Tag Archives: wood

Review: Franklin-Christoph 1901 Mixed Grade Pencils

For those of you not as obsessed with stationery as I am, Franklin-Christoph (FC from here) is a fountain pen company that prides themselves on making their amazing pens here in the USA. When I saw that they were set to offer pencils, well, I contacted them for a pack for review.

F-C has confirmed that these pencils are manufactured for them by Musgrave, which can be good and bad. Many of the Musgrave produced and private labeled pencils are pretty good. Hell the SSC pencil is among my favorite round pencils for writing. The only Musgrave pencils with mixed grades are their Unigraph pencils, a pencil that I can only say is terrible. In fact they were so terrible I chose not to review them. Comparing the two seems inevitable

The first reviews that I’ve read about the FC 1901 were just as I’d feared- pretty terrible. They have all the usual issues we associate with pencils manufactured by Musgrave- thin blotchy paint, uneven imprinting, ferrules or caps set poorly, and like the Unigraph, cores that are barely discernable from one another. They also feature a sharp hex. Some people  like this some hate it. I’m indifferent. The sharp hex doesn’t bother me. For more detail on the looks read the linked reviews.

The packaging is gorgeous. The cardstock box is cut and folded well and it has a lovely F-C logo imprinted. It’s a gorgeous color too. Could the box be a harbinger of good tidings? Not likely, given the previous reviews.

I’m not reviewing these as a pencil for writing but rather from the direction of an art pencil. For writing they are fine, ugly but fine. In art looks matter less than the performance of the pencil. After all I’m pretty happy to use a variety of General’s pencils for drawing and they also feature shitty paint and bad imprinting. Their cores are significantly better, or at least the majority of the Kimberley and Draughting pencils I’ve used aren’t gritty.

So how do the F-C pencils perform?

Surprisingly good. The cores are silky smooth and really pleasing  to use. That said the HB and B are nearly identical in tone and feel. While the 2B and 4B are also nearly identical to one another. The step between B and 2B is not steep, though it is enough to be noticeable. In my testing on hand Book travelogue paper and HP laserjet 24LB paper I could barely feel the difference in grades let alone see them. The smoother the paper, the less of a difference I could see and feel. In fact on the smooth HPLJ24lb I couldn’t tell the difference between grades in feel or looks. I only noticed the difference on rougher paper. These pencils do a good job on rough paper

Curious, I tested them on rougher and tougher paper- some kraft sketch paper that is closer to grocery bag than it is to drawing paper. Again, the pencils did a great job, the various grades performed better. Though still the HB and B, 2B and 4B felt too similar to say they were different.

My final verdict on these is that for writing or drawing on rougher paper with loads of tooth, these are pretty decent pencils. Yes, ugly and poorly finished, but the graphite is silky smooth and decently dark. No the grades don’t differentiate enough, but if you think of HB and B as the same and 2B and 4B as the same, well, you get 2 grades of dark pencil. For the price, well, they aren’t a value. I like them well enough that I’m tossing them into my on the go sketching kit where they’ll be used up pretty quickly on the rough sketch paper for which they are best suited.

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Review: Kitaboshi Wooden Lead Holder with Clip

My first impression of the Kitaboshi wooden lead holder was that it was very pretty. The warm pinkish hue of the cedar matches Kitaboshi wood pencils perfectly. The chrome hardware goes with this wood perfectly. This lead holder is gorgeous in it’s simplicity.KitaboshiThe clutch holds the lead tightly and does not slip at all, no matter how much pressure I put on the lead. The knock deploys 2mm of lead with a satisfying click. The knock itself is a simple mushroom shape that wedges into the internal plastic mechanism. I really like the look of the knock and how it’s simplicity works with the overall design of the lead holder. The clip design is also simple but it works with the overall look of the pencil. It’s strong enough to hold the lead holder to a pocket notebook without excessive overhang. Kitaboshi Kitaboshi KitaboshiWhen I first received the lead holder where the nose met the wood there was a slight overhang where the wood was slightly larger than the nose. This slight overhang was barely .5mm, but it was just where my fingers rested as I wrote.  Because the wood is cedar and soft this soon wore down with regular use.Kitaboshi KitaboshiThe lead holder is almost exactly pencil sized. It is so similar to a regular wooden pencil in weight and feel that transitioning to it from a regular wooden pencil is no problem. It is well balanced and feels good in hand. Because the lead holder is just over 6 inches in length the clip doesn’t press into the soft bit of my hand, so that is a definite positive.KitaboshiThe only downside I can think of with this pencil is that because it is made of soft wood it dents rather easily. While the minor dings and dents that have appeared as I’ve used the pencil might drive some people nuts, I am not bothered by them. They aren’t as bad as the bite marks my Carl A5 makes as I sharpen regular pencils, and aren’t noticeable.KitaboshiOverall, if you are looking for a good lead holder to help you to transition from wood pencils to lead holders, this is a good option. I find it good looking and comfortable to use.

I picked up mine form Jetpens with my own cash money. Or well cash money I had deposited into Paypal, which I then used electronically to pay for the leadholder. Whatever, you know what I mean, I paid for this.

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Back Pocket Stress Test Field Notes Shelterwood Part 2

I’ve been carrying the same Field Notes Shelterwood in my back pocket since April 15th. I posted my first stress tests on April 27th. My initial results showed wear and tear that was not much different from any other Field Notes carried in a back pocket. The results after almost a month aren’t much different. Generally speaking I don’t carry a Field Notes for longer than 20 days, so I’m now 5 days past my general carry length. Honestly, I can’t say that the wear and tear, even after 25 days, would suggest that these notebooks are anything but sturdy. Yes, there are some chips and splinters at the spine, but when compared to other Field Notes the wear is decidely similar.

Though I have reached the limit of how long I carry a Field Notes, I’m going to carry the Shelterwood longer and see how it fairs. Gardening season is here, so be prepared for dirt and grime.

Here are some images of the spine, the cracks, chips, and wear on corners. You can also see the transfer of indigo from my jeans to the cover.