Steinhauerstift – Mason’s pencil

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Apart from stenography and carpentry, I’ve often wondered about what other professions use specialty pencils. A post at Lexikaliker about a historic pencil for cartography prompted me to pursue this exploration a bit further.

One finding – the Steinhauerstift, which seems to exist only in Germany at present. “Steinhauer” means stone mason. (Or it could mean quarryman, as a commenter on my blog pointed out. But in current usage, and to my ear, that term has an association with the quarry – but a stonemason isn’t necessarily performing their craft at the stone excavation, or working at the quarry.)

A Zimmermanstift is usually called a “carpenter’s pencil” in English, so a Steinhauerstift probably should be called a “mason’s pencil” or “stone mason’s pencil”. Still, it is usually translated as a “masonry pencil”, which isn’t wrong, but doesn’t agree with “carpenter’s pencil”, which we don’t typically call a “carpentry pencil”.

So what is a Steinhauerstift? Today, it seems to be an oversized pencil in oval or rectangular shape, with a rectangular lead in an extremely hard degree, such as 6H.

Where can they be found?

Bleispitz of Oberhaching make two models. If I am reading their descriptions correctly, these pencils are much longer than usual. A standard pencil today is about 175mm in length. Bleispitz make an oval version that is 300mm long, and a rounded rectangle version that is 240mm long. This in itself is a unique offering for a non-novelty pencil.

They have a similar offering for their carpenter’s pencils.

They identify the wood as “lime wood”. Hmmm, what is that? The German page says Lindenholz – which is more familiar. I’m not an arborist, but it seems that lime wood, linden, and basswood are the same species.

Lyra of Nürnberg also manufacture these pencils (Scroll down to item 331). The Lyra version is also green, and is “extra hard, oval shape”. (I see they also make a carpenter’s copying pencil!)

So at least with this sample of two, there seems to be a standard in terms of shape, finish colour, and lead degree.

Though masonry is not mentioned, Derwent offers their hard lead Rexel Blackedge carpenter’s pencil in green. (Dixon also offers carpenter’s pencils in more than one degree, but all are the same red and black varnish.)

So, here is another specialty pencil that is still in production.

International Arrivals colour carpenter pencils

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International Arrivals colour carpenter pencil

Let’s start 2008 with some colour. International Arrivals of Boulder, Colorado has released an attention grabbing set of carpenter pencils in green, yellow, purple, blue, orange and red. And this isn’t just the pencil’s paint to which we’re referring – these pencils contain the corresponding coloured leads!

International Arrivals colour carpenter pencil

Made in Taiwan, the pencils are simply labeled “carpenter pencils”, and the package states: “Sharpen pencils with carpenter pencil sharpener or with utility knife.”

International Arrivals colour carpenter pencil

Though unusual, they are not the first in this category – Rexel Cumberland / Derwent in the U.K. have released artist oriented colour pencils in carpenter pencil format.

With a Gerber pocket knife, I set about sharpening this pencil. This proved to be quite challenging – which isn’t expected. It has some sort of tough, rough wood. An included photo shows the results. Two other artist-oriented carpenter pencils – a Derwent, and a General – were easily sharpened, while the International Arrival (blue) was pure trouble.

International Arrivals colour carpenter pencil

The final verdict: Nice as wide colour leads might be, they don’t make up for this being a pencil that can’t be sharpened with standard tools. Not recommended.

International Arrivals Carpenter Pencils

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Very Best Carpenter Pencils.

This is the second mention of products from International Arrivals on this site. These Taiwanese made carpenter pencils are striking in their retail environs – are there carpenters who shop at designer knick-knack shops? Probably – but not while looking for carpentry supplies. They are a bright varnished (and impractical) white.

They’re great if you love pencils. How do they work? I didn’t bother sharpening them. I assumed that wasn’t their purpose.
Very Best Carpenter Pencils.