This is going to be quick and dirty because it’s FenCon week – and time is of the essence. This week we look at a classic mechanical pencil in fun colors – the PaperMate Sharpwriter. This pencil has been around for decades – I did try to find out how long, but couldn’t quite narrow that down. But I remember using these in school all those **mumblety mumblety** years ago. But this pencil is a classic – in fact I noticed Adam Savage using one of the standard yellow ones on one of the last episodes of Mythbusters.
The thing with the PaperMate Sharpwriter is that they’re cheap and disposable. You’re not supposed to refill them (though there seems to be a YouTube video showing you how). Intended to be used and abused, they’re not the most sturdy – especially the clip. I know I’ve snapped off more than – and so have the Mythbusters crew. Savage’s pencil had the clip snapped off right where the weak point is where the clip branches off the barrel.
These pencils come in a standard 0.7mm HB (#2) lead for use on any standardized test, experiment notebook, or page. The lead is extended through a ribbed twist mechanism. The SharpWriter is designed to have less breakage, but that could also be a function of size. The SharpWriters are about 6″ long and a bit on the narrow side. The white erasers are adequate but a touch on the hard side. They do the job but could dry out if they sit for any length of time.
The big thing about these are that they can be dirt, dirt cheap – especially during Back-to-School sales. In fact I picked up a 6-pack of “fashion color” SharpWriters with a “bonus” InkJoy retractable ball point pen on sale at Office Depot for $1. The box of a dozen at Office Depot runs $5.50 – so at the most you should be spending $1 or less per pencil – that way if they’re lost or broken or just wear out, you’re not out a lot of money. If you run the lead out – it’s all inexpensive plastic, I don’t see why you couldn’t recycle the barrels.
1. How does it work? – 1 It’s decent. The lead extends and retracts and does what pencils are supposed to do.
2. Grip and feel – 0.5 – This is no frills plastic retractable pencil. The mechanism is a twist mechanism that’s not fancy. The barrel is smooth with no grip or ergonomics and a little on the narrow side.
3. Material – 0.5 It’s a no frills plastic mechanical pencil. It’s not refillable. Meant to be disposable – probably recyclable. But likely it’s going to be ditched.
4. Overall Design – 1 – It’s an ages-old design. This thing has not changed in a very long time, except to add some colors. But if you like a pencil that’s going to work the same way EVERY TIME? This is it
5. Price Point – 1 – It’s cheap and readily available. This pencil routinely runs less than $1 each – MUCH less if you get a good sale. You can’t beat that if you’re hard on your writing instruments or don’t want to risk messing up a more expensive pencil.
4.0 out of 5 Bronze Pencils