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!
The Graf von Faber-Castell Magnum Perfect Pencil. Top: Sharpened with a Caran d’Ache Sharpening Machine. Middle: Sharpened with an El Casco M-430. Bottom: Factory sharpening. The pencils rest on a Doane Paper moon camera journal.
The Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil line has a new edition. While I’m a big fan of Faber-Castell’s various premium pencils and extenders, the prices, like many consumer goods, have increased considerably over the years. Since only this specific refill would fully utilize the extender’s capabilities, I decided to first try some refills to see how this pencil works.
The challenge of jumbo pencils is that the volume of wood required quadruples as the radius doubles – so manufacturer shortcuts to save money seem inevitable. Fortunately, this pencil is an exception – a creamy dark 4B 4mm core is encased in straight grained cedar, with the signature fluted finish. I have already ordered the extender!
As noted in this post at Lexikaliker, pencil industry leader Faber-Castell has issued a special set of pencils to honour the 200th birthday of Lothar von Faber. (An English language version of the product website is here).
To anyone interested in the history of pencils, this is super exciting!
This blog, nine years ago, was thinking ahead about tribute pencils for Faber-Castell’s 250th anniversary in 2011. Some good suggestions are in the comments.
This is what Faber-Castell produced. Beautiful. Every business must look forward, but I’d also hoped for a look back at their magnificent history.
Later than we hoped for, is this great set. The photos suggest it is very pleasing. Unfortunately, it is only available in Germany. I hope Faber-Castell will recognize the irony – Lothar von Faber created great success though approaching international markets. I hope this pencil set will become available internationally.
I also hope for the chance to contrast this set with the the original (a privilege to own).
In the period that this blog was inactive, Faber-Castell introduced two fantastic additions to their Perfect Pencil line – first, a No. V refill in grey guilloche, and later, a beautiful midnight blue edition.
They were quick additions to my daily arsenal – in fact they seem like the same quality as the fluted pencils, but in a more casual yet elegant design. The leads may be just a bit darker – a reaction to customer feedback?
They are fantastic, amazing pencils. Is there a competitor at this level?
Graf von Faber-Castell Guilloche pencils
Faber-Castell – 21st century pencil manufacturer
Leading pencil manufacturer Faber-Castell recently extended their popular Grip pencil line with the “Sparkle”.
While at first glance it might seem easy to dismiss the product as just a novelty, the pencils really do exude charm when seen in person. They come in a variety of colours – only a few are shown here, and the lead is a B grade.
I don’t really know what the small sparkling pieces are made of – perhaps plastic? Using a less expensive sharpener might be a wise precaution.
Faber-Castell has created an interesting and affordable product – these pencils are not premium priced, and have a remarkably nice finish.
Does anyone like them?
Nice desk accessories can bring some joy to daily tasks.
Posing with my morning newspaper are two letter openers. One is from Graf von Faber-Castell, and the other from E+M Holzprodukte.
The GvFC letter opener has a beautiful leather handle and considerable heft.
The E+M letter opener continues that company’s beautiful Zebrano wood writing implement line.
The GvFC letter opener has an engraving:
Also, a possible opportunity for custom engraving on the cap: