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The Old Geezer
Please Excuse My Absence

I have not blogged since July of 2015 due to the fact that my Lovely Wife was diagnosed with 2 types of cancer. A new case of breast cancer which has metastasized and gone to her bones, mainly her back. She had a mastectomy of her left breast which showed the type of cancer that was in her bones. She has been taking an oral med. every day and she has a port under her skin to receive a liquid med. She has gone through one round of radiation treatments to stop some pain in her back. That gave her GERD and the med for that was nasty tasting. The bone cancer has caused the vertebra in her lower back to pinch her left sciatic nerve causing her pain, numbness and foot drag. She also has skin cancer that has only been partly addressed.

I have been busy taking care of her as the treatments have left her weak and sickly. She can not drive so I have to drive her to her appointments and treatments. I also have to do all the cooking and most of what cleaning we do. So I do not have a lot of time for blogging. However the installment of the review of the Schaeffer Ultrafine 0.3mm pencil marks what I hope will be a new review every month. However some of my future reviews may seem familiar as they may be a review of a pencil or pen that I have reviewed before just in another size due to my limited collection of writing instruments and the economic state of our nation.

I am grateful to George Fox for wanting me to do a review of another one of his pencils. I think that as a reader of my humble blog, may fine of interest as the Schaeffer Ultra Fine is a very unusual pencil.

So please excuse my absence and as a reader of my humble blog I hope that you enjoy the review of this unique pencil.

Coming Soon...

Thank you,

The Old Geezer.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kuru Toga Pencils

I was writing a few reviews on various drafting/mechanical pencils on the JStationery web site when I saw the Kuru Toga 0.5mm pencil ad in a sidebar. I was curious so I took a look. The more I read about this amazing pencil the more interested I became. It seems that this offering from Mitsubishi of Japan, under the uni label, is a very unquie pencil indeed. While the concept is simple the inner workings of the pencil is not, at least not to this blogger.

Anyone who has used a drafting/mechanical pencil for any length of time has noticed that they all have one little flaw, the lack of rotation of the lead. Drafting students are taught to rotate the pencil between thumb and fore finger as they draw a line. A tricky thing at best and not an easy thing to master. The result, in theory, is that the pencil lead maintains a sharper profile there by producing a more consistent line width. While writing however this is impossible.

When writing the pencil remains in a fixed position in the writer's hand. As the writer writes the tip if the lead, which when new starts out with a face perpendicular to the shaft of the lead, begins to wear down at the angle the writer is writing at. This produces an oval face on the lead broadening out the line that the lead makes. Thus a 0.5mm pencil lead begins to make a line closer to 0.7mm's wide. When you are used to writing smallish, like I am, this makes one's writing a little cramped and smudged looking. If the writer turns the pencil a few degrees then the line, temporarily, become finer. The drawbacks here are two fold.

One the writing now looks and is inconsistent in line width. This looks untidy at best. Soon the line width is broader once again. If the writer rotates the pencil to much then a very sharp edge is presented to the paper and often this causes the pencil lead to snap off. This generally leaves the face of the lead ragged. This often leads to another breakage of lead as the writer tries to flatten out the lead once again. This has been the bane of all users of drafting/mechanical pencils ever since they were invented.

Now comes along the Kuru Toga, which means "auto-rotate pencil" in Japanes
e. Every time the lead is pushed against the paper, the internal gear automatically rotates the lead 9 degrees. This means that the lead never forms a chiseled edge. The lead face remains sharp, forming a cone instead of a flat surface. Simple, really. But the pencil's internals, the Kuru Toga Engine, is not. Even though the pencil (sometimes) comes with a booklet explaining the workings of the Kuru Toga Engine it's all in Japanese! So until I either learn to read Japanese, hire an interpreter, or they publish a booklet in English the inner workings of the Kuru Toga Engine will remain a mystery, at least to me.

Now as far as hands on experience goes, well I've had some. My first offering in this pencil was in 0.5mm. I was so impressed with the thin line it produced that it almost instantly became my favorite pencil. In reality it acutally produces a clean, consistant 0.3mm line! It really works! You can actually see the engine at work as the mechanisim turns the lead as the grip area, where the Kuru Toga Engine is, is clear. There are two Kuru Toga symblols on the rotating part of the engine, 180 degrees apart so you can actually watch the engine work.

The pencil is almost completely plastic so it's very light. It feels good in the hand and is easy to grip thanks to some thick ridges on the clear plastic grip. The pencil's slightly top heavy, but not that you'd notice while writing. You can feel the engine working, there's a slight up and down motion to the tip as you write. But I find that after a short while I don't notice it anymore. The pencil is handsome with a metallic blue finish, clear grip, chromed cap, black and chromed tip and a white pocket clip. The chrome cap has a blue rubber grip ring around it which comes in handy as the cap must come off to remove the black plastic and stainless steel lead sleeve. The sleeve just snaps of and if done with ease you won't even break the lead.

There are three drawbacks with the Kuru Toga, all of them minor. One is the eraser. I's tiny and useless like all such token offerings on drafting/mechanical pencils. No biggie as I have used a stick eraser these many years. Second, there is no clean out rod beneath said token eraser. Inconvenient, but no deal breaker. However I suggest that if you have one from an old pencil, tuck it away up under the eraser because as good as the Kuru Toga is lead breakage is inevitable. Lastly the lead reservoir is small compared to other such pencils and the lead feed hole is tiny. I'm used to large reservoirs and gaping holes that I can shove dozens of leads into. But I guess it's a small price to pay for such a great pencil.

Last but not least, shortly after I'd started using the 0.5mm Kuru Toga I was lamenting the fact (or so I thought) that they didn't make the Kuru Toga in 0.3mm! Then lo and behold I saw a black 0.3mm Kuru Toga for sale on
eBay! I wasted no time in buying it (though it was at a premium price and my lovely wife almost had a cow). I was not disipointed when it arrived and I started using it! It produces a sub 0.3mm line! I've done a side by side comparison with my uni-ball Signo bit in 0.18mm and found that when drawing a straight line with a straight edge the 0.3mm Kuru Toga produces a line at least as thin as the Signo bit!

Bottom line is that the Mitsubishi uni Kuru Toga, in either offering, is a fantastic pencil! I hope that I'm never without one. I give them 5 out of 5 stars *****.

The Kuru Toga is available from JetPens.com


Tokyo Pen Shop said...

We also carry this fine pencil over at
Tokyo Pen Shop

It is definitely one of our favorites.

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Anonymous said...

Wow,so niceeee!! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS PENCIL! i don't need to use such thin lead (.3mm), so mine is a nice .5mm, but omg, the sharpness of the pencil no matter how long i've been writing... just blows my mind! i love this pencil with a passion; can't use anything else now! It's completely spoiled me for any other pencils.