pencil, not to be an eraser. So applying pencil lead to the desired surface is the primary consideration of a pencil. A seperate eraser and eraser shield are preferred by many, both with woodcase and mechanical pencils. In much of the world woodcase pencils do not commonly have an eraser on the end of them, so clearly they place little or no value on erasing as an integral part of a pencil (woodcase or mechanical).

You are probably right in your comments about me giving a pass to drafting pencils re retractable sleeves and erasers because one doesn't usually expect (or want?) those features in a drafting pencil. Doesn't this mean I am effectively separating out drafting and general pencils and evaluating them separately as you would like me to?

To be honest, I would never use the wording "rating scheme" to describe my reviews, and you've surprised me by using it. It suggests something far more methodical, structured and objective than what I think I do.

I'm sure they could make a twist out eraser holder as wide as they wanted, it might just look a bit weird and unbalance the pencil if it was much wider than the main barrel of the pencil.

Anonymous said...

These pencils are getting very very hard to find in Canada, and many of the U.S. vendors don't ship to Canada. I'd buy 50 if i could. Can anyone suggest where?

Anonymous said...

Note: For pocket protection from the lead sleeve, use a cap from a Sharpie Fine or Sharpie Mini-Fine. The cap from the Mini-Fine allows you to attach the pencil to a lanyard if you wish.

Thanks,
Bob S.

huonghoang1995 said...

best pencil i ever used

Anonymous said...

I am quite fond of the Twist Erase pencils. However, I really prefer the older (original?) version which did not have a separate grip at all.

The entire body was solid plastic with a slightly roughened surface. After years in a pocket, the plastic get polished smooth. I seem to favor pens and pencils without the rubber grip - although it seems that many (most?) of the ones I use daily these days have a grip now. But, that's because of other features and not the grip.

Anonymous said...

Luv it with a passion .... get it !!!

Just got this pencil (0.7 mm) as recommended in GQ.

I'm a fountain pen and (was) a wood pencil guy,
but in my work it is necessary to have a writing instrument which has to be used on the fly anywhere on and off .. the other 2 alternatives are problematic in these situations. This pencil is the perfect solution .. and it writes & erases 'great'. I usually use the pentel hi polymer block eraser (when possible) which is miraculous. Both the design and feel of this mechanical pencil are wonderful and the sci-fi clip puts on the finishing touch for me....it's also really clean and modern next to the 'leady' wood pencils. I sometimes use it in conjunction with the fountain pen for contrast when necessary in diagrams.

Anonymous said...

I use the .5mm version and have been for about 5 years, and I still have that first one. So if that says anything about its durability. Its been through the wash I have lost count. The .5mm ereases better than any of the other ones I have tryed and I always have people asking me to borrow my ereaser.
Good buy, get alot for your money, long life.

Anne said...

I have the Twist-Erase in 5.0 mm and 9.0 mm and I love it. I am writing 5-10 long hand pages a day (Calc II and Calc-based Physics II) and the squishy grip stays comfortable for those extended writing sessions. I do carry a Mercur eraser for the big jobs, but use the top eraser for the one or two character corrections. I agree that Pentel needs to explore different erasers. I am thinking about cutting a replacement out of another Mercur -- a brass tube of the right inside diameter seems like it would do the trick.

As far as pocket safe: I've put full length pencil holders on the outsides of my notebooks using matching ducttape. (And for sketching I take my turquoise because I prefer 3B lead.)

Anne said...

An update to my previous comment. I haven't tried cutting a new eraser yet, but I did discover that the refills for the Clic-Eraser (also by Pentel) do fit the Twist-Erase mechanism -- except for the ball on the end. I did a little fiddling with a craft knife with the old eraser as a model and it works like a charm. I had a Physics exam on Friday so it got a good trial.

jerry said...

I have several of these, but have used only the 0.7 with HB lead for nearly three years of flawless performance. I really like this pencil, the eraser size and the fact that refill erasers are readily available.

jocelyn Jacobs said...

Hi!
I am having a problem loading the lead on my Pentel Twist-Erase XP! I love the pencil but I can't load the lead? Is there a trick? Any help would be most appreciated!!
Jocelyn

Anonymous said...

one of my favorite pencils, reliable, cheap, and great eraser

Anonymous said...

I use the second version of this pencil and i like it. however, i agree the eraser leaves a lot of messy waste and i also find that the lead breaks very easily inside the pencil.

Anne said...

@Jocelyn -- to fill the pencil pull the entire top of the pencilstraight off the grip part. (I think of them as the eraser half and the lead half.) You should see an off white tube extending from the inside of the lead half. Your new leads go inside there. I like to keep two new ones in there in addition to the one I'm using.

Anonymous said...

Nobody here seems to be having the problem I've had with the last two Twist-Erases I've bought: the lead doesn't advance anymore when I click it. I also use this thing day in day out (0.5mm), but today my latest version has yet again mysteriously stopped working.

I read all the above comments and can't find a clue. I've opened mine and can't see anything at all wrong with it (no, the tip is not visibly clogged, and yes, the lead is in the tip); the problem is that even when I push the lead into the silver tip, clicking the upper half doesn't advance the lead...it's stuck for some reason, like there's not enough pressure pushing it out. Both times I've had this problem, it was the same: first clicking from the eraser end wasn't working - but opening it and pushing the white lead cylinder directly DID work...and after a bit more time, even this didn't work anymore. My second pencil just died today - even clicking the white cylinder doesn't advance the lead anymore.

WHAT is going on? The only thing I haven't yet tried is really giving it a good hot-water-and-soap cleaning. But optically it all seems fine, so I suspect it's a wear-and-tear problem somehow.

Anyone else with similar experience?

Anonymous said...

I think these are the greatest! I use mine all the time-0.9, even works as a carpenters pencil if you're not too heavy handed. Always have an exta around because they grow legs quickly! Loaned one to a buddy at work, got it back 6 months later in pieces in a baggie, he apologized but said it "broke" and he couldn't get it to work or put it together again. 10 seconds later it was all together and writing great. CLC

Rich said...

I've been using these pencils for over a decade. I'm always looking for a better pencil. I've never really disliked the eraser. I've bought plenty of pencils with caps, etc, but they always get lost. I know I've erased full pages of homework with this pencil in a pinch and it never flinched. I'm (still) in my PhD program and they're still my go to pencil, always. .5mm, but I could see using 7 or 9 sometime.

If Staedler copied this pencil, with their eraser, I'd be in love. Eraser caps, which seem to have a bad rap on this site, are just one extra step between my writing and my erasing... they make no sense if I quickly need to change a + to a - or whatever.

Sapphire said...

Hi Rich
I haven't tried it but this could be what you need

http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Staedtler-graphite-760-Pencil.html

It's not clear from the picture here but it's a twist out eraser with no cap.

Anonymous said...

I think a similar pencil with a better, twist eraser is the Faber Castell Grip Plus 0.7. I use both the Twist Erase and the Grip Plus and the eraser on the Grip Plus is much, much better - the twist erase tends to have a hard, dry feel when using it. The Grip Plus has a fatter rubber grip than the Twist Erase but is extremeley comfortable and well balanced. This comes from someone who prefers slim, cylindrical pencils like the Pentel Sharplet 2. I also hate rubber grips but yet I enthusiastically use these 2 pencils. I think we have a tendency to become a little dogmatic about our pencil preferences - and I'm as bad as anyone else in this regard.

Time Waster said...

The Twist Erase Express is also great the .7mm is anyway.
It's thinner and shorter.

Anonymous said...

This ones predecessor was my favorite mechanical pencil. The rubber grip on the new ones tends to stick to the inside of my pocket, When I'm lucky I only get the top out and the bottom stays in my pocket. When I'm unlucky I get the top in my hand and the bottom on the floor and the lead elsewhere. I do like the rubber grip for comfort. As far as it not being safe to carry in a shirt pocket. It is possible to slide the clip down the barrel 1/2". I haven't been stabbed in 10 years. I don't like the retractible tips. They feel imprecise. I use a.7mm for everyday use. A .9mm for carpentry. I quit using the .5mm, I write too hard.

Rich Seymour said...

Hey Sapphire,

Thanks for the link!

I was in Tokyo last year and hoped to find something competitive in a big stationery store there... but I couldn't. I might break down and special order this staedler.

Pocket safe is a big plus.

Anonymous said...

The Paper-Mate LOGO II has all the advantages of Pentel Twist Ease without the disadvantages. It has basically the same eraser and has a pocket friendly retractable tip and no gell on the grip.
It is difficult to find in my area, but the local engineering supply store stocks it. Cost about $6.00.
The Paper-Mate Titanium (easier to find) is similar to the LOGO II but it has a gell filler at the tip and the eraser holder spins too freely. The gell grip gets sticky and ugly in time and the eraser will be sticking halfway up out of the top of the pencil while just riding in your shirt pocket. Also, the gell filler at the tip weakins the barrel of the pencil where the tip screws on ( barrel is thinner at that point to make room for the gell)--I've had the barrel crack at the threads. The Paper-Mate LOGO II does not have those problems.

Anonymous said...

Another comparison between the Pentel Twist Ease and the Paper-Mate LOGO II is the eraser mechanism. The Paper-Mate eraser does not need the little bulb on the end like the Pentel. The full size flat end of the eraser presses into the base of the eraser mechanism. I buy long eraser fillers at the right diameter and just cut them to length for my LOGO II. It's cheaper that way and gives you more options.
Also, for those that like the rubber grip, there is a Paper-Mate LOGO 4 that has it. The grip does not taper to the tip like the Titanium mentioned previously, so the barrel strength may not be compromised. I haven't used the LOGO 4 but have used the LOGO II for many years.

Daniel Beaver said...

These are what I have used forever. My line of reasoning goes something along the lines of: BIG ERASER GOOOOD. And it writes well enough. I do wish it had a blunt tip - I have bent several over the years.

Staedtler Triplus is in the mail. I wonder if it de-throne my beloved?

Anonymous said...

I really like this pencil. the thing i have noticed about the new versions are that the sleeve of the newer version is thinner than the older version. if you look carefully at the sleeve, you will nothice that the newer one only has one lair of metal while the older one has two. the thicker sleeve makes your writing feel more solid.

Anonymous said...

the new version has a thinner sleeve while the newer version has a thicker one. the new twist erase only has one lair of metal on the sleeve while the new has two lairs.

Tapsan tahdit said...

Just ordered a dozen of these. Fantastic pens! 6 years and counting!

I recently spotted one while watching TV. The journalist immediately received my respect!

Anonymous said...

Dave, I have long been a tolerant fan of the Twist Erase III set. They are very reliable overall and rather cheap. The eraser does come in hand, as I am a teacher and it is always there when students need it. On the negative side, I have found that by pushing the "eraser/button" to advance the lead, the upper barrel can sometimes rotate, which can descend the eraser back down... kind of like a yankee screwdriver if you know them. After a period of time, the eraser can be a bit gummy and become weak. Not good. The upper barrel does not usually come off and has never been a problem. (You were asking any longtime users about such.) I have been using them for 10 years at least. They are perhaps among the most comfortable of all, and any mechanical pencils. And comfort is my top priority when choosing a good writing pencil. Faults and all, it's nice to write with and convenient with a fresh eraser.

Frances McKenzie said...

I have had Pentel Twist Erase pencils for many years (in all the sizes). I particularly like the .9 lead for general drawing/writing. The only problem is, after many moons, sometimes they stop working. The lead advance just doesn't advance the lead anymore. I suppose no pencil lasts forever. The big eraser is a nice feature.

Anonymous said...

A new model, the "Twist Erase GT" is similar to the "Twist Erase III". It has a translucent plastic body, a fixed metal clip, and the writing tip is retractable. The tube that holds the lead appears to have a smaller lead capacity than the III and is constructed of a cheaper more flexible plastic. The bottom cone is plastic, rather than metal. Overall, it is less expensive than the III and the construction quality may not be in the same league as the III.

The upper portion fits more tightly to the lower barrel, but it is still a press fit. Like the III, the [in this case] retractable writing tip is a metal tube. So, the primary advantage is the addition of "pocket protection".

I have purchased two 0.7 mm versions.

-- Bob in AZ

Wally said...

Im currently on the look out for one of these (surprisingly hard to get in my country), to do a side by side comparasion with my FC grip plus, and grip matic super, and the good ol' QE405 original twist erase, if you have one of those you should do a review, its probably the oldest MP in my collection, and still clicking.