F Grade and Smooth.


I find it remarkable that Faber-Castell can make a hard-ish pencil that is at the same time as smooth as a soft pencil. This F grade Castell 9000 is great on Baron Fig paper, with Point Durability and glide to spare. Matthias writes about F grade pencils frequently, and I’ve come to appreciate this semigrade, #2 1/2 or #2.5 (etc. — each manufacturer used to have their own number for it). We made a whole episode about it on Erasable, in case you missed it. What are some other great F grade pencils?

Solo Trip to the Cafe’.

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Sunday afternoon quiet, editing a story to swap with Tim, at Carma’s Cafe’ in the Chillage. Faber-Castell “Castell 9000” B.

Review of KUM Special Diameter Sharpener.

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Our friends at Jet Pens sent this in the early summer, and it somehow got left in the “drafts” folder. Summer vacation is officially over as of this morning, and it’s time to finally finish this review of the KUM Special Diameter Sharpener.

I was confused, at first, by the graphics on this sharpener. They show two triangular and two octagonal pencils, each of two sizes. With the triangular being first and the word “special,” my Summer Brain thought it meant that this sharpener was for differently shaped pencils. But the name clearly denotes differently sized pencils, and the innards support this — as does Common Sense and basic reading comprehension. The innards are simply a double-holed KUM wedge. This is not at all disappointing to me, since this is generally one of my go-to sharpeners, especially for Fat Pencils.

This sharpener is a covered wedge, with a mechanism of sorts which can slide over the holes, to prevent shavings and graphite dust from escaping. Here it is, unassembled.

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What you get is a very portable container sharpener that can sharpen nearly everything you’re likely to have on your person or in your bag or on your desk. In theory, I love it. But I thought I’d throw two sizes of a pencil which is…not as easy to sharpen as, say, a Ticonderoga — the obvious choice for differently-sized pencils of the same type. This is the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 and the Jumbo Grip. The former is certainly not cedar, but the latter is. However, being Fat and Triangular, it is not an easy pencil to sharpen in a blade sharpener.

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The sharpener itself did a great job, producing a semi-short point. However, as you can see below, the black plastic body of the case marred the finish on my Jumbo Grip. This is likely at least partly User Error; I basically stuck the pencil in and twisted it violently (as you can see, perhaps). But I am pleased with the point that the KUM wedge puts on Fat Pencils, for a nice, Stubby point. I usually keep my Fat Pencils a little more…blunt, but I wanted to see what this sharpener could produce.

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For the price (a little over $3), this is a great container sharpener. You might be able to see that I have scratched the clear plastic up, carrying it around a lot in my Diaper Bag and pocket. There are a few similar sharpeners from KUM floating around HQ. But they are not mine and not as “grown-up” looking as this little guy. Of course, you might ask how grown-up a man can look, using Fat Pencils. Certainly.

 

 

The Spinning Grip Pencil.


On the heals of Ana’s post, we present sometime we found by accident on YouTube — f “accident” means surfing for pencil videos to nurse a headache while the kids nap.

Further: The Count drinks ink!

Finally: Pencil Rain!

Harry Potter Pencil Box.

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This is the Harry Potter pencil box I mentioned, pictured here in response to community requests. (Apologies if they are dark it’s night-time in Charm City.)

The top tray/layer/tier:
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Both compartments:
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Top Tray:
Staedtler Mars Lumograph HB (2004-5 stock)
Ticonderoga Groove
General’s Test Scoring 580
PaperMate Earth Write “Premium”
General’s Layout (well-loved)
Palomino Prospector (current USA model)
Faber-Castell Castell 9000 4B
Staedtler Wopex (North American market version)
Halloween pencil from my family (Target 2011, pretty nice, actually)
General’s Draughting G314

Bottom Tray:
Chinese Dixon Ticonderoga
USA Gold “Natural” (2013 model with blue foil)
Field Notes pencil
Forest Choice pencil
Ticonderoga EnviroStik (no C)
General’s Kimberly B
Palomino Blackwing Pearl
Mitsubishi Hi-Uni HB
Faber-Castell Castell 9000 B
General’s Cedar Pointe (very old and well-loved)

I wish I could take a picture of what it smells like. My odor-removal efforts took away the stale smoke smell and even the smell of metal. So the cedar and eraser aroma-combination had quite a blank canvas to fill. It’s like opening a treasure box.

Upcoming Reviews.

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In the last few days, we took delivery of a few nice new sharpeners we will be reviewing in the next week or two (or three). Pictured above, the Sonic Ratchetta, sent over by Jet Pens for review. They are out of stock; so we will hold publishing our review until Comrades can actually get their hands on one of these babies.

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We also have the KUM Longpoint magnesium block sharpener and the Helix sharpener/eraser found during back-to-school shopping. This is a pencil-topper styled sharpener that was super cheap.

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Finally, we have the KUM Tip-Top Pop sharpener, a Perfect Pencil-ish topper/cap/extender/sharpener in plastic. I bought the blue to match my blue Palominos.

Not pictured: The Graf von Faber Perfect Pencil that Faber-Castell sent over for review a few weeks ago. I am really excited about this one!

Jar-Based Pencil Sharpener.

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Inspired by this Mason jar pencil sharpener I forwarded to a few Comrades recently, Brian has created a jar-based pencil sharpener in less than a day. I was hoping one of the Creative Minds to whom I sent that email would attempt this, seeing as how I am…not very good at things like that or, at least, not confident in my competence. Beyond, a jar-based pencil sharpener by Brian in Baltimore:*

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Well, here are some pics of my attempt to make a jar sharpener. Not too bad for a 15 minute first attempt, and shelling out a total of $.40. The trickiest thing was drilling the appropriate sized & spaced holes, and finding small enough screws. (I repurposed screws used to hold together a old audio cassette — a trick I highly recommend.) It works fine, but I would prefer a metal sharpener. Also, the one screw is a hair too close to the pencil hole — I’ll have to correct that the next time around. I am also not too sure how durable the set-up is — only time and use will tell if the screws will hold the plastic. If I were serious about making these I would contact the Dux Co. and try to buy some in bulk from them, with the pre-drilled screws. Also, I didn’t use a Mason jar this time around for fear of messing it up. What do ya think?
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Personally, a large-ish clear container to hold a month’s shavings is attractive to me. I collect mine in a stoneware vessel my wife brought back from a trip this fall. (Then I store them for tinder.) My method is not pretty. It’s actually a little sooty. Brian told me this is a Faber-Castell sharpener he picked up at our local Plaza Art in Mt. Vernon. I can’t find a link, but I have two. They are very good little sharpeners, though the opening is a little narrow to accommodate Japanese pencils (Palomino, Hi-Uni, et. al.).

*Makers of the famous Inkwell Sharpener, a very fine jar sharpener indeed.

The $425 Dollar Pencil at Big Spender.

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Market Watch has a column called Big Spender, which was about pencils this week. At least one other pencil blogger and I were interviewed, though the piece came out a little short on quotations and details. It was largely about the expensive version of the Perfect Pencil. I am probably one of the few pencil bloggers who does not own one of these beauties, and I probably sound like I hate them in the article, which was my fault for doing an interview early in the morning on only one cup of coffee. Faber-Castell, don’t get me wrong. I would love to own a Perfect Pencil. Hopefully, one day I will. I’ve actually been using a lot of German pencils this summer, and Faber-Castell’s pencils are usually of almost unbelievable quality — and I’m holding the relatively un-luxurious Castell 9000 behind my ear right now (grade B and getting shorter everyday). I should pick up a sub$400 Perfect Pencil soon.

Wired interviewed quite a quorum of pencil bloggers for a piece on pencil sharpeners which will be out soon. We’ll link to it if we can.

Off to the Spring Woods.

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I am off to the woods for the weekend, for some spring temperatures, shortwave radio, fire and hiking with Comrade Dan. Sans pencil sharpener or sharpeners. I’ve got my knife sharp enough to have made a nice, clean, little cut on my finger that healed in twelve hours. I think it can handle some cedar.

How many pencil aficionados does it take to have an excellent camping trip in Central Maryland? Hopefully just two.
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We’ll be back this coming week with a review of USA Silver pencils and a report from the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC.

[That’s a 1990, USA-made Camillus BSA “Official” knife I won for selling the most popcorn.]

Connect Score: Pencil and Paper Game for the People.


We are lucky enough to learn about all kinds of Pencil Awesomeness via this site, and today’s post is no different. Connect Score, like Grand Prix, is a paper and pencil game that can easily be played over a cafe’ au lait, a nice beerĀ  or some tap water on the steps (or The Stoop; I’m looking at you, fellow Baltimoreans).

Connect Score is a pencil and paper game that mixes Chess with Dots and Boxes. Invented in 1991 by Rick Nordal of Vancouver, BC, Canada. For 2 players, ages 12 to adult. Connect Score is an eight minute strategy game. Adjacent dots are joined with pencil lines. Aliens start to become activated. Activated aliens use lazor guns to shoot and kill other activated aliens . When all the dots are connected with pencil lines the game is over. The player with the most points wins the game. The complete rules for this game and game printouts are located HERE.

A paper and pencil game is portable, requires no batteries and may be played anywhere at anytime.
Long live the pencil ! – Rick Nordal

Thanks to Rick for his invention and his sharing it with us. Next time we have a Coffee Night Out, I am taking a few sheets with me.