Friday, August 03, 2018

Cult Pens Double-Knock Mechanical Pencil Review

Cult Pens Double-Knock Mechanical Pencil Review

This mechanical pencil is a house offering of well-known retailer Cult Pens. Despite their company name they often describe themselves as pencil people, and so true to that, back in May 2015, they introduced their own house brand mechanical pencil, the Double-Knock. It is available in 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead sizes. On their website it is model CU43621 so my 0.5mm version is item CU43621-05.
Cult Pens Double-Knock Mechanical Pencil

The only colourway is silver metal, with the main body being a quite glossy satin finish and all other parts being bright shiny plate. Personally I am always a little wary of this sort of colour scheme, I often don’t like the difference in gloss levels of the same base colour, but this pencil carries it off, I think mostly due to the relatively high gloss level of the barrel. The only markings on the pencil are ‘Cult Pencil’ and the lead diameter. There is no country of origin marked on the pencil but the Cult Pens website states it is made in Japan by a contract manufacturer. The pencil is supplied in a small clear plastic carry case.
clear carry case

The Cult Pencil weighs in at 16 grams and in the hand is a little lighter than its all metal construction might suggest, but it is of course made primarily from lightweight aluminium. Another thing is it somehow looks shorter than its actual measurements. There’s some strange magic or optical illusion or something else going on here… or maybe I just need glasses or drink too much?

The grip zone is round knurled metal, just under 9mm diameter. Knurling is of course a classic feature of drafting pencils, but it can be rather aggressive on the fingers, particularly if you are not used to a knurled grip. I would say the knurling on the Cult Pens Pencil is just right, not rough enough to cause short term irritation but rough enough to ensure solid long term grip. Being round, you can of course rotate the pencil at will if that is your practice, but the pocket clip and side button might get in the way if you have large hands.
knurled grip

Now, hold on; just give me a minute to climb up onto my soapbox. The name. I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, I really dislike the term ‘double-knock’ that has snuck its way into the English of the writing instrument industry. As I understand it, it is a literal translation from the Japanese, but it’s meaningless in English. How has it ended up being used in preference to elegant meaningful alternatives like ‘vanishing point’? Grrrrr… Okay, climbing back down now. Take a deep breath. Keep calm and carry on.

The vanishing point double knock system is a relatively standard one. The first push of the top button pushes the tip section out of the main body and locks it in place. Thereafter it functions essentially like any other fixed sleeve push top ratchet mechanical pencil. Ten clicks of the mechanism will get you about 6.5mm of lead. When you are finished applying graphite to surfaces you simply push the small button located towards the top of the main body and the spring loaded mechanism will slam the tip section back up inside the body. The lead sleeve is now protected and the pencil is pocket safe. I quite like the push button on the side.

To retract or not to retract?
The lead sleeve is a 4mm long metal pipe so this definitely counts as a drafting pencil, just as its overall looks would suggest. Now, as a vanishing point mechanical pencil there is of course the possibility of tip wobble, and indeed I can confirm there is tip wobble. I would say the amount of wobble is about average, or possibly a fraction more. The amount also seems a little variable and is sometimes also audible. Again that’s not unique, perhaps its temperature related? Personally I don’t find tip wobble a major problem but I know it is a source of annoyance for a significant number of pencil users. I guess I’m just not that precise.

The pocket clip is a simple plain metal one, springy and utilitarian, but not quite as strong as I expected. Under the push top button is the usual small emergency use eraser which also includes a lead cleanout rod, which is always a nice touch.

One unusual thing about this mechanical pencil is that the Cult Pens website details the nine point design brief that lead to its creation. I won’t reprint that here, you can cruise over to their website to read that. Of course it begs the question, “How well does the finished product compare to the design brief?” I won’t say 9 / 9 but it’s not far off it.
Suitable for Walter Gropius?
So, overall, the Cult Pens Double-Knock mechanical pencil is a very good mechanical pencil, and well worth your consideration.

•    Best Points – Vanishing point, good knurled grip.
•    Not So Good Points – Tip wobble will annoy some.
•    Price Range – Mid
•    Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No

Dimensions – Length 136 mm extended, diameter 9mm across the grip section. Balance point about 65mm up from the tip.

This mechanical pencil was provided to me free of charge by Cult Pens. Utu, Cult Pens.


Blackbeard said...

Maybe people, especially retailers, use double-knock because Vanishing Point is trademarked by Pilot.

Matthias said...

I just bought one myself a few days ago - after having seen it 'live' for the giveaway..

Kiwi-d said...

Good 'point' :)
I did not think about the TM status. Still, there are numerous other options - double-action, retracting tip, retractable point, retracta-tip, extending tip, extend-retract mechanism, etc

2nd_astronaut said...

For me as non-native Englisch speaker "vanishing point" also sounds strange, because "vanish" is for me more a disappearing ("vanish ultra" for washing) than a mechanical retraction and "point" is for me too unusual in this context. So my vote goes to retractable tip.

But in comparison to "body knock" the "double knock" sounds meaningful to me ;-)

Penmsueum said...

Double-knock does sound a little weird, but I presumed it was a reference to the sound involved. Where in English we say "Click", the Japanese like to say "Knock"? Or, the act of pressing the plunger is a "knock"?

Double-click is probably more apt for English speakers, but that compound word is already deeply associated with an interface on computers.

Btw, interesting to note that for the Pentel PSD5, they used the term 'double-push'. And that works for me. ;-)

Kelvin Pang said...

I'd go for the 0.7 model myself… to pair it with the MANUFACTUM all-brass 'double-push/knock' pencil... If it had a lead degree window, it'd be closer to perfect.

Anonymous said...

i have one of those. after i read this i tried a few lines with it. my pencils tip doesnt wobble while im writing. it is more stable than my rotring 800+. i guess i was lucky with my purchase. i bent the clip so it is solid as a rock now but i dont like the shape of it. i prefere looped clips, those hold stronger. cap is wobbling but only when i turn the pencil not while i m writing letters. feeling of the grip reminds me of staedtler 925 25.

Kiwi-d said...

Perhaps there is some manufacturing variability with this Cult pencil. After I published this review I read another review where the person said their spring mechanism was weak and struggled to retract the tip back into the body. Completely different to mine.

Regarding "Double Knock", my problem is really with the word "Knock". As suggested by Penmuseum "Click" or "Push" would be much better words to use.

Anonymous said...

Haha - I like the Devo button pusher. Good taste in music but you need an update :)

Thomas said...

Does anyone know who the manufacturer is? I can't help wondering if it's the same factory producing Ohto pencils. Initially I thought it was TWSBI but Cult Pens claims it's a japanese manufacturer, not Chinese.

Kiwi-d said...

The manufacturer is Preco Japan. I do not know if they have any association with Ohto.