I’ve been writing for a long time, and there are two tools that I always gravitate back towards to: a rollerball pen and a mechanical pencil. I’ve used many different varieties over the years, and I’ve never truly been satisfied with any version I tried. That was, until I purchased a Modern Fuel, Stainless Steel Mechanical pencil.
After using many different mechanical pencils on the market, I finally have found one that is perfect in both function and form. I really love the cleanliness of the minimalism style, and the sleek, unbroken barrel and lead ejector fit this style extremely well. The continuous body of the design is wonderful to look at, the uniform finish just feels right sitting in your hand. There aren’t any bumps or protrusions to distract you from its simplicity and break your concentration, trying to make sure it’s sitting “right” in your grip. The barrel is also the perfect diameter; neither too thin or thick to hold tightly or loose in your fingertips. Although not strictly minimalist related, I do love the fact that the pen is solidly built, with a one hundred year guarantee; I will never need to purchase another pencil, reducing the amount of waste I send to landfill. In addition, almost all the packaging is made from renewable and recyclable material, further reducing my impact upon the environment.
Being of a solid piece of metal, the weight is evenly distributed along the barrel. It is weighted perfectly so it never feels like it is tipping out of the top of my hand or pulling down towards the page. However, there is a difference in weight between this revised version compared to the original pencil, as the original was made from a different material (in my case, if I had chosen the same material, there may not be any difference). It is significantly heavier than a standard plastic pencil, so it did take me a little while to get used to the weight. Initially, I did experience fatigue in my hand when writing for extended periods of time, but after growing accustomed to the additional weight, this no longer occurs, instead it gives me a sense of comfort, as I know that the pen isn’t going to fail on me because of its solid design. Once used for a while, the weight is no longer obvious and what I’ve found is that when returning to a plastic pencil, they feel flimsy, as if they will snap or bend while in use.
The action of the ejector is the smoothest I’ve ever used, it flows in a single motion from depression to release. There are no jerky clicks as the lead extends, it doesn’t get stuck when releasing pressure on the ejector and it can be pressed repetitively and quickly.
The sleeve at the end of the cone is the perfect addition to the original pencil; it sits perfectly around the lead and eliminates the issue of lead breakage that would happen on occasion with the original version; I’ve not had a single break in the last month. Just recently, I used a different mechanical pencil, and within the first three strokes, the lead snapped. There is no competition when it comes to usability. The sleeve also slips up inside the cone of the pencil so that it isn’t damaged when not in use.
Refilling the pencil and replacing the eraser at the end of the pencil are simple; the eraser just needs to be pulled out of the end of the ejector and the refills slid into the body of the pencil. That’s it; there’s no need to undo half the pencil and risk springs or other parts of the mechanism disappearing to refill it. The eraser is easy enough to pull out, but fits snugly into the end of the cap, so there’s no risk of it falling out or detaching as you are erasing. When erasing, ensure you hold the pencil almost perpendicular to the page to get the best results; the eraser does not leave smudges or residue on your work and effectively erases any marks.
If I were to highlight any negatives of this pencil, there are only two to speak of from my perspective. As I am an owner of the original pencil, I grew accustom to the cone extending all the way down to where the lead would be extruded. In the current version, there is a cut-off to allow for the sleeve to be added to the mechanism. When the sleeve is extended whilst in use, the contrast between the solid barrel and the thin sleeve is noticeable. This is purely an aesthetic concern, and a minor one as the benefits of the sleeve far outweigh my silly desire to have a pencil that looks as if it is “one piece”. The ability and the action of the sleeve to retract inside the end of the pencil is fantastic, and saves any mishaps that may occur when the pencil is not in use.
The second negative is the price point. When I first heard about the pencil, I was blown away by the design, but upon discovering the price, I was put off – for a while. When I thought about the positives of the design versus the other instruments that I had used previously and the fact that I would only need to purchase one, the positives far outweighed the concern. After using the first version of the pencil, I was just as excited to hear about the second version and also the pen, and although I did wait to purchase both, I didn’t need to question whether the price point was worth it; my previous experience with the pencil had removed any doubt.
The second counterpoint that makes the cost issue irrelevant is the level of customer service provided by Andrew – it is first class. His updates, videos, instructions and emails are above and beyond the standard level of acceptable customer service. In a world where many items are expected (and even designed) to fail, to have someone who has designed and constructed a product that is made to last forever is something that I have rarely seen. In addition, his willingness to help and answer questions, posting updates on the projects that he is working on and just being nice to hear from give the products a more personal touch, as opposed to a site such as eBay or Amazon.
Writing with this pencil is a breeze and I never grow frustrated with my tools now that I have this. Seeing the parcel arrive at my door was a great feeling, and if you enjoy using a mechanical pencil, this is a must have. I am drawn to writing now more than ever because not only is the act of creating enjoyable, so too is the process now that I have the right tools. I have removed all other pencils from my case, except for the original pencil, and use it for any piece of writing that requires a pencil’s touch.
Modern Fuel website: