(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)
Mechanical pencils aren't my main niche, but I do appreciate them and always jump at the opportunity to try something new. Up until I tried the Fixpencil from Caran d'Ache, I had never used a lead holder before. What's a lead holder? It's a specific kind of mechanical pencil that holds a large piece of graphite with a clutch system. Instead of small (0.5mm, etc.) lead sizes, you can use larger 2 or 3mm lead for much greater control and variance.
Just like a wood case pencil, the larger graphite core used in a lead holder wears down the same way. It's a tool used by drafters and artists, and you can probably imagine why it is such a useful tool for anyone who uses graphite.
While the Fixpencil version that I have uses 3mm lead, you can find lead holders that use 5+mm lead! That's a thick chunk of graphite! Of course, you can also use different lead grades with these pencils, from the standard HB to other grades on either side. The lead I'm using is 3B, which lays down a thick and dark line with very little pressure. The point wears down very quickly as a result of this, so it's not the best lead for general writing. But, if you're a drafter or artist, you can probably put this lead to much better use. The ability to hold the pencil at a sharp angle and quickly shade in an area is quite a treat. And, you can easily control the amount of lead that protrudes from the end of the pencil. I imagine this comes down entirely to use case and personal preference, but it's something you can only get away with when using the thick lead core that lead holders use.
Aside from the fascination with this unique type of writing instrument or drawing tool, it's still a pencil. It makes marks when you move the graphite end on paper, but what else does it do? Well, for one, it looks fantastic.
Based on the famous Caran d'Ache 849 line of pens and mechanical pencils, the Fixpencil features some very familiar lines. The hexagonal barrel tapers down to a smooth cone at the front of the barrel, and the shiny chrome clip accentuates the industrial barrel with a subdued elegance. The cap on the top of the pen (red in my case) is chosen randomly when you purchase the pencil. You'll receive either a red, blue, or black with the pencil, but you can also purchase other colors separately in order to easily distinguish different lead types if you use several of these pencils at once.
The inside of the cap (or button) has a hidden lead sharpener that you can use in a pinch. I wasn't too happy with the wide tip it sharpened onto the lead, so I recommend using a better sharpener to get the point you want. Just remember to be gentle because the lead will snap easily if you bend it the wrong way!
Pushing the cap or button down releases the clutch jaws around the lead. You can hold the button down and use your fingers to adjust the amount of lead that protrudes from the tip. Once you're happy, just release the cap and the spring-loaded jaws hold the lead tight. Once you're ready to pack up, just open the jaws again and hide the lead inside the body. When the jaws are empty, they close together to prevent the lead core from sliding out. Nifty!
Writing with the pencil is incredibly comfortable. The hexagonal shape of the barrel and the smooth cone feel great in the hand, and there's enough texture on the barrel to provide good grip.
The clip is really strong and has no problem securing the pencil to whatever you clip it to. As an added bonus, it also keeps the pencil from rolling away when you lay it on your work surface. There isn't much branding on this pencil, aside from a tiny Caran d'Ache Fixpencil logo (and the lead size) underneath the clip, and a small "SWISS MADE" logo above the clip. The branding is small and adds a touch of elegance to the pencil.
There are plenty of lead options to keep you happy and occupied with your art. The lead cores are about 3.5 inches long. The amount of time they last comes down to how you use it and how soft or hard the lead grade is.
If 3mm is a little too large, there's also a 2mm version of the same pencil.
You'll know if this pencil is something you'd enjoy using, and the price is also low enough to make it a great option. The Caran d'Ache Fixpencil is a great tool that offers a ton of flexibility.
(Goldspot provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)
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