Results (The Great Debate II: pencils with or without an eraser?)

Thank you to all who voted and/or commented.

By a wide margin (30 to 9), this corner of pencildom has voted for pencils without erasers.

Comments indicated a wide variety of views. scruss finds that a ferrule and eraser ruin a pencil’s balance, while Matt took the opposite view.

People here certainly use pencils! burmeseboyz noted that the ferrule/eraser interfere with pencil extenders, while Kent educated us with some cultural history.

Though few in number, votes came from at least four continents!

Combining the results with those of the first poll, pencil aficionados want their pencils sold unsharpened, with no eraser. I’d say this is reflected to some extent in the way the very top tier of pencils tend to be sold (e.g. Tombow), but not by the overall marketplace. This may be appropriate, since I doubt that those who frequent sites like this are typical pencil consumers.

Thanks again to all participants.

The Great Debate II: pencils with or without an eraser?

The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

Following our first poll on pre-sharpened pencils, we consider the question of pencils being sold with attached erasers.

The manufacturer lineup is a bit different than on the sharpened/unsharpened question. American manufacturers tend to be the ones generally offering pencils with erasers. But exceptions abound – the photo shows the famous Faber-Castell 9000 in both traditional and eraser attached versions. Japanese manufacturers do make at least novelty pencils with erasers.

There are some potential problems with attached erasers. The eraser isn’t always the type one would like. The photo shows a white vinyl eraser, but most pencils come with a Pink Pearl style eraser. What if you don’t like the style or type of eraser that comes with your pencil? You are stuck.

The eraser on a pencil tip is also fairly small, and can easily be used up if one does a lot of erasing. The remaining bit of ferrule and eraser stub doesn’t look so appealing, nor is it useful.

The eraser can also harden over time. The erasers on many older pencils are dried up, even though the pencil is still otherwise in great condition. Some ferrules can also rust over time.

Note: The Kita-Boshi Wood Note pencil and Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil are both exceptions. They were designed to allow eraser replacement:

The Great Debate: pencils with or without an eraser?

As well, consider the manufacturer’s dilemma – a first rate pencil (the core of the business) could be diminished in the marketplace by a second rate eraser.

On the plus side, the attached eraser can be an immense convenience. One single object to hold and use is the ideal.

It is also what some may consider to be an intrinsic part of the pencil experience. It just “feels right” for many.

This mode of usage continues in modern touch screen devices. I attended a lecture where the speaker had a touch sensitive tablet, and wrote on it with a stylus. The tablet screen was projected onto a large cinema-style screen so that the audience could observe. To edit a diagram, the speaker turned the stylus upside down and “erased” previous markings. The well known interface of pencil erasing was carried on in a paper-less, pencil-less format.

So what do you prefer, and more importantly, why? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.


Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book

Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book

The Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book is a fantastic notebook!

It promises little, and delivers a great experience. The first thing you’ll notice is the amazing colour of the covers. Each notebook is bound by a cardboard cover with the strength and thickness of a hardcover book. The front and back are each in different full colour.

Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book

The pages are perforated, with solid, quality white paper. The left four-fifths of the page has dark grey lines, while the right fifth has small “Date” and “Topic” sections, with larger “To Do” and “To Remember” sections.

Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book

Each page is perforated, and the upper right corner has a small tab perforation.

Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book Knock Knock No. 2 Composition Book

The notebook is both fun and usable. It’s a great alternative offering.

Results (The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened)

Thanks to those who voted or left comments in this informal poll.

Unsharpened pencils were preferred, with the final tally being 35 for unsharpened, 17 for sharpened.

fixedgearfiend asked, “How are the pencils that come pre-sharpened, sharpened?” Staedtler’s Pencil Facts website has a video that very briefly shows factory sharpening. The machine is moving quickly, and the video is quite small, so it’s hard to give too much description – but it seems to be capable of sharpening several pencils in a second.

Kent mentioned the retail experience. Stores often have scratch pads to try out pens, pencils, and markers – but that won’t work with unsharpened pencils. So retail needs may be another factor in a manufacturer’s decision.

I wonder what the subject of the next poll should be.

The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

New pencils are sold both sharpened and unsharpened. The major European manufacturers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Lyra, Stabilo, etc.) all typically sell their pencils pre-sharpened. In contrast, the Japanese (Kita-Boshi, Pentel, Mitsubishi, Tombow) and American (Sanford, Dixon) manufacturers generally sell pencils unsharpened. There are of course exceptions.

Pre-sharpening can provide a convenience factor to consumers. But it also has drawbacks – the pencils are more likely to get broken in transport from store to home/office. As well, the angle of sharpening might be different than that provided by your preferred sharpener, and require a couple of unideal sharpenings before it’s right.

It also deprives one of the pleasant sharpening ritual, the defined initiation of a new pencil.

On the plus side, a pre-sharpened pencil is instantly useable, and sharpeners aren’t always at hand or convenient to use. The factory sharpening could be viewed as a small courtesy towards the customer.

So what do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.