Japanese self-sharpening mechanical pencils give the lead a tiny turn every time you lift the tip


Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/08/08/nev-r-dull.html


That lead is turnt.


As a (old) drafter I was taught to do this.


This “feature” is a drawback for me. I prefer wearing it down to a bevel tip because it gives you an even sharper line than your graphite width, and then also allows for flat shading based on how you hold it, just like a regular pencil.


I have an engineering mechanical pencil I bought from an online Japanese export retail store years ago that I still use daily at home. A truly well designed and crafted mechanical pencil is beautiful sight to behold, a joy to write with and a mini mechanical engineering marvel. My father used to go on about an old Parker pen he was given back in the 60’s that he kept buying ink refills for because he said it was the best writing most comfortable pen he had ever used. It looks like a pretty average retractable pen with a funky avocado green colored bottom half to it, and then I realized, I am my fathers son…


I’ve used Kuru Toga pencils for years. They’re good. But I find they don’t work quite as well for scrawled, near-cursive English printing as they probably do for Japanese (or Chinese) characters, because the lead doesn’t come off the page nearly as often. I don’t know what the average stroke length is for a given word in roman characters, but it’s gotta be longer than for just about any kanji?


Previously and and another time on BoingBoing.

@Karyudo, for block printing (think lettering in engineering), these work quite well. You’re right that if you don’t lift the pencil often, this mechanism doesn’t work very well.

Can I recommend the Pentel Orenz mechanical Pencil. It uses a 0.2mm lead diameter, doesn’t have the rotation trick, and has a sliding barrel that stabilizes the lead. It takes a while to get used writing with what looks like a metal pencil, but it works great. The line is fine and uniform. And, you can turn it to get the chisel effect that you were talking about as the lead is held firmly by the pencil.

Same, but it didn’t take me too long to unlearn that for lettering.


How does this pencil hold up against the longest Dutch word found in a dictionary written in cursive?

Meervoudigepersoonlijkheidsstoornissen (multiple personality disorders)


In drafting I write in upper-case single stroke gothic, so it doesn’t particularly matter how long of a word I write.


How the heck do you use 0.2mm leads? For me, anything less than 0.7mm breaks too often. 'Course, my handwriting is atrotious, no artists abilities here. Although I do still spin the pencil as I draw lines, thanks to my 1 year of high-school drafting.


THEN THIS IS THE PENCIL FOR YOU! (But maybe not for others.)


And now I’m happy that I don’t write long words, in cursive, in Dutch. I’d need to use the left hand to keep a separate list of the I’s to be dotted and the T’s to be crossed.


Because it…


I’m sure this won’t be news to you writing instrument aficionados, but apparently that’s why Parker-style ballpoint refills have that castellated shape at the non-writing end. Every time the pen is clicked, the refill rotates a quarter-turn, so the ball wears evenly. When I first heard that I thought it was a wonderfully simple & clever idea…


It would probably not be possible to bolt this on as an in-field adjustment(keeping track of the lead depressed/lead raised stats would be a pretty basic microcontroller logging exercise; but probably witchcraft to do in (sufficiently robust) clockwork); but you could probably tweak the parameters of some of the mechanic bits a trifle to suit writing techniques with greater or lesser amounts of up vs. down time.

If there simply isn’t enough uptime in which to rotate things could get more complicated; as you’d need a mechanism for (presumably slower and more subtle to avoid tearing or jarring) rotation of the lead while still in contact with the paper.



apparently there’s a market of really anal-retentive end users



The regular pencil guy should have been filmed in black and white, then when his lead breaks turn to the camera and shout “There’s GOT to be a better way!”


Writing with 0.3mm pencils, you need a hard lead to keep it from breaking, and if you don’t turn it regularly, you’d get a blade that would cut the page :slight_smile:


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