My pen obsession has spread to mechanical pencils. I bought two new pencils recently from Jet Pens. Both are Japanese pencils and you won’t find them at your local Staples.
A couple of things that apply to both pencils. First, the packaging is great – especially for the Delful. I’m used to American packaging that you basically have to destroy to open. This packaging just folds open — no scissors required. Also, both ship with a much higher quality lead than most normal pencils ship with. It makes a big difference.
The Pilot Delful is a “double knock” design. You click to extend the point and then shake to advance the lead. (You can also click lightly to advance the lead.) Retracting the point means there is no sharp point to stab you in the leg when you are carrying it in your pocket.
The Delful is attractive and easy to write with. It’s a little bigger than most pencils, with a more substantial grip. You can get several different color options, but it is only available in a 0.5 mm lead size. I opted for a green and blue design.
The shaker mechanism takes some getting used to. I’m used to clicking to advance — so I’m glad you can still do that. But I think the whole shaking thing will eventually become second nature.
The eraser is pretty nice and the cap that covers it is large enough that you shouldn’t lose it.
Uniball Kuru Toga
The UniBall Kuru Toga is a very well regarded mechanical pencil. The unique feature of the Kuru Toga is that the lead rotates every time you pick the pencil up off the page, helping the lead wear evenly. There simply is nothing like it on the market.
I purchased another Kuru Toga — a 0.7 mm American version — a few months ago. In the U.S., the only options are whether you want 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm lead. The Japanese versions come only in 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm, but are offered in a variety of colors. I ordered a green version. The top looks vaguely metallic, but it’s all plastic.
The Kuru Toga feels great and has a subtly knurled grip. My only complaint is that the little cap that covers the eraser is tiny and I feel like I’m going to lose it. (The eraser is tiny, too.*)
I really love my 0.7 mm Kuru Toga** and I’m looking forward to working the 0.5 mm into rotation.
The Kuru Toga that I purchased is $7.50 at Jet Pens, but Kuru Togas range in price from $4.65 to $16.50.
I’m just starting to use these two pencils on a regular basis, but I really think either of these are a nice choice if you are looking to get something a little better than the run of the mill mechanical pencil that you get from the office supply store. (There is a whole range of pencils out there that I look forward to trying out.***) I also think that better quality lead might be a big part of the improved experience.
* I’m beginning to think the eraser on a mechanical pencil is like the pop up flash on an SLR: usable in a pinch, but if you are serious, buy an external unit. I bought some black polymer erasers to try out.
** My 0.7 mm version now has non-photo blue lead in it. Pretty sweet.