Writing Implement of the Week - 07.09.2012

Sorry about the wait on the new Implement of the Week, please stop the hate mail you two.

This time I’m going over lead holders.  For those that don’t know, a lead holder, also called a clutch pencil, is basically a large mechanical pencil.  Where as a standard mechanical pencil lead ranges from 0.5mm to 0.9mm, a clutch pencil goes from a standard 2mm to 5.6mm.  The other major difference being that there is no auto advancing mechanism in a lead holder, you just open the clutch and the lead falls out to the length you want.  The benefit in this is that you get a close approximation to using a wood case pencil with the consistency of a mechanical.

You can see in the photos that I enjoy using the Staedtler Mars 780 Technico.  Other fine lead holders can be had are made by Mitsubishi-Uni, Faber-Castell, Koh-I-Noor, and just tons of others.  Drawing leads are even more varied.

Given that lead have no expiration date, you can find them from decades in the past.  The Castell leads pictured are from the 70’s and the copper boxed Eagle leads are from the earlier twentieth century.  That company was bought and merged into extinction, its descendant, I believe, being Dixon Ticonderoga.  As well as varied companies, you can also find these guys in a wide range of degrees, from what I’ve seen, 8B to 9H, which makes the system just a versatile as a tradition collection of wooden pencils.

The blue and black cylinder on the right is a rotary lead pointer, you don’t sharpen these leads but point them.  You put the holder with lead out in to that guy and give it several good rotations and boom, sharpest lead you’ve ever used.  Other, even more popular pointers, include small blade pointers and even pointers in the pencil caps, though both give you a fine graphite powder to leave a mess of, or use in your art.

In all, if you do a lot sketching, investing in these is a good deal, twenty bucks retail for a set, give or take. They’re a great cross between the traditional and mechanical, but the reality is all three of these types are so established that there is tradition in each.