Here is one of the most unusual and specialized pencils ever manufactured.
The Lyra 334 Profi is a nicely finished oval carpenter’s pencil, with silver lettering on dark blue. It is manufactured in the extra long 240mm length. That alone makes it an interesting specialty pencil. Yet this pencil is so unusual that the format barely registers among the special features.
It’s also a copying pencil. That’s right – it has aniline dye added to the lead. Why? My guess would be to support marking on damp and humid wood surfaces.
There are two variants – the 334S is a pure copying pencil, and the 334 is an even more incredible double ended pencil, 2/3 regular lead and 1/3 copying lead.
Finally, this pencil is an additional rarity in being made from White Fir. Though there are mentions here and there of this species being used, the success of cedar, jelutong, and basswood seems to have banished most competitors from the market place. I am glad to have found a rare example of another tree in use.
So how does it work? The first task is sharpening. Unfortunately, it and other Lyra pencils don’t fit the Keson! So out with the penknife. This is where I am guessing that a working carpenter would have a good array of sharp knives and cutters handy – because a pocket knife is losing in the battle to the Fir. Eventually, I got some lead exposed on both ends of the 334.
The lead end marks faintly – perhaps an H grade, and the copying end even fainter. Some water reveals the purple dye of the copying end. It flows less easily than most “writing” copying pencils. Yet – what a hidden treasure it is.
A 240mm oval shaped double-ended carpenter pencil made from White Fir with one third a copying pencil lead. The most extreme specialty pencil?
This is the fourth of a four-part mini-series. Hope you enjoyed it!
Stonemasonry pencils were mentioned at this site before I had ever seen one.
Here we see a 240mm version from Bleispitz (the 0341), and a 300mm version from Lyra (the 331 Profi).
With extremely hard 6H leads, they are meant for writing on stone and rock surfaces. Mr. Slate probably used one.
My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for assistance in acquiring these pencils.
This is the third of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: Lyra Profi copying carpenter pencils.
How can one sharpen a carpenter’s pencil? The International Arrivals sharpener didn’t quite seem to do it. Here is another attempt.
From Keson, it is a bright yellow plastic block with four blades. The pencil is placed in a slot (blue plastic) and one slides the pencil back and forth, the wood being sliced away. One end and pair of blades is for the long edge of the pencil, and the other end and blade pair for the short edge.
Does it work? Well the one I bought is resold by General Pencil, and includes a General Sketching pencil. They have a nice illustration showing how to use the pencil:
It does what it claims, creating a nice wedge of lead. Yet there are some other pencils out there – such as the International Arrivals – which don’t fit in the blue slots. Some European oval pencils (I tried a Viarco) are too loose and slide around. Others from Lyra are too large to fit. The Mastercraft and Faber-Castell pencils aren’t ideal fits either.
As well, one should be aware that this sharpener emits wood and graphite residue on both sides – it is very messy.
The above issues noted, it seems like the best sharpener available for pencils that it can accommodate.
This is the second of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: Stonemasonry pencils.
The carpenter pencil has a claim on being the original pencil. The oldest known existing woodcase pencil is a carpenter pencil, seen here at the Faber-Castell website.
This pencil type is defined by the rectangular lead and housing.
Why the shape? The resistance to rolling off a sloped roof is the best explanation I’ve heard.
The ones I’ve seen for sale in Canada are typically octagonal – rectangles with the edges further chopped. But there is also a “chopped ellipse” version.
Hardware stores sell them. Seen here: Home Depot – note the FSC mark – I believe these are made by Musgrave, and were possibly the first pencil in a brick and mortar retail channel with this mark. Also, a couple of pencils from Canadian chain Home Hardware (headquartered in St. Jacob’s, Ontario).
Yet carpenters aren’t the only ones who have appreciated the shape of this pencil. Artists have also found the shape appealing. Here are a few pencils from Derwent, Faber-Castell, and General aimed at artists in the carpenter shape.
The Faber-Castell PITT Sketching 112994 in particular has an exceptional finish, with a thick clear vanish highlighting the natural woodgrain.
Some carpenter pencils from Europe have oval shapes. Additionally, they come in extra long versions. The pencil slat is a highly standardized commodity, and most pencils are about 175mm in length. Yet carpenter pencils also come in 240mm and 300mm lengths. I had read this online some while ago, yet was really surprised to see some in person. Non-novelty pencils made in nonstandard lengths are extremely rare.
Do you use these pencils, either as a carpenter or artist?
This is the first of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: The Keson CP2 Carpenter Pencil Sharpener
One small mystery solved.
The International Arrivals pencils – fluorescent and carpenter – have no practical way to sharpen them.
A lucky break came my way, and I found the right sharpener at a local bookstore – a place with no other International Arrivals products that I could see.
Much larger than just a general large hole sharpener, with slots specifically sized for their two pencils, the product brings some resolution to the problem.
The oversize fluorescent pencils are made usable again – and the carpenter’s pencil is pointed. Of course, this point is like that of a regular pencil, and discards the lead’s rectangular shape. Who wants carpenter pencils pointed this way? I suppose it beats nothing.
Though appearing to be a regular hexagonal pencil, the Tajima pencil is aimed at the construction trades – carpentry in particular. It is definitely a different interpretation of this pencil style than seen in North America or Europe.
The product website indicates that this pencil is highly humidity-resistant.
With a sophisticated red lead, the pencil has a very nice thick varnish – most unusual in this category.
The English text on the pencils reads, “Marking for construction and fine drawing.”
My thanks to isu for providing a most unusual pencil to me.