Author Topic: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils  (Read 20121 times)

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Offline Dovetail65

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I have tried every pencil from Rockler, Woodcraft, the art stores, etc and still find nothing that is perfect. The leads break or the line they leave is to thin or to wide. Or the mechanism to push out the lead is troublesome, etc.
Does anyone know of these Pencils:

Lee Valley Fixpencil

I am finding it very hard to justify 45.00 for a pencil and 6 leads. If I were assured this pencil was the best money can buy and actually worked as advertised I would give it a try. I am so fed up wasting time with a simple mechanical pencil or using the old fashion pencils and sharpening them every five minutes I am at my wits end. I thought the Rockler mechanical pencils were the answer, but the collet just stinks and driving me crazy. The Fixpencil supposedly has a 4 jaw collet that works. I guess this is a Caran d'Ache designed pencil and I have seen those go for 250.00! Caran d'Ache

Anyone use these Lee Valley Pencils and like them?
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 10:42 AM by nickao »
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Offline EcoFurniture

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2009, 11:04 AM »
I'm using this one every day and are quite pleased with it: http://staedtler.com/Mars_technico_780_C_gb.Staedtler


Offline Steve Jones

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2009, 11:06 AM »
Haven't tried them (and I'm not sure I would at $45) My trouble with pencils is their tendency to evaporate (especially when working with others).

I liked the ones Rockler used to carry a few years ago - Their new ones are fat and useless, (much like one of my previous helpers).

I have found the good pencils at art art supply stores, they don't call them pencils, apparently they are "Lead Holders" or something.

The ones I like are blue plastic (good plastic like Festool uses) and knurled aluminum at both ends and use 2mm leads.

UPDATE: while I was waffling Ecofurniture came and posted details of the very pencil - try it you'll love it
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 11:08 AM by Steve Jones »
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Offline Dovetail65

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2009, 11:17 AM »
I am ordering some right now, I'll give them a try.
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Offline Steve Baumgartner

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2009, 11:52 AM »
I've used the Staedtler pencils for years and found them to be exceptional quality.  Three things though:  1) you can buy 2mm leads in all of the standard hardness levels.  4H gives a very sharp line, sometimes so fine it is hard to see, and is a bit like writing with a nail.  HB is so soft you have to resharpen very frequently.  I like H or 2H.  2) the little sharpener inside the cap is, to my taste, pretty useless.  I got a draftsman's "lead pointer" from Charrette and it works great.  3) they just hold the lead, they don't advance it when you click, though they do hold it securely.

Steve

Offline Dovetail65

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #5 on: April 05, 2009, 11:59 AM »
Well advancing the lead is the problem with the pencils and what I am looking for, the 780 C does not do this? If I snap off the lead how much hassle is it putting lead back in? I want to be able to advance the lead and use the lead for a few hours and than advance it quickly. If I have to stop and manually put in the lead every time it snaps I can do that now  and is what I am trying to avoid.

I ordered some of the 780 C I have a feeling it may not be what I am looking for, I'll find out soon enough.

I found a Fixpencil for 17.60 so LeeValley was just asking a little to much profit. I am going to try it and will compare it to the 780 C.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 12:08 PM by nickao »
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Offline Steve Baumgartner

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2009, 12:22 PM »
Well advancing the lead is the problem with the pencils and what I am looking for, the 780 C does not do this? If I snap off the lead how much hassle is it putting lead back in? I want to be able to advance the lead and use the lead for a few hours and than advance it quickly. If I have to stop and manually put in the lead every time it snaps I can do that now  and is what I am trying to avoid.

I ordered some of the 780 C I have a feeling it may not be what I am looking for, I'll find out soon enough.

I found a Fixpencil for 17.60 so LeeValley was just asking a little to much profit. I am going to try it and will compare it to the 780 C.
The ones I own just have a four-jaw collet that grasps the lead.  To advance the lead you press the cap, which releases the jaws, and the lead just slides in or out.  Very quick and reliable.  I find that the 2mm lead is quite strong, so breakage is much less of a problem than with 0.5 or 0.7mm pencils.

Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2009, 12:23 PM »
Nick:

I'd like to second or third everything about lead holders. Those Staedtler lead holders are about the best thing I've found. I used to use them to draft with many moons ago and still have a few, one of which is in my tool pouch. I've never had one with an integral lead pointer like that. I have a little lead pointer that is about 2" long x 1" dia. that I use. I also have a .9 mm Pentel, mechanical pencil, that I use a lot but it's trickier to keep the lead from breaking. It requires a lighter touch.

The key to getting good lines is in the hardness of the lead you use. There are different hardness and colors that are readly available. I prefer "H" for sharp lines with the lead holder and "HB" for bolder lines and with the Pentel. You can also readily get blue and red lead. Also, if you want a really precise line with the lead holders, you want to "roll" them in your fingers as you follow your reference edge and make sure they don't get too dull.


Tom
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Offline mattfc

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2009, 12:41 PM »
I use one of these

(see OHTO-Super-Promecha-1500P

the 0.3mm lead is a good width, small enough to be acurate, still visable, the lead can break on cross grain if you push too hard.. couple of clicks and you have more though.

I also have this one

to be honest there isn't much between them.. the design of both looking quite engineered seduced me.

Offline Dovetail65

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2009, 12:44 PM »
That lead is WAY to thin for me. I break even 2mm and 3mm lead. That may be nice if I am in my office and I still would break the lead constantly, I press hard. As you stated I do not think I could swipe that across a piece of Wenge without the lead breaking.

I think for a shop 2mm is mandatory for me. The tip is still sharpened down to .5mm anyway.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2009, 12:46 PM by nickao »
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Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2009, 01:17 PM »
That's exactly the pointer I use. If you look really close, there are two hole in the top (aside from the rotary hole). One is for a really sharp point and the other is for a "usefully sharp" point.

I've had mine for about 33 years and used it in the field for the last decade or more. It is still virtually perfect.


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Offline BC6738F5BCE98B4

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2009, 02:06 PM »
Since it appears that the readers of this thread know far more about pencils, pencil lead and all related details than I will ever learn I would ask your thoughts about the appropriate pencil for the Incra rules (see http://www.incra.com/product_markingrules.htm ) which have very small holes for marking.  Incra says ". . .  a .5mm mechanical pencil" and supply a pencil with one of the packages I bought.  It appears (to someone who knows nothing about pencils) to work just fine.  If you know something that would work better please let me know.  I would also appreciate your best judgment on which hardness of lead to use in this application.  Prior to reading this thread I had no idea that there were four or more hardness ratings with such different results.


Offline richard.selwyn

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2009, 03:45 PM »
I bought the Caran d'Ache from Lee Valley (but never get it out of the drawer - it's too valuable  ;) )  No seriously, I do use it occasionally but on site I always have my Staedtler (which as I had it at school must now be over 30 years old.  The advantage of the fancy one from Lee Valley is that the lead is thicker and doesn't break so easily.  The thinnner Staedtler leads are breaking all the time - I probably change out the lead at least every two weeks.  I found a cheap item similar to the Staedtler here in France made entirely out of aluminium - called Criterium for 3 euros.  A kind friend in the US gave me the sharpener mentioned above (- he tells me that to replace the pad for cleaning the the lead he uses a cigarette filter.)

Offline bustedbolt

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #14 on: April 06, 2009, 11:13 PM »
I have the blue german lead holder that ECO linked above.

I must have the softer lead HB because it kind of drives me crazy going dull. The sharpener that is in the top of the pencil really takes a long time to sharpen it up. then you have to shake out the lead powder. then you dont shake it all out and next time you turn your pencil upside down five minutes later and it dumps a small bit of fine lead powder that smudges all over.

I dont think your gonna like it Nickao.

Drives me nuts maybe I need one of those pocket sharpeners linked above on amazon.
Another thing is that you have to drop the lead out an inch to sharpen it then slip it back up. it cant be sharpened in the holder very close. fingers always getting dirty. ain't for in a customers house.

I just use the Blue holder with dull lead and only for rough on site carpentry. I find that the 2mm lead doesnt follow my straight edges like a mechanical.

I am however addicted to the mechanicals.
I use a .7mm for most times and a .5mm for lighter lines and precision layout. it will break too much to use much.
I am looking for a brand to be loyal to, but most seem to be junky.

Offline Peterm

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2009, 02:59 AM »
I guess this is a Caran d'Ache designed pencil...

I have Caran d'Ache pencils identical to the one in your photo, and love it. I think technically these are 'clutch' pencils - the lead is gravity-fed and the four-jaw collet literally 'clutches' the lead - rather than a 'mechanical' pencil that advance the lead with each push of the button. But anyway, I've tried the thin-leaded mechanical pencils and spent most of my time picking the little bits of lead I'd just snapped off the workpiece; not for me.

The 2mm leads are a nice size and point well, even with the 'cap' sharpener - haven't seen the other kind before, so thanks for the tip (lol). Changing leads takes a second - literally a second - and the trick to not getting black fingers after sharpening is to adjust the lead with your thumbnail - or use a harder lead, of course.

The only downside I can find is that they don't fit behind my ear... ;)

Cheers, Pete
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Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2009, 08:30 AM »
bustedbolt:

I think if you try Pentel mechanical pencils, you'll like them. They're no-frills and they work. I've been using mine since the '70's.


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Offline Dovetail65

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2009, 03:31 PM »
Okay I received the Staedtler Mars Techno 780C pencils(4 of them). What ever lead that came with them seems perfect for me so far. Is it the HB? It gets pointed easily, but hard enough to where I have not broken the lead yet.

After I give it a good using over the next few days I will report back, but for now it looks and works great, thanks!

Oh and having two seems mandatory or the sharpening using the built in sharpener is a pain. Right now I just use a second pencil to sharpen the lead in my main pencil without having to pull the lead all the way out.  I guess I can get one of those little sharpeners that were referred to in this thread. For me the point on the lead the built in sharpener in the back end of the pencil gives is just right.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2009, 03:51 PM by nickao »
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Offline Tom Bellemare

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2009, 05:15 PM »
Nick:

I think you'd appreciate the "mini coffee grinder" style lead pointer. It has two adjustment wells at different depths so you can get the point really sharp, which tends to just break, or quite sharp, which is just right. With the coffee grinder style pointers, the farther you stick the lead out of the holder, the sharper it gets because it's going into a virutal cone of a sharpener.

I suspect your lead holder came with H.


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Offline Dovetail65

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #19 on: April 07, 2009, 05:20 PM »
I pulled the lead all out and it actually is printed on. The leads are 2H and I am very happy with them, much better than the #2(HB) that I have always used.

I just ordered 144 - 2H I like them so much.

After about two hours in the shop the Staedtler 780C with 2H leads is just what I was looking for and what I will recommend for now on. I do notice the new Rockler pencils work a heck of a lot better with one of the 2H Staedtler leads in them too.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2009, 05:29 PM by nickao »
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Offline JayStPeter

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #20 on: April 07, 2009, 08:11 PM »
I kept misplacing my Staedtler "lead holders", so I bought a 48 pack of basic #2 pencils.  Once I got a vintage sharpener off ebay, I can now find all my Staedtler's in the drawer.  The #2s always disappear as I keep them behind my ear and they go with me out of the shop.  Once I open a 48 pack, I'm sure to get a replacement pack.  Even though I'm a hobby WW'er and only average about 1 day a week in the shop, I go through a few 48 packs a year???  I've pretty much tried everything.  I guess I'm just old school with the wooden #2s.
Jay St. Peter

Offline hgporter

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #21 on: April 07, 2009, 11:21 PM »
Those 3mm lead holders are drafting pencils. They created plans used to get designed parts to production before the days of CAD and plotters. They are good. You do have to keep sharpening them.

I have never paid $45.50 plus shipping for a drafting lead holder and 6 leads. Someone is going to have to show me this is one awesome pencil! You can get a well made Staedtler at Staples for a lot less. These lead holders are robust.

I have several INCRA rules and I like them. Sometimes the lead breaks and fills the hole. But I am learning a light touch works and gives me accuracy. I bought a box of 20 INCRA 0.5mm pencils for $16 with free shipping. I have broken a few, but at 80 cents each, I can even afford to let my boys have a few for school.

When I was in engineering School, the Pentel with a sliding sleeve nib was worth the extra few bucks. I will probably be ordering a few of these this week. If you have a heavy hand, the 0.5 mm pencils must be used with the lead very close to the nib.

Offline johnamie

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #22 on: May 13, 2009, 03:46 PM »
I have used these pencils for the past 6-7 years, they are fantastic. I gave 3 or 4 as Xmas presents a few years back and all recipients loved them as well. They are basically indestructible. The thick lead will hold up to repeated drops, falls, and being sat/stepped on. I don't recall them being quite so pricey back then but I believe they are still worth the $$$.

Offline Sometimewoodworker

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #23 on: May 13, 2009, 10:23 PM »
Since it appears that the readers of this thread know far more about pencils, pencil lead and all related details than I will ever learn I would ask your thoughts about the appropriate pencil for the Incra rules (see http://www.incra.com/product_markingrules.htm ) which have very small holes for marking.  Incra says ". . .  a .5mm mechanical pencil" and supply a pencil with one of the packages I bought.  It appears (to someone who knows nothing about pencils) to work just fine.  If you know something that would work better please let me know.  I would also appreciate your best judgment on which hardness of lead to use in this application.  Prior to reading this thread I had no idea that there were four or more hardness ratings with such different results.



FWIW the hardness ratings from the hardest (lightest colour) are 8H, 6H, 4H, 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B, 8B, This little snippet comes from my photo retouching days. the higher numbers are quite difficult to find unless you have a high end art supply shop near, or of course buy on line.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2009, 10:24 PM by JeromeM »
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Offline Wim

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Re: The Original Mechanical Pencil, Fixpencil? Caran d'Ache pencils
« Reply #24 on: May 14, 2009, 01:02 AM »
I worked for a shipyard and was designing the lay-out of enginerooms. In the pre-CADCAM days, we used pencils for the preparation of the drawing. We finished the drawing with inkpens. The standard issue was a Pentel pen with 0,3 mm leads in HB or H. I carried the pens in my breastpocket (as every techie) and they were removed at home when the shirts were about to be washed. After some years a lot of pens ended up in the house and they are still floating around.
I prefer the 0,3 mm leads for marking. For quite rough wood I have a 0,5 mm or even a very old fashioned 2 mm pen, from Caran d'Ache, with a sharpener in the release button.