Monday, September 24, 2007

Faber-Castell Grip Plus Mechanical Pencil Review

Faber-Castell Grip Plus Mechanical Pencil Review
The Grip Plus is a 0.7mm “Made in Japan” pencil that Faber-Castell offer worldwide. It comes in four different body colours, but only in 0.7mm lead, presumably as part of Faber-Castells assertion that the general public prefer 0.7mm lead due to breakages with 0.5mm leads. It is arguably Faber-Castells flagship pencil, as it’s the featured pencil on their websites mechanical pencil main page. I have always found the name ‘Grip Plus’ a little confusing as they also have the Grip 2011 pencil.

The Grip Plus has two prominent features – the grip as implied by its name, and its eraser. Firstly, let’s deal with the grip. The grip is a triangular rubber section. The section narrows slightly towards the tip, before flaring out at the bottom and stopping your fingers going any lower down. The compound is fairly hard with only minimal give under normal finger pressure. There are horizontal grooves cut into the rubber which definitely do further enhance the grip. Overall it’s reasonably successful. I imagine this grip would score fairly well in a test poll of the general public.

Next then we have the eraser. It appears to be a vinyl compound, about 7mm diameter and 27mm long, and is mounted in a fairly standard screw cartridge. I must admit that the screw out eraser is a welcome distraction in a boring business meeting! Twist out, twist in, twist out, twist much longer is this going to drag on? The eraser compound is fairly good, erasing about as well as you would expect of a vinyl eraser.

You pull the entire eraser cartridge out to access the lead refill chamber underneath. The lead advance mechanism is a standard push top ratchet, 10 clicks advances 7mm of lead. The tip is a small cone so it’s suitable for general writing but not draughting. It is retractable for pocket safety. The lead is spring loaded to further reduce breakages. Some spring loaded or cushioned leads are rather hard to notice, but this one you can really feel the cushioning as you write. Overall, this is a very smooth-writing pencil. Personally I don’t really like the look of this pencil, but it feels OK in the hand and writes well. As I mentioned above, I imagine it would do fairly well in a test against similar competition.
  • Best Points – Good cushioning to the lead, good eraser cartridge.
  • Not So Good Points – Well, not much really, except personally I just don’t like the look of it.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 139mm, diameter 13mm body. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.


Speedmaster said...

Nice work! ;-)

Julia said...

Nice review, Dave! And it reminded me to ask something I have been wondering about for ages -- why is it that pencils without the little metal sleeve sticking out of the business end not good for drafting (excuse me, draughting). I feel stupid for asking, but I can no longer stand not knowing!

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Julia
Good question. Basically a long thin sleeve is better when you are using a template or ruler so that you can run it smoothly and evenly along the edge. Also the long sleeve gives you a better line of sight to look down and check the lines you draw are really aligning up, etc. Imagine using a big fat conical tip trying to trace circles in a template, rule lines that start and finish at an exact spot (to within a fraction of the thickness of your pencil lead). If you had some rulers made of different thickness then a conical tapering tip would place your pencil lead a different distance out from the ruler edge depending on how thick the material of your ruler was. All these sort of things mean a long thin sleeve is best for drafting (or draughting) :)

Anonymous said...

another faber-castell pencil that's virtually identical to a staedtler pencil (staedtler remedy) except for the pocket clip.


Kiwi-d said...

Mark the Conspiracy Theorist? :)

Actually, you might just be right, there might just be one really big factory churning out lots of pencils and just putting a different label on them as they go out the door.

Unknown said...

This pencil also looks and functions identically to the Papermate Ph.D.

Anonymous said...

This is just a general comment about faber-castell. Dave - You say that FC call this their flagship pencil and indeed it is one of only three mechanical pencils shown on the website - the others being the Grip 2011 and the TK Fine Executive. Now would'nt you think that if these three pencils were shown on their website that they would be available in Sydney. I have never seen the Grip 2011 or the Grip Plus in Sydney - Weird. I did manage to snare the TK Fine Executive.
Why am I telling you this and not FC AUST. Well the last time I emailed FC about pencil availability I asked about the TK9400 2 & 3.15mm clutch and the TK Fine Vario L - both discontinued according to FC Aust.
They are still freely available online.


Kiwi-d said...

Hi 2 1/2p. Well TK Fine Vario L is alive and well on the FC international website. I imagine that FC Aust meant that they had discontinued it from the range they were offering in Aus.

When you spend sometime trolling around the various national sites of Staedtler, FC, Pentel, etc it is amazing how different the products offered from one place to another can be. Sometimes the name seems to be about the only thing in common :-)

Here in NZ the availability of FC varies a lot by region - in some cities FC doesn't seem to exist and in others it is common. I guess its the same in Aus.

Anonymous said...

Dave - just to clarify, FC used the word "not being made anymore" in relation to the fine vario and TK9400.
I think they are just pulling the wool over my eyes.

2 1/2p

Kiwi-d said...

Not being made? Sounds doubtful.
On the other hand its certainly not the first time I've heard of a national distributor justifying their decision to discontinue an item by falsly blaming the overseas parent company.

Hardyz said...

Have you guys seen the old grip plus 0.7?
it looks soooo much nicer than this one.
the clip thingy on the top isn't curved like this.
and there areaobut 17-18 horizontal lines (for grip)
it looks soo much nicer. seriously.
if anybody know where i can buy it, please do tell me.
i've been looking for the old version of this pencil for 6 years now. havn't found any. the market only sells the new ones now. yuck!

Mike C. said...

I had one of these and I lost it! It was a very nice pencil, I had it for three years of school, and I'm trying to find a new one since I lost it about three weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Trough ist the F-C Grip+ a little expensive in my country, I have bought two and they are my preferable mechanical pencil for sketching.
...after some mods. The (fixed, cover) conical front part is to much restricting for view on paper, so I have reduced this part to cylindrical with diameter around 3.5mm. The triangular grip is in reality not best. I have replacet this part with modified F-C triangular "Erasers". The clip is big and I do not using the clip, so I have removed them (cut and cleaned with sand paper).