It is rare for anyone other that the CEO of a pencil company to address the public regarding pencils. It is particularly unusual to hear from the knowledgeable craftspeople and engineers who produce pencils at large scale.
Henry Petroski let the world know about the centuries of engineering that form the basis of pencil making, and Faber-Castell has very kindly featured an interview with their technical product manager Helmut Zeilinger in the latest online Faber-Castell magazine.
Mr. Zeilinger offers many insights:
Sharpening problems result from mismatched halves of the pencil.
How would one resolve this issue? “For the wood alone, our specifications at Faber-Castell are almost as detailed as for individual parts in car production,” says Mr. Zeilinger. Unfortunately the subject of which wood species are ideal isn’t explored (but another article on Faber-Castell’s plantation likely provides the clues).
“Hardly anyone thinks about sharpening,” says Mr. Zeilinger. Maybe not. But don’t tell David Rees.
How often should a sharpener’s blade be replaced? Apparently after fully sharpening 12 pencils. Umm, has anyone ever seen a replacement Faber-Castell blade?
There is much more in the information rich article. I’ve like to thank Faber-Castell for this excellent article and Mr. Zeilinger for sharing his considerable knowledge!