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.
14 Replies to “Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil – 1”
is it bad, that that makes me hot?
I vote yes.
I have a couple of the Itoya pencil-holders/-extenders, and simply cannot recommend them. They are just too light-duty. The barrels are extremely thin aluminum—thin enough that one can deform the barrel with one’s index finger and thumb. Plus, the collet doesn’t secure the pencil sufficiently to keep it in place while sharpening. That is, when sharpening, the pencil rotates in the collet. The Staedtler 900-25 is infinitely superior, and deserves the highest accolades and recommendation.
Thanks again for a splendid, first-rate and extremely informative Web site. Much obliged.
I occasionally use mine (though I would like to replace the sharpener with the metal one from the higher priced version), but it has a major problem. It dents the pencils. There’s no rubber or padding on the clutch mechanism.
I’m hoping the new, inexpensive, ones from pencilthings.com might be gentler, though they have no sharpener, and do not look sophisticated.
Best way to carry pencils I’ve found is still the roll type case. Something that holds the pencils with a loop so they can be held at any length. Haven’t seen anything that is maybe 2-3 pencils and easily pocketable, though.
I agree with Charles Everitt, the Staedtler 900 25, which I bought on ebay is many times better than this cheap pencil extender. Got it from ahini2 on ebay (not connected to him just a very pleased customer). The sharpener diameter is narrow and not comfortable to use and practically useless. When you stick the eraser end into the extender it gets dirty with all the graphite.
As a nuke engineer I was using mechanical pencils for a long time and after reading this blog went to woodcased pencils in the last few months and now I love the Japanese pencils. I do not think the FC 9000, comes even close to the Japanese woodcase pencils.
I’ll be grateful for some insight on the Perfect Pencil:
Are you expected to keep the extender on the pencil as you write? I realize that you would do this for a shorter pencil–but what about for a longer one?
And–will only FC Perfect Pencils fit in the extender? Or can you use other pencils–including hexagonal ones?
Both the version in this post and the UFO extender version (https://www.penciltalk.org/2008/05/faber-castell-perfect-pencil-2) accept any regular exagonal and round pencil. dunno for triangular ones…
I BOUGHT A COUPLE OF WHAT I HAVE COME TO CALL “PENCIL PROTECTORS” AT THE TOKYO GINZA ITO-YA ART AND OFFICE SUPPLY STORE. MY INTEREST IS THE WOODLESS COLOR PENCIL, CONSISTING COMPLETELY OF PIGMENT, NOW MADE BY SEVERAL COMPANIES, SUCH AS KOH-I-NOR, CRETACOLOR, FOR ARTISTS AND ARCHITECTS. THESE HAVE A TENDENCY TO BREAK DURING USE, AND THE ITOYA PLASTIC TUBE WITH FIRM GRIP BY A KNURLED KNOB AT THE TOP IS QUITE USEFUL IN PROTECTING ALL TYPES OF STANDARD-SIZE PENCILS, WITH OR WITHOUT A WOOD CASING. I RECCOMMEND THIS TOOL AS A TOOL-HOLDER, THOUGH NOT PARTICULARLY SUBSTANTIAL, BUT ONE OF THOSE THINGS THAT WORKS. I AM NOT FINDING IT AVAILABLE IN THESE UNITED STATES, SO FAR. ANY CLUES? AS FOR PENCIL EXTENDERS, EVERY ART SUPPLY STORE HAS A CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE EXAMPLE, WITH A HEXAGONAL WOODEN HANDLE AND A CHROME STEEL CYLINDER WITH A SLIP-RING CLUTCH THAT WORKS VERY WELL. 2 0R 3 DOLLARS. DOES NOT WEAR OUT. DOES NOT LOOK LIKE A BLACK MERCEDES. USE A CHEAP PENCIL SHARPENER WITH IT. AS AN ARTIST, I USUALLY KEEP A FEW AROUND. BUT THIS DOESN’T PROTECT A FULL- LENGTH PENCIL FROM BREAKING. IT IS AN EXCELLENT EXTENDER FOR YOUR HALF OR SHORTER PIECE OF PENCIL. PLEASE LET ME KNOW ABOUT A FULL-LENGTH PENCIL HOLDER-PROTECTOR. I KNOW THE ALL-METAL ONE THAT SOMEONE HERE MENTIONED. AGREED. IT IS ESSENTIALLY USELESS, AND I’VE GIVEN UP ON IT. TRY THE ITOYA, IF YOU CAN FIND IT. THE GREAT KOH-I-NOR LEAD-HOLDER IS 5/16″ AND NO USE FOR CONVENTIONAL PENCILS, THOUGH IT’S CALLED “UNIVERSAL LEAD-HOLDER.” GOOD LUCK!
This 9000 version of the Perfect Pencil is, to me, so far the best all around version for daily carry and use. Its light weight goes almost unnoticed in the pocket and it is always there when I need it. In my workshop I keep 3 or 4 of my pencils topped off with one of these delightful wonders as it’s in the shop where a fellow really needs a sharp pencil when he needs a sharp pencil. I must have at least 20 other sharpeners placed strategically throughout my shop but they hardly ever see use as a sharpener on the pencil itself is just so much handier and useful. The only complaint I have about this version of the Perfect Pencil is that it is so easily lost in piles of wood and chips due to its color, I must have misplaced 3 or 4 of these already. But if I put a bright colored pencil like an Araishu red ,more of an orange to us westerners, Palomino in the Perfect Pencil 9000 then it is the perfect shop pencil. But now dear friends there is hope for us woodworkers and nature lovers who love our Perfect Pencils but tend to lose them to clutter and piles of similarly colored objects. The illusive Perfect Pencil Juniors, for lack of a definative name, come in black blue and red, especially red. And if our kindly PencilTalk Administrator would point us in the direction of where to find the Chicken Coop Perfect Pencils in his Perfect Pencil post number 6 then we shall have three more variations that are not so easily lost in the shop or out in nature.
I received a little plastic perfect pencil at a pen fair at Fountain Pen Hospital in NYC last year and I can not use any other pencil
it is perfect and the eraser is the best
I hate to revive old threads, but recently i started to collect PP’s and i need this version of the green PP for my collection. I will pay a very fair price