Sunday, May 13, 2007

Faber-Castell Grip Erasers

Well there I was in a great big “Stationery City” sort of place, and these Faber-Castell Grip erasers were on sale for some ridiculously cheap price. It was an offer to good to turn down.

So, I handed over a few coins and got myself:
Triangle Shape (Art no. 18 90 24) (green)
Oval Shape (Art no. 18 90 20) (yellow)
2001 Pencil shape (Art no. 18 71 01) (red)
2001 Eraser Caps (pack of 2) (Art no. 18 70 01) (grey & blue)
The 2001 Pencil eraser and 2001 Eraser Caps have “Made in Malaysia” on their clear plastic wrapper, but the other two are silent about their country of origin. With the exception of the 2001 Pencil shape eraser, they all are silent about their material of manufacture – no claims of “Child-Safe PVC Free”, “Non-PVC Formulation”, “Dustless”, “Vinyl” and so on. The 2001 Pencil shape eraser has “PVC Free Eraser” moulded into it, if you go looking, but its pretty inconspicuous really. All of them do however have “Faber-Castell” moulded into them. So, Faber-Castell are proud of them, but they don’t want to make much noise about their material? I must say that I’m pretty unimpressed by declarations of “PVC Free”. Thanks for telling us what it isn’t, how about telling us what it is?

What really attracted me to these erasers was the shapes were obviously designed for precise erasing. The Pencil has a point, the Caps have chisel edges, the Oval and Triangle have fine thin edges and curves, obviously all designed to erase small precise areas.

The first thing I noticed when I picked these erasers up was how hard they are. Your fingernail doesn’t make much of an impression in them. Very little give in the compound compared to the other erasers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Owl, Uni, etc) that I’ve got lying around. This made me rather suspicious of how they would handle darker softer lead grades like 2B or 4B, and I wondered if they might be a bit harsh on the paper.

Time to put them to the test and answer these questions. Firstly they are all very nice to hold. Very conveniently shaped to fit in your hand. I deliberately used them on an appropriate angle, to try and maintain their edge or point, and it seems you can do this reasonably successfully. Despite their hardness they don’t seem overly harsh on the paper, but I’d still be cautious with something delicate.

These grip erasers are very messy compared to my usual Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. They produce a lot of very fine, short waste, which doesn’t easily twist up into a few long strands, so you need to clean up quite a bit after using the eraser. On the plus side though, they are pretty good at getting graphite off paper. Much better than I expected, so in hindsight I shouldn’t have doubted the reputation of Faber-Castell. I did a little bit of comparison testing against my Mars Plastic. (NO, NO, NO! Banish those thoughts of holding an “Eraser Cup” competition!)

Starting off, a selection of writings in different grades of pencil lead.

Now for a bit of erasing - note all the fine short waste produced.

After a bit of a clean up you can see the HB lead was erased quite successfully, with performance decreasing as the lead got softer and darker.

Finally Staedtler Mars Plastic was used to erase the middle section (shown un-erased in the photo above). You can hopefully see that with HB and 2B they are pretty equal, but the Mars Plastic removed a bit more of the darker lead grades.

Initially the Mars smears the darker lead grades all around the place, but then removes them. On the other hand the Grip eraser doesn’t smear them, as it just wears away quickly.

Overall then, I am very impressed these Faber-Castell Grip erasers, they are well worth checking out to see if they might suit your specific requirements.


sappho said...

Hello Dave,

Do you happen to know the model name of this old mechanical pencil from Pilot ?
I've had it for 13 years and never knew the model name because it was found on the street.
I don't like how thick the pencils I find are nowadays, and I dislike the rubber grips too.
This pencil is 132 mm long and is very thin.
Would you know other similar models to recommend me?

Please e-mail me: codnik at

Thanks a bunch!

Keith said...

Do you know of a more economical mechanical pencil that does not waste lead at the end of the stick?

kiwi-d said...

Keith - try Staedtler "Integrity" 9505 double clutch. At least they claim it uses more of the stick of lead.

Keith said...

Thanks, just bought it for a whopping 6 bucks plus 6 bucks shipping & handling?! Once I get it, I'll post what i think about it on my blog.