Review – Paper:Mate Design Mechanical Pencil 0.7mm

t’s always nice to try new mechanical pencils, and I’ve been looking at a few recently. One that is around what might be considered “medium territory” is the Paper:Mate Design pencil (7mm #2), which has a few nice features that make it nicer than some others I’ve looked at.

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Starting at the mechanism, the button is quite small and has a slight angle to the top so that one’s fingers will just slide off that much easier. That being said, it works quite well. I haven’t had any issues with it, and the click is both minimal and satisfying. Removing the metal sheath reveals the eraser, which does its job. Removing the eraser gives one access to the lead, and removing the eraser holder allows one to disassemble the pencil, which is handy (one would need to unscrew the front to do that). Down from that is a clip with the Paper:Mate logo. It needs some finesse to clip on, but both holds well and is fairly easy to detach. The barrel is a medium-sized metal tube with a nice finish that simply says Paper:Mate (personally I’d’ve liked more info, but that is literally only me). The grip is a fairly hard rubber with several lines running parallel that don’t seem to do anything to improve grip. It is a bit slippery, but not to a degree that it will distract you unless you’ve used a ton of pens and pencils. There is a metal cone that leads to a smaller, retractable metal cone tip the lead flows out of. This retractable tip means that the pencil will not scratch the inside of a pocket or something, which is quite nice.

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The lead is alright. It is standard HB but feels a bit smoother and more break-prone than other brands of HB I’ve used. That being said, it’s broken about the same amount. I was at first apprehensive when using this pencil. It has no shock-absorbing spring and when one pushes down just after clicking, the lead retracts and makes a distracting clicking sound. This is a major problem in pens for me, and hearing the sound again and again drives me crazy, but fortunately this pencil holds the lead tight enough that I only ever hear the sound at the start of a writing session. What it does mean that is annoying, though, is that if the lead is only advanced a slight amount, a problem this pencil tends to have, then one can easily push the lead back into the pencil and be unable to write. This is actually not as major a problems as it sounds, but I feel it should be mentioned.

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Overall, this pencil exceeds my expectations. The retracting point and stainless steel barrel are nice features. And aside from a few minor things, everything else does its job well enough. The pencil really feels solid and good in the hand without being too heavy, and the writing experience is quite smooth. If you’re looking for a tough mechanical pencil for some mid-length writing sessions, I’d seek one out, though if you’re in an extremely demanding location or are writing for a long time (the grip is poor) you might look elsewhere.

Review – Pentel Twist-Erase Click

When looking at all of the options for mechanical pencils, one will inevitably come to the conclusion at some point that there just has to be a more efficient way to do the things mechanical pencils do. Fortunately, Pentel has you covered with the Pentel Twist-Erase click mechanical pencil, which hopefully is a lot more convenient than all of those other pencils you find around.

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The top of the pencil starts with the eraser, which has a small turning ring around the bottom that can be twisted to extend the eraser as the name implies. The eraser is very long, extending to a least five times its original length. Below that is a tight, functional metal clip that holds well and is held in place by a piece of plastic. On the same lateral space is the information about the pencil, where all necessary information is written in a fairly out-of-the-way manner. Below this is a rather interesting curved breaking point in the pencil which will separate and allow the lead to be inserted. Then we get to the side-mounted click mechanism, which is placed both just above and in place of the rubber grip section.  The button has a few grooves to ease pushing, but is otherwise smooth. The grip section is a thin rubber that does not let ones’ fingers slide but does not give to create something super comfortable. It is functional. Then there is a semi-transparent cone, leading to the thin metal tube that the lead will dispense out of.

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The two main features of the pencil work well. The eraser twisting is easy if not buttery smooth.  The pencil comes with several additional erasers which are just fine for what they are, though they won’t fully remove a hard pencil line. The side-click mechanism is easy to use, and out of the way enough that it doesn’t affect normal writing. The standard lead is HB and is really nothing special. It writes well, without any flaws that stick out. There is no shock absorption, so the lead is more likely to break than in a pencil with such a feature, but that really isn’t an issue. There are a few pieces of lead already in the pencil and it comes with a replacement container.

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Really, if one is looking for a different mechanical pencil, or specifically for a longer eraser or a side advance, on a budget, this is easily the best model. There are really no frills or problems, it just functions as advertised. Sure, there are more expensive models that could do better, but one would have to pay a premium for such items. For the sake of convenience I would definitely look into and consider the Pentel Twist-Erase Click.

Review – General’s Jumbo Kneaded Rubber Eraser

So what’s something every artist needs but no one talks about? If you answered eraser, congratulations! You get a digital cookie. Now then, let’s talk about a good eraser, a General’s Jumbo Kneaded Rubber eraser.

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Kneaded rubber erasers are really cool. They bend and twist into any shape you like, they don’t leave any shavings behind, and they can be used for a long time. They “clean” themselves a little when you knead them, allowing you to use them more regularly, and without smearing. They are rubber, so they come apart and back together. This particular brand comes in a nice square and works perfectly.

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All-in-all, even though there’s little to say about them, they are amazingly handy tools to have around, and much superior to any other eraser you’ll find, though much more expensive.