Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Faber-Castell TK-Fine Executive Mechanical Pencil Review

Faber-Castell TK-Fine Executive Mechanical Pencil Review

I have previously reviewed the TK-Fine Vario L, Faber-Castell’s top of the line offering in technical or draughting pencils. Now it’s time for the closely related TK-Fine Executive, whose name would imply it’s their top of the line pencil for general writing and office work. Faber-Castell’s website actually makes the statement that this pencil is “Ideal for time-planning systems”. The Executive and Vario L share the majority of their componentry.
Photo: top= Executive, bottom = Vario L
I was looking forward to using the Executive, after all, clearly I am 'executive material' and deserve a writing instrument to match! :-) From the moment I first picked up the Executive, my time using it was a comparison with the Vario L, rather than a start from scratch new review. That wasn’t what I intended or wanted, and might be unfair, but it’s the way things were. My first thoughts were along the lines of, “This isn’t a Vario L, and it isn’t as good”. Why did I think that? Well the looks don’t help. The model names and stylings are so close that comparison is just inevitable. To me, the Vario L just looks better. The metal grip on the Vario L makes it look a bit more expensive and technical. Without it, the Executive looks a little cheaper, but it’s supposed to be an Executive pencil, so it shouldn’t look “cheaper”. Maybe a different name wouldn’t lead my thoughts down that pathway. The Executive doesn’t have the lead hardness indicator nor the long draughting lead sleeve, so again, to the engineer in me the Executive looks like the poor cousin. Instead of the draughting sleeve the Executive has a tapering metal conical front tip and a retractable short conical lead sleeve. So, definitely for writing only, and fully pocket safe – no surprises there.
Just like the Vario L up at the top end of the pencil is the twist out eraser. The Executive comes in 0.5mm and 0.7mm lead options. Mine is 0.7mm. Ten activations of the lead advance mechanism will get you about 6mm of lead, which is perhaps not quite enough for a general writing pencil in 0.7mm. Like the Vario L, the Executive has lead cushioning, but unlike the Vario L it is not adjustable.

The grip on the Executive is plastic rather than metal as on the Vario L, but that’s basically the only difference in the grips. For me, this grip still had the problems of the Vario L’s grip. Basically it is just too narrow and not really comfortable for me. Faber-Castell advertises it as an “ergonomic grip zone”. Well, I’d say it was an unsuccessful ergonomic grip zone. It is perhaps a little less slippery than the Vario L’s metal version of the grip, so that still leaves the Vario L holding the title of “the worst grip I have used in a very long time.” This review has ended up a bit shorter and more of a mini comparison than I intended, but it’s what my fingers ended up typing when I started.

The label stuck on my pencil includes the wording “Made In Japan”.
  • Best Points – the eraser.
  • Not So Good Points – the grip.
  • Price Range – Low.

Dimensions – Length 153mm, diameter 8mm at grip section. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

Broadband connection, new digital camera, new 19-inch LCD monitor, what's next?If you thought doing this blog via dial-up until a few weeks ago was crazy, wait until you hear that until last week I only had a 13-inch CRT monitor! Won't be able to call myself a Luddite for much longer.


Slywy said...

Heh. I write my journal entries in pencil and type them on an Alphasmart Neo.

Germ said...

I agree with you on all counts David. The Vario L has probably the worst grip, and the executive version looks cheap. I don't have the latter, and probably never will. My Vario (thank you) will be the only one.

Anonymous said...

Is the TK Fine 9719 next on the hit list?

I have to say, that green background makes these pencils look quite sharp!

Kiwi-d said...

Well I've got a TK Fine, but no plans to review it at the moment. I think some other F-C's are higher up the To Review list.

Unknown said...

I own a Faber-Castell TK-Fine Executive and have to agree with your comments about the grip.

Anonymous said...

I find this pencil is better than the average writing pencil - I love the slim elongated cone tip and the length of the pencil 153mm is nice and long and gives it a touch of elegance. Also like the way the erasure compartment reinserts with a nice click without advancing the lead. The retract mechanism is also super smooth. Anyway I do feel it has some nice features that are worth pointing out.

Kiwi-d said...

Thanks Kevin - Every pencil deserves to have it good points highlighted.