Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mechanical Pencils With Extendable Erasers

A lot of people seem to like a big eraser on their mechanical pencil, so here’s a list of mechanical pencils with large erasers. How big is large? I’ve decided that any eraser that is extendable will qualify, irrespective of its cross-section, diameter or length; and that’s it. Extendable or nothing. I’ll update this list as I become aware of new pencils. No promises, but I will try and remove pencils from the list if they are discontinued by the manufacturer. Please let me know of any currently available mechanical pencils with extendable eraser, along with the relevant details. Discontinued pencils don't count. I am not going to include details of the eraser composition, the length you can extend it out, etc as this list is just a starting point for folk to do their own research.
All are round cross-section erasers using a twist out mechanism unless otherwise noted.

Last Update 28 February 2009

Actually I can't really be bothered updating this list, so this is it for the moment. However over in the sidebar labels section there is a label for Extendable Erasers and that will update as I review any mechanical pencils with extendable erasers.

Wide Erasers (over about 4mm or 3/16th inch diameter)

Artline Click-It
Faber-Castell Grip Plus
Faber-Castell Grip 2011
Papermate Clearpoint
Papermate MegaLead
Papermate PhD
Papermate Sidetrac
Papermate Titanium
Penol Jumbo
Penol Pastel
Pentel Side FX
Pentel Twist-Erase
Pentel Twist-Erase Frost
Pilot Clicker (push slider mechanism)
Sakura Sumo Grip
Stabilo Min Gum
Staedtler Noris 771
Staedtler Remedy
Staedtler Triplus Micro

Narrow Erasers (about 4mm or 3/16th inch diameter and under)

Faber-Castell Grip 1345/7
Faber-Castell Grip Matic
Faber-Castell TK-Fine Executive
Faber-Castell TK-Fine Vario L
Koh-I-Noor Mephisto Profi
Papermate Apex
Papermate / Sanford ProTouch II
Papermate / Sanford Technician II
Staedtler Integrity 9505

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pentel Sharplet-2 A125 Mechanical Pencil Review

Pentel Sharplet-2 A125 Mechanical Pencil Review

A long time ago I told a reader I would review this pencil, and then didn’t. So, it’s been a long time coming, but finally we are here.
On the Pentel USA website, the Sharplet-2 is available in 0.5, 0.7 and 0.9mm lead sizes, but there is no choice of colours. Mine is the 0.5mm lead, thus it is an A125, not an A127 or A129.

The Sharplet-2 is clearly a fairly plain simple design, and you might expect it to be an economy range or price-fighter model. However, Pentel price it well above quite a few of their other pencils so clearly they do not think of it that way. So that’s something to bear in mind during the review.
(photo clickable for high resolution)

The main body is a simple round tube. At the lower end there is a series of concentric grooved rings to create a grip zone. They are quite successful and provide a good grip.
Of course being a plain round body you can easily hold the pencil anywhere you want to along its length. One hint about the non-economy nature of the Sharplet-2 is that the body is quite rigid. There is very little flex under even quite heavy pressure – far less than many other pencils.

The front tip section is a smooth plain tapering cone. It is screwed onto the body. There are some interesting marks moulded into the top of the cone section which look like they might be designed for grip when the tip is being automatically screwed onto the body by some machine. Hopefully you can see all this in the photo below. These innards all look a step above the economy grade.The tip finishes with a short thin round metal lead sleeve. It is only about 2mm long so not really suitable for draughting (or drafting). As is common with so many Pentels it is a fixed sleeve and thus not pocket safe.The Sharplet-2 is definitely a lightweight pencil, so balance is basically unimportant. It is also a reasonably narrow pencil and thus not suitable for those who like a bigger or heavier pencil. The Sharplet-2 is more for those who don’t like to be reminded that their pencil is in their hand.

Up at the top end of the pencil we have a black cap. No surprise that you push on it to get lead out the other end, or that you pull it off to reveal a small eraser, which in turn pulls out to allow the lead magazine to be refilled.The black cap is a friction fit onto the white tubing, and I can see it being lost over time. Ten clicks on the cap will get you about 5mm of 0.5mm lead, which is a small amount for a general writing pencil.

The Pentel website notes the Sharplet-2 features an ‘adjustable metal pocket clip’ but doesn’t give any information on this adjustability. In the absence of instructions I’m left to draw my own conclusions. So, it appears the adjustability is that as the body is smooth and round and the metal clip is just friction fitted on, you can slide the pocket clip up and down the body to your desired position, or you could slide it right off the top and remove it. Personally I like it just where it is, up at the top of the barrel. I don’t like it when my pencil rolls around on my desk so a pocket clip is always a welcome anti-roll device to me.

Like most Pentels, the marking on the pencil is fairly extensive – name, model number, lead size, etc.

Overall then, the Sharplet-2 is quite a nice pencil. Plain but honest. In some respects it seems like it’s a cheaper general writing ‘little brother’ version of the P205.
  • Best Points – The grip zone is quite effective.
  • Not So Good Points – Mechanism should advance more lead per click.
  • Price Range – Economy.
  • Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – Good question. I’ll have to go through the existing Top 5 one by one to decide. So, does it deserve to replace the Pentel Energize? Definitely not. The Pentel Technica-X? No. The Staedtler Graphite 777? Umm….No. The Pentel Techniclic? Ahhhhhh….Maybe. The Staedtler Tri-Plus Micro? Definitely not. The problem is, the Sharplet-2 is rather plain, dare I say ordinary, and surely the Top 5 is for the extraordinary? On that basis, the Techniclic has that little something extra, and so it’s a mighty close call but the Techniclic stays in the Top 5, and there is no room for the Sharplet-2. I don’t think I’m being paid enough to make these sort of hard decisions.

Dimensions – Length 141mm, diameter 8mm. Balance point about 75mm up from the tip.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lazy Sunday Afternoon 2000 Artois

Its quick, rough and not that good, but it's the first time I've been inspired to put pencil to paper in about a year, so I thought blogging it might help keep me going.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Big PC

My defences were down when I saw the auction for this Pierre Cardin ballpoint pen/pencil set. The seller claimed to have bought it about 10 years ago from a genuine Pierre Cardin retail outlet in New York, and I hit that "Bid" button.Black plastic body with chrome metal filigree overlay sleeve on the top half of the body. The other metal trims are a very light gold colour. I’m not really sure what metal that would be.

Fancy filigree work on pencils is not usually to my taste, but I must admit this pen set is rather attractive. As you might expect, all that metalwork makes for a heavy pencil, and one that is quite top heavy.The mechanical pencil is a screw action mechanism – wind the top half of the body around to propel or retract the 0.9mm lead. The top half of the body pulls off to access the eraser, and lead storage beneath the eraser. As usual though, leads are replaced via the tip.“Pierre Cardin” and “China” are engraved on the middle body ring, and the PC logo on the tip of the pocket clip. There are no model numbers or designations to be seen. The box has various Pierre Cardin markings. I must say I am surprised at the prominence given to this items Chinese origin, and I would have expected another source for a brand name like Pierre Cardin. Despite its claimed age, this set is in very good condition, although the box has a little wear and tear. Of course the world is awash with fakes, and I’ve got no idea what a real Pierre Cardin pen set is supposed to look like. So whilst I assume I have a real Pierre Cardin,someone could have just as easily played me for a chump and sold me a Peter Cardigan.At the end of the day, I got the set for a rather paltry sum, and I’m happy whatever PC it is.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

You & Me Jedo 3000 Mechanical Pencil Review

You & Me Jedo 3000 Mechanical Pencil Review

(clickable for high res photo)

I bought this pencil from a Morning Glory shop a few years ago, and it has been languishing in storage ever since. The Japanese writing instrument companies are great exporters and they have a global presence, but their Korean competitors are much lesser known. Recently I was contacted by a couple of young Korean collectors and had the opportunity to learn some things from them.

I had always thought that Jedo was a Korean brand of mechanical pencils, but apparently I’m completely wrong. I’m told that in Korean, Jedo can be used as a noun or a verb, "Je" means make something, and "do" means graph, thus Jedo translates as graph work. Many technical or drafting style pencils are labelled Jedo, and it appears the word is not trademarked or brand registered so basically anyone can call their pencil a Jedo this or that. Websites of European companies often divide their mechanical pencils into two categories – drafting and office (non-drafting). Similarly some Korean websites have two mechanical pencil sections – Jedo and non-Jedo.

You & Me Corp are a reasonably well-known Korean stationery company and “Feel Luck” is one of their main brands. I don’t know if they manufacture their own mechanical pencils or buy from another manufacturer, but there seems too be a lot of Jedo variants and clones so I suspect a small number of manufacturers and many brand distributors.
The You & Me Corp ‘Feel Luck’ Jedo 3000 Sharp 0.5mm mechanical pencil comes in a little vacuum formed plastic clamshell which is itself inside a cardboard package. This is really all just retail display material, not the sort of thing you would be likely to keep after you have started to use the pencil. In western markets many might consider it excessive packaging. A tube of You & Me ‘Komet’ refill leads is also supplied as part of the deal. Although the small print specifically states “Made In Korea”, the wording “R & D Japan” is prominent on the packaging and the products themselves. It seems that a Japanese association is highly valued by at least some Korean marketers.
At first glance this pencil is reasonably appealing. Black body, chrome trims, fairly classical proportions. The only thing I have against it stylistically is the size and font of the printing on the barrel. It just doesn’t look right to my eyes.

The pencil is quite lightweight, much lighter in the hand than I expected. For some unknown reason I expected a rather substantial weight. The grip section is plain black smooth rubber. The compound has a very small amount of give under hand pressure, and is not particularly ‘grippy’. I don’t really think it enhances your grip much.

The tip section is a classical set of step-downs culminating in a 4mm thin pipe lead sleeve. Obviously intended for graph work and drafting as all Jedos should be. The lead sleeve is not retractable so equally obviously it will wreak havoc in your pocket.
In the middle of the body there is a lead hardness indicator, which is a simple twist ring without any detent system. The marked hardness grades are 2B to 4H including F.The printing of some of the hardness grades is not quite correctly aligned with the centre of the viewing window. It is only a minor imperfection, but one that top end manufacturers should not make. Also, the colour of the hardness ring seems a little washed out and cheap. I’m sure they could do better.

The pocket clip is springy steel and perfectly functional.
The lead advance mechanism is a push top ratchet. Ten clicks of the top button will get you 7mm of lead. The mechanism feels like it is good quality - smooth yet firm and positive. There is a small eraser beneath the push top button, and access to the lead refill chamber is beneath the eraser.
Despite all the marking on the body, the specific model number ‘3000’ is not marked on the pencil. That’s one of the reasons why I previously thought Jedo was the brand name. The ‘R & D Japan’ might lead some to believe this pencil was of Japanese manufacture.
Overall then this pencil seems perfectly reasonable, although as with all my reviews I can’t comment on its long term durability.
  • Best Points – I like the look of the tip section. Mechanism feels good.
  • Not So Good Points – Lead hardness indicator ring – its functional but not so pretty.
  • Price Range – Low.
  • Does this pencil make it into the Top 5? – No.

Dimensions – Length 139mm, diameter 9mm at main body. Balance point about 70mm up from the tip.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Poll 7 - Where Are You?

It’s been yonks since I had a poll.

Well, back in May 2008, Poll 6 enquired about how many regular readers of this blog there were out there. I’m quite interested in reader statistics, and now I would like to find out about your geographical distribution. So, if you self-describe as a regular reader of this blog then I would appreciate you participating in the current poll.

My website stat meter tells me the location of visitors to the blog, but most visitors are not regular readers.

I must apologise to those of you whose country is not specifically given as a poll option. Please take some comfort from the fact that my own country is not listed, and I would have to tick the “Elsewhere” box. The poll gadget just doesn’t allow for enough choices of answers. For those whose country is not listed please click the appropriate regional area, and if you want to be more specific than feel free to also leave a comment noting your country. Anyway, thanks for participating.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Bat

Now I know many of you will have already seen The Bat on various other blogs, but since it’s so unique and I paid an arm and a leg to get hold of one I thought I deserved to put it up on my own blog.
To be precise it’s a Pentel PBS1 0.5mm “Home Run”. Not sure, but Germ thinks the PBS1 was made in 1984/85.

At first glance there is no way it’s a pencil.

Batter Up!But the grip unscrews.Stick it in the top end.Phooorrrr! Now we’re talkin’!
Full disclosure.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

3 Years and 15 Minutes

It was recently pointed out to me that my blog has had its 3rd Anniversary, so I thought I had better do a little anniversary piece. Three Years. That’s a fair while. Inspired by the now defunct Pencil Revolution I started this blog back on 30 January 2006, and I remain surprised at it’s longevity and popularity (294 posts and about 330,000 hits, 720,000 page views). I’ll hope to write a little something celebrating my 5th Anniversary and 500th posting in a few years. Seeing this is an anniversary piece, I guess a little something personal is in order.

For quite a while now I’ve been thinking about this blog - things like why do I do it, what do I get out of it? I was recently sorting through some old stuff in storage and found something that got me thinking.
They say that everyone has their 15 minutes of fame. Maybe I had mine back when I was a little fellow in the 60’s. Here I am from back then in full colour double page glory in our most popular “women’s” magazine. Ostensibly the article is about my older brothers thriving after-school business of making educational toys, but he only started making them because I wanted some new jigsaw puzzles, so really it’s all about me! Me, me, me, me, me! I was chief toy tester and reviewer, maybe that’s why I like writing this blog - I was born to be a product reviewer?

I haven’t looked at this magazine for decades, but I enjoyed taking a little journey back in time.

Final manufacturing steps - giving my mother some advice on correct colour selection.Here I am hard at work in the quality control and product testing department.Of course I don’t really remember much from those times, but I do remember some of the toys my brother made for me, particularly this jigsaw.Some other people were also in my magazine, trying to cash in on my 15 minutes. There was this nice lady called Julie… And this American actor fellow called Ronald was making a name for himself in politics.Of course the Royal hats are always an important topic…and the ‘far out, groovy chicks’ are still…

Thursday, February 05, 2009

NSC Pencil

I recently won this vintage pencil at auction, and it has turned out to be a little bit of a surprise package. It’s in “average” condition – meaning no major dents, scratches, etc but certainly plenty of minor surface wear and tear, and the pocket clip is loose. I’ve had a couple of goes at polishing it, but some more work is still needed. Tarnish. That’s one aspect of silver pencils I don’t like.There is no danger of the pocket clip coming off, it’s just the attachment flange has worked a little loose.It is a screw mechanism pencil – you wind that top knob around to advance or retract the pencil lead. The pencil is solid silver. Hallmarked for London, Sterling Silver, 1946, by the maker JM & Co. With British hallmarks the main part of a multi-part item is fully hallmarked and then other separate component parts are marked with just the metal type/purity stamp – in this case the lion for “sterling silver”. The first surprise for me was the makers mark “JM & Co”. This is the makers mark for Yard-O-Led of similar age. I haven’t been able to find out much about JM & Co. The existence of this pencil implies either YOL also made non-YOL brand pencils or perhaps more likely JM & Co were silversmiths making under contract to YOL, and also did other pencil work.

As you can see below, the pencil has a “With compliments…” inscription. The inscription led me to my second little surprise, learning about this previously unknown committee. A quick bit of net-searching has revealed they were in charge of raising public money to pay for the war effort back in the 1940’s and were quite successful. “Money for guns”. Some of their advertising posters are shown below – in English and Maori. I guess the recipient of the pencil was a worker for the committee, or a big investor.