Thursday, December 16, 2021

Which are the best pencils?

According to the Wirecutter, the best pencils for writing and schoolwork are:

1) Palomino Golden Bear
2) Dixon Ticonderoga
3) Palomino Blackwing 602
honorable mention Faber-Castell Grip Graphite Eco pencil with eraser

I have to disagree with the author of the article right from the start. No doubt the pencils are great, and appreciated by many people, but saying the best pencil for writing and schoolwork is Palomino, Dixon or other brand is not true.

For writing, people will appreciate a no fuss approach. A pencil that needs sharpening on a regular basis, doesn't have a constant line width, makes a mess on your desk is far from being the best. In this regard any decent mechanical pencil will offer you a better experience to any of the pencils above. The lead advances at a push of a button, shake or automatic. There is no need for sharpening ever, because of this you don't have to carry a sharpener with you. Any mechanical pencil can store a multitude of leads inside, so you do not run out. You can swap the leads with different hardness ones. There are several widths available, from ultra-thin to normal tip size. In general, wooden pencils have a worse grip than their mechanical counterparts. Choose a mechanical pencil that suits you and is comfortable in your hand, and it will remain that way after writing with it, as the length of the pencil will stay the same virtually forever.

Saying that the best pencil for schoolwork and writing is a wooden pencil is the same as saying the best watch for timekeeping is a mechanical watch (insert brand name here). A $20 Casio will be a better watch in regard of timekeeping, or for that matter a cheaper no name digital watch will do a better job keeping time compared with watches that cost thousands of dollars.

I am not saying that wooden pencils or mechanical watches for that matter don't have a place in this world. Many like them, including myself, but I wouldn't go around saying that they are the best for writing or timekeeping. There are other reasons to praise these products and to appreciate them, the craftsmanship used in producing them, the quality, the feeling you get while using them. In some cases, these things are works of art.

Thursday, December 2, 2021

The Loop pencil

I came across a modular pencil, called Loop, that reduces waste and extends the life of your stationary on Yanko Design.

When the pencil becomes short, instead of throwing it away and contributing to waste, pollution etc you can use one of these modular designs where you get an extension in different forms, being a cylinder, cap looking, eraser etc.

The design looks rather well. It is a good mix of cool and modern without being extra serious or goofy. I have to say that I like the presentation and the available accessories. You can get a stand for the pencil or a pencil "splitter" (I do not know how to call it)

Others do better in waste management, for example a mechanical or a clutch pencil offers all the benefits with none of the drawbacks of the conventional pencil. So solving a problem that doesn't really need solving is more like an imagination and design challenge than an actual solution. Trees still need to be cut to produce the pencil.

When I see this modular design my mind goes directly to primary school, when modular pencils (of course not of this caliber, all made of plastic, and were horrible for the environment), were in high fashion among the students. The pencils usually had a plastic transparent or translucent barrel and inside there were several very sharp leads held in plastic. And when the lead would dull, you would just pull it out and put it at the back of the pencil.

If you can't imagine it, here is a picture I managed to find online.

I am not so old that clutch or mechanical pencils didn't exist back then but for the kids it was a  novelty and an interesting pencil to dress your pencil holder with

Others have addressed this problem as well, like Faber Castell. They have a pencil extender which can be used as a cap, so you don't damage the pocket or break the lead, if you carry your pencils in this manner. And it also works as a sharpener.

I would say it brings more functionality to the table, but it doesn't have this cool looking design and color scheme. It is less friendly looking and more sober. But what it lacks in the design, it makes up in functionality.

Or you can find many pencil extender designs online


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