Fat Pencils, Redux.

Now that The Boy is into pencils, I feel like our house is going through another phase of fat pencils, to match the second phase of diapers and bottles. He only recently started using colored pencils and graphite. I started him on the My First Ticonderoga, the pencil that seemed to give his sister The Pencil Bug in 2012.
Last week, he climbed into chair at the dining room table and picked up his sister’s hand-sharpened Tri-Conderoga and drew on her art (which produced giggles and then screams from the artist, who was drawing some nice houses). Between that severe triangular shape and the fact that fat pencils are round and roll everywhere, I picked up some Musgrave Finger Fitter pencils. Hen, from Rad and Hungry, sent a wonderful assortment of some really nice, fat pencils from her travels to Charlotte about two years ago, and there was this huge, triangular pencil I’d never seen before in the package.* Amazon started carrying them recently. These current ones are made of some kind of different wood, and of course Musgrave packages them in a glorified sandwich bag these days.

Henry got started early this Saturday morning, though Charlotte has cranked out three drawings already, before I am finished my first large stein of coffee. Wait, seven. (What’s in that chocolate milk?)

*(I swear I didn’t steal any, even though I’m a lot bigger than a toddler.)

Branding Homework Pencils.

Charlotte finished her homework this morning and could not resist branding this pencil as a My First Ticonderoga.

Review of KUM Special Diameter Sharpener.


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.


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.


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.


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.



Fat Pencil Sharpener for Kids Solution.

This is another Broadcast from Comrade Dan in the Medfield Outpost:

“Attached is a the solution I came up with for the kids’ sharpener you gave Mickey and Jack. One, they always lost it; and two, it would take them 5 minutes to sharpen a colored pencil, due to the hand mechanics of a three year old. I super-glued it to one of their art boxes.”


[Sharpener pictured is an Eisen double-hole, distributed by Dixon Ticonderoga, from a recent package of My First Ticonderoga pencils.]

Review of My First Ticonderoga.

My daughter is a lover of all things pencil, pen and crayon. I mentioned a few weeks ago that she’s been using “big girl pencils.” Her pencil box is beginning to burst with the interesting pencils therein, and I thought it might be time to write some grown-up reviews of them.

I know that pencils such as these are really meant for smaller hands, but perhaps as a Dad, I feel a little less ridiculous owning fat pencils meant for kids. My First Ticonderoga is a surprisingly good pencil, especially given Dixon’s few years of disappointments.

My first experience with this pencil was when I was brainstorming a project at work — before stay-at-home-daddom began early in 2011. I filled several pages with large, garish letters and barely put a dent in the point. One of the reasons that I like pencils (in general) is that sometimes, only large and thick letters will do. A lot of pens that can produce letters like this bleed, feather or otherwise make a mess (the medium Sharpie Pen and Pilot G2 Bold are notable exceptions, along with the relatively new Bic Cristal Bold). Very soft art pencils can produce such lines. But they tend to smear and dull quickly. Enter large-diameter pencils.

The My First Dixon pencil is a smooth writer, reminding me of a combination of the newer/softer Chinese leads from Dixon and the last generation of leads in their American pencils from 7-8 years ago. Sure, these beasts are difficult to use in Field Notes, but on large-format paper, they glide and seem to almost yell with large block letters. The shape and size make this pencil very comfortable to write with. It feels much larger than it is, in a good way. The finish is pretty good, especially compared to other pencils in this price range, and the eraser is what we’ve come to expect from Dixon — I like them, but I know some Comrades do not.

The secret about this pencil that I have found lately is that they are superb for sketching! With their size and relative softness, they easily feel like a light 4B. If one puts a long point on the pencil, the thick core allows for a variety of line thicknesses with a single sharpening, through angling the pencil. And they are pretty inexpensive and easy to find. (I’d venture that this is the easiest kid’s pencil to find in the US, since they are at Walmart, Target, drugstores, etc.)

There are some quality issues. At least 1/3 of the MFT pencils I’ve seen have off-center leads, some pretty badly so. Some of paint is often chipping/pealing around the ferrule, but this is honestly better than the regular diameter Dixons coming from the facility in Mexico where these are also made (the Chinese stock is much better, in my opinion).

These are certainly interesting enough, affordable enough, and easy enough to find to try out if you happen across them. At the very least, they make an excellent addition to the pencil cup, for times Comrades might want their words to scream on the paper.