This is a solid pencil, machined in the United States, out of raw brass or aluminum. We are a little late to the party, since we just got our prototype this weekend, but I had to get this out. I love this pencil.
This is a solid pencil, as solid as a Space Pen — perhaps more so because there is no heavy brass refill rattling around inside. And the raw aluminum is wonderful. Because there is no coating, it seems to have a low specific heat. Mine gets very cold in my cozy house and then warms up quickly in my warm hands. And the naked metal, machined as it is, lends itself to a nice grip. This is something I don’t find in most metal writing tools.
The plunger and clip are very attractive, extending the simple design of the pencil. I really like the black eraser and clip. The clip comes separated from the pencil, but I found it more useful with the clip attached and appreciated it’s inclusion. The click action is pleasant and feels like a Bic mechanical pencil made of aluminum. I assure you; that’s not an insult. I have trouble finding fault with that pencil myself.
There are a few gripes. First, I am not usually a fan of .5mm leads, and the lack of retracting needle makes the pencil rather sharp. Finally, the innards are plastic. But I think this pencil more than makes up for these few issues.
First, the business end of the pencil — it’s perfect. It is machined so precisely that it does not need a needle. There is no lateral movement of the lead whatsoever. One of my pet peeves about mechanical pencils in general is that the leads move. Because of the shape of the nosecone, the lead feels more like a .7mm to me in that it does not feel sharp. The tip of the pencil itself is a little sharp, but I don’t make a habit of stabbing myself in the chest or arm with my writing implements — not lately anyway. The plastic innards are my least favorite thing about this pencil. But I wonder if the solid build would protect the mechanism somehow? At any rate, designer Andrew Sanderson promises that he’ll fix it or make you a new one. And that’s a pretty serious guarantee.
You have three more days to back this on Kickstarter. If you like mechanical pencils at all, especially ones designed to last forever, definitely check this out. I was really surprised to find that I reach for this pencil pretty often, largely because I really like the feel of the metal. I’d definitely buy a brass one in the future.
[We received this prototype at no cost. Opinions are our own.]
The lucky winner of our Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener is Alan Voss, who has already provided his address. Thanks to all who entered and shared their resolutions. I stole a solid dozen of them, but I am doing them no justice.
Alan’s color choice and info is on the way to Troy and to the IRS, for tax purposes.*
*(Not really. Sharpeners that produce a point that long create enough workplace efficiency to be tax exempt, I am told…)
Troy has graciously offered up another Classroom Friendly Sharpener for a give-away. These beauties produce a crazy long point and are build to last (see our 2010 review). The winner gets to pick the color, though the give-away is limited to Comrades in the United States.
To enter, leave a comment on this post with your New Year’s Resolution. You can lie, but please enlighten us with the truth. Please do share this with your Comrades who might enjoy such a fanfreakintastic sharpener.
You get an extra entry if you listen to Erasable Episode 22 (about pocket notebooks) this weekend and leave another comment here reporting on Johnny’s “Tools of the Trade” for Episode 22. These won’t show up, but we’ll know you entered.
We will close entries on January 24th at 11:59 pm EST. We will pick the winner at random and notify the winner by January 26th, who will have one week to respond before we pick a new winner.
Thanks to Troy for the opportunity to share the Heavy Metal Love.
I love the theme of intergenerational pencil discussions. My daughter and I have them on a regular basis, though my son (at just about 19 months old) just yells “Puh!” for now. Luke recently posted a piece by a father and son review team:
“My 17-year-old son has taken an interest in my growing collection of Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602s and he and I share a mild (in our minds, anyway) obsession with finding the ultimate writing wood pencil. After collecting an assortment of recommended pencils for comparison, we sat down and conducted our unscientific test…”
Read more at Pencilism!
A few weeks ago, I opened my mailbox to see the Dudek logo. I wondered if I had ordered something and forgotten somehow, since I had certainly eyed up Mike’s designs for a while, especially the custom block he made for my Erasable co-host Tim. Nope. I didn’t order anything. Mr. Dudek kindly sent along his most pencil-friendly offering gratis, and I love it.
Mike Dudek, author of the always excellent Clicky Post, crafts gorgeous blocks to help store and organize your stationery items, in lovely stained walnut. The Divide holds six pens (or thick pencils) on one side and six regular pencils on the other. In the middle, there is space for a Moleskine-style book or a few Field Notes-style notebooks.
When some of my…clutter in the dining room was shifted to this Beautiful Block, my wife asked what it was, where it came from and probably sent Mike a thank-you note for neatening up my go-to area in the dining room. I love this organizer. It helps me to cut down on the number of pencils I leave around a house with two smallish kids, and I haven’t misplaced my current notebook (a problem I often have) since I started using my Divide.
Comrades can purchase The Divide online for $60, plus shipping. This is the kind of item you can literally leave to your grandchildren. If I saw this on my Dad’s desk, I would still be begging for it.
Thanks again to Mike for his incredible generosity and for making such gorgeous and functional stationery designs for us fans of pen[cil]s and paper.
I am coming off of a Pencil Drought, during which I “won” NaNoWriMo using only gel pens for speed. As I mentioned on the podcast, my brain doesn’t relax around pencils, no matter how much I prefer them. True to form, I got sick literally two hours before the month was over, but my words were in, and all was well. With NyQuil, that is. I am happy to have found new blogs, as I come back down to the world of graphite and writing at a normal speed.
In no particular order, here are two great new additions to The Stationery Blogosphere.
Pencilism, by Luke Sinclair, author of the great hand-sharpening guide featured here. There is some great writing already on Luke’s blog, including a great post that is a moving piece on the meaning of pencils.
My son handed me something that he got out of the diaper bag: a mechanical pencil. I said to him, “What’s that there, bud?” My innocent four-year-old daughter butted in and said it was, “A Bullshit Pencil.” We have talked about Mr. Rees’ book too much in our house. And I hope she does not say that at school.
(I do not actually think they are all bullpoop.)
We used to post much more about readers’ art, and I am glad we can do it again today. Wendy sent this wonderful image recently, and I think it would make a great Pencil Revolution T-shirt one day, if she was willing.
I discovered this excellent blog a few months ago and, on a recent archive binge, I found your post on the Staedtler Norica. Now, being the art hobbyist that I am, I was immediately struck by how dark the line looked compared to other “writing” pencils. And, being the pen and pencil addict that I am, I went to Staples and got myself two whole packs.
This is probably the most economical impulse buy I have ever made. “Art” pencils are usually a step up in quality compared to their “writing” cousins, but they are also several steps up in price. The Staedtler Norica is just as good as you said – and for a very good value. I’m in the business of making art, not Art, so I’m happy with having a single hard pencil paired up with a soft pencil for shadows. The Norica is an excellent pseudo-B to have on hand, and it doesn’t scream, “Art in progress, peek over my shoulder!”
Thank you so much for writing about this pencil, and everything else on your blog. I am slightly poorer but very grateful!
Many thanks to Wendy for sharing her art! Please click to see the embiggened version.
Jetpens sent over a package to HQ today which included this cool little ghost sharpener. To be honest, I’ve eyed this up for years, though I assumed it was smaller in person. It’s actually got a nice reservoir for shavings, and it’s easy to open.
Inside is a KUM “Narrow Wedge” in black plastic. Both the wedge itself and the blade are replaceable, meaning this this spooky little fellow could grace your Halloween pencil adventures for years to come.
This is also the first pencil sharpener I own that glows in the dark. They must have improved this substance since I was a kid in the 80s because it definitely glows more brightly than the toys I had.*
*Or is it the CFL bulbs we didn’t have back then?
I know that we write about the USA series from Write Dudes a lot. We reviewed the Golds and even reviewed the USA Silver. I love these pencils, and they keep getting better all of the time. I found a bizarre…error today, though, which worked out in my favor.
I was in a different part of town and wound up at a strange Walmart. I went to the pencil aisle immediately, and it smelled like cedar. I saw some 4-dozen packs of USA Silver pencils. I noticed that it said “premium wood,” and I sniffed the open part of the box.
I pulled open a box, and what I found inside delighted me: USA Gold pencils, with the plain silver USA Silver ferrule — and they were $5.99. That’s a buck and half per dozen. And they look amazing.
It’s not often that you find a genuine surprise, let alone an American made one. Anyone else notice an up-tick in Write Dudes’ pencil quality in the last season or two?
Remember when we used digital cameras and uploaded the photos to Flickr? We had to plug them in or use a card reader. Remember when you didn’t have the entire Internet in your pocket all of the time? I remember when we had to write down blog posts on paper if we were away from a computer. Now I can just literally talk to an app, and it will post for me (I never do that though).
At any rate, you might enjoy the Pencil Revolution Flickr group, founded in 2005 and still going strong. It is almost entirely pencil art these days, and some of it is really excellent work.
I miss using Flickr, though I supposed Instagram is the new Flickr?
This was a few weeks ago. I took advantage of the house being empty for an hour or two and watched Hemingway & Gellhorn. It wasn’t great.