Craft Design Technology pencil

Craft Design Technology pencil

It is a great pleasure to be able to write about this new pencil.

Craft Design Technology is a Japanese brand which produces home and office goods with an emphasis on a consistent, clean design aesthetic. They are associated with a number of manufacturers. If my understanding is correct, the brand is oriented towards functional and aesthetic goals, rather than “luxury”. Most of their website is in Japanese, which I am not able to read.

Luckily for pencil aficionados, their products include item 17, which are HB pencils.

Craft Design Technology pencil

The pencils are unsharpened, and richly varnished in a vibrant light green – almost a washed mint or green tea ice cream colour. Very unusual and pleasing. There are no bands or cap markings, and text is thankfully minimal, in black:

Obverse: Craft Design Technology

Reverse: Made in Japan [logo] item 17: Pencil – HB

High end Japanese pencils use gold or silver colour paint for lettering, and the black is a nice alternative on this already attractive pencil.

The pencil sharpened easily, and the lead was exceptionally dark, smooth, and rich, with no crumbling. CDT’s website says the pencil is made by Pentel, and Pentel’s name and logo are on the box. In my opinion, this is the right way to do it. I don’t like mystery pencils, and If I had a pencil made, I would absolutely want the provenance known. I appreciate CDT’s disclosure.

Craft Design Technology pencil

After trying the pencil, the next thing I did was reach for a Pentel Black Polymer 999. I was really astounded – I believe the CDT pencil to be noticeably smoother that the 999. And that is saying something. I next reached for an HB Tombow Mono 100 , and I had the impression that the CDT could keep up. While I haven’t put them through any lengthy paces yet, my sense it that this really is a first rate pencil.

Craft Design Technology pencil

It comes in just HB, so it’s not aimed at artists and designers. But as a general purpose office or writing pencil, it is a remarkable new entry in the market.

Craft Design Technology pencil

If you decide to buy some (I doubt you’ll be disappointed), be aware that they should be a normal price for a quality pencil – I’ve seen them offered online with astounding markups.

34 Replies to “Craft Design Technology pencil”

  1. Did you buy these online? I’m curious to know how much S&H was and what your unit price per pencil turned out to be. Were they shipped from Japan?

    What are the unsharpened ends like? Any lacquer on them or are they cut/polished smooth?

    — Boris

  2. Hi Boris, thanks for the comment and questions.

    I hope it is clear that the pencils are sold unsharpened – as in the fourth photo. I sharpened the pencil in the first photo. (In a KUM Correc-Tri if that matters.)

    Now I’m not sure if this is what you meant – but the lacquer, as with Tombow, Mitsubishi, Kita-Boshi, and Pentel pencils, ends cleanly at the end of the pencil barrel, and does not spill over to the surface of the unsharpened end. This is in contrast with many other pencils, which do have lacquer spilling over.

    It’s just one of those little touches that most people will never notice, but which sets the top pencils apart.

    The pencil was part of a larger order (stay tuned to the blog for more posts this week!), so the precise arithmetic of the S&H is elusive. Roughly, I believe the unit price was less than I would pay locally for a Lumograph 100, for example.

  3. Stephen, thanks for the wonderful review. Do you happen to know if they will prouce any other leads, aside from HB?

    thanks again!

  4. Stephen,

    Yes, I was asking about the lacquer. Thanks for the answer. I am far from being an expert on pencils but I do agree with you about the clean look of not having lacquer spill over. The Dixon pencils at Walmart seem to have the lacquer spill over and it looks kind of sloppy. For the intended target audience, I don’t think it really matters after the first sharpening. If Dixon ever got some market info that suggested people chose another brand because of this feature then I’m sure Dixon would change their process. Maybe they would make the pencil longer and snip off 1/8″ from the end. Is that how it is done in high end pencils? This could be considered wasteful in terms of material and expensive in terms of having another step in the manufacturing process.

    — Boris

  5. Boris, thanks for your comment.

    Matt, the post’s last paragraph mentions that there are some high mark-ups out there. They go for about $16 a dozen in Japan, so $40 is too much, even with transportation costs.

  6. Outstanding find, sir. And profuse thanks for sharing it with us.

    Pentel’s 999 pencil (B) has become my favorite, go-to weapon of choice—and I found out about it (as well as other favorites, Mitsu’s Hi-Uni and Tombow’s Mono 100) simply because of your site, with excellent descriptions and likewise photography. Again—many thanks.

    Best possible wishes,

  7. You posted earlier that these were part of a larger order, but you never actually posted *where* you purchased these great pencils from.

    Design Within Reach has them for $40, but in my experience you pay a ridiculous premium for anything they sell.

    I would love to order some of these but I can’t find anywhere to order them.

    Excellent website by the way. A real joy.

  8. I have been using this pencil for the last 4 months, definitaly the best pencil I have used so far (including all other Japaneses pencils – Tombow, mitshubishi, kita-boshi, pentel…). I first seen this pencil on a japanese website ( – send them an email, they will be happy to help) tried them and fell in love. Although manufecture by Pentel, it is by far better than their 999 line of pencils (HB and B).
    last time I bought 2 dozens for $40 including shipping….

    Hope this helps….

    Guy —

  9. If you follow the link to the Craft Design site for HB, the price is 1,680 yen. Current conversion puts this at $15.80 American per dozen. Even with shipping, $40 seems quite the markup . . .

  10. The name on the pencil is “item 17” but the name on the box is “item 018” !?!???

  11. Dear all CDT fans!

    Thank you for concern about CDT Products.
    I really much appreciate you as a representitive of CDT-US (NY).

    As per your request, we started sales CDT products from Aug 2008.
    Of course, we’ll ship from USA in directly.

    You can buy every items because we have stock them.
    (but, as of 20th in Aug, there are so many order. next arrival is September)
    Should you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me by email.

    PS:We can reduce the price 35% from retail price if you order more than $100.



  12. Taka, thank you for the news. This post, now a half year old, generated a lot of enquiries about how to get these pencils.

    It isn’t clear (at least to me) how one would place an order from your US office.

  13. Thank you for your concern about the CDT products. We are branch of the CDT (CDT USA). Since August, we decided the retail price of selling our product in the US. So you can purchase a dozen pencils for $28. We also didn’t know that the DWR was selling our product in such a high price… Please contact me if you would like to buy and know more about the items and we will send you price list and order sheet via email or by fax. Email:

    PS:US retail prices are different from ones in Japan.

  14. [CDT site]
    [Address] 139 Fulton Street Suite 501 New York, NY 10038
    [Fax] 1-212-766-8766

  15. I’ve heard of this brand before, it’s highly popular here in Tokyo.

    Pencils are soft and easy to use, the pens are also nice especially the brush pen.
    They have a new line of products (white leather series) that are hard to find, which I highly recommend. It’s the softest cow leather that I’ve ever touched. The bill case is beautiful. I would like to purchase the roll pencil case which looks like it’s inspired by the traditional Japanese brush holder.

    Anyways two thumbs up for the brand.

  16. Thank you for your concern about CDT Products all the time!

    We will finish the first sale (35% discount/more than $100) the end of September 2008.

    Next sale will be November-December.
    Of coursem we have stock all items of CDT.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail

    Thank you in advance!

  17. First of all I must say that I love the color of this pencil!
    I ordered the package because I thought the pencil looks sophisticated and high quality. I like using pencils at the office more than pens and I was looking for a good quality pencil. This pencil looks good and strong and after trying it I am not disappointed even a bit.

  18. Thankyou for your kind comment to our products.
    We got email and order through this blog.
    I appreciate all the fans CDT products.

    As per your a lot of requests, we at CDT-USA are going to provide all the products 35% discount if you order more than $100.00.
    Please note the “Pencile talk” word when you order us.

    Thank you so much again.

    139 Fulton Street
    New York, NY 10038

  19. Hi everyone.
    Thank you for your interest the lines of Craft Design Technology.

    As per all fans requests, we would produce all lines of them by special price.

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Very best

    139 Fulton St Suite 509
    New York, NY 10038

  20. I picked up a few more boxes of these upon hearing some murmurs about getting discontinued, and after looking over a few dozen, I have to say my opinion of the finish isn’t quite as positive as it used to be. I’ve got a fair number of samples with what seems like a rather thin or haphazard lacquer coat, showing blotches of wood color through the green. I’ve also come across a few off-centered leads and other forms of QC variation.

    I guess that doesn’t change that it’s an overall excellent pencil. However, I think I might be done purchasing CDTs whether or not they are discontinued, and I’ll continue buying Mono 100s and Hi-Unis instead, even though they too have the occasional flaw.

  21. Looked a little more closely and took a quick snapshot too, just in case anyone’s curious about what I mean.

    I don’t want to say the lacquer itself is thin, but it seems that there’s normally something like a white primer coat that is intended to keep the green consistent and vibrant, and it seems that that primer coat is what’s weak. The pencils themselves are still glossy and look thickly coated, but the color is weak in parts, especially around the stampings, but some are blotchy all-around. is a snap I took. It may not be extremely easy for people to see the inconsistencies, but they are quite easy to discern on casual personal inspection.

  22. Hi Robert – very sad to hear. I’d like to know more.

    The late 2007 / early 2008 CDT pencils I have compare well with the best of Tombow and Mitsubishi. (Not a lightly made statement.)

    After almost five years of publishing this blog, my sense is that quality control is one of the core strengths of modern Japanese pencil manufacturing. Inconsistent US pencils inevitably raise questions of whether one has a “bad batch”, but the Japanese pencils never seem to have such issues. So I’m quite amazed to hear your report.

  23. Well, I’ve had a number of Hi-Unis with relatively off-centered caps (sometimes crooked) and Kent at showed a Mono 100 with a few flaws. Just receiving my Black Polymer 999s I was kind of disappointed to see the stamping on one (, and now the CDTs with the blotchy finish.

    Bear in mind, these are relative minorities, but common enough to cause a little concern. I guess the blotchy finish affects perhaps 20% of my pencils, though usually it’s only minor around one or two of the stampings or around the end. However, about one pencil in every two boxes was distractingly bad. Not a terrible rate I suppose. It’s also pretty common to come across very obviously color-mismatched halves and slightly decentered leads. The Mitsubishi pencils seem to be more consistent as far as wood and centering are concerned, but I don’t have enough Tombows to say much in the way of consistency yet.

    About half of my CDTs were bought in Taiwan, though with the original Japanese box. The rest were ordered directly from Japan. I suppose it’s possible that the quality has degraded over time, or it’s possible that it was always “within spec”. I’ve come across very little if any warpage from the CDTs, and the finish is always very glossy and thick-looking. As I mentioned before though, it seems like they skimped on the primer, and darker wood shows through the paint. The pencil still feels smooth and glossy, and there’s no hint of wood grain or anything, just discoloration (as the picture hopefully showed).

    Out of curiosity, do you still have boxes for your CDTs? If so, is there a number printed on the inside of the opening flap? ALL of mine have either the number 51050017 or 50150018.

  24. I guess I’ve been lucky in not seeing these issues. I could live with that stamping on the 999, but not the warping on Kent’s Mono 100.

    I do have the CDT boxes. They are stamped 51050017.

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