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Dillon's Pencil Picks


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#1 Dillo

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 13:32

Hi,

I have always been as much a fan of pencils as I have been a fan of fountain pens. With pencils, you can buy any lead you want and fill your pencil with it provided that it is the correct diameter. With pens, you can often buy any ink you want and fill your pen with that assuming that it is fountain pen ink. Also, you have an object of permanence that you keep with you and don't throw out. Having had many many pencils, here are a selection of those that I believe are some of the nicest, best pencils made.

The ones that made the pick
Posted Image

From the top:
1. Faber-Castell Propelling pencil
Lead width: 1.4 mm
Mechanism type: Twist action mechansim, spring loaded with two-element nylon clutch. Twist clockwise then release to advance lead, twist counter clockwise then push lead in to retract lead. When lead is completely retracted, one clockwise twist extends both the lead and sleeve.
Pencil type: Writing pencil with retractable lead sleeve
Why I like this: It is a very chunky pencil. It is also rather lightweight and due to both the shape and weight, it doesn't tire the hand much. I use it for music writing a lot. If you like thick leads on your pencil, this is the one. I would give this one to a child without hesitation. The mechanism is spring loaded, so pressing down hard won't do much to the mechanism. It is also fairly foolproof. When empty, pop the top cap off and add three leads, then use as normal. If it jams, which is not likely, the tip cone unscrews allowing access to the mechanism. My only gripe with it is the soft material used collects graphite stains that can be removed by washing the pencil.

2. Lamy Scribble
Lead Width: 3.15 mm
Mechanism type: 4 element leadholder mechanism
Pencil type: Leadholder
Why I like this: This pencil is the most refined 3.15 mm leadholder I have ever used. the mechanism is silky smooth. Also, the pencil is made from what I suspect is Makrolon. It feels solid and the shape fits the hand very well just like the Faber-Castell Propelling pencil. I often clip it in places where I would not ordinarily clip pens because it is tough and quite pocket safe. The tip when the lead is retracted is quite blunt. I have no gripes about this pencil. I was worth every penny. I even bought two because I liked it so much. You can take off the clip if you don't like it. It is admittedly my favorite Lamy model of all time.

3. Uchida 1-848-5000
Lead Width: 2.0 mm
Mechanism type: 3 element leadholder mechanism
Pencil type: Leadholder
Why I like this: I have used many leadholders from all sorts of manufacturers. What makes this one stand apart from all the rest is the fact that the pencil body is plastic where many leadholders have the more uncomfortable knurled metal grips. It is also a minimalist design and is a bit lighter than many other leadholders. The mechanism is quite solid and trumps the Carand'ache fixpencils. Also, instead of the nickel plated trim seen on many other pencils, this one has chrome trim. It's a lot less techy looking than most 2.0 mm lead holders. I took off the slip-on clip since I like the look of the pencil without the clip. The fit and finish on this seems a lot higher as well. I have no gripes about this pencil either.

4. Pilot S3
Lead Width: 0.4 mm (also available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm) I have others, but saw fit to only put one in the picture. They are all similar enough
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Drafting mechanical pencil
Why I like this: This pencil is very lightweight and is much better built than the Pentel P20x pencils by a long shot. The balance of the pencil is very good, and despite the fact that it is lightweight, the materials it is made of give it a much more solidly-built feel in the hand than the Pentel P20x pencils. The moment I picked this up, I could feel quality. One thing about this pencil that I really like is that it uses lead down to stubs that are quite short, much shorter than most pencils. The mechanism feels extremely precise, there is certainly less slop in it than in the Pentel, and the balance is a lot better than the Pentel. In addition, the slightly thicker barrel is more ergonomically shaped than that on the Pentel and is quite a bit easier to grip. I have no gripes about this pencil either. It is not very expensive and is probably one of the cheapest pencils here, but it is worth every penny you pay for it and more. If I had to have only one kind of mechanical pencil for the rest of my life, I'd get this one. (Well the Lamy Scribble is a mechanical pencil too, but it's a lead holder).

5. Pilot Airblanc
Lead Width: 0.3 mm
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why I like this: This pencil is very lightweight is mostly made from plastic. What is so special about this pencil is that it is a 0.3 mm mechanical pencil made for writing and not drafting. Also, this only comes in 0.3 mm. This pencil is extremely lightweight. It is featherweight, but it is still extremely well-balanced nonetheless. The mechanism is extremely precise, and feels more so than most other pencils of its class. It uses up leads down to very short stubs like the S3. If I'm writing for a long time, I always use this pencil. It does not strain the hand and the silicone grip, although thin, feels just right. Some may call this one too "plasticky" for their taste. Once you get over that, I think this is the obvious choice if you want a lightweight 0.3 mm writing pencil.

6. Pilot Symmetry
Lead Width: 0.5 mm
Mechanism type: Click-action and shaker mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why I like this: If you want a chunky mechanical pencil with great ergonomics, this is the pencil to get. It's a shaker pencil, and that often is quite handy when you need to write a lot of things down fast. It has the usual Pilot precision and uses leads down to very short stubs like most other Pilot pencils. One thing peculiar about it is the shape. It is symmetrical. The push button on the top looks like a ballpoint tip. I like it more than the Dr. Grip G-spec because it feels a bit more solid without being any heavier. I has no clip and the roll-stop has a magnifier with letters under it.

7. Uni Kuru-Toga
Lead Width: 0.3 mm (0.5 mm also available)
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch. Entire mechanism revolves in the pencil when you lift the pencil off the paper and put it down again.
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why I like this: This is a very cool pencil. It is also very lightweight and doesn't contribute much to hand fatigue. The external fit and finish is also quite good. My gripe about this pencil is as follows. The tip cone is chrome plated plastic. I wish they left it as plain plastic or changed it for a metal unit piece that chrome plated. The body is made entirely out of clear plastic that is silkscreened. It would be neat if it were entirely made from clear plastic instead of being colored in such a way. The silk-screened finish is decently durable though. The fact that the tip moves in and out of the pencil while it is being used may be an annoyance to some. Also, instead of having a cone-shaped tip, they elected to use a thin lead tube that is a bit sharp and poky.

8. Uni Alpha-Gel Slim
Lead Width: 0.3 mm (0.5 mm also available)
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why I like this: This pencil is very ergonomic and is fairly light weight. The mechanism feels very precise and it also uses up lead down to short stubs, shorter than most stubs from other pencils. I didn't like the standard Alpha-gel due to the way the grip was shaped. The grip of this pencil cradles the fingers better due to it being of an hourglass shape. In addition, the weight distribution of this pencil is a lot better than the standard Alpha-gel model. It is very well balanced. Like with the Pilot Airblanc, I often use this pencil for long writing sessions since the grip dampens any extra vibrations and strain very well and the weight and balance of this pencil is quite nice. My only gripe about this pencil is the chromed plastic. Mine has held up for the past four years, but chromed plastic doesn't inspire much confidence. It cuts down on weight though, and less weight is good thing in my book.

9. Pilot Couleur
Lead Width: 0.5 mm
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why I like this: This pencil is very small and skinny. I think it the perfect thing if you like small and skinny pencils. If you don't, it is great for sticking in small places like a wallet. The mechanism is made of metal and is very precise. Like other Pilot pencils that made the pick, it uses leads down to very short stubs. My only gripe about it is the finish does not wear well. It often wears off.

9. Cross Classic Century
Lead Width: 0.9 mm
Mechanism type: Twist-action propelling
Pencil type: Writing pencil
Why I like this: This pencil has a great mechanism that is very precise. Also, since I like in Rhode Island, and it was made here, it has a close-to home feeling. It's sadly discontinued. It's great though if you can still find one.

The ones that didn't make the pick and why

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1. Pilot Del-ful
Lead Width: 0.5 mm
Mechanism type: Double click-action mechanism with shaker mechanism and 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why this didn't make it: This pencil is a bit heavy. It is also quite large. It become fatiguing to use after some time.
Why I still have it: Some days you just need a mechanical pencil that is very pocket safe. Also, it has the cool factor going for it. The mechanism is just like you would expect from Pilot. You have the precision and those short lead stubs

2. Pilot H3003
Lead Width: 0.3 mm
Mechanism type: Double click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Drafting mechanical pencil
Why this didn't make it: This pencil produces much longer stubs of lead than most of my other pencils. It's also too valuable to take everywhere with me.
Why I still have it: Some days you just need a 0.3 mm drafting pencil that you can put somewhere without it poking holes in everything.

3. Uni Shift
Lead Width: 0.4 mm (also available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm, and 0.9 mm)
Mechanism type: Click-action mechanism with 3 element brass clutch.
Pencil type: Drafting mechanical pencil
Why this didn't make it: This pencil is quite tip heavy (better than top heavy!). The barrel and clicker button is made from silver-painted plastic. Mine started to show wear after about a week. Also, when the tip is retracted, it does not retract very deep, so often the very tip of the lead is exposed. The Shift mechanism is not very intuitive and there is considerable slop in the mechanism. It also puts out fairly long lead stubs. The knurled grip will met out judgement to anything you put it with. It grinds plastic with vengeance.
Why I still have it: I'm not sure. It's a bit of a neat pencil if you think about it long enough. If you take the proper precautions, this one is pocket safe and the knurled material provide a good grip.

4. Uni Kuru-Toga High-Grade
Lead Width: 0.3 mm
Mechanism type: Double click-action mechanism with shaker mechanism and 3 element brass clutch
Pencil type: Writing mechanical pencil
Why this didn't make it: While the standard Kuru-Toga is lightweight, this one weighs a bit more. The grip is aluminum and is extremely slippery making it difficult to grip at times. The balance and materials are fine though. This one does not have chromed plastic
Why I still have it: This is made from great materials and is still comfortable enough to use. It has merit as a writer. I wish they would just put the metal nosecone on the standard model or give this one a clear plastic grip. That would be perfect.

Those are my picks in addition to those that didn't make the pick. If you have questions about any of these, let me know. Those picks that have no gripes are picks that I would consider solid choices or must try pencils.

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


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#2 quinden

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 14:05

That Lamy Scribble looks great; I have seen a .7 mm lead version of it on jetpens which I might need to try out!
Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

#3 Dillo

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 15:47

That Lamy Scribble looks great; I have seen a .7 mm lead version of it on jetpens which I might need to try out!


I don't recommend the fine lead version since the mechanism is most probably provided by Schmidt, and Schmidt doesn't make very good fine-lead mechanisms, at least not as good as anything Japanese. The lead holder version (Scribble 3.15 mm) which also has a mechanism provided by Schmidt is excellent quality though.

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


#4 quinden

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 15:50

That Lamy Scribble looks great; I have seen a .7 mm lead version of it on jetpens which I might need to try out!


I don't recommend the fine lead version since the mechanism is most probably provided by Schmidt, and Schmidt doesn't make very good fine-lead mechanisms, at least not as good as anything Japanese. The lead holder version (Scribble 3.15 mm) which also has a mechanism provided by Schmidt is excellent quality though.

Dillon


Very good to know - thanks for the heads-up :thumbup:
Currently using:Too many pens inked to list, I must cut back! :) I can guarantee there are flighters, urushi, and/or Sheaffer Vac-fillers in the mix!!!

#5 rockydoggy

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 17:28

Have you tried the Technica-X by Pentel?
Not only it is inexpensive, comfortable to use, and able to take a lot of punishment, but it's got a fully-retractable tip--it operates like a ballpoint pen. Since the lamented demise of the Pilot Vanishing-Point pencil, this has been one of my go-to replacements.

#6 stefanv

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Posted 24 August 2012 - 17:43

No 1.18mm pencils made the grade?
Stefan Vorkoetter

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A pen from my collection:
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#7 JustinJ

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 01:38

I prefer my Lamy Scribble 3.15 mm pencil over the Lamy 2000 pencil. The Lamy Scribble is my favorite lead holder right now. The pen has a very nice balance with an excellent mechanism. Also, the finish and feel of the pen is perfect for the hand. I purchased a Kum lead pointer sharpner that will give me a fine point on the Lamy Scribble.

I purchased a Worther Shorty lead holder and a Worther Art Plum Wood pencil that is very nice. I have not used it enough yet to make an accurate comparison to the Lamy Scribble.

#8 pencils+pens

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 02:18

I have a problem with my Uni Shift in 0.7. It was fine with the lead it shippd with. When that ran out I tried to load Pentel Super 0.7. The lead will not advance and I cannot get it out. I have tried dismantling the pen as much as I could but the lead is stuck in there somehow.

I did some research on Dave's Mechancal Pencils site. According to some lead sizing he did:

Mitsubishi Uni = 0.685 – 0.69mm

Pentel = 0.715 – 0.72mm

So I may have run into a tolerance issue. I haven't tried contacting JetPens, who I bought it from yet.

Although I liked the pencil, this problem has me leery of getting another one.

#9 watch_art

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 03:00

That Lamy Scribble looks great; I have seen a .7 mm lead version of it on jetpens which I might need to try out!


I don't recommend the fine lead version since the mechanism is most probably provided by Schmidt, and Schmidt doesn't make very good fine-lead mechanisms, at least not as good as anything Japanese. The lead holder version (Scribble 3.15 mm) which also has a mechanism provided by Schmidt is excellent quality though.

Dillon



I agree w/ this 100%. My .7 scribble either shoots out too much lead (1/4 inch or so) or none at all. The click feels messed up and the shape and size don't work well for me. The 3mm scribble was better, but I hated the flat spots on the barrel so didn't keep it. I prefer kit clutch pencils.

Now - that Uchida - THAT is sexy. :)

fpn_1432247667__cropped-20150427_0641231 sigpic14481_1.gif vanness.jpg?t=1321916122


#10 Ytland

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Posted 25 August 2012 - 13:19

Huh?? Where is the Rotring 600? The best pencil of all time...


In my opinion, of course :P

Thanks for the great review though! The scribble is really great, I have both the .7 and 3.15mm versions, and I must say that the .7 isn't all that bad. It's mainly the shape that makes the scribble so great, and I've never had an issue with the mechanism.

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#11 Dillo

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:16

Hi,

I didn't like the Rotring 600. It was too heavy. The Rotring Tikky is excellent though. I used to have a few. The Technica X is a neat pencil. If you look, I have two double-knock Pilot pencils here. They didn't make the pick, but they are here anyway. One is new production, the Pilot Del-Ful. If you like that style, that's quite a pencil to look at. It not only extends the tip at the push of the button like a ballpoint, it is also a shaker, and the shaker mechanism is disengaged when the point is retracted.

About the 1.18 mm pencil, I'm still looking. I haven't tried that many. Maybe one of these days.

Dillon

Edited by Dillo, 26 August 2012 - 02:17.

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


#12 bphollin

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:34

I hate to sound thick, but would you mind saying a little more about what lead refills you prefer and why?

#13 bphollin

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 02:37

I purchased a Kum lead pointer sharpner that will give me a fine point on the Lamy Scribble.

Sounds interesting. What is that? I like the Scribble lead holder, but it is a bit wide for my tastes. Does the Kum device sharpen the tip without much waste?

#14 rdh

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 03:00

You might have a look at the Faber Castell e-motion. It has a similar feel to the Lamy Scribble. I like the less expensive model that has a barrel of Maple wood and black plastic ends that don't really pick up stains. It also has a 1.4 mm lead and twist mechanism like the propelling pencil. I have used it for a number of things. Right now, it is in my shop and is used like a carpenter's pencil. These leads NEVER break. Neither does the advance mechanism.

Dave

#15 watch_art

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 03:13

This is what I like---
They're just kits - so really inexpensive - and the leads are fat and great fun to draw with. The push button has a lead pointer built in and works great. My students love them, too. Will start making some for the kids eventually. :)

Posted Image

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Edited by watch_art, 26 August 2012 - 03:13.

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#16 Dillo

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 03:23

You might have a look at the Faber Castell e-motion. It has a similar feel to the Lamy Scribble. I like the less expensive model that has a barrel of Maple wood and black plastic ends that don't really pick up stains. It also has a 1.4 mm lead and twist mechanism like the propelling pencil. I have used it for a number of things. Right now, it is in my shop and is used like a carpenter's pencil. These leads NEVER break. Neither does the advance mechanism.

Dave


I know about the e-motion, and almost got one. It is heavy though, and the balance isn't as good for my hand as many other pencils here. It wasn't comfortable at all for me. I much prefer the kid's propelling pencil that Faber-Castell makes over the e-motion. They use the same 1.4mm leads, but the mechanisms are different. I like the e-motion mechanism but not the e-motion as a whole.

For leads, I usually use Pentel Ain HB. For sizes 0.4 mm and under, I use Pentel Pro-Use HB lead instead. It seems stronger. For 2.0 mm, I use Staedtler Lumograph leads, and for 3.15 mm, I use Lamy leads. For the 1.4 mm leads, I use Faber-Castell.

I have used Uni leads before including their newest offering. I have also used Pilot leads before. I keep on coming back to the Pentel leads for strength, consistency, and break-resistance. For the 3.15 mm leads, I found that the Lamy leads were the most consistent and smoothest I have used, and the same holds true for the 2.0 mm Staedtler leads. Faber-Castell 1.4 mm leads are quite nice as well.

Dillon

Edited by Dillo, 26 August 2012 - 03:25.

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


#17 XiaoMG

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 10:48

I too am a fan of the Alpha Gel Slim, and I agree the chroming is a bit unnecessary. It's my favorite thin-lead mechanical pencil overall.

My absolute favorite pencil so far though is the Mitsubishi Pure Malt 2mm at the top of this picture:
Posted Image

Robert.

#18 Dillo

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Posted 26 August 2012 - 22:45

Hi,

The Pure Malt is very nice. I never bought one though. Those pencils you have bring me memories. I bought many of those in Taiwan.

Dillon

Stolen: Aurora Optima Demonstrator Red ends Medium nib. Serial number 1216 and Aurora 98 Cartridge/Converter Black bark finish (Archivi Storici) with gold cap. Reward if found. Please contact me if you have seen these pens.

Please send vial orders and other messages to fpninkvials funny-round-mark-thing gmail strange-mark-thing com. My shop is open once again if you need help with your pen.

Dillon


#19 Scylax

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 02:10

Thanks for such an informative, interesting review! I am currently using the standard 0.5mm Uni Kuru Toga, and I love the revolving mechanism - I print rather than write cursive and find that it really does work very well. But I find it is too light for my taste, and because of the way I grip pens/pencils, it creaks, making me fear I'll break the plastic. I know the high-grade didn't make your pick, but might it work for me (I know that's a mean question to ask anyone!)? Or maybe the roulette?

#20 JustinJ

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Posted 27 August 2012 - 02:29

I purchased a Kum lead pointer sharpner that will give me a fine point on the Lamy Scribble.

Sounds interesting. What is that? I like the Scribble lead holder, but it is a bit wide for my tastes. Does the Kum device sharpen the tip without much waste?



There is not much waste at all. There are two holes on the side of the pencil sharpener. One is a 2mm and the other hole is a 3.15 mm sharpener. The Kum sharpener is also great for wood pencils.

This is the pencil sharpener that I bought. There is also two extra blades that come with the sharpener that are inside of the pencil sharpener itself.

Kum Sharpener






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