Friday, September 03, 2010

From The Desk - of Florida Bob 2

Some say “The pen is mightier”…but they are just wrong!

benders mechanical pencil


Oi! What's your game Bender?

All photos courtesy of Florida Bob.
Thanks Bob!


memm said...

Oh no.. Calculon is losing hydraulic liquid. :)

Speedmaster said...

LOL, we love Calculon! ;-)

Henrik said...

Oh nooo! Calculon is my father.. (LOL)
regards Henrik

Julian English said...

This seems like a good thread to ask this question: why pencils?

I've been reading this blog off and on for a while now and have a decent sized collection of mechanical pencils and leadholders/clutch pencils. However, I still find myself wondering why I'm using a pencil and not a pen whenever I use pencils.

There are writing situations where either is preferable to the other, particularly pens where permanence is called for. But I get the impression that many who post here and Dave either use pencils exclusively or overwhelmingly. I'm curious as to why that is.

So, please tell me why you like and use pencils.

@Dave - Great blog, one of the very best devoted to writing instruments on the net. I hope you won't mind my little bit of thread hi-jacking here.

Sapphire said...

Writing is my business. I write reports, presentations, talks and scripts for other people.
I need to do a lot of background research; reading books, typescripts and internet pages, as well as attending meetings.
All of my notetaking is done in pencil - mostly 0.5mm pencil and the occasional wooden pencil. I tend to use softer lead B or 2B (4B for crossword puzzles.) I often use coloured pencils for underlining.
As well as notes I will draft some passages in pencil - the final product is typed, of course.
I write stories as a hobby and I will often draft difficult passages in pencil here too.
Why pencil?
I also like fountain pens but they aren't good for speed writing and they often dry up during thinking pauses. Ball point pens just make a mess of my handwriting unless I write very carefully and they can be hard to start. Gels and rollers I just don't get on with. I find them too slippery.
Pencil always starts first time. I can write fast without degenerating into a scrawl and I can erase whole phrases. Even in notes I'm distracted by crossings out.
Pencil is a bit paper sensitive so I have problems editing typescripts if they're on very shiny paper.
Actually graphite marks can be more durable than ink. They are pretty much waterproof and unaffected by light. About the only that does affect graphite is physical abrasion.
And I just like the silvery grey of graphite - it's more gentle than the intensity of ink.

I'd be interested in what others have to say. Do you mostly use pencils and if so why?

Julian English said...

@Sapphire - Great answer.

I suspect there are some gel or ballpoint hybrid pens out there you might like, but perhaps that is for another discussion.

Pen users/lovers might say in response that they don't have to deal with lead breakage and sharpening.

"And I just like the silvery grey of graphite - it's more gentle than the intensity of ink."

Good line. I like it too. In fact, I find myself using gray gel pens because of it. Though graphite will still often appear a touch too light on the page for my taste, depending on the light and lead grade.

Kiwi-d said...

Julian - I use pencil overwhelmingly, but not where permanence is truly required. Erasability is of some use to a lot of my writing situations, so my default instrument is a pencil. Realistically its mostly a matter of pure personal choice and habit, but you can either have a desk tidy full of pens or of pencils...and I choose pencils.

Time Waster said...

Mech pencils allow you to make mistakes which is a bonus.

Julian English said...

@Dave - Thanks. I guess it just comes down to your "once upon a time" comment. ;-)

However, I'm not sure why one can't have a desk tidy full of pens and pencils.

Sapphire said...

Julian - I quite like the Uni Jetstream. Is this a hybrid or gel ink?

I use mechanical pencils to avoid sharpening and I don't get much lead breakage. Light-fingered?
Oh no - that means something else.

Julian English said...

Sapphire - My understanding is that the Jetstream's ink is a gell/roller hybrid, though it is still called a 'ballpoint' by many. I like it a lot as well.

I use .4 and .5 mps regularly and break lead with some consistency. It really isn't too bad except for color leads; I've completely given up on using them. I had some Staedtler (I think) color 2.0 mm leads and even they broke regularly on me. A problem I almost never have with 2.0 mm leads.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I would highly recommend and Alvin :

You can't beat this pencil for $14 US

Anonymous said...

I use pencils and pens. I am a college math instructor. I use pencils for math as well as [low quality] quick sketches where I will be doing a substantial amount of erasing. I use mechanical pencils as well as wooden pencils.

I use pens as well, particularly ballpoint pens. I use Fisher space pen refills, usually, but not always, in Fisher pens.

If neatness is an issue and permanence is not or I can get to a copying machine, I will use some form of pencil. If neatness is not an issue and I don't need to sketch something and I am willing to live with words and phrases scratched out, I will usually choose a pen.

Bob S. from Phoenix, AZ

Julian English said...

Bob S. - If you use Fisher refills because they are pressurized but aren't completely satisfied with how they write, I recommend giving Uni-ball's Power Tank pens a try. They also use a pressurized refill but the ink doesn't blob as much (or much at all) as Fisher's does, in my experience.

JetPens carries them in a few different styles.

PointFour said...

Great post, Sapphire!

Other points: Cult Pens say the Jetstream has "super-smooth, ultra-quick-drying, waterproof and fadeproof pigment ink. Ideal for left-handers as the ink dries so fast there is little chance of smudging"

Anonymous said...

Hi Julian,

Thanks for the information. I have used the Power Tanks and I prefer the Fisher refills. I haven't found extensive blobbing in the current generation of Fisher refills. [YMMV]

Bob S. from Phoenix, AZ

Julian English said...

Bob - I'll have to give the Fishers a try again. I never found them to be bad, just not great. I do appreciate the little Parker adapter they come with. Thank you.

Kiwi-d said...

Anonymous re Alvin DM05 - I've got one. Alvin aren't a manufacturer, its also available under many other brands and closely related variants.

Ethan M. said...

They both obviously have their place, it's just that the sort of writing I do demands pencil more often than pen.

Scott W / Chicago said...

I love mechanical and drafting pencils and have bought several based solely on the recommendations on this site. I'm in technology and constantly take notes, draw diagrams and flows, etc. and nothing is more enjoyable than a solid mechanical pencil with a good dark lead that always feels 'sharpened'. It's a far better writing experience (to me) than a pen.
If I must use a pen, I do like the 'scratchiness' of a fountain pen (kind of a pencil-like feel to it) - There must be something satisfying with that scratchiness that I just find appealing.
Another commenter posted a note about Alvin. I was given a .5 and .7 pencil from a friend who owned an art store. On both, all writing was rubbed off the body of the pencil and I've been looking for these ever since. I was finally able to make out DM05 and looked online, and sure enough, it's an Alvin. I'm ecstatic to have found that they're still made. They are awesome (and inexpensive) pencils. I think you should include them in your list!
Scott W / Chicago