Last month Josha from the Netherlands sent me an email. He is using pencils for the purpose of keeping score during baseball games. He wrote:
For baseball score keeping addicts, like myself and many others out there, there are three important things to a pencil:
1. lead must not smear
2. a good sharpener so you can use the pencil without sharpening too often during a match (which can take up to three and a half hours)
3. a good eraser.
(4th optional: a good red pencil!!)
Keeping all the requirements in mind my first idea for a graphite pencil is a Mars Lumograph in F. It doesn’t smear and will keep the point for a long time. I have written many pages of text in meetings with the Lumograph in F, without sharpening, so I think it should be able to survive 3½h of writing of score keeping.
There is no eraser tipped version of the Lumograph, so I would take a dust free eraser with me. My favourite type of eraser. You can get them from Faber-Castell (in big and small), Staedtler, Tombow and many other brands.
The red pencils are commonly used for tho things: number the strike-outs and underline red handed players. So they’re mostly used for writing numbers.
As a good red pencil that keeps the point for while I would go for the Staedtler Noris colour, made from Wopex material, or the Mitsubishi 7700. Both pencils have been covered in this previous blog post. Mitsubishi’s 7700 line was stopped, but luckily the red 7700 is still available.
As described in that blog post the Mitsubishi creates a darker shade of red on the paper (…at least when used with 1.8 N and an angle of 90° while moving along the paper with 25 mm/s. The pencils will behave differently under different conditions).
Mitsubishi 7700 #15 Red
Noris colour, a similar shade of red
The comments from Josha’s Instagram account imply that he is selling notebooks he made for baseball score keeping. I don’t have further information and didn’t try to explore this further. I just liked matching the pencil requirements to real world pencils.
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.
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.
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.
…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)
Measured value (mm)
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.
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.
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’.
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.
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.
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.
What an exciting day. I got two deliveries, one from Japan and one from Germany.
The parcel from Japan was sent from Yumiko, a friend of Sean, who helped me get a few things I couldn’t order myself …including Uniqlo’s Tombow t-shirts. I was able to get the Pelikan version here in Europe, but the Tombow version is not being sold here.
I was hoping that the Japanese XL will be similar in size to the European XL, especially since the t-shirts being sold here come with English/Japanese tags, but unfortunately it turned out that the Japanese XL is at least one size smaller than the European version – so the t-shirts won’t fit unless I lose a lot of weight. I guess I should see this as my incentive to lose more weight ..but I don’t think it’s achievable for me to fit into these anytime soon.
There was also something else in the parcel. Something very special.