Penco Prime Timber 2.0

30 06 2017

Really need to get out my scanner. Sorry kids, today is once again not going to be the day I do that


Was at Parker & Otis, shopping for some overpriced edible hipster goods, as I am wont to do, when I spotted a writing utensil just screaming to be impulse purchased. A quick look online told me that this little lead holder was not actually overpriced, unlike the artisanal  nut butter that cost three dollars more than what it would have at Whole Foods. Unfortunately for my wallet, I bought them both.

The nut butter was a gift, and is therefore exempt from judgment


The look of the Prime Timber 2.0 is appealingly retro, though I personally only felt the appeal of the mint model (just wasn’t feeling the yellow and red, or the orange and blue, etc.). The packaging has design elements of wood and some pleasing, nearly-spot-on English phrases extolling the virtue of the wooden pencil.

Needs to get a stash of these for delivering bad news. It softens impact, says so right there!


The body feels and smells exactly like a wooden pencil, as well it should. The weight isn’t noticeably different with its interior non-wooden components needed to hold and advance the lead. The lead-advancement knock is satisfying, and nothing is in anyway loose or off about it.

This is not a lead holder. Do not confuse yourselves as I did


The Prime Timber 2.0 comes with a separate lead sharpener (which I generally prefer to lead holders that include no lead sharpening mechanism whatsoever). Having the lead sharpener be part of the lead holder itself is more convenient, but typically more messy. It is nice having the lead sharpener in its own little contained unit that will gather the lead shavings, rather than casting them to the wind (not that I would ever do such a thing). The plastic seems sturdy. Time will tell.

Now to take a little side trip to problem town


My two main quibbles with the Prime Timber 2.0 are as follows. The lesser of the two evils is that I’m already seeing wear and tear in the form of paint chipping from the edges of the wooden body. I’ve only had this thing a day and a half. I generally think of wooden pencils as something that doesn’t need to be carried around in protective housing, so I would expect a pencil-based wooden lead holder to be no different. The major evil is how uncomfortable the wooden edges of the body are where it meets the nose cone.

I fixed it, but at what aesthetic cost?


On a regular wooden pencil, you wouldn’t have these sharp edges on the writing end. Luckily this is wood, not adamantium, so it’s pretty easy to sand down yourself, but it seems like an important detail that should not have been overlooked.

Get yours wherever* expensive nut butters are sold! *maybe


Overall it’s a charming, solidly-built lead holder whose biggest functional issue is easily fixed. You get to feel like you’re drawing or writing with a regular wooden pencil while enjoying the advantages of a mechanical pencil. Like most lead holders it’s bring your own eraser (would be great to see a matching Prime Timber eraser holder). If it ends up breaking in half in the next year, I will probably feel differently, but for now I’m happy with the purchase.





E+M Workman Pocket Clutch Lead Holder – 5.5 mm – Red

13 06 2012

Needs more drawings

Still needs more drawing…

OK PERFECT! STOP. No more drawings.

I have a love/fear relationship with art supplies. I love acquiring and making art with them, and I’m afraid that I won’t make art good enough to do justice to the art supply I’m reviewing. And there you have the reason why I put off this review for about two weeks.

Fun fact: the background is the inside of my favorite hat

The construction of the E+M Workman pocket clutch lead holder is eminently pleasing—this is a nice, solid object, full of wood and metal and class. The wood is smooth—no splinters—and the extra-thick barrel is just long enough to fit perfectly in my hand.

Not pictured: how perfectly this pencil fits in my hand

I’m no expert on these clutch mechanisms, but this one seems pretty sturdy. It’s got an eternal death grip on the lead, and I haven’t had any trouble with it projectile launching its contents to the floor, even though it’s the same basic clutch style as my Prismacolor Turquoise lead holder (that style being where the only place that the lead is held into the pencil is that metal clutch at the tip, as opposed to being held by some other mechanism in the barrel such that lead can be advanced one click at a time, like typical mechanical pencils).

I’m sure there are specific names involved, but I’m not in the know as far as lead holders go.

The clutch clasps back down on the lead almost instantaneously after the button is released, such that it’s pretty easy to catch the lead exactly where I want it, instead of drastically overshooting it like I do with the Prismacolor Turquoise.

Simple, clean, efficient, modern German design.

No clip, which is great for slipping into a pocket, and terrible on any minutely inclined surface. I’m torn on this point; I don’t want it to have a clip, as that would no doubt get in the way of my grip and general aesthetics, but I also don’t want my nice art supply making constant suicide attempts off of tables. There’s just no winning. At least it’s a bright, easy-to-spot-on-the-floor red.

Includes one HB (“Hot Business”) lead

Even when the tip is dull (I haven’t bought the lovely matching sharpener yet), there are still sharp angles to be found on the vast surface of this lead. And being HB, it’s got a good value range for sketching—easy to make light marks, but still capable of getting decently dark.

While this isn’t one of those “absolutely need it to live, breathe, and make art” items, it’s an absolutely perfect treat—either for yourself, or some lucky someone who likes lead holders—that, at $15 (at time of writing), doesn’t necessitate shelling out serious dough/pleading with your ATM that no really, just one more major cash withdrawal, I promise this is the last day of this pen convention and then I’ll quit (not that…I did any of that…at the Raleigh Pen Show, cough, cough, no). Good price, well made, quite the handsome little piece.

E+M Workman Pocket Clutch Lead Holder – 5.5mm – Red (and other colors) at JetPens

Thanks to JetPens for providing this sample for review! :)





Ohto Comfort Sharp Lead Holder – 2 mm – Gray Body

17 03 2012

Testing a new out-and-about portable scanner for these writing sample scans. The jury remains out on how color-reliable the combination of scanner + mini laptop (using GIMP instead of Photoshop) is, compared to the desktop. Thus ends a caption full of minutia that you probably didn't care about!

Prior to the Ohto Comfort Sharp / Comforcil (why JetPens calls it one name while the pencil calls itself another is beyond my understanding/Googling capacity), my only experience with lead holders was an art-store whim purchase: the Prismacolor Turquoise Lead Holder. Lead holder, it turned out, was a misleading name. The Prismacolor Turquoise is really a Lead Projectile-Launcher. To give you an idea of how often that comes in handy when sketching, note that I have no idea where the Prismacolor Lead Holder even IS right now. It probably launched itself into the sun.

The pencil obviously self-identifies as the Comforcil. Seems a little rude to not respect that, no? Gotta stop being so PENdernormative (HYUK HYUK SOMEONE STOP ME)

Given my experience with the Prismacolor weapon, I came into the Comforcil thinking that lead-shooting was just some peculiar norm of lead holders. I don’t want to overgeneralize, with a sample size of only two, but I can confidently say that the Comforcil exhibits no such violent behavior.

But it does have a strong clip. And a baby-smooth body. Some kind of soft matte finish?

Once you get the Comforcil clipped on, it isn’t going ANYWHERE. I don’t know if that rigor mortis grip will get any weaker over time, or if the plastic holding the metal will just break off, or what, but I’m hoping it will at least get to the point where I don’t need two hands to clip it on and take it off. Many times I have tried to pull the Comforcil out of the pen pockets of my Nomadic bag, only to remove the lead sharpener, leaving the rest of the pencil behind. The clip is pretty much my only complaint though. Let me get the other out of the way: there’s a crack in the plastic, you can just start to see on the bottom of the picture above, that sort of abnormal-looking line in the light grey. I’ve had this pencil for a couple of months now, and is has been in heavy rotation since I picked it up. Maybe this won’t be one of those structural-integrity-compromising problems. But if it is, this pencil is only $3.30 to replace.

Useful bonus: instead of a microscopically tiny eraser hidden under an easily lost bit of plastic, you get a lead sharpener!

Now, I’m not an architect, draftsman, professional artist, or whoever lead holders are normally intended for. The number of lead sharpeners I own: one.

Warning: lead-sharpener plastic may be very delicious to cat teeth. Try to take commemorative photos of your writing utensils before leaving them laying around in feline territory.

There it is. You’re looking at it. I’ve seen some people complain that the Comforcil yields an uneven or unreliable point. I can’t advise on that, professionally speaking. However, as an amateur sketch user of this lead holder, I feel it satisfactorily does exactly what I want it to. It sharpens the lead. Observe:

Open side windows to conveniently sprinkle graphite dust into a trashcan, if you're responsible, or onto the floor around you, if you're me.

Extend lead. Insert lead into sharpener. Twist. Continue twisting until lead is sufficiently pointy.

Make sure to push the lead back in after you sharpen it. Trying to draw with half an inch of lead sticking out can be cumbersome and awkward.

For writing, meh whatever who cares. I don’t use this pencil for writing (except writing captions and speech on doodles). I use this pencil to draw, and for drawing, I LOOOOOVE it. The thickness of the lead (like a wooden pencil in this respect) facilitates quick, smooth drawing (mechanical pencils, being so much thinner, can be a bit scratchy, and tend to make me draw on a much more cramped and smaller scale). The knock mechanism eliminates the biggest drawback of the wooden pencil (CONSTANT SHARPENING—lookin’ at you, Palomino Blackwing) while retaining its benefits. I am drawing more, because this pencil makes drawing that much more convenient.

DRAWINGS! Again, from the mobile scanner. Cream colored paper, you seem so classy, but you make scanning and color balance so awkward.

Bonus! Have some of my personal art. Trying to come up with a new hairstyle for a character a couple months ago.

Once more, with feeling: I LOVE THIS LEAD HOLDER. Whenever this one kicks it, I’ll be buying another. If they ever threaten to discontinue it, I’ll stockpile. It’s an excellent value for a great performer. And if you try it and don’t like it, then give your Comforcil to me.

Ohto Comfort Sharp Lead Holders – 2mm – at JetPens