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.

 

 

In Praise of Thick.


Loose Arrows has a great post about preferring thick pencils and thick leads. Personally, I enjoy them as well and have found a fat ole’ learner’s pencil to be just the thing for days of really sore hands and/or really big notes.

“I’ve become a big fan of jumbo pencils with triangular cross sections.  I’m not sure whether it’s because they remind me of wankel rotary engines, or because I have long fingers and do a lot of writing.  I’m particularly impressed with the Staedtler Norris Triplus Jumbo in bumblebee plumage.  It has great balance, nice grip, and best of all, the 4mm HB lead puts down a line as dark and dense as antimatter.”

Read more at Loose Arrows, “A blog about sharp things” that features a lot of good stuff about pencils.  Also, see previous mentions of the Ergosoft, from Scruss.

(Images, Loose Arrows.)

EasyRiter writing gear.


With National Novel Writing Month fast approaching, some Comrades might be flirting with the idea of writing a novel longhand —  or, at least, parts.  We’re planning on featuring some equipment to make this easier on Comrades’ hands and spirits.

First up is some very interesting gear from Idea Sun in the UK.  John sent us an Easyriter pencil, sharpener and pen, gratis, for review.  First, the pencil.

Vitals:
Material: Extruded plastic, with wood pulp.
Shape: Triangular, concave/flat sides.
Finish: None.
Ferrule: None.
Eraser: None.
Core: Polymer/graphite composite. Available in #2/HB.
Markings: “EASYRITER…IDEASUN.COM”.
Origin: UK.
Availability: From IdeaSun.Com and brick and mortar retailers.


This is a very striking pencil.  As  you can see, it is very plain and very oddly-shaped.  What you cannot see is that it is also somewhat flexible.  This is due to the fact that the lead and barrel are both extruded plastic.  This marks a first for Pencil Revolution, where we usually seem stuck-up enough to only discuss wooden pencils (and usually only cedar at that).  But that doesn’t mean that there is no place for plastic.  The “wood” in the Easyriter is made of recycled wood, mixed with polymer.  At first glance, it looked like a large, weird golf pencil.  It’s nothing fancy to look at.

But that’s not the point of the Easyriter.  Rather, its shape mimics the grasp of a three-fingered pencil hold.  We’ve seen this general concept applied to different triangular pencils.  But the Easyriter takes it a step further.  The three sides are not equally-shaped.  One is flat (the part that meets your middle finger), while the other two are concave.  Because of this innovation, increased pressured merely squooshes your fingers into one other, not into the pencil.  This wide pencil is, honestly, incredibly comfortable for writing.  The woodpulp/polymer barrel provides a nice grip, and the pencil is also extremely lightweight.  And, while I’m not generally a fan of plastic pencils, this pencil would be ridiculously expensive to make out of wood, since each one would have to be shaped either by hand or by special machinery.  The wood pulp content does make you forget, and it’s got a nice texture.  The lead is surprisingly dark for a polymer pencil, and it’s nice and smooth.  I’d rate the darkness in general as pretty middle for an HB (Dixon-dark), and that says a lot with an extruded core.  I usually have to hammer those things to make a mark at all.  If you have to press too hard to make a mark, this pencil would defeat its own purpose.  But.  You don’t, and it doesn’t.  The lead is probably the best extruded cored pencil I’ve ever used.

I really like the included sharpener.  It’s a large-diameter sharpener, but with only one hole!  [Here it is next to one of my favorite sharpeners, a KUM brass wedge.]  John at IdeaSun tells us that it’s a stock item from India but they they are thinking of using their own specs in the future.  This is the only single-holed, large diameter sharpener I’ve ever used, and I hope that, if they do re-spec it, they keep this general design.

Technical Information (For Sharpener):
Type: Blade.
Material: Magnesium-alloy.
Shavings Receptacle: None.
Point Type: Medium (for wide-body pencils).
Markings: None.
Place of Manufacture: India.
Availability: From IdeaSun.Com.


Frankly, it’s a great sharpener, and I think the Dixon Tri-Conderoga would have been better with this than with the cheap-looking (though nicely-performing) plastic sharpener with which they come.  Sharpening is not as easy as with a round pencil, as is the case with most triangular pencils.  In fact, my first sharpening with the included sharpener was a little awkward because the angles of the factory sharpening were different that what this cool little sharpener was making.  After the first sharpening, however, it was smooth-going.  Triangular pencils produce really interesting shavings (see here for a great photo by Comrade Mark).  This pencil makes extremely cool-looking little shavings.  And, once you get the point in line with the included sharpener, they are long and smooth, just like sharpening a cedar pencil in a good wedge sharpener.  You certainly have to take care because of the severe angles.  But I am usually a careful sharpener anyway.

There’s also an Easyriter pen, if you just have to use dirty old ink (!). Actually, it’s got a nice weight and feel and is at least as comfortable as the pencil is to write with. My father was visiting my daughter and I for lunch (dill potato soup!) the day that the package came, and I think he was coveting the pen (he cannot use pencil at work).  It’s a black ballpoint pen with the same shape as the pencil.

If you’re thinking of doing some loooonnnngggg writing next month for National Novel Writing Month, you might seriously enjoy the Easyriter pencil (and pen).  If nothing else, it’s just a really cool, really comfortable pencil.  I can picture these in different colors, with capped ends being very attractive.  A ferrule might be nearly impossible (without being very expensive), but different colors (black!) with a dipped end and no factory sharpening, and this pencil could be quite beautiful.  As it stands now, it’s, again, COMFORTABLE, and that’s the point.