mechanical pencil


The Uni Shift and a look at 0.4 mm leads 2

The Uni Shift 0.4mm unlocked

The Uni Shift 0.4mm unlocked

Let me start by saying: It’s all Lexikaliker’s fault.

He praised the virtues of 0.4 mm pencils, so I had to order one.

I had a look at various 0.4 mm pencils and decided to go with the Uni Shift for £7.43 from Amazon Marketplace in the UK1, in the USA it sells for $10.20, again on Amazon Marketplace …including shipping. In many online shops this pen can easily cost twice as much, though. I have no idea how the pen can be sent from Japan for such a good price.

The Uni Shift 0.4mm locked

The Uni Shift 0.4mm locked

Despite coming all the way from Japan it only took a few days before the pen arrived. The seller even remembered that I bought form him before.

0.4 mm

In theory

Well, this is my first 0.4mm pencil. You’d think 0.4mm doesn’t seem to be that different to 0.5mm, it’s just 20% smaller, but depending on how you write the difference in the graphite you lay down can easily be 30% or more.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Here’s a little table showing the surface area you cover, depending on which angle you write with and assuming you don’t rotate the pencil(!). The spreadsheet is available as a Google Doc, so you can check the formulas I used. Please let me know if you find a mistake.

Surface area at 40°

Surface area at 40°

Assuming a writing angle of 40° a 0.5mm pencil would cover a surface area more than 50% bigger than a 0.4mm pencil, so there is quite a difference.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

 

In practice

…well at least that’s the theory. In reality things look a bit different. When I checked lead diameters with my caliper I got different numbers. Have a look at the table below. Note: 0.3mm and 0.35mm is used interchangeably my manufacturers.

Nominal value (mm)0.20.3/0.350.40.50.7
Measured value (mm)0.240.360.460.550.68

I am not sure whether I read about this discrepancy in the past, but when I had a look I couldn’t find any information about this on the web. Since my caliper isn’t ‘officially’ calibrated and is just for home use I won’t go into more details and speculation here, other that these might be legacy diameters manufacturers adhere to so that leads and pencil stay interchangeable.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Using the nominal value, an 0.5mm lead used at an angle of 40° has a 50% bigger surface area than an 0.4mm lead. Using the measured values the 0.4mm lead is closer to the 0.5mm lead, but the gap to the 0.35mm lead widens, see table below.

Lead size (mm)0.350.40.5
Surface area (mm^2)(nominal diameter)0.150.200.31
Surface area (mm^2) (measured diameter)0.160.260.37

The main issue with 0.4mm pencils is that the choice of leads is not that big, but the excellent neox Graphite leads are available in 0.4mm.

Uni Shift 0.4mm

Uni Shift

The main purpose of the pipe lock mechanism seems to be to make the pencil pocket safe, i.e. the rigid sleeve/pipe is hidden so that it can’t damage your pocket. I guess the mechanism used in the Uni Shift makes it easier to create a pencil where the sleeve is rigid and doesn’t wobble, compared to mechanical pencils with a retractable sleeve. Easier might in this case also equate to ‘cheaper to manufacture’.

All sleeves out

All sleeves out

The mechanism that locks the lead feels a bit clumsy. I don’t find it as nice as some alternatives, shown in the video, mainly because it is more difficult to use single handedly.

I like the grip section. It is made from metal. The upper body of the pen is only plastic. Considering the price of the pen this is however not surprising.

All sleeves in

All sleeves in

The pencil is excellent value for money, at least for the price I paid. If you don’t like 0.4mm you can buy the Uni Shift in many other lead diameters, too.

Uni Shift 0.4mm and Silvine Memo Book


Price: June and July 2016
Exchange rates: July 2016

As usual please open images in a new tab to see a high resolution version. To see the video inhigh resolution please open in YouTube,

If you want to read more about Mitsubishi and it’s link to other companies with that name have a look as Estilofilos.

If you want to be amazed by Lexikaliker’s special 0.4mm pencil have a look at Sonderanfertigung and Sonderanfertigung 2.

The Uni Shift has been mentioned in The Pen Addict podcast, episode 152, at around 30 minutes. One of Brad Dowdy’s favourite mechanical pencils.

The Pen Addict and Dave have reviews of this mechanical pencil.

 

 

 

 

  1. When I bought it it was 3p more expensive: £7.46. []

The Mascot 1

Edward Baker Mascot box

A few months ago I was able to get a Mascot for a good price. The Mascot is a propelling pencil made from sterling silver. A few years ago Dave showed it on his blog.

Edward Baker Mascot Yard-O-Led box

Origins

Mine is stamped with the date letter G, so it must be from 1956 or 19571, a time when the maker, Edward Baker, was already part of Yard-O-Led (In 1952 Frank Tuffnell became the majority shareholder of Yard-O-Led and acquired Edward Baker2. In 1955 Yard-O-Led took over Edward Baker3 ). Despite having been part of Yard-O-Led the pen doesn’t seen to have been marketed as a Yard-O-Led pencil. This could be down to the fact that the internal mechanism works in a different way.

You can see the G on the right

You can see the G on the right

According to The Writing Desk all Yard-O-Led pencils ever made accept 3″ leads4, but I can’t see how these could fit into the Mascot – so maybe the different mechanisms in Yard-O-Led and Edward Baker pencils and the resulting difference in leads used was part of the reason why the pen was not officially sold as a Yar-O-Led. My pencil came in a Yard-O-Led box and with Yard-O-Led instructions, but as the pen is 60 years old these might not be the original box and instructions that came with the pen.

Edward Baker Mascot

Measured up

Including leads the Mascot weighs about 28g and has a diameter of just over 8mm – round pencils tend to have a diameter of about 7.5mm and hexagonal ones have about 7mm between opposing sides. The pen a bit more than 12cm long.

Well balanced

Well balanced

Despite it being thicker and certainly heavier than a wood cased pencil it does feel small in your hands …modern pens are usually bigger, but the heavy weight  of the Mascot, for its size, makes it feel solid and expensive.

Edward Baker Mascot

 

Refills

The leads have a diameter of 1.18mm5 and are nearly an inch long.

Edward Baker Mascot

Yard-O-Led’s name came from the fact that their pencils could hold a whole yard of lead in refills. If you are of the metric persuasion: 1 yard has 36 inches, so you would need 36 of these inch long refills for a yard. My Mascot came with 6 leads, but it could probably hold around 12 leads. 12 inches are one foot, so I guess Foot-O-Led would be more suitable as a name for the Mascot than Yard-O-Led.

Edward Baker Mascot lead

I assume slightly longer 1.18mm leads from Kaweco or Wörther would fit, I have’t tried it out yet, though. These slightly longer leads are 30mm long.

Edward Baker Mascot

Sharpener

I like a fine point, so I sharpen the leads with Faber-Castell’s lead pointer sharpener box (what a name) 18 41 00. These sharpeners usually cost around €0.60. They are for leads with a diameter of 2mm, but work with 1.18mm.

Edward Baker Mascot

Overall

It’s a great looking pencils, even though it is a bit small for today’s standard. I love the wider top/end of this pencil. It is similar to other pens from the past. These days similar tops can be found on Graf von Faber-Castell pens or the Castell 9000 Perfect Pencil (you can see them in this blog post).

Edward Baker Mascot

 


You can find more Yard-O-Led related goodness at United Inkdom, Scribble’s Too Many Pencils and Dot Cross Dot.

  1. see https://theassayoffice.co.uk/send-us-your-hallmarking/date-letters []
  2. see http://www.yard-o-led.com/#our-story []
  3. see http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Yard-o-led_Pencil_Co []
  4. see http://www.thewritingdesk.co.uk/showproduct.php?brand=Yard-O-Led&range=pencil+refills []
  5. Dave talked about the fact that 1.18mm, 1.1mm, 1.15mm and 1.2mm leads are usually the same. []

Pentel Orenz 0.5 9

Another Orenz post.

I bought this Orenz from eBay seller Morgan’s Direct for £4.99 (~$7.30; €6.50).

Pentel Orenz 0.5 mm

0.5 mm, 0.7 mm and the Mannish Line

You might have seen my Facebook post about the recently released 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm version of the Orenz and about the Orenz Mannish Line that will be released in June.

The Mannish Line has some interesting colour combinations. Very tempting.

The UK packaging

The UK packaging

The Orenz in 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm doesn’t seem to be available in Japan. The one I bought was the official UK version, but made in Japan, of course.

The UK Orenz on Silvine Memo Books

The UK Orenz on Silvine Memo Books

The sliding sleeve

The 0.3 mm version of the Orenz needed quite a bit more force to slide the sleeve than the 0.2 mm version, see the sliding sleeve table for more information. This made me think that the 0.5 mm version will need even more force to slide the sleeve, but to my surprise that was not the case. While the 0.3 mm version needs more than 0.1 Newton, the 0.5 mm version needs only about 0.1 Newton. That’s still more than the best 0.5 mm pencil, the Staedtler Microfix S, but as far as I know this is the best value for a pencil currently in production. Using different leads might result in different values, but both the 0.3 mm and the 0.5 mm version of the Orenz were tested with the original leads they came with.

Great centre of gravity

Great centre of gravity

Vitals

Weight: 10.4 grams
Length: 14.5 centimetres
Diameter of the grip section: ~8 milimetres
Force needed to slide the sleeve: ~0.1 newton

This blog post has been brought to you by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

This blog post has been brought to you by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

Conclusion

Overall: it’s a fantastic pencil. Pentel’s pencil designs are very polarising for me, I either love or dislike them, but the Orenz has a design I really love, unlike the P20x series liked by many, but not me.

It’s a shame that this pencil is only available in black. Pentel, please release it in other colours, too.

Pentel Orenz


Price and exchange rate: May 2016.

This mechanical pencil has been added to the sliding sleeve table.

More about the Orenz can be found in these Bleistift blog posts: Pentel Orenz 0.3Peanuts Orenz 0.2The sliding sleeve and the Pilot Color EnoWhy did the sliding sleeve disappear?

…or at The Pen Addict, I Liek Pencils, One Lone Man

…and at Lexikaliker, who was probably the first outside Japan to write about this pencil.

You can read more about Georg Christoph Lichtenberg at Wikipedia.

The notebooks in the photos are Silvine Memo Books.


Staedtler’s posh pencil and Atoma’s posh notebook 12

Expensive pencil purchases

There are two pencil purchases I’ve been thinking about for a while. One of them is a Rotring 800+, but with a price tag of more than £40 I haven’t been able to convince myself to buy it yet1.

Every now and then I check whether I find a good offer for this pencil in online stores, on Amazon and on eBay. Earlier this week I was just checking CultPens again (so far they have been the cheapest store for the Rotring 800+ when taking postage  into account) when I saw an offer I couldn’t resist: Lots, really lots, of ‘free’ items if you buy a Staedtler Initium pen.

 

cultpens-initium

So many ‘free’ add-ons…

The Atoma leather notebook

The most tempting of these ‘free’ add-ons was Atoma’s Leather notebook2. Most tempting for two reasons:

  • I am using my Atoma notebooks on a daily basis, at work and at home, and I really like it
  • and I really like the look and the graceful ageing of tanned leather3

…so this notebook was the reason why I went ahead and ordered the Staedtler Initium pencil.

I think I was probably even more interested than I otherwise would have been because of the recent flood of blog posts about William Hannah’s similar notebook after they sent free samples and discounted samples to many bloggers4.

Drool, so much nice stationery

Drool, so much nice stationery

Staedtler’s premium line

I do love Staedtler products, you might have noticed that this blog has more articles about Staedtler than about any other manufacturer5 but so far I haven’t been very excited about their foray into the world of more expensive stationery, their Initium line. Based on the photos I have seen online I think the Initium fountain pens look like cheap ‘own brand’ pens from a high street stationery chain – I might revise my opinion when I see one in reality, though, photos can be deceptive. The pencil on the other hand looks nice to me, but maybe not >£60 nice. So I went with the mechanical pencil instead. On the photos it looks better than the fountain pen, but I couldn’t really imagine how the clip works – is there a spring like in the Lamy 2000?

staedtler-atoma2

Arrived!

Well, my purchase has arrived now, I just unpacked the items. First impression: The body of the Staedtler pencil looks a bit more plasticy than expected, but overall it looks good. The Atoma leather notebook looks just amazingly beautiful!

staedtler-atoma1

I’m very much looking forward to trying all the items out.

staedtler-atoma3

 


You can read more about Atoma in my 2012 blog post about this system.

  1. I guess I should buy it. In a recent Pen Addict podcast they were talking about a similar situation https://www.relay.fm/penaddict/204 , it all reminds me of a Bavarian movie called ‘The sooner you die, the longer you are dead’ []
  2. Mady by Belgium’s Ruitertassen. []
  3. Think Yo no bi, which reminds me: I just hope my Rustico notebook doesn’t get too dark over time, but based on experience with a leather bag I think I will be fine []
  4. including Scribble, Philofaxy, Pen Paper Pencil and Gourmet Pens []
  5. So fat there are 50 Staetdler articles. Faber-Castell, the number two only has  39 articles at Bleistift. []

Disappointed with the Kuru Toga – again 13

Welcome to a blog post that is linked to my 2009 blog post about the Kuru Toga and is my third blog post this month about sliding sleeve pencils, after the M&G m9 and the 0.3mm Orenz.

If blog posts came with a soundtrack this post’s sound track would be Queen’s ‘Under pressure’, you’ll see why…

As mentioned previously there is a new Kuru Toga model that features a sliding sleeve – and I had to buy one.  It’s from a Japanese seller on eBay and I paid $14.09 (~£9.75; €13.00) (sorry, no link to the product as the seller doesn’t sell it anymore).

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

About the ‘pipe’

I will call this model ‘pipe slide’ for now as there is no English version with an English name out yet and one of the only things I can read on the Japanese packaging is ‘pipe slide’ in Katakana. The name is slightly misleading as the sleeve is more of a cone than a pipe. Otherwise it looks pretty similar to the original Kuru Toga, with one of the more obvious differences being the black grip area, instead of the original silver one.

More of a cone than a pipe

More of a cone than a pipe

The idea, as with other sliding sleeve pencils, is that you can just keep writing without having to advance the lead – because the sleeve that protects the lead is sliding back further and further as you use the lead up …until you have used up the several millimetres of lead that where originally protected by the sleeve.

About the mechanism to rotate the lead

On my original Kuru Toga in 0.5mm you had to press the lead down 40 times to rotate the mechanism by 360°. The ‘pipe sleeve’ model, also 0.5mm works differently. Each pressing down of the lead will rotate the lead about twice as much as the original model, so pressing the lead down 20 times will rotate it by 360°.

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

Does it work?

…the sleeve

Well, the sliding sleeve works. It’s not as good as the one from the Pentel Orenz or the Staedtler Microfix S, because the sleeve is more likely to press into the paper, but it will work well.

When the sleeve is partly retracted the lead will feel a bit more wobbly, but it isn’t a problem at all. You will need about 0.05 N of pressure to slide the sleeve back, which is a pretty good value, but as mentioned earlier the sleeve is more in the way, so the writing experience you get from a pencil with similar pressure requirements, like the Microfix S, is better.

…the mechanism to rotate the lead

The mechanism still doesn’t work for me, just like the original Kuru Toga, six years ago.  It does seem to work for others. This pencil is in the Pen Addict’s Top 5 and Brad wrote: “Not a gimmick either. It actually works.”, but I assume when writing he is using much more pressure than I do.

There seems to be a strange discrepancy here. Many people seem to prefer soft wood cased pencils, indicating that they might use less pressure than me when writing, but on the other hand many people seem happy with the Kuru Toga, indicating that they use more pressure than me when writing.

What is your experience with the Kuru Toga – and what kind of wood cased pencils do you prefer? I’d love to find out how they relate to each other for others. 

You need quite a bit less force or pressure to rotate the lead of the pipe slide model, 0.3 N in my case, but that’s still more than I seem to normally use. Things get even worse when you write in cursive, as there’ll the lead will be lifted and placed on the paper less often, so there are fewer opportunities to rotate the lead anyway.

Maybe that’s the reason why my Kuru Toga pipe slide came with a reasonably hard lead1, so that you press a bit harder.

Conclusion

It’s not a bad mechanical pencil, but unfortunately it is just not good at doing what is supposed to set it apart. I wonder whether Schmidt’s2 rotating lead apparatus would have worked any better, or Kotobuki’s mechanism…

Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

 


Price and exchange rates: January 2016

Please open the images in a new tab/windows to see them at full resolution.

The video is available in full resolution on YouTube.

I have added the Kuru Toga Pipe slide to my sliding sleeve table.

Michael Fryda has a YouTube review of this pencil.

  1. harder than the lead some other Japanese pencils I have came with []
  2. Not related to Lexikaliker, I think. []