My Pages

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick

Last year I was contacted by a reader, Mark from California, who suggested I might be interested in trying his favourite eraser, the Sanford Tuff Stuff Eraser Stick, and he offered to send me a couple as “they only cost peanuts”. Well I am interested in finding the ultimate eraser, so I accepted his offer and duly received a package in the post. So, thanks Mark.Well first off the Tuff Stuff seems a fairly typical mechanical stick eraser. Just like many a mechanical pencil, you push the top to advance the lead, oops, sorry, the eraser core, and you can push the core back inside the tip if necessary. I think this eraser stick counts as “pocket-safe”. The pocket clip top section pulls off to allow refilling with another eraser core. I’m not completely convinced by the security of the top section to the main body and I could imagine it coming loose after much use, but then this is not an expensive item , so just get another one if that ever happens.

The Tuff Stuff comes in a rather nice selection of colours, and the concentric rings on the grip section look nice, and add some security to the grip for large erasing jobs. The body has a slightly unusual feel, almost a hint of rubber, a hint of sponginess – I actually quite like it.Now, the main event, the eraser core. Well it’s fairly narrow for a stick eraser, just under 4mm diameter (a bit over 1/8 inch). Mark pointed out to me that this diameter fits several mechanical pencil eraser cartridges (e.g. Faber-Castell). The compound appears to be a fairly hard vinyl, but don’t take the “vinyl” bit as gospel. I have noticed a bit of a general trend for eraser compounds to get harder as their diameter decreases, which does have some logic to it. Being a fairly narrow diameter the Tuff Stuff is well suited to smaller more precise erasing jobs, e.g. rubbing out an individual letter as opposed to whole lines of wording. The waste doesn’t readily twist up into strands so it’s a little messy, particularly on larger jobs. The eraser core often ends up with a dirty half-rubbed off stringy-blobby bit stuck on its tip (yes, that’s a technical term), which rather irritates me. (Dreadlocks for erasers?)

In a quick comparison test with the test bench Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser, the Mars did a better job of erasing ordinary woodcase pencil HB lead and mechanical pencil 0.5mm HB lead from ordinary photocopy type paper. Tuff Stuff did a reasonable job, it’s just Mars was better. The difference was slightly more evident with woodcase pencil lead. In the photo below you can see there is some graphite residue left behind on the Tuff Stuff erasings (left half of page), and how the eraser waste is scattered around compared to the two twisted up strands of eraser waste on the Mars (right hand) side of the test page.Overall then, I do like this eraser, but to date, Mars Plastic plus an eraser shield remains virtually unbeatable.
  • Best Points – The grip and feel, “pocketability”, and suited to finer erasing.
  • Not so good points – The eraser compound is a bit messy for frequent large scale general office work.

Dimensions – Length 126mm, 11mm diameter body. Eraser stick – c4mm diameter x 100mm length, of which about 85mm is usable.

Footnote - I have started to become suspicious that larger erasers like the Mars plastic are better at erasing hard pressed pencil lines that are indented into the paper. Paper is rather flexible and I half suspect the extra pressure from a bigger eraser pulling and stretching at the paper (compared to a narrow eraser) allows for better graphite removal. Something to check out one day in the future. Any thoughts?


  1. Nice review. I like that first photo. The eraser really must be "Tuff Stuff" if it can hang around with the hammer, screwdriver, etc.

    Is the eraser held firmly in place? I picked up Staedtler's stick eraser, the Mars plastic 528 50, and I found the eraser a bit "wobbly". It also won't fully retract into the case until a few mm of the eraser have been worn or cut away.

    If the eraser fits several types of mechanical pencil - that could be very useful information, as official manufacturer refills can be expensive and hard to source.

    (The eraser diameter is 3.8mm, based on some other information available on the web.)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Hi Stephen - yes I would rate the eraser core as being held firmly in place. Sometimes when you have clicked it out and first apply pressure there is a small amount of retraction with a "clunk", as though some part of the mechanism is seating itself back against a stop, but after that its pretty solid. Even very heavy hand pressure doesn't seem to move it. I guess we've got to remember that unlike a lead, the eraser core is compressable so there will probably always be some movement as it just compresses under pressure and/or moves inside the holding jaws or mechanism.

    The eraser can be fully retracted back inside the body right from brand-new.

  4. Just FYI - today I saw a pen, the Papermate Flexgrip which appeared to be made from the same body material with concentric rings for grip etc. Well, at least by memory it was, didn't have Tuff Stuff with me.

  5. of all the erasers I have 'tested' on joy of erasers, this is the only one i gave a negative review to.
    It may have some use, but i haven't found erasing is one of them. The diameter is too narrow, if too short, it wears away too quickly, if too long it wiggles uselessly. I despise it, because sanford made it available everywhere, and the much better sanford/papermate stick eraser is more difficult to find. they have removed eraser and left the price the same.

  6. Hmmmm, Stephen, I may not have answered your question correctly. My answer was realted to movement "in and out". Now I read your question again, you are probably meaning sideways movement. In that case, yes there is a bit of wobble, but nothing that "surprised" me, but thats very subjective. Most of these eraser sticks have a bit of wobble, probably more as the core gets thinner, etc. Some types have the jaws right at the end like a leadholder or clutch pencil so I guess they have less wobble. More reviews required :-)

  7. It isn't pocket safe!!!!! :) jus being the antagonist.
    Of course it's pocket safe. It is rubber like, with no sharp points...
    Looks interesting, if not ugly. may have to try one out. Daughter uses the Pentel Clic-eraser... this might be something useful for her. he draws alot and is almost 13... I got her hooked on mechanical pencils. Her mom is soooo ashamed..... :)

  8. Hi kiwi-d, thanks for the clarification, as I was indeed thinking about sideways movement.

    I found a stick eraser section over at the uncomfortable chair. The Uchida Proeraser looks quire refined.

  9. Looks like that Uchida Proeraser has clutch pencil jaws right down at the tip so that would presumably eliminate any sideways wobble.

    My initial comment about no movement back into the body was motivated by an experience with another stick eraser where there was - press hard and the core tends to go back in a certain amount.

  10. Hello J – Thanks for your comment. I didn’t previously recall your review of the Tuff Stuff. Since I'm just a novice and you are an eraser expert I take your views seriously, but I guess this is one where we won’t really end up in close agreement. As R E Wolf commented on your blog, he likes it for some purposes. Mark commented to me he likes it because he does a fair bit of fine detailed erasing. I also found the thinner core reasonably suited to erasing more precise sections, like a letter rather than a couple of lines of writing. Well anyway, Nuff said. Tuff Stuff, Average Stuff, Good Stuff, Sh*t Stuff – opinions would seem to vary.

  11. Hey Dave -

    I just thought I'd mention, for completeness' sake, that the Sanford / Papermate Pro-Touch and Pro-Touch II ( that I wrote about customizing here on this blog ) , along with the Papermate Apex and Staedtler 9505 all use the slimmer Sanford Tuff Stuff erasers. I love it for detailed work.
    For larger erasing I use the time-tested and just about perfect Staedtler Mars Plastic.
    Keep up the great work!

  12. The perfect eraser?
    it's the Black Pearl by Papermate cost about 1.50 for 2 of them. They eraser with ease and leave minimal eraser dust the amount of effort needed to erase is like magic but then again were talking about a eraser. But I still use stick eraser or a Stadetler electric for details.

  13. I beg to differ ;-) The best eraser is the Pilot Foam Eraser, closely followed by the Tombow Mono and the Sakura foam eraser.

  14. Has anyone seen "New Scientist" magazine for 3 May 2008? "The Last Word" section, inside the back cover, clearly shows a Klingon photon torpedo stuck to a very old Tombow Mono plastic eraser. There follows a short discussion of PVC vs. rubber, and plasticiser migration.

  15. Yes, Mars Plastic (and some of the other posts) are better for the board, but tuff to beat the tuff-stick for field work: erasing fine detail of sketches while holding lead holder, clipboard, blueprints, meas. tape, plumb bob, and its raining.

  16. I'm a big fan of the Tuff Stuff. I use it in sketching an character design for animation all the time. In fact, until recently it was my most precise eraser and I used it for all my fiddly details.

    As for Mars Plastic pre-eminence for erasing quality, though, I used to be right with you. That is, until I got my Lyra Eraser Pen. I has a core about the same size as a Click-Erase but it has more of a mechanical pencil / leadholder construction, so the eraser is firmly held right up to the time. (I've always hated the Click-Erase for exactly the opposite reason -- it isn't held firmly at the tip).

    But that's not where the Lyra coolness ends. It turns out that it erases even better than the Mars Plastic! (Disclaimer: I'm using Pentel hi-polymer HB mechanical pencil lead on drawing or animation paper). The only problem is that I bought some refills for it once and they were slightly too small! The eraser core would just slide back into the body whenever I tried to erase something :( Fortunately, a later batch seemed to get it right, so now I'm sitting pretty for a while :)

    That said, I use my Tuff Stuff most often -- it's rare that I have to erase anything so big that it needs the ~1/4" Lyra eraser.

    You can see a picture of the Lyra eraser here:

  17. I would just like to say that most of you naysayers are completely missing the most important quality of this eraser, and the main reason why many illustrators and animators are fond of it: it is the most PRECISE eraser out there. I have tried others, including the new "Pentel Ain Clic", that claims to be precise because of its triangular diameter, but really none of them come very close (the triangular Pentel Ain Clic DOES always have a sharp EDGE, but its sharpest POINT is usually several degrees duller than the sharpest point of the Tuff Stuff). If you are trying to erase parts of tiny drawings, the others are all fairly clumsy by comparison. The "Tuff Stuff" is the only one I have found that always has a sharp edge that one can use.

    Probably, this is because you are writers, and you don't write small, so this quality is not important for you.

  18. Regarding niffiwan's comment, you might also like to try the Tombow Mono Zero eraser ( It has become my eraser of choice for precision work, since it has a 2.3mm core -- smaller than any other eraser I've seen or tried. In face, I'd love to see a review of it on this site, with a side-by-side comparison with other stick erasers and the venerable Mars plastic.

  19. Hi animatorgeek,
    I just bought a Tombow Mono Zero, the 2.3mm type. It's pretty good however where I bought it there were no refill sticks sold. I assumed it was filled with a full size stick like the STUFF STUFF but today i puled out the stick and realized, it was just a 5 cm usable eraser portion inside.
    My question, is the same situation in your Tombow??
    I was quite disappointed and started to cut shapes into the TUFF STUFF refill. This way actually I was getting the same results if not better than with the Tombow. So, to me the Tombow seems to be a gimmicky luxury item in spite of its pleasant design, etc.

  20. Exactly, the question is the purpose of your eraser. For common tasks maybe the Tuff Stuff is not a big deal, but for precision work it is very good. It doesn't depend only on the diameter or angle of a sharp edge, no, it depends also on the rigidity of the material. That renders the eraser better or worse for precision work (e.g. illustration, fine-arts drawings and drawing transfers, etc)

  21. Great blog, Dave - I've learned a lot here.

    Eraser question - I am down to the last one of my all-time favorite stick erasers: the AZOR Skip. I have spent an embarassing amount of time trying to locate replacements worldwide, with zero success. Has this gem disappeared from the face of the earth? Has anyone else heard of it? Tuff Stuff seems to be a similar design, but too narrow for me.

    Right now, I am making do with the LYRA, which is a reasonable substitute (and a big thanks to animatorgeek for the tip). But for me, the advance action of the AZOR is significantly smoother, and it has a slimmer profile as well. Both the LYRA and the AZOR sit low in the pocket, with minimal protrusion, which I like (which is also why I cannot get behind the Pentel Clic Eraser). Can anyone suggest a source or a close replacement for the AZOR Skip?

    1. Hi, the Azor Skip is a local Mexican brand, hence the rarity so you might want ro ask any Mexican friends to look for some of those! Good luck!

  22. You missed out the one big plus of the Tuff Stick - it's the only eraser which erases marks made by pastels.

    I always assumed it wasn't intended to do the same job as the rest of the eraser clan but rather to relate more to a niche need - as suggested by its name