Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Papermate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil Review

You may recall an earlier guest review of the Paper Mate PhD Ultra mechanical pencil sent in by Bob from Arizona. Well, Bob actually sent in two reviews, the PhD and the Clearpoint. So, here’s the second of his reviews…

Paper Mate Clearpoint Mechanical Pencil Review

I am writing this review of the Papermate Clearpoint mechanical pencil at a ramada (an un-walled shelter) along a hiking trail in Glendale, Arizona. I have hiked about a mile and a half and I am overlooking Pinnacle Peak road about 20 to 30 feet below. To get to this ramada, I walked across a substantial pedestrian bridge connecting two small mountains in the Park and spanning the road below. I have been to the top of one of the mountains, about 350 feet higher than my current location, on the other side of the road. However, it is heading toward a dry 90 degrees [Fahrenheit] and I am not hiking any higher than this today. The hillside vegetation is greener than usual for this time of year due to a number of recent rainfalls and the trim on the two Clearpoint pencils that I am using to write this review matches the color of the landscape. The trim on the 0.5 mm pencil is dark green whereas the trim on the 0.7 mm is a much lighter and brighter green. The exterior surface of the pencils, excluding the trim is crystal clear plastic, exposing the inner mechanical workings.
papermate clearpoint mechanical pencil

These pencils are inexpensive side-button activated models with retractable conical tips and large twist-to-extend erasers. The largest visible component within the pencils is the white plastic lead tube with a funnel at the top, along with a prominent y-shaped component that transfers the horizontal force from the button to a downward vertical force toward the writing tip. When the tip is retracted, the first press of the button releases it. About 1 mm of lead is released with each subsequent press. The retractable tip, itself, is a metal tube ending in a cone where the lead is released.
papermate clearpoint mechanical pencil schematic
papermate clearpoint pencil mechanism

Below the long rectangular button is a contoured indented surface surrounded by rubber grip lines connected to a ring just above the bulging plastic cone at the bottom of the pencil. Most of the plastic clutch resides within a short metal tube except when the button is pressed to extend the lead. The aperture to the lead tube within its funnel entrance can hold approximately a dozen leads in the 0.5 mm model, but ten would probably be more appropriate to minimize jams. I have 8 leads in the 0.7 mm and it appears to be a rather tight fit.
papermate clearpoint grip and tip

The top third of the pencil consists of housing for the eraser well and twist mechanism and plastic clip. This is connected by a raised vertical ridge under the clip into a slot in the front of the main body of the pencil. The slot allows the housing to snap into the main body of the pencil once the pencil has been filled with lead. The connection seems to be quite sturdy. I have dropped both of these pencils on tiled floors on several occasions with no visible damage to the surface and without the eraser housing separating from the rest of the pencil. On the other hand, I have seen a number of these models with broken clips. The eraser material is Papermate’s common Tuff-Stuff polymer and the eraser is held in its cylinder at the top by a plastic apparatus with two prongs that squeeze the eraser in a viselike fashion. The “knob“ for twisting the cylinder to extract or retract the erase moves the two prongs, which are connected at the bottom, along an inner spiral rail within the eraser well. Did I mention that the Clearpoint is transparent?
papermate clearpoint mechanical pencil eraser

This lightweight pencil is suitable for long periods of general writing, but its appearance makes it inappropriate for a formal office environment.
  • Best Points: Pocket safe, Large Eraser, Inexpensive, Seeing what makes it tick.
  • Worst Points: Potential Breakage of the Plastic Clip, Limited Lead Capacity, Inexpensive Appearance.
  • Other Points: I find the contoured ergonomic grip with its ridges very comfortable and the hard rubber grip components seem to be quite durable.
[Note: I wrote this review in its entirety with Clearpoint 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm mechanical pencils. I then copied it into Microsoft Word with minor grammatical changes, etc. Here’s a link to the Thunderbird Conservation Park]

Thanks Bob. I see the Glendale park has ravens – they might fancy a nice bright shiny Clearpoint so might pay to keep your Clearpoints close at hand.

Note:- This article text by Bob, schematic drawing by Bob, all other images by Dave.


2nd_astronaut said...

Hihi, the schematic drawings are nice...

I am unsure if I like transparent pencils. On the one hand, they look cheap, as Bob said, on the other hand, they can be quite expensive: http://fountainpen.de/pics/horst/100-skeleton/1.jpg

I think I only have one (semi-)transparent pencil, a Pilot 2020 with clear grip.

Wai Khan Au said...

I use this pencil to draw! It's very comfortable to use for extended period of time.
I found this pencil is actually quite popular with comic artists, because almost everyone I have met who draws comics use this exact same pencil...

Time Waster said...

It's ok it's popular in the U.S but it doesn't work very well with HB lead it's a nice looking pencil and designed well. I like the pentel Side FX better though which is a similar design to this. Same type of eraser deal breaks apart in the middle but the tip is different which is key on being more fluid.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for reading the review.

The schematic was somewhat of a challenge as I [obviously] have little artistic ability. I began the schematic by tracing around one Clearpoint with the other Clearpoint.

... And I thought I only had to worry about the packrats.

BTW, there is a 0.9 mm version available now as well.

I used HB lead in both pencils, although I usually use 2B lead in my 0.5 mm pencils. I didn't notice any issue with HB leads in these pencils.

Thank you,
Bob Senzer AKA Bob S. [from Phoeniz, AZ]

Anonymous said...

I usually use a .5mm Pentel P205 however I do have a couple of these clearpoints and they are very dependable. I have one that the eraser and clip broke on but does not impede loading or usage. for a burner it is pretty good. The clip is not flimsy but will break sooner or later

Anonymous said...

I think it's a pretty good pencil for writing during short periods of time and stuff, but when I erase the eraser makes its way back down into the cap??
Also, the when the slot breaks (which tends to happen a lot) the eraser cap won't stay on and all the lead falls out :(

Anonymous said...

If the eraser holder rotates, pushing the eraser back into the pencil, this is a defect in the product. I have seen a considerable number of these so there is a quality control problem. The knob should not be that loose. Sometimes, you can see this without even opening the package. In particular, this seems to be more prevalent among the blue models.

I haven't experienced a break in the slot, but as I indicated in the review, I have seen a lot of these with broken clips, particularly among school students.

Another note, it is now available in a 0.9 mm version. The funnel aperture has a larger "elliptical" opening to accommodate a reasonable number of 0.9 mm leads.

Bob S. from Phoenix, AZ

Linus said...

I am not a big fan of the eraser but pencil is worthy of mention. Hopefully the lead included is good. I found the best leads is the bic 0.9 mm.

Penmaniacs said...

i find that mechanical pencil in common use at my school.

cheers to papermate and dmp

Lexx said...

Looks nice, as a inexpensive mechanical pencil. I would love to have this for my collection too. ;D

Unknown said...

I've had a few where the slot and hole would widen causing the entire top to loosen over time

Anonymous said...

the pencil is great but theres not much colors. well at least where i can find them. but other wise its good

Anonymous said...

......review?? its just a pencil...a VERY good pencil too!

Anonymous said...

Slot break can be scotch taped and erasor barrel will fit tighter.

Anonymous said...

Papermate has released a new model, the "CLEARPOINT elite". It is a substantial improvement over the original. The clip and the bottom cone are both silver-colored metal. The design is a bit more streamlined and the inside components are color matched with the trim.

The functionality is the same with no loss of features. The activation button is sealed at both ends and symmetric with a better taper into the barrel. In addition, it still has automatic lead feed when it detects that no more lead is extruding from the writing tip. This is a feature that I forgot to mention in the original article.

Bob S. in AZ

Anonymous said...

This is the first mechanical pencil I have ever used, cheap or expensive, where the lead does not break almost everytime I use them. It never fails! Except for my ClearPoint. It don't care what it looks like (mine is purple); the lead does not break!

Nancy said...

Thanks for the review! I love the pencil but was too dense to figure out how to refill it. Thanks to your drawings it was easy to figure out!

Nancy in FL.

J Ferguson said...

I have a couple of these and have similarly found them quite capable.

Unknown said...

I buy these in bulk since they're low enough quality that they break often (clip, slot, in the middle if I sit down too quickly without making sure it's adjusted in my pocket). Otherwise, the perfect mechanical pencil for me as it's one of the few pocket-safe side-button pencils with an extendable eraser!

I may try wrapping my remaining ones in tape to give them extra strength as suggested here.

Also, great news, Paper Mate now makes a sturdier (albeit more expensive) Clearpoint Elite!