Short break, right back.

Woodclinched has taken a short break for the holidays! It doesn’t have anything to do with spending more time with family, or reflecting on the year past or the year ahead. It’s almost entirely because, as of December 1, I started a job at Facebook as a content strategist. Although I’m not even three weeks in, it’s proven to be exciting, overwhelming, and really interesting so far.

It also means that I’ve been living in temporary housing 2300 miles away from home and my pencil and paper collection! Over the next three or four weeks, my stuff, my wife and my cats will be joining me out here, so until then, I won’t have a lot of time or, well, stuff to talk about. In the immortal and concise words of public radio talk show host Diane Rehm, short break, right back.

I have a few cool pencil-related photos to tide you over, though, from my last few weeks:

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Facebook, it seems, has a love affair with analog print. We have an Analog Research Lab, which is really cool, silkscreened and letterpressed posters all around campus and even vending machines that sell stickers! This one came out of one of those machines.

I got a chance to go to the Maido store at Westfield Mall in the SOMA district of San Francisco. It didn’t have a large selection of wooden pencils, but it had really good ones. So many Tombows. And Palomino Blackwing 602s and Pearls sold by the single!


One of those Tombows is an FSC-certified pencil they call Kimonogatari pencils. They’re natural, uncoated wood that’s untipped on the end. It’s super smooth with some stripes running down the side. I loved these so much I bought a dozen.


On the paper side, Facebook has so many cool little custom notebooks. There are a bunch of varieties of custom ScoutBooks, but this one was a custom Moleskine cahier. I got it during my design orientation. It looks really good with my Golden Bear.

So thanks for bearing with me, friends, and I will be back with more interesting stuff in the new year!

Dudek Modern Goods “Divide” Review

I’ve long been a fan of the pencil cup. At work, I have an old mug from my local public radio station from back in the early 80s — although I have lots of mugs from various pledge drives, this particular one was from the Goodwill — a really cool find by my mother.

At home I have two or three mugs hold pens, pencils, rulers and other various long, stick-like utensils that I want to store upright.

So I never really thought about any kind of decorative desk holder — until Mike Dudek came along.

Mike’s a stalwart in the pen community — his blog, The Clicky Post  is a great place to find pen, paper, and interesting product reviews for the analog-minded. His photos have always stood out to me; he’s a really talented photographer of small, round, long objects, which are, in my experience, pretty hard to photograph.

He sells a series of handmade wooden pen holders made out of solid blocks of walnut (I think) that he cuts, sands, polishes, stains, and drills holes into. They’re absolutely gorgeous, and they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Look at this beaut, the Display

He’s really been getting into pencils lately, which is awesome. In fact, Mike posted a philosophical discussion about woodcase pencils on his blog last week. My favorite part:

With the digital world consuming a lot of how people’s thoughts are recorded out of “convenience”, this is bad for even basic click pens, but imagine how this has to be for the wooden pencil!   Let me explain: To use a pencil not only do I have to carry around a seemingly fragile stick of wood but I also have to carry around an apparatus with a blade to actually make the stick usable.  And then, to continue writing with it I have to keep sharpening the stick.  And then, I have to find a place to dump the excess debris (shavings) to dispose of them.  Within this context the pencil doesn’t even stand a chance against the hardcore digi folks. But, the truth remains that the pencil is living on and they are being made by probably the millions every year.  We live in a digital age and yet we still produce tools to write with that could probably trace their lineage back to the cave drawings of the Paleolithic Era.  Usually with “antiquated” products, they end up on Etsy or specialty shops for high premiums being styled after vintage or retro.  Not the pencil.  You can still buy a dozen pretty good pencils for less than $5.  So, if you really want to get your retro on, pick up a pack and start sharpening.

Well said, sir!

He may have been thinking about pencils hard because of the new product he released two days later! It’s called the “Divide”, and is made especially for a wooden pencil user in mind:

About this product, Mike says:  

With The Divide, the pens and pencils on your desk can have a place to live in harmony being partitioned by a few pocket notebooks.  There seem to be graphite and ink camps in our community, so now people have no excuse but to let their writing instruments of all kinds play nicely together in an attractive, handmade walnut pen holder.

It’s based off a custom block Mike made for Tim Wasem from The Writing Arsenal (and my friend and Erasable co-host!). And, he was kind enough to send one to me!

It has six skinny holes on one side of the blog, perfect for a standard-width woodcase pencil. On the other side, there are three large holes, for Sharpies or fountain pens, and three medium-sized holes for regular pens. Each of the holes have a small point holder at the bottom, so a sharpened pencil, inserted point-down, will stand upright. Mike really thought about the details.

Here’s mine, right out of the box:


And here it is, filled with writing accoutrements:


This thing is so nice, it’s going to be around for a long, long time. Generations, even.

The Divide is $60, over at Mike’s blog. Check them out, here

Happy Fountain Pen Day, everyone!

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I may be a pencil blogger, but I do love a good fountain pen. This is one of my favorites, a blue Esterbrook.

I meant to write a big, researched history of the Esterbrook Dollar Pen, because they’re fascinating to me, but then stuff happened. So, read Brad’s excellent review on Pen Addict instead!

A big, big congratulations to Cary from FountainPenDay.org for all of his hard work and cool swag. Be sure to hit that link for a list of participating blogs and shops.

New Kickstarter: The Twist Bullet Pencil

It seems like just a year ago, the world hardly remembered bullet pencils. There’s been a lot of talk about them over the past 12 months, and we’ve seen our first-ever bullet pencil Kickstarter project, for the Bullet Pencil ST.

(Since the time I posted an article about it while the Kickstarter was going on to when it ended in late August, they’ve been fully funded, ended the campaign successfully, and are due to be produced and mailed to the funders by the end of this month.)

I’m here to tell you about another campaign that launched last week to build a bullet pencil! I’ve actually known about this one longer than I have about the ST — it’s for the Twist Bullet Pencil, a collaboration between Huckleberry Woodchuck, an artisan who restores old bullet pencils, and MetalShopCT, an independent machinist who makes cool things out of aluminum and steel.

Twist Bullet Pencil in base colors and tip styles. Photo from @MetalShopCT on Instagram.

Twist Bullet Pencil in base colors and tip styles. Photo from @MetalShopCT on Instagram.

Over the summer, Jay from Huckleberry Woodchuck (who we’ve mentioned on Erasable before) contacted Tim and asked if we’d be interested in field testing a special prototype bullet pencil that he’s been working on. Of course, Tim said yes, and between him, me and Johnny, we carried that thing to work, to the lake, to the airport, et cetera. It was a lot of fun, and we got to talk about it on the podcast.

From my Instagram in July, the prototype bullet pencil along with a Word. notebook.

From my Instagram in July, the prototype bullet pencil along with a Word. notebook.

All the while, Jay was in contact — what did we like about it? What didn’t we like? What sort of pencils did we use in it? What were our favorites? We gave him as much feedback as we could.

Well, last week, it all paid off! Jay and Jon Fontane from MetalShop CT launched the Twist Bullet Pencil, a beautiful, improved (from the prototype) machined aluminum sheath for a pencil. I’m happy to say that they made their goal in just three days, so it’s definitely going to be funded.

The pencil will be available, for sure, in silver and matte black, and there are two different tips (the part that attaches to the pencil inside) in two different styles available — an aluminum or a brass tip, available in either a blunt, rounded style, or a pointy, more bullet-like style.

Twist Bullet Pencil Varieties

With pledge levels starting at $28 (which buys you one Twist bullet pencil with one style of aluminum tip) and going to $300 (which buys you ten, each with any tip in any style), they have a wide variety of prices. They even sold the original prototype for $125. I joked that the prototype has been in the pants of Tim, Johnny and myself, so it should be worth a lot more.

What’s really exciting and where the drama resides is in the stretch goals. They want to offer a few anodized colors, too. Because the anodization shop (is what what you call it?) requires a minimum of 150 pieces, they have stretch goals all the way up to $14,000 in order to get to all three additional colors — a cherry red, a forest green and a royal blue.

The Twist Bullet Pencil by Huckleberry Woodchuck and MetalShopCT, now on Kickstarter.

My pledge was at the $55, which will get me two pencils with my choice of either tip. I’m not sure which variety I want yet, but if I have my choice of colors, I’m thinking black and blue, with a round brass tip and a pointed aluminum tip.

How does this differ from the Bullet Pencil ST?

What I love about both of these projects is that they’re so different from each other in so many ways, even though they’re both bullet pencils. Jeff Grant’s Bullet Pencil ST, with a pocket clip, a barrel with a uniform width, fancy mechanisms in the pencil to snap the tip to the barrel, and even the fact that it has a capacitative touch stylus, mean that it’s a very modern interpretation to a bullet pencil. It’s a nod to the modern — this is for making scribbles on your iPhone as well as in your Field Notes.

Jay and Jon’s Twist Bullet Pencil is more of a tribute to the old, original bullet pencil. Sure, there are plenty of modern innovations — it’s machined instead of stamped, out of a thin — it’s anodized instead of wrapped with a design. The vast majority of old bullet pencils were held in place by tension, not by screw threads. But the shape and the simplicity of it is much closer to the original.

Bullet Pencil ST and Twist Bullet Pencil Comparison

Bullet Pencil ST and Twist Bullet Pencil compared, to scale (with each other), in closed position. Photos from the respective Kickstarter pages.

Which is better? I can’t say. I like them both a lot. And I think, objectively, they each will appeal to different kinds of people. I haven’t had a chance to try out the Bullet Pencil ST yet, and there has been several improvements to the Twist since I tried the prototype over the summer.

But it’s like the difference between an automatic and a manual transmission vehicle, or shaving with an electric razor versus a safety. One design offers lots of features the other doesn’t, but the simplicity in design and the (presumed) fact that the latter does what it does really, really, well, still makes it a strong contender.

Welcome to the world, Twist Bullet Pencil. I’m overjoyed you’re here to help satisfy and grow the rising bullet pencil popularity.

Twist Bullet Pencil. Vintage Meets Modern with a Twist. | Kickstarter

Get your Erasable stickers!

The Erasable Podcast now has stickersUpdate 08/20/14: We are now sold out. Let me know with this form if you’d be interested in being notified when/if we stock more!

Besides customized pencils, this is the most requested piece of swag we’ve gotten, and it’s really cool. Celebrate your love of woodcase pencils:

The Erasable Podcast Sticker

Each sticker is 2.5″, (slightly bigger than, say, the Apple logo on the front of a MacBook), and features four pencils from the Woodclinched Vector Pack (although the yellow-and-green faux Ticonderoga was customized specifically for this sticker).

Slap it on your pencil case, your tabletop pencil sharpener, your car window, or heck, put it with the other stickers on the back of your laptop like me!

Erasable Sticker on Andy's Laptop

We’re selling them for $2 each, or $5 for three (plus $1 for shipping) over here.

If you live outside the US, you may notice that it doesn’t give an option to ship internationally, which I didn’t realize before I set up this shop. So, if you aren’t in the US of A, and you want to get ahold of some of these stickers, email me. We can bypass this whole thing and go straight to PayPal.

Scribomechanica, an impressive stationery blog with a great name

I’m tickled pink to see the launch of a new pencil blog, Scribomechanica!

Scribomechanica: Regarding all kinds of writing technology

If the name of that blog sounds familiar to you, it may be because I’ve been trying to coin that word for five or six years now. It began after my gig at PencilThings ended, and they decided to do away with their in-house blog (that I ran). I decided to start a couple blogs, one about social media (which was rapidly becoming an interest of mine), and my own blog about pencils, paper, typewriters, fountain pens, et cetera. I didn’t want to narrow myself down to pencils. Also, I really wanted to register a .ca domain name.

I ended up registering mechani.ca, and started a (terrible) social media blog at socio.mechani.ca, and a(n equally terrible) stationery blog at scribo.mechani.ca.

The stationery blog, at least, failed because I soon realized that I needed a niche topic to write about. After a few more month of deliberation, I registered Woodclinched.com, and the rest is history.

But, I kept on with the term. I even submitted it to the Urban Dictionary.

A few people have used it over the years, but I figured it was mostly just me — until last week!

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p style=”text-align:left;”>Vikram Shah, a mechanical engineering student, started the blog Scribomechanica.com and has already posted an impressive array of really detailed reviews of woodcased pencils, fountain pens, mechanical pencils and rollerball pens! I like that he’s really honoring the idea of the term — he’s widened his net to include lots of writing instruments. I hope to see some typewriter reviews and even some word processing apps, too.

Thank you for embracing the term scribomechanica, Vikram, and keep up the awesome work!