Do you have a favorite pen? Pencil? Maybe a marker? It doesn’t have to be for marking wood. I’m just curious to see what ToolGuyd readers like to write with.
I don’t do very much writing these days, but I’ve been trying to get back to jotting things down on paper. But when it comes down to projects and plans – that’s when my notebooks and pads see a lot of writing action.
A long time ago I gravitated towards gel ink, and I haven’t turned back. Pilot G2 pens are my favorite “beater” type pen, and I also have a couple of metal-bodied versions that I ordered from Hong Kong a few years ago.
I also have a couple of Parker Jotter pens that I bought in college, which is one of few exceptions to my aversion to ballpoint pens. I tried the Parker gel ink cartridges, and am not a fan.
I have a couple of Japanese-style super-fine pens (e.g. Pilot Hi-Tec and Pentel Slicci) that I use when I need to write slow and neat. The thinner points require me to slow down, which helps keep my writing legible.
I’ve also taken a liking towards fountain pens. I own a couple of beginner pens, and there’s Pilot’s Vanishing Point (~$130 via Amazon). Fountain pens allow for a more custom writing experience.
I started with a couple of cheap disposables, then moved up to beginner pens, and now love my Vanishing Point. As the name suggests, it’s a fountain pen with a retractable point – this makes it as quick and easy to whip out and write with as any other clicker pen, at least until it’s time for an ink refill.
The Monteverde Tool Pen keeps begging to be added to my Amazon shopping cart, but I don’t think I’d ever use it.
On the go, Fisher Space Pens, specifically the bullet, is my top pick. I keep one in the car, as temperature fluctuations tend to make cheap disposables go bad. And if I need to take a pen with me, they slip into my pocket neatly and unobtrusively.
Of course I’m picky about pencils too. 2mm lead pointers rock, but they’re more for technical drawing than writing. I like ’em because it’s easier to load them with the exact lead hardness I prefer, such as HB, 2H, or 4H.
But for writing and general drawing or sketching out ideas, I use mechanical pencils with 0.3, 0.5, or 0.7mm lead sizes.
The Steadtler 771 is good for laying down thick marks, but I don’t use it much. I generally prefer markers for laying out measurements and such.
Pentel Graphgear 1000 pencils are my favorite all-around mechanical pencils. They’re not uber-expensive, and they are a pleasure to write with. I also like Pentel’s Sharp Kerry, which is mentioned in last year’s Ultimate Tool Gift Guide. The Sharp Kerry is compact model that fits away in your pocket. It’s one of few “EDC-able” pencils.
I suppose Milwaukee’s Inkzall markers might be worth a try, and I recently bought a super-thin-tipped market akin to Fastcap’s, but it’s hard to do better than Sharpies.
Sharpies are widely available, there are decent color options, different form factors (I have a couple that fit on my keychain), and there are a couple of different sizes, styles, and formulations that are meant for professional and industrial use. Generally, regular fine and extra fine point Sharpies are hard to beat.
I too use the Pilot G-2 pens, have numerous other makes but actually prefer the
I always loved the way the G2 pens wrote, but they would always stop writing properly about halfway through the ink cartridge for me (they’d start skipping more often than not)… very annoying so I stopped using them. I never could seem to get one of those pens to actually use an entire ink cartridge before having to replace it to get it back to writing normally.
So now my everyday writing pen of choice is the Pilot Precise V5. Available in capped and retractable varieties.
Pencils are usually .5mm Pentels of some sort, I have several (including the Sharp Kerry you recommended).
I have been using the Milwaukee Inkzall markers for a few months now and can say that for my uses (mostly metal working), they are holding up better than Sharpies. I’d suggest buying a pack and giving them a try.
shop work I love a sharpie fine point (the ones with the tiny nib) – I’ll say it’s close to a 0.5, maybe .7 pencil lead. marks on just about anything – safe on AL which is important to me. usually erases with rubbing AL or other wet wipe.
I use a cheapo mechanical pencil also mostly for wood work – why, well when I drop it, break it, loose it I don’t thing much about it. it’s a pentel product currently and has a metal tip that is about 1/4 inch long such that it rides on rulers and the like well. Highly recommend that.
Pens – work site – I too like the Parker Jotter – had one for years stays in the clipboard.
desk, desk at home: Parker roller balls are fantastic. Gel ink I’m not sold on, don’t hate it but it’s not necessary IMO. The other device – is a pretty AL and Carbon pen body but far more importantly it uses a standard style roller ball refill. by that I mean it’s a basic plastic stick with a roller ball end and holds ink – not sure what the style is called, but my favorite so far is a Schmit Ceramic Roller – in fine point Blue. The pen body doesn’t matter if it’s comfortable.
Rotring 600 rollerball. Takes Pilot G2 or Avanti gel refills, and can double as a jack handle, in a pinch.
My EDC and desk pens are mostly Pilot G2s with different ink colors and sizes. I use the 0.5s most because the 0.38s aren’t quite as smooth writing. I occasionally like to use the 1.0s, but they give you almost no feedback at all on paper – they just kind of glide smoothly over it (they are also a bit wide for my handwriting).
For finer work, I use things like Pentel Sliccis. There are a lot of colors and 0.25 tips.
For pencils, I am all over the place. I have more mechanical pencils than I can count and I jump between them a lot. They are almost all 0.5mm or smaller.
I have been using a lot of wooden pencils recently. My current most-favored wooden pencils are:
General’s Cedar Point 2HB
Staedtler norica HB2
The General’s Cedar Points are made in the USA of unfinished cedar and have black erasers. The noricas are black with a white eraser.
I actually prefer softer leads than HB, but they lose their points faster and smear more easily.
I use a Carl Angel-5 (metal) or a Uni KH-20 (plastic) pencil sharpener. Both of these grab your pencil and feed it into the sharpener.
jetpens.com is a great place to find interesting pens and pencils, mostly things from Japan that are not readily available in the US.
While they seem to run out of ink fast, I like the way the Zebra Gel Ink Pens write.
Ah, writing tools… my second weakness. As a lefty with horrible handwriting, I have a love/hate relationship with pens pencils and writing instruments. I have also recently been experimenting with various fountain pens.
For fountain pens I like the Lamy Safari. It isn’t a hundred dollar pen, but it is a great value for something a step above entry level. I have a couple of those in various colors. They work great for me and you can choose your nib size preference.
For the one and only pen I could budget above the 100$ price point, I got a Sailor 1911. It was recommended to me by a dealer that said it was a great brand and also dollar for dollar a great value. (You can easily pay 2 or 3 times as much for the same quality) I must say I love it, I think it works great (or maybe I tell myself that since I paid so much for it…)
The fountain pen world is just as filled with die hard enthusiasts that are more than happy to start a flame war over brands/inks/tips….
I still have http://gregminuskin.com/ (Greg Minuskin) on my rss feed, he does expert refurbishing and tip repairs on classic pens (classic pens is a whole other world).
Pencils – I have a few, but I have such a heavy hand that I constantly break the points and eventually give up on using a pencil. Not sure why I can develop a light touch, but for some reason writing like a normal person evades me.
Markers etc – Sharpies, sharpies, sharpies. I love those things and always have them around. I even had someone tell me that when they think of sharpies they think of me because I gave them a lecture on how useful they are….
Ditto on the space pen.
Pentel EnerGel has the best ink I’ve ever used. They also have a nice rubber grip. The only downside is the price
I’ve been quite pleased with EnerGel needle-tip pens as well. They ink flows very well, and the tips aren’t too fragile.
I bought mine from Stationery Art (http://www.stationeryart.com/pentel-pentel-energel-05mm-retractable-needle-blue-p-458.html). I paid $7 for 4, now they’re $5.50 for 4. Shipping was $10 on a $56 order 4 years ago.
JetPens carries what looks to be a cheaper style (http://www.jetpens.com/Pentel-EnerGel-X-Needle-Point-Retractable-Gel-Ink-Pen-0.5-mm-Blue/pd/7536), where the body, clip, and plunger are different.
I always carry a Rotring 600 Pen and Pencil set. I love how they write and the weight of both the pen and pencil. I also like the Uni Kuru Toga mechanical pencil. I tend to keep some Paper Mate Inkjoy pens around my desk in various colors because I like how they write and they are cheap.
I have several Kuru Toga pencils. I’m not convinced that it really helps my writing, but I like the auto rotating lead. Part of the reason it may not help me as much is because I have a long habit of rotating pencils to keep a nice tip.
For pens, I’m personally a fan of the Pilot Precise V5 RT and for pencils I like the Pentel Twist-Erase 0.5. I also like the uni-ball vision pens as well.
I really liked the original Twist-Erase pencils (or at least the ones I started using 25(?) years ago). I haven’t found the newer ones as comfortable to write with.
The Black Dr. Grip pen is absolutely my favorite pen to carry:
Has 4 colors plus a mechanical pencil built it. Nice rubber grip. It normal comes with ballpoint inks but you can use the fitstyle gel inks with it (more like hitec c writing quality).
I’m actually surprised these multipens have not been more popular, they are really useful.
my 2nd weakness!!!
i have a few with me at all times
main carry – zebra f-701 modded with a fisher spr4 refill and added the zebra 401 metal end – took apart a few pens to get the right spring ( i think it came from some internet pen company with my office logo the free ones they send out on the mail )
i have had this pen about 6 months and it never leaves my side – it has weight knurling for grip and with the fisher refill i dont have to worry about other leaks if it gets hot
if i ever get chosen to go to space i will have it with me !! ha
other pens are the pilot g-2 in 07 05 and 1 i have a few dozen placed around the house for quick grab and write a note
for pencils just what ever i have around – office depot brand or a lowes / hd carpenters pencil
will be looking at some of the choices others have posted above for goodies i want to try out
Pens, im not really that picky… if its within arms reach and has ink in it ill use it!
i mostly use pencils and markers for my work,
for rougher carpentry and marking needs i use the Pica Dry pencil
for more fine carpentry marking needs i prefer the Autopoint “all american” .9mm pencil .9mm is just thick enough to not snap on rougher grained woods without being overkill, also it fits nicely in some of my marking tools that have 1mm guide holes
as far as markers go, cant beat the inkzall from milwaukee. they work great
I too am a big fan of the Pilot/Namiki Vanishing point pens! I do, however, much prefer the design of the previous generation which had the clip integrated into the body of the pen:
I have a collection of about 25 vintage fountain pens (mainly Parkers), but the Vanishing Point has been my EDC for about 25 years. I’ve got the Namiki versions in maroon, green and black.
Space pens. They make several kinds including retractables. I like them for laying out on vertical and inverted surfaces, and they don’t skip in cold temps. Pilot made a similar pen called Down Force, but it tends to skip in the cold. Also, it’s bulky.
Pilot Frixion Clicker 05
Uni Mitsubishi Lead Holder – 2 mm
I use the Frixion pens exclusively for markups anymore, used to use colored pencils but the contrast and near perfect erasability of the Frixion pens has won me over. I tend to scan a lot of markups and have to send them to people around the US so good contrast is very important. They don’t last very long but they aren’t that expensive and so much nicer that it is worth it.
For a mechanical pencil the uni-ball KuroToga line is very nice with very reasonable prices (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0026ICM1E).
Zebra products, hands down. Write easily on receipt paper, etc. fine tip. Pencils I prefer a huge eraser so I go with a pentel. 1-2″ eraser on it that twists up.
For fountain pens I go with a Lamy Safari. Cartridges are cheap a readily available. Writes and writes and writes.
INKZALL!!!! lobe my INKZALL. Awesome on the jobsite
This is a topic after my own heart. I love writing implements, and why wouldn’t someone who frequents a tool blog?
For construction/wood working type work I too like 2mm lead holders. Not as clumsy or random as a carpenter’s pencil; an elegant weapon for a more civilized age.
I’ve started liking the Milwaukee Inkzall in place of Sharpies. I like the tips better, and they do write on everything I’ve tried them on.
For E.O.D. in my pocket I have a Cross Ion. It’s a great little pop-up pen. Unfortunately for some stupid reason Cross stopped making them, so they now fetch a premium online.
As just plain ol’ pens I like Uni-ball Signo Gel, in .7mm, they are really smooth writing and the ink has some check fraud preventing chemistry built in. I don’t like the .5mm or the 1mm as much as the .7mm for some reason.
In general I am enamored Japanese pens. I recommend the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner. It writes really well, plus it has an added bonus feature, it’s triangular so it doesn’t roll.
They sell them in a rainbow of colors and styles, and a lot of time in a cool case. Also the Pilot Precise V5 RT Retractable Rolling Ball Pens work very well and you can usually find those at any local Walmart.
Bic Clic Stic pens, I cannot stand any other type of pen. It drives my wife nuts, I throw out every other kind of pen I find in the house. I want to be able to grab a pen and use it, not take a few seconds to figure out whether it screws, uncaps, or clicks. Cheap, interchangeable.
As for pencils, standard yellow #2 pencils only please, the round novelty ones they give out to kids have crappy erasers and sometimes the lead shatters internally so that you keep sharpening them and the lead keeps falling out. Or sometimes the lead isn’t exactly in the center so it won’t sharpen properly.
In the shop I use a 0.9mm lead pencil. thick enough that it doesn’t break, and thin enough to make a decent mark.
Retro 1951 roller ball, weighs about a pound is solid aluminum with knurled cap end, have used it for about 15 years. Also fill my pockets with the standard issue sharpies and paint markers for various marking/tagging duties.
Writing? Hmm, no, don’t think I do much of that. That’s what computers of various sorts are for. Any old pencil or sharpie to mark wood/metal when building but otherwise it’s all computerized notes for me and has been since around ’87.
When I have to do marks for chop saw cuts I always like to use your favorite pen, the G2 in 7mm.
I curse the carpenters pencils for it’s crudeness and inaccuracies in line drawing with a straight edge, after using the G2’s I’ve never looked back, I have them all over my shop and on job sites. For when I have to use a pencil to avoid permanent marks, I always shoot for my beautiful Rotring 600 aluminum pencils but .5mm-.7mm lead is fragile.
The Rotring are now super expensive. http://www.rotring.com/en/mechanical-pencils/290-rotring-600-mechanical-pencil-3501178523096.html
There is a knock off that I have purchased with very good results, virtually identical in performance, look and feel to my Rotring 600:
I find .5mm too fragile for large layouts and marks ups, I only use .5mm in conjunction to my INCRA Precision T-Ruler which I love to use.
I have 2mm mechanical drafting pencils but for some reason I tend not to use them. I find the best pencil size for me is the .9mm as it’s more durable than the .5mm or .7mm. I will say that the .5mm is the best when you need very accurate fine measurements that are critical, like when your chiseling a mortise.
Another mechanical pencil that I highly recommend checking out and comes in various sizes is the ” Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L “.
I have to add that for the office and home, I have splurged a bit but couldn’t be happier. Like Stuart I almost use G2 and the Pilot Precise V5 and V7 in .5mm &. 7mm. The Pilot Precise V5 and V7 is almost the same as G2 but a bit more accurate and nicer feel, the G2 is more durable.
I use these cartridges inside a AURORA HASTIL SILVER 925 PEN. I ended up getting several of these through pen collectors but can be found on eBay and elsewhere. They’re not cheap but they are well worth it. Dunhill makes a similar one as well that can fit the G2 or V7 cartridge.
Stuart you would love the fountain pen version of this, it has a beautifully smooth nib. The pen is on display at the Museum of Modern Art.
I use a carbide scribe when I can, particularly when working with metal.
As for pens, I like the Pilot and Uni gel pens.
My wife worked in a bank and she says they recommend a gel or ultra fine Sharpie for writing checks you mail out. Crooks have been known to steal mail, dissolve the ink in the payee line, and fill in another name, or dummy company. Good gel or Sharpie ink cannot be cleanly removed without damaging the check itself. Might be a million to one of it ever happening to someone, but I don’t want to be that one.
Oh, and for pencils, I like the cheap .5 or .7 MM mechanical ones you can get at SAMs by the dozen. They work well, but are no big loss when they get broken, lost, or borrowed.
Work wise I use fine point whiteboard markers as most of the marks are on PVC and these come off nicely using industrial wipes.
At home its a combination of the above, an indelible fine point marker and a 0.5 clutch pencil depending on what material I am working with.
Still using several old Pentel QuickerClickers, before they ruined it with fat rubber grips.
Parker Jotter. Have it at least 10 years and it hasn’t run dry.
Space pen insert. I love the bullet pens because of their convenient size. I split the barrel on my last one and my wife bought me the CRKT pen. It has a space pen cartridge and that makes me happy. It’s heavier and longer than I’d like but it certainly works and I want to see how long it survives. I’m pretty sure I could use it Gross Point Blank style. 🙂
Why space pens? Well, today we drilled holes in a concrete floor and we needed to mark the edge of where the bench would mount. The floor is rough concrete and covered in concrete dust. You’ll get maybe five marks out of a sharpie in that environment, none out of a regular pen, and you’ll probably break your pencil tip. I got excellent lines from my space pen and it’s not the first time I’ve done it. That pen will run out of ink before that kind of abuse will become a problem.
Pentel P207. The blue 7mm one. Use ’em for everything (since I don’t write checks anymore). But…bored .30 over, 650 hp at the wheels, 175 wpc, all channels driven, .000001% THD, 3200 fps, 17 in the clip with 1 in the pipe…and other stuff.
I love the Faber-Castell e-motion mechanical pencils. They have a thick 1.4mm lead and their shape is particularly satisfying in the hand, specially if you get one of the wood-barreled ones.
For ink, I use Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pens. They write very well, almost as well as my Montblanc, and better than many expensive fountain pens, and don’t dry out. They won’t work on triplicate carbon forms, but those are hardly common any more.
Ball point — paper mate retractable bold 1.4mm(always one in my pocket )
Gel- zebra pentel
I used a G-2 until I tried a Uni-ball 207. I find it to be a step up in design, and writing performance.
Pentel .9mm yellow mechanical pencil. None better, period. I use mine every day for just about everything from marking trim to taking notes. It’s not a good pencil for framing, the lead is just too small. I did have a 1.1mm that was great for framing, tho.
The Pentel erasers quickly become useless but the pencil itself is bomber! .9 is perfect for all but cabinet work, it’s readily available and did I say the pencil is bomber? This pencil is so tough it stopped my washing machine when it jammed between the agitator and the drum. It was very difficult to actually break the pencil so I could fix my washer.
My current office fav is a $22 Retro 1951 Tornado. Feels great in the hand and a good looking design.
I have many preferences depending on the task…… but if selecting only one, it would be the Space Pen due to dependability and versatility, bar none. I only wish I’d started using it a long time ago.
I carried a space pen for years until last week i found they make the bic 4 color pen in a shorter version, now this is my edc.
I’ve used ball points and stick pens; to paraphrase Roger Ebert, I hated, hated, hated them all. One day I picked up some Uni-Ball “Grip” roller ball pens (black ink), and haven’t looked back since. The entire pen has a rubberized surface and is thick enough to provide a nice grip. The writing point is 0.7 mm, and the ink is never splotchy. They’re not always available in office supply stores, so I get them through Amazon. I’ve not tried gel ink pens, so I can’t say these are better, but it has become my go-to pen when I write checks or fill out forms in a doctor’s office. Very smooth writing pen, and the non-slip grip makes it easy to hold. I really dislike stick pens; they’re too narrow, and the cheap, shiny plastic surface doesn’t lend itself to writing for extended periods. The Grip pen is comfortable enough to use all day long.
I have 15 g-2 pens by pilot and that’s all I’ll ever use. You can even get refills at big box discount stores. I love the way they feel in my fingers.
I use the triangular papermate mechanical pencil. The shape feels great in ur grip and u have better control of ur lines. They also have 1.3 mm lead that never breaks like most other leads do. The best part is a pack of 5 at walmart is only $3. I do finish work and used to use pentel .9mm and that was a great pencil but now I got something better and cheaper. Most of my coworkers have switched to them also.
Great topic; it’s fun to see how “tool guys” extend their interest to the tools of everyday life. It’s a theme I wouldn’t mind revisiting here from time to time.
For pencils, I have the Alvin Draft-Matic, Pentel GraphGear 500, and Pentel GraphGear 1000 (all in both 0.5 and 0.7 mm and all made in Japan). The Draft-Matics are my favorite; I like the feel of the deep knurling. The GraphGear 500 is very similar to the Draft-Matic except with much smoother knurling (which I imagine most people would find more comfortable) and a hexagonal rather than round barrel. I keep the GraphGear 1000s in my bag because they have retractable tips. I use Pentel Clic-Erasers so I don’t have to constantly replace the tiny erasers the pencils come with (also made in Japan). For pens, I have a couple of Parker Jotters (made in France, though I understand they were previously made in England).
I’d like to get some more mechanical pencils (more out of interest than any real need). At some point, I imagine I won’t be able to resist the temptation of the Rotrings (though the retractable tip versions are especially pricey).
I went on a mechanical and technical pencil buying binge a while back, bought Alvin Draft-Matics, Pentel GraphGear 500 and 1000, a bunch of Staedtlers – not the boring lead holders but some slightly swanky ones and mechanicals that work with common lead sizes as well. I haven’t tried RotoRing yet either.
I haven’t found an excellent eraser yet though. Uni Boxys are good, but they also degrade somewhat. In my experience they tend to stick to plastic-bodied pens and pencils if they sit in the same place too long. They don’t just stick, they kind of bond and leave behind a thick and hard to remove residue. I guess it’s hard to beat Pink Pearls.
Here’s an eraser for you – http://www.amazon.com/Tombow-Eraser-Retractable-Silver-57305/dp/B005IQHCHK.
I sort of inherited about a dozen boxes of one gross each 2mm leads, all 3H hardness. I LOVE them for woodworking. The leads are sharp and hard enough that on most woods it scribes as much as writes. I have two different lead holders, one metal and one plastic. Both have built-in lead pointers (“sharpeners” to the uninformed), but I usually sharpen them on either a 220 grit sanding block or my stationary disc sander. Neither stays on my ear as well as a contractor’s pencil or even a regular pencil, which is frustrating, but I prefer using them so I clip them on a pocket or collar.
I also use them for metalworking layout, and once the layout is certain I go over the lines again with a carbide scribe.
For rough cuts in either situation I use a Sharpie because it is so much easier to see.
My everyday carry is a standard, black Sharpie and a dollar store “inky” pen. I love the v-ball and precision type pens but they are expensive and the caps or clips almost always break long before I’ve used up the ink (has a lot to do with the situations in which I work; most people aren’t as rough on things like that as I am), so I gave up on those and now I just use the ones from the dollar store. They leave a broader stroke than I prefer but not by much and they are SO MUCH better for regular writing than typical ball-point pens. Unless I’m signing a thermal paper receipt, which always sucks with inky pens, so then I cave in and use their crappy ball points.
That’s basically it. 2mm lead holder, carbide scribe, Sharpie, and dollar store micro roller ball inky pen. Other than this keyboard and my phone I can’t think of anything else I like to use.
My favorite pen is the Tul GL-1. Retractable, gel ink, 0.7mm line. Feels good in my hand and it’s not bad to look at. Most importantly, it provides a precise, consistent line. Doesn’t ever give me that “clump” of ink that I sometimes get from some other pens. When I use it with a straight edge, it doesn’t leave ink on the straight edge. The ink doesn’t spread on standard paper when I pause to change direction. There’s a bit of bleed through when used on lightweight paper.
Pentel Graphgear 1000 .9mm
I like zebra gel pens, the thicker gel makes my handwriting look better.
I use .9 bic velocity pencils. They have a cap over the eraser so I’m not getting junk over the eraser advancing the lead.
Sharpie tips flatten to fast and dry out so i use Milwaukee.