A pencil named Excalibur

Charcoal self-portrait from my art school days, “Excalibur” in hand.

Brand loyalty’s a funny thing. I don’t mind switching between Windows and OS X on a daily basis. I request Coke out of habit, but you could hand me a Pepsi (or even an RC) and I wouldn’t care to correct you.

But mechanical pencils? Give me Pentel Twist-Erase 0.9mm or give me death!

I’ve used these pencils since they were recommended to me in an extracurricular figure drawing class I took during high school. I jokingly referred to my first as “Excalibur,” and the nickname stuck.

A few reasons why I love this pencil:

  • It’s easy to hold, with the right circumference and an understated but functional rubber grip.
  • The 0.9mm lead is closer to the width of a traditional pencil tip than the more common 0.5 and 0.7mm sizes.
  • You can twist the far end to extend the length of the eraser. Refills are infrequent, and replacement erasers are much harder to misplace due to their size.
  • They last a long time. I’ve only broken one after 5 or 6 years of daily use.
  • They’re extremely affordable and easy to find online or at any office supply store.

After Matt Bepler mentioned the pencil in a comment, it seemed like the right time to sing the praises of one of my favorite tools of the trade.

Now I’ll just bide my time until that Pentel endorsement deal comes rolling in…

Responses

Vin Thomas says

I just got a Pentel GraphGear 1000. It’s awesome. You’ll have to come stop by my desk and check it out. A little pricey, but well worth it IMO.

Responded

Tyler Sticka says

Neat, I’ll be sure to do that. It looks like it could have been a prop from Avatar.

Responded

Matt says

They don’t seem to make them anymore, but Foray had these flat-lead 0.9mm pencils that I really liked for rough drawings and diagrams. I can’t find a product page but I did find a post talking about them (at the bottom): http://www.snowangels.com/sketchbook/?p=446

Would love to find a similar, more available pencil.

Responded

Tyler Sticka says

Weird, I’ve never used a flat-lead mechanical pencil before.

Responded

Matt says

That’s why I decided to try it. For precision drawing it is crap, but for more loose-style drawing it is wonderful. The flat shape gives strokes a nuance like a calligraphy pen, though not as exacting.

Responded

Tyler Sticka says

Very cool. I’d love to see something drawn with it.

Responded

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