Kum No. 410 Magnesium Pencil Sharpener

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It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a pencil sharpener. The reason for this is because I mainly use the Pollux sharpener for my everyday needs. Well, when I was in Cambridge last week with Johnny and Less, I came across the most fabulously beautiful (to me) Kum 2-hole wedge sharpeners. They are essentially the silver 410 sharpener, but are coated with magnificent neon-bright colors. These sharpeners were made for me. They had several colors, but I picked up the yellow (of course) and the magenta ones for review. I expect no performance difference in these sharpeners compared to the standard 2-hole wedge, but since I have never reviewed the original, here we go:

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At first glance these sharpeners are striking. As an individual that truly loves and enjoys bright colors, these deliver. I get a very mid-90s vibe from these things— you know that move from pure neon to neonish bright colors— that’s what these remind me of. The finish on these two sharpeners are different and I’m not sure why. On the yellow sharpener it is more of a matte finish whereas the magenta sharpener has several layers of what appears to be a clear coat. Not sure why this is— perhaps it’s just a variance in production? Either way, I find it interesting. It’s really hard to capture on camera, but the yellow one has sharper details than the magenta. This difference in no way impacts the performance of the sharpeners— I just thought it was an interesting observation. Also, because of the extra clear coating, the magenta version is a bit heavier.

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Performance wise, these sharpeners do a good job at sharpening. The point I can get from these is a lot shorter than what I’m used to as I exclusively use long point sharpeners, but I can’t fault the sharpener for that as it’s not a long point sharpener. The larger hole accommodates larger pencils up to 10.2 mm in diameter. What I most love about this sharpener (besides the color) is that it is so lightweight that pocket carry is comfortable as most folks won’t be able to tell it’s there. While I do enjoy this sharpener, I will always prefer a long point and would most likely use the Kum No. 400 which is the single-hole long point sharpener or the super affordable Apsara long point which are $5.25 for a box of 20 (!!). While I don’t rank this sharpener as high as I would others (I’d probably give it a 6 out of 10), at around $2, you really can’t go wrong picking one up. I use it more for larger barreled pencils as I have yet to find a sharpener that can give me as good a point as this does for them. Until they invent a Pollux for large pencils, this will be my go-to for that task. Sadly, after an hour of googling, I have not been able to find the 2-hole magnesium in colors so I cannot provide a link. They are not even listed on Kum’s website as an option. I guess if you want them you can go to Bob Slate in Cambridge, MA. I paid $3.50 for each of them. If I happen to find an online source, I will be sure to update this post accordingly.

Staedtler Norica HB 2

I was quite underwhelmed this week when using the Staedtler Norica: point breakage, quick wear, and crappy eraser.  I suppose I expected more out of this German-made pencil (note: this pencil is made in Thailand, I stand corrected), but-- then again-- how much could I expect from a common school pencil?  The Norica looks pretty; it has a nice, sharp hexagonal barrel and a bright white eraser held in by a silver ferrule. 20151026_173615 (1)

This pencil had a busy week between stats notes and test-taking that I began to wonder if it could keep up.  Since obtaining Kum's Masterpiece sharpener, I have not had the excessive amounts of point breakage as I did the with Long Point sharpener.  I chalk that up to less flexibility since the Masterpiece is (I think) magnesium.  This was the first pencil that proved me wrong.  I deduced that it was probably a break in the graphite core within the pencil since it was such a clean break, but nonetheless this happened about three or four times during the week.

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Another gripe was the fact that I had to sharpen the Norica so damn much while note-taking.  Usually, I sharpen once per side of paper I write on (I use B5 size paper).  The Norica sometimes barely made it through two-thirds of the page before I had to sharpen her which left me frustrated and my hand cramped from sharpening so much.  I really thought that this pencil would not make it to the end of the school week, but it did-- barely.

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The picture above shows how quick the pencil wore down (this was taken on Thursday of a week that runs until Saturday).  What the above picture also shows is the next thing I am going to gripe about: the ferrule.  I usually try to use the eraser if the pencil comes with one to see how it does and whether or not it is useful.  I wore down the eraser a lot since it had a hard time erasing and I had to follow up with my Boxy.  About halfway through the Norica, I noticed that the ferrule was loose.  Like it was separating from the barrel of the pencil.  It wobbled quite a bit while erasing or while I was using the pencil in general and I noticed that it was only attached via four little punches in the aluminum (?) that adhered it to the pencil.  The smaller the pencil got, the more I noticed the loose ferrule.

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This week was a crap week with lots of school work and a bad pencil.  I do realize that since I am working my way through my entire collection of pencils I am bound to work with some bad ones, but please pencil gods: let my next random pick be a Swiss Wood!  Overall: 4/10

General's Pacific 365 Final Thoughts

It has been a great week with the Pacific.  I definitely prefer the softer lead grade compared to last week's Mongol.  I also did a lot more writing this week with the Pacific.  Between meetings, crosswords, Sudoku puzzles and journal entries, this pencil really got a work out.  The KUM Long Point sharpener really made a difference this week as well as I prefer the long point on my pencils.  The KUM Brass Wedge has its place, but I think from now on, I will exclusively use the Long Point.  One thing that was noticeable about this pencil was that it seemed more fragrant than the Mongol of last week.  I have a couple of theories on that: the Pacific is a newer pencil so maybe it retained its fragrant cedar smell or it could have been the different sharpener which shaves away more of the pencil when sharpening.  Either way, I enjoyed the rich smell wafting from my pencil shavings as a I enjoyed my favorite maple latte at the local coffee joint. 20150828_114602

I was unable to carve out time this week to work on my cursive writing, so I have no samples to show, but next week's pencil will be all about the cursive (I hope it's a good choice).  I did my normal review as always in my Public Supply pocket notebook I acquired from CW Pencil Enterprise.  Here are my final thoughts:

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Happy penciling everyone!