This article is the first in a series on Faber-Castell’s “Perfect Pencil” line.
The Perfect Pencil is a pencil extender with a clip. Newer versions also have a built in sharpener. The mechanisms and materials vary through the product range.
Today we’ll look at the basic model, the Castell Perfect Pencil.
Sold loose or in a blister pack, the product is a sharpened Castell 9000 pencil with eraser, shorter than standard length. The pencil has a plastic green extender, which caps the pencil. The extender provides a metal clip.
This extender is the essence of the product. The extender can be used as a point protector while transporting the pencil, and as an extender as the pencil wears down.
The top of the extender has its own cap, which pulls out to reveal a portable sharpener. The sharpener can be unscrewed and replaced. The extender is removed by twisting a screw-on end part.
As you may see from the photos, my perfect pencil is quite worn from use. I really like it, and use it a lot. It makes a pencil very portable and usable – protecting the point, providing a clip, and supplying a super compact sharpener.
A more subtle point as well – the matching of the famous green of the Castell 9000 pencil in the extender creates a nice flow and look. You can use another pencil with the extender, but the 9000 naturally fits. A Musgrave Unigraph might also go well.
Some negatives –
The sharpener is a disappointment. It has to be held in a very specific way to get it to sharpen, and even then barely works. Yet – I have other perfect pencil sharpeners that are excellent. So I’ll call it a quality control problem. The parts are so small that they likely have to be made to very specific tolerances, and were sub-par on the particular one I bought.
A white eraser will tend to be quickly become not so white if carried around. Not a big deal to me, and as we’ll see, not an issue in the higher end products.
The little end part that is twisted to allow the extender to be removed can be unscrewed and lost.
Price. Regular blog readers will know that we don’t usually focus on product costs. But this item has a premium price in many markets including Canada, yet is mainly plastic. To put it in relative terms – this extender will cost more than a dozen Castell 9000 pencils in my local market. I have no disagreement with anyone who would rather have those dozen pencils!
I looked at one possible substitute last week, also not so cheap, and have to conclude that more competition in this area would be good. How about some investment in the ergonomics of pencil extenders. We have looked at pencil extenders before – and the truth is that these “extenders” are last resorts. Surely someone could come up with a comfortable, lightweight alternative, that ergonomically flows from the pencil. (The Staedtler 900 25 does better, and I have seen a few photos of other types of extenders, such as the one made by Itoya, but have not directly seen or used them.)
And the positives –
It remains an innovative and unique way for those of us who use and like woodcase pencils to transport, maintain, and use them. The product implementations many key pencil use principles – safety, portability, sharpening, and erasure.
It works, and is very practical – it can take considerable use, even some abuse, and continue functioning.
And a small update – there appears to be a newer, lower priced version on some markets, though I haven’t yet seen one.