0.5mm


The TWSBI Precision Mechanical Pencil in 0.5 mm (and a Quick Look at the Fountain Pen, too) 9

As part of my search for the perfect sliding sleeve pencil, I nearly bought a TWSBI Precision in 2015. I say nearly because after talking to Philip Wang1 I found out that the sleeve is not designed to slide back while you are writing – so I didn’t go ahead with the purchase.

TWSBI Precision – mechanical pencil and fountain pen

 

This Summer, three years later, I had a chance to try out Scribble‘s Precision. He lent his Precision mechanical pencil and fountain pen to a few bloggers for an upcoming United Inkdom meta-review.

TWSBI Precision fountain pen

The Brand

I’ll skip introducing TWSBI here, as by now there is quite a good article about TWSBI on Stationery.wiki. I assume it’s only a matter of time before someone will copy this article into Wikipedia, thanks to Stationery.wiki’s Creative Commons license. Wikipedia has deleted stationery articles in the past, with the argument that the brands, products or people or not ‘notable’ enough, but maybe TWSBI is big enough by now. If not then there is always Stationery.wiki, which is better suited to geek out about stationery.

The Fountain Pen

Let’s talk about the fountain pen first.2 Both are called ‘Precision. Seeing the mechanical pencil and fountain pen together I get that there is a resemblance between both (hexagonal body, round grip section, Caran d’Ache style clip), but it is not very strong (certainly not as strong as with Rotring pens of the same series) and in my opinion they could be part of a different series and didn’t need to have the same name. That said, Precision is a nice name which does represent TWSBI’s expertise.

I have quite a few piston fillers, but I think none of the others has such a small ink window. When filling the pen I couldn’t really see the piston. Somehow the whole mechanism feels very much buried deep in the pen and I didn’t get an intuitive feeling how much ink capacity there is or how much ink there might be left in the pen.

Similar texture (top to bottom: Lamy 2000, Staedtler Pigment Liner, TWSBI Precision)

On a positive note, I did like the surface of the pen very much. It reminds me of the surface of the Lamy 2000 or Staedtler’s Pigment Liner.

Texture Staedtler Pigm. Liner

Texture Lamy 2000

The Precision’s texture

Of all the TWSBI fountain pens I have used or that I own this one is my least favourite. It is a nice pen, but the design just doesn’t work for me. If you like the look of this pen then it might be the right one for you though. As is common with TWSBI you get good quality and a few extras for your money.

The Mechanical Pencil

When I first got the Precision mechanical pencil I didn’t like the look very much. That was then. Over time it really grew on me. By the time I had to send it back to Scribble I was very keen on the looks and on the pencil as a whole. If it wasn’t for the issues I will mention later I would probably order my own TWSBI Precision now.

Similar Pencils

How does this pencil compare to others on the market? To me, it’s similar to a Rotring with some Caran d’Ache mixed in. In my video about this pencil, you’ll see that the clip of the Precision is so similar to a Caran d’Ache that it’s virtually impossible for this similarity to be a coincidence (Jump to 1:05 in the video to see the different clips side by side).

Variations

Some shops referred to a version 1 and version 2 of this pencil. I was not able to find out what version 1 was. It might be a reference to the TWSBI Precision X, I am not sure.

It looks as if the Precision X didn’t make it past the prototype stage. It is somehow similar to the Rotring Rapid, which has been discontinued (not to be confused with the Rapid Pro), but is still available online as new old stock.

Colour-wise current Precision was available in silver and black, but in 2018 only the silver version is available. This has also been confirmed by TWSBI’s Philip Wang.

Tip-wise there is a retractable and a fixed version and diameter-wise there is an 0.5 mm and an 0.7 mm version.

Vitals

As a metal pencil, the Precision is of course on the heavy side. It weighs 25 g. The knurled grip is quite nice, at least in my opinion. the knurling is not as fine as on a Rotring which means little bits of dust and dirt don’t stick as much to the grip section.

Eraser

Most mechanical pencils have quite short erasers. There are of course exceptions to this rule, like the Faber-Castell Executive, the Vario L or some of their Grip pencils. Well, you can add the Precision to this list of exceptions. The Precision pencil even comes with replacement erasers.

My issues with the Precision

Let’s get to the point where I discuss my issues with this pencil. I am still not sure whether my two issues do occur with all Precisions or whether it’s just something the one Precision I had on loan suffered from.

..but fear not! Dave of Dave’s Mechanical Pencils fame said he will have a look at his pencil, so with some luck, you can expect an update here or on his blog. There is also a planned meta-review of the Precision on United Inkdom and I am hoping one of the other reviewers will pick up in the following two points.

a) I had a lot of lead breakage with this pen. Lead breakage that occurred within the Precision that is, i.e. I want to advance the lead, but notice it is broken. This could be down to the fact the lead that was in the pencil when I got it was very soft. It could also have happened during transport, i.e. the lead was already damaged. It could also be linked to my next point.

b) I haven’t used another pencil with that much lead advance. More than 2 mm per click. Compared to other pencils I reviewed as part of my Pencil Videos series it is off the charts (not literally as I can just change the y axis 😜 and it is not off the charts anymore) – have a look.

Comparison lead advance per 10 clicks in mm (rounded to the nearest 0.5 mm)

When I contacted TWSBI’s Philip Wang I didn’t get a clear answer how many mm the lead should advance per click (the answer was basically “that’s a very strange thing to ask”), so I hope Dave will be able to tell me more. Ian reviewed the exact pencil I had in my hands and he reported that the lead advances 1.5 mm per click. My measurement was nearly 50% bigger. Maybe there is something wrong with this specific pencil and the advance shouldn’t be that much?

Update:

Less from the Comfortable Shoes Studio and the RSVP podcast owns the retractable 0.7 mm version. I contacted her and she reports that her pencil gives 1.5 mm of lead at the first click, the next 0.5 mm, then 1 mm and after that it’s always 1 mm or 0.5 mm.

Dave from Dave’s Mechanical Pencils left a comment under this blog post reporting that he also has the retractable 0.7 m version, like Less. He reports that ’10 clicks advance 7.5mm of lead, and I think they are all even, so that’s 0.75mm per click, a relatively normal amount’.

I assume Dave’s Precision works as intended, Less and the one I borrowed from Scribble don’t. I am not sure whether this indicates that the Precision is more prone to ‘lead advance issues’ as we don’t know whether Less’s and Scribble’s pencils weren’t ‘mistreated’, e.g. by the postal service.

Why is the increased lead advance an issue? The more the lead is extended, the more likely it will break (breaking outside the pencil, as opposed to inside the pencil). More nominal (and also axial) pen force (explained in this old blog post) or a more acute your writing angle will make your lead more likely to break. If you hold your pen vertically it could of course also break because of the pen force.

A discussion about a potential link between lead advance and sliding sleeve can be found in the comments to this blog post.

Overall

Overall this is a great pencil. I like the long eraser, I (now) like the looks, I just wish the lead advance would be more in line with other pencils out there.


I would like to thank Scribble for lending me his Precision pens.

If you liked this blog post you might like these other reviews of the Precision mechanical pencil:

 

  1. I was surprised that the boss himself replied when I asked a question on their website. []
  2. I want it out of the way so that we can focus on the mechanical pencil😜 []

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 millimetres
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.


Pencil Gangnam Style? 3

With PSY’s hit topping the charts in the UK and the USA, I am wondering which pencil is the ultimate Gangnam Style pencil – luxurious, but also a bit crazy.

A hot contender is the Monami MP-4003.

Luxurious, but also a but crazy? Yes, but maybe a bit too kitsch.

Decadent? Yes. Even hedonistic? Probably not.

Steam punk? Dunno, maybe more like Art Noveau punk…

If the Empire State Building was in Korea, some might call the MP-4003 the Empire State pencil.

Quality

The Monami MP-4003 comes in a nice-ish plastic box and is accompanied by a nice lead container. Quality-wise you can see that the accessories that come with the pencil are not top class: the plastic box had a broken off corner and the lid of the lead container had a crack, probably not because they weren’t handled probably, but because of the materials used.

The quality of the pencil itself is better than that of the accessories, but if you look closely, you also notice very minor problems – like scratches on the surface of the plastic body, marks that might be sprue marks or problems with the friction fit of the cap, which is too tight …at least in the case of my pencil.

Design

The look of the pencil is fantastic, even though they have overdone it, at least for my Western taste. The knurled grip works well, but could maybe have a bit more grip. It feels like knurled for effect, not knurled for purpose and the knurled section also starts rather far away from the tip.

The cap gets wider towards the end. Something I like very much, probably the main reason why I like the Yard-O-Led Edwardian pencil or Graf von Faber-Castell and Faber-Castell Perfect Pencils with this design.

There is a lead hardness indicator, but oddly enough the only grade printed on the body is “HB”, which makes it nearly useless. One possible use might be to set it to “HB” for HB leads and to the black colour of the body for anything other than HB. Speaking of HB leads: the leads that come with the pencil are very soft and dark for HB leads.

Monami

Monami, the manufacturer, seems to be Korea’s biggest stationery company, but according to Kent almost all of their wood-cased pencils are cheap pencils for children with cartoon characters  printed on them. I couldn’t find this pencil on their web site, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is not being made any more. As far as I can tell my pencil was manufactured in 2011.

Conclusion

Value for money is good, with the price of this mechanical pencil being similar to most other mechanical pencils. I paid $6.50 (£4; €5) plus shipping on an auction web site. Keeping in mind that this pencil has more ‘metal’ on its body than most pencils in this price range makes it a very good price.

It is a nice pencil, but maybe a bit too much over the top. It reminds me of the kind of male fashion and accessories I have seen more and more often on recent trips to Asia: something that would look odd in Europe because it would look too delicate and playful, maybe even slightly unmanly. This pencil isn’t really at that level yet, but it is rather eccentric and likes to show off it’s golden coloured elements…

Alternatives

You can admire the MP-3003, IMHO a nicer, because silver coloured, version in Gunther’s virtual pencil case.

If the MP-4003 isn’t over the top enough for you, have a look at the Micro HEXA 10000 (again in Gunther’s virtual pencil case). It looks like a Pharao’s mechanical pencil with the grip of the Faber-Castell TK_Fine Vario.

 


Price and exchange rates: September 2012

 


Rotring Newton 5

Rotring has changed a lot since Sanford / Newell Rubbermaid took this company over in 1998. It actually changed so much that it’s difficult to believe that the generic products that are left today used to be from a company that created many great pens and pencils. The sad remains actually remind me of the transporter accident in the first Star Trek movie, where Starfleet replies to Kirk “What we got back didn’t live long – fortunately”.

Today I want to talk about one of their post-Sanford pencils, the Rotring Newton. I saw it being advertised on Japanese web sites as being Made in Germany, but I doubt that. The Rotring 600 morphed into the first Rotring Newton, sometimes referred to as the Rotring 600 Newton, which then became the pen shown in this blog post, the final version of the Rotring Newton, a pen that can look nice, depending on the colour combination chosen, but that doesn’t feel like a proper Rotring. Even though this pen is not available any more with a red ring on its barrel, it is still available – in its reincarnation as the Parker Facet. This doesn’t come as too much of a surprise because this pencil doesn’t feeling like a real Rotring and because Parker is another subsidiary of Newell Rubbermaid.

I mentioned that this pencil doesn’t feel like a proper Rotring. The main reason for this is that it is not very practical – it is actually one of the most impractical pencils I know. To advance the lead once you rotate the front barrel clockwise. If you rotate the barrel counter-clockwise you advance the lead and unlock it, i.e. the lead can be pushed back or can be pulled out. If the barrel is in this position and if you wanted to and if there’s no other lead blocking the way you could refill lead by pushing them from the tip into the pencil.

If you want to refill this pencil the proper way you have to

  1. Pull the front barrel out of the sleeve section in the middle. This hexagonal sleeve section its the main design link to the Rotring 600 pencil.
  2. Unscrew the cap you’ll find on the barrel. This cap come with a removable eraser.
  3. Take the pencil mechanism out of the front barrel.
  4. Remove the lid of the pencil mechanism
  5. Refill leads.
  6. Close the lid of the pencil mechanism.
  7. Put the pencil mechanism back into the front barrel.
  8. Screw the cap back onto the barrel.
  9. Push the fron barrel back into the sleeve section.

If you thought that’s acceptable… There’s one more thing you need to do: Pray that the eraser from the second bullet point doesn’t get stuck in the sleeve section. If it does you won’t be able to get it out and the rotate-to-advance mechanism will not work any more, instead you’ll have to advance the lead by pushing the front barrel against the sleeve section – or if you want press the sleeve section while holding the front barrel.

 


I bought this mechanical pencil last week from eBay for around £5 (~ $8; €6.25). The price including shipping was around £7 (~ $11.20; €8.75).

Price and exchange rates: September 2012

Dave has a review of the Trio version of this pen.