At pencil talk, we love red and blue pencils! But sometimes one needs a red pencil or a blue pencil – not both at once. Or, you’ve found that a double ended pencil gets unusable a bit too quickly. Here is a red/blue pair of very impressive pencils.
Hailing from the venerable Mitsubishi Pencil Co., we have Vermilion (model 2451) and Prussian Blue (model 2453) pencils, both round with ferrule and eraser, and the finish matching the lead colour.
Though not shown in the photos, the pencils (labelled “Hard”) can be reliably sharpened to extremely fine points, even in the most acute setting of a Carl DE-100 sharpener. This is an exceptional achievement for colour pencils, which are often brittle and sharpener-unfriendly.
Further, they answer a question I’ve often heard – is there a colour pencil that can be used as a writing pencil?
They sport a feature highly untypical of Japanese pencils – a ferrule and eraser.
The attached eraser seems to be depleted by 20% or so after a single use. On Maruman Mnemosyne paper, the erasure is okay but not exceptional. But on Rhodia paper with a Tombow Mono eraser, there was an extremely clean erasure.
These pencils seems very capable at many tasks – they are non-breaking writing or checking colour pencils that are also erasable. Yet another product that keeps Mitsubishi at the top of their industry.
Last month’s look at the Faber-Castell Textliner pencils elicited a response from a reader in the Netherlands, who asked me to compare them with Stabilo’s new GREENlighter products. Fortunately, the request was accompanied by a set of the pencils!
The modest packaging is appealing. A cutout reveals three highlighting pencils, and the text indicates the pencils are FSC certified, with the cardboard package made from 80% recycled paper. The FSC Chain of Custody number is also listed. I tried to look it up – it is held by Stabilo’s Czech branch and covers the purchase and sale of slats, and the production and sale of pencils, in cedar, basswood, Weymouth pine, and jelutong. Does jelutong (a rainforest species) grow in central Europe? I don’t think so. This “Chain of Custody” could be more transparent.
So the product – they are 12cm (70% the length of a typical pencil) oversize triangular highlighting pencils in yellow, pink, and green. The presentation and ergonomics are fantastic. They remind me very much of the Lyra Ferby.
As to highlighting – the results vary by colour. On index cards and a trade paperback, the green and pink had the general issues associated with this pencil category – faint marking, even scratchiness. The yellow was excellent – rich and saturated. Side by side with the Faber-Castell textliner, I noticed that the Stabilo didn’t crumble, another plus.
So the yellow is a winner – but the other colours are a disappointment.
The highlighting pencil is one of those specialty pencils that never really worked for me – the idea is great, but the ones I’ve tried from Lyra, Staedtler, and International Arrivals had weak pigmentation, and were not very effective.
I’m very happy to report that I’ve finally found a woodcase highlighting pencil that works as well as the liquid felt tip alternatives.
Faber-Castell’s Textliner 1148 is oversize, and in Faber-Castell’s popular “Grip” format – triangular with raised “grip” dots.
Announced this year, it appears to supersede a hexagonal predecessor, even assuming the same bar code. I actually have a couple of the hexagonal variety that I never got around to trying.
Available in five colours, the lines are fluorescent and saturated, just as they should be.
Close-up photos reveal that they leave a bit of pigment residue, the only minor flaw that I observed. They have become a standard office supply for me, and I have no trouble recommending them as a great specialty pencil.
Here is one of the most unusual and specialized pencils ever manufactured.
The Lyra 334 Profi is a nicely finished oval carpenter’s pencil, with silver lettering on dark blue. It is manufactured in the extra long 240mm length. That alone makes it an interesting specialty pencil. Yet this pencil is so unusual that the format barely registers among the special features.
It’s also a copying pencil. That’s right – it has aniline dye added to the lead. Why? My guess would be to support marking on damp and humid wood surfaces.
There are two variants – the 334S is a pure copying pencil, and the 334 is an even more incredible double ended pencil, 2/3 regular lead and 1/3 copying lead.
Finally, this pencil is an additional rarity in being made from White Fir. Though there are mentions here and there of this species being used, the success of cedar, jelutong, and basswood seems to have banished most competitors from the market place. I am glad to have found a rare example of another tree in use.
So how does it work? The first task is sharpening. Unfortunately, it and other Lyra pencils don’t fit the Keson! So out with the penknife. This is where I am guessing that a working carpenter would have a good array of sharp knives and cutters handy – because a pocket knife is losing in the battle to the Fir. Eventually, I got some lead exposed on both ends of the 334.
The lead end marks faintly – perhaps an H grade, and the copying end even fainter. Some water reveals the purple dye of the copying end. It flows less easily than most “writing” copying pencils. Yet – what a hidden treasure it is.
A 240mm oval shaped double-ended carpenter pencil made from White Fir with one third a copying pencil lead. The most extreme specialty pencil?
This is the fourth of a four-part mini-series. Hope you enjoyed it!
Stonemasonry pencils were mentioned at this site before I had ever seen one.
Here we see a 240mm version from Bleispitz (the 0341), and a 300mm version from Lyra (the 331 Profi).
With extremely hard 6H leads, they are meant for writing on stone and rock surfaces. Mr. Slate probably used one.
My thanks to Gunther from Lexikaliker for assistance in acquiring these pencils.
This is the third of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: Lyra Profi copying carpenter pencils.
How can one sharpen a carpenter’s pencil? The International Arrivals sharpener didn’t quite seem to do it. Here is another attempt.
From Keson, it is a bright yellow plastic block with four blades. The pencil is placed in a slot (blue plastic) and one slides the pencil back and forth, the wood being sliced away. One end and pair of blades is for the long edge of the pencil, and the other end and blade pair for the short edge.
Does it work? Well the one I bought is resold by General Pencil, and includes a General Sketching pencil. They have a nice illustration showing how to use the pencil:
It does what it claims, creating a nice wedge of lead. Yet there are some other pencils out there – such as the International Arrivals – which don’t fit in the blue slots. Some European oval pencils (I tried a Viarco) are too loose and slide around. Others from Lyra are too large to fit. The Mastercraft and Faber-Castell pencils aren’t ideal fits either.
As well, one should be aware that this sharpener emits wood and graphite residue on both sides – it is very messy.
The above issues noted, it seems like the best sharpener available for pencils that it can accommodate.
This is the second of a four-part mini-series. Tomorrow: Stonemasonry pencils.