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Mechanical Pencil Acquisition: Seeking Advice


stephanos
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Although I have tried numerous plastic propelling pencils over the last few years at various price-points (including some from good brands like Faber-Castell), I have been unable to find a decent, reliable pencil that I enjoy using. I hope you may be able to help me in my search.

 

Having done some homework, I'm now looking to buy a pencil for all-round use, to live with my fountain pens in my pen-case and be available both at my desk and when I'm travelling. Specifically, I'm looking for a metal mechanical pencil for writing and occasionally sketching - don't foresee needing to use the pencil for precise drafting or technical drawing.

 

The following three products seem to be my best options:

* TWSBI mechanical pencil (0.5 or 0.7 lead)

* Rotring 800 (0.5 or 0.7)

* Rotring 600 Japan spec (0.3)

 

I have no experience at all with Rotring, and I know (and like) TWSBI's fountain pens. The Rotring 800 costs nearly twice as much as the TWSBI. But I'm looking to get something that I'll use regularly for many years, so I know that if I were to choose the 800 and be happy with it, the extra price paid would seem insignificant compared with the greater ongoing utility it got from its use. But I don't want to pay more for features that won't appeal. All else being equal, I have a preference for a uniform colour, and black rather than silver (otherwise I might also consider the Pilot Automatic).

 

A couple of further points. First, I can't stand pencils with a soft, cushioned writing experience; for me, the lead needs to hit the paper and stay where I want it, not partially disappear back into the pen at the slightest pressure. Second, though I can happily use pens in the Pelikan 200/400 size, my ideal FP size is something like the Pelikan M800 - a skinny little pencil will really not do it for me if I'm going to be sketching or writing more than a few words.

 

I'm not sure of the best lead width for me. I've used 0.7 before, and although that's perfectly unobjectionable, I am wondering whether a thinner line might not suit me better. I'll probably end up going for a 0.5 line, but I've put the 0.3 Japanese spec model in because the idea of being able to write with a really thin line appeals (provided it is easily-visible on the page).

 

I would be very grateful for help in deciding which to go for.

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This one has a Pilot S20 which is very nice in hand as it has a wood body. However, this one also recently received a Pentel Graphgear 1000 for 0.9mm leads, and is quietly quite impressed by it.

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The Rotring pencils are a cut above the TWSBI oferings in my opinion and I own both brands. The TWSBI retractable is not ax convincing yo seas you have to manually push ge lead and tip back yo retract them where the Rotring is a quick twist to fully retract the tip.

 

I have 2 Rotring 800's a 600 and a Rapid-pro in both .35 (.3) and .5 that are in regular use. The 800's are my favorite for use away from home as they are the most pocket friendly.

Amos

 

The only reason for time is so that everything does not happen at once.

Albert Einstein

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Pelikan pencils are nice and can be easily and inexpensively found on the popular auction site. Everyone wants Pelikan fountain pens and the pencils are the forgotten sibling.

"It's funny; in this era of email and voice mail and all those things that I did not even grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy."  Elizabeth Kostova

 

 

 

 

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Thank you for your comments and suggestions.

 

Empty_of_Clouds, I can't easily get the Pilot (old model?). The Pentel is available, but the looks don't appeal.

 

MadAmos, thank you for the very useful comment. I think I'll probably go for one of the Rotring models.

 

OCArt, I agree fully that Pelikan pencils are very nice, and can be had inexpensively. I have two in the M400 size. One is black, and came in a set that I bought for the FP (another data-point in support of your argument); the other is a slightly damaged tortoise (clip missing), which I bought for very little money as a pencil. They take the vintage 1.18mm lead and write beautifully enough that I've recently bought some more lead for them so that they are future-proofed. I can see myself using (particularly) the tortoise pencil quite a lot at home. But they just don't do it for me as everyday carry-around items.

I've spent a little time thinking about why, and I think it's because they aren't differentiated enough from a fountain pen. What I want from a pencil is that it is solid, reliable, and somehow clearly different from a fountain pen (it's its own thing, not an imitation; maybe there's an element of wanting the greatest possible clarity on the divisions between the categories of writing instrument). It also needs to feel chunky. So that's why I've been eyeing the all-metal, hexagonal-shaped mechanical pencils. Not very logical, but there you go.

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What I want from a pencil is that it is solid, reliable, and somehow clearly different from a fountain pen (it's its own thing, not an imitation; maybe there's an element of wanting the greatest possible clarity on the divisions between the categories of writing instrument). It also needs to feel chunky. So that's why I've been eyeing the all-metal, hexagonal-shaped mechanical pencils. Not very logical, but there you go.

 

 

Several mechanical pencils fitting that description over in this thread.

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  1. The Tombow Mono Zoom 505 is my all time favorite pencil. It's nice and thick, comfortable, and looks great.

http://static1.jetpens.com/images/a/000/068/68465.jpg

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Pilot S20 (elegant and classy)

Tombow Zoom 505 along with Pentel Sharp Kerry (cap type mechanical pencils down side tiny eraser)

Rotring (come on people they are like the MBs of mechanical pencils)

Steadtler 925

I wont say about getting a uni-ball roulette edition of the kuru-toga

Tombow monograph? to me it's cute big but still probably is a breed on it's own (especially in the mono signature color of blue,black and white stripe)

Pentel 205 workhorse of pencils cheap but dependable

uni-ball Shalaku (side knock not sure if you like it)

Lamy L2K

uni-ball pure-malt series

you like em fine

Pentel Orenz .2mm first breed of it's kind so much only pentel can supply the lead

 

but then you didnt say what tip size you want .7, .2 (Yes .2mm), .5, .9 or 1.0, 1.3, 1.9 and 2.0mm

Edited by Algester
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Thank you for all your input.

I found an irresistible deal on a Rotring Pro Gear with 0.5mm point. Works well, happy with it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Can't believe nobody recommended the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette or (slightly less expensive) Uni Kuru Toga High Grade pencils with the amazing auto-rotation mechanism. I use these Kuru Toga pencils often, they work great. The auto-rotation thing really works, it's not a gimmick. The Roulette version can be had for as low as ten bucks a piece including shipping!

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Can't believe nobody recommended the Uni Kuru Toga Roulette or (slightly less expensive) Uni Kuru Toga High Grade pencils with the amazing auto-rotation mechanism. I use these Kuru Toga pencils often, they work great. The auto-rotation thing really works, it's not a gimmick. The Roulette version can be had for as low as ten bucks a piece including shipping!

 

I can only speak for myself, but I don't happen to like the auto-rotation mechanism. It doesn't work well with 0.3mm lead (the lead is already very thin and rotating to have the edge against the paper would often cut through the paper, usually breaking the lead in the process). It works better with the 0.5mm model, but I don't like the feel of how the mechanism gives just a bit every time I touch the paper. I didn't give the 0.5mm pencil away like I did the 0.3mm pencil, but I don't use it unless I have no other pencil within reach.

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  • 5 months later...

The Rotring 600 is too thin for me.

It is an exceptional pencil but it is about the same grip diameter as a regular wood pencil.

This was the fatal flaw for my subjectiveness.

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The Rotring 600 is too thin for me.

It is an exceptional pencil but it is about the same grip diameter as a regular wood pencil.

This was the fatal flaw for my subjectiveness.

 

Take a look at the Pentel S10. The knurled grip is wider than the Rotring 600 and is one of my favorite pencils.

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