Mechanical Pencil

Mid-Week Mini: Le Typograhe Porte-Mine Mechanical Pencil.


One of my recent purchases after a trip to Amsterdam was the Le Typographe Porte-Mine mechanical pencil. I found this in Misc-Store and after spending a long time examining everything in the shop, I decided I needed to buy this pencil. I really liked the style but it was after testing the graphite out I had to buy it.


Before I dig into the pencil I just wanted to share the kraft packaging. The pencil is protected by a concertina folded piece of card that holds it in place. What I really like is the embossed guide on the back which shows you all the elements of the pencil. There is no unnecessary text or information here, just a simple and beautiful design.


The style of the Porte-Mine is beautiful. It has a cream coloured metal barrel which is comparable to the size and feel of a woodcase pencil.


There is a cute golden bug imprinted near the top of the pencil too which is the only indication of any branding.


To use the Porte-Mine you press down the knock of the pencil to allow the graphite to escape from the barrel. You can decide how much of the graphite you want to appear, the only thing to bear in mind if that you don’t let the graphite fall out of the barrel and shatter.


The knock also unscrews from the top of the pencil to reveal a small sharpener. This is really useful having this incorporated into the pencil itself. It means you don’t have to find a sharpener that works with this mechanical pencil, or worry about carrying it around. Everything is in one place.


Writing with the graphite is very nice. It’s not too dark, but rather a light grey colour. My plan is to use this pencil for sketching. I can extend more of the graphite if I need to shade a sketch, or use the nice point that the sharpener creates for the detail work.


It was a nice surprise the find the Porte-Mine in Misc. I would not have come across this online and it was through testing the pencil out that really sold me on it. I love visiting brick and mortar stores, especially those that encourage touching and testing. They really do open things you to you and show you new and exciting tools you could be using.


Caran d'Ache Mechanical Pencil

I am not a regular mechanical pencil user. Snapping graphite was always a deal breaker for me (no pun intended) and they never seemed to work as well as a woodcase pencil. Despite not being interested in mechanical pencils that hasn't stopped me trying out a few based on accolades I read online. The first was the Rotring 300 that I stumbled across when shopping in London and the second the Kuru-toga, the rotating mechanism sparking my interest. Both of these mechanical pencils have been fine, but not particularly exciting, and neither made me change my pencil habits. 

Rotring 300, Caran d'Ache and the Kuru-toga  

Rotring 300, Caran d'Ache and the Kuru-toga  

My latest mechanical pencil purchase was the Caran d'Ache 844. I picked this up during my recent visit to Berlin from the wonderful R.S.V.P.

The Design

The design of the Caran d'Ache mechanical pencil pulled me in immediately, it's quite simply lovely. There are a good range of standard colour options available (aluminium, sapphire blue, fluorescent yellow, white and black), I went for the bright and vibrant red.

Like most things, seeing this mechanical pencil in the flesh helped me very quickly decide that I wanted to try this pencil out. The size is good. It's portable and fits into any of my Nock Co cases, unlike my woodcase pencils. For this it earns bonus points. The body of the pencil is aluminium and has a nice weight to it. The aluminium barrel feels more substantial than the plastic body Kuru-toga but at the same time is not too heavy to write for long periods of time. There is also a clip on the barrel, but I haven't found a need to use this. One feature of the pencil that I particularly like is the tapered grip section. It's nice to hold and allows me to see the tip of the pencil clearly. 

More tapering on the Caran d'Ache than my other mechanical pencils  

More tapering on the Caran d'Ache than my other mechanical pencils  

The Caran d'Ache mechanical pencil gives me the impression that the design is as important as its use. Caran d'Ache have successfully combined the desired functionality along with a good design.  

The Writing Experience

Whilst I enjoy these design elements it's all pointless if the pencil doesn't write well. I really enjoy using this pencil. Personally the graphite is almost perfect. It can take pressure when I am writing, the shade is gorgeous and overall it feels sturdy. And what's more, it hasn't snapped, once! The graphite is 0.7mm with refills options available online at reasonable prices. 

A Perfect Setup?

I have been using this pencil for some time with my Field Notes DDC Standard Factory Floor edition notebook and it's been a match made in heaven. I have taken to using pencil in the standard 50lb paper Field Notes memo books. I had been rotating and changing pencils almost daily however my favourite pencil yet is the Caran 'Ache mechanical pencil. I find this match up works really well and let's me concentrate on making a note rather than worrying about the pencil I am using or whether the point is sharp enough. With the no snap graphite and its lovely grey tone it's no real surprise that I enjoy using this pencil.   

A perfect match

A perfect match

In Summary

The Caran d'Ache mechanical pencil is going to be a constant companion. Caran d'Ache make high quality writing implements and the mechanical pencil is no different. Controversially I was not a huge fan of the Swiss Wood 348 pencil, but the mechnical pencil is one I can get behind.