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.


Rotring 600 2.0 mm 

First impressions

This is the first wave of crazy leadholder obsession binge. I’ve got a couple more coming in later. Just received this one so here are my first impressions of it.

It’s very different than the other Rotring 600s I’ve handle. 

You can see in the comparison images, the material and construction are different. While the Fountain pens I have and the mechanical pencils are machined(I think) brass with a metallic coating that feel heavy and substantial this is, I think, a piece of machined and finished aluminum. The weight is much lower and as a result does not give the same hefty feeling I’ve expected.

The hexagonal barrel is more beveled/rounded. Not as crisp as the others. The knurling is much more aggressive, which I like.

The fit and quality of materials seems, at first glance, to be lesser.

The cap rattles. I’ll fix it somehow, but I was expecting much more from the brand and for the price.

My guess is this has some close relation to the production line of the “rapid-pro” line and seems almost as an afterthought.

I’d like to get more use on it for a better opinion and I don’t really have much to compare it to(yet).

One the other hand, it is handsome and for what it’s worth does seem somewhat sturdy and it looks good.