Mechanical Pencil - 3mm Fixpencil from Lee Valley

I bought something called a Fixpencil from Lee Valley Tools several months ago, but have only recently been using it to any great extent. Basically it is a very solid mechanical pencil that holds 3mm leads - not 0.3mm - three whole ones. The typical mechanical pencil you see around the office has a .3 to .7mm lead, and is made of plastic or flimsy metal. The pencil shown here -
http://www.leevalley.com/wood/page.asp?pageE504&category=1,42936,43509&ccurrency=2&SID- or here http://tinyurl.com/5txd5 is made of solid aluminum and is basically indestructible. I've sat on it, dropped it, you name it - it's fine.
While working in a cabinetmaking shop I rarely used it, simply because there were numerous sharp regular pencils to be grabbed. The Fixpencil *can* be sharpened to a pretty fine point, but that's not it's strength. It's strength lies in its ability to mark wood - rough cut and otherwise - without breaking the lead. I use mine daily on the construction site and I gotta tell you it's much easier, more convenient and effective than a carpenter's pencil. Plus it's got a built in lead sharpener for when you want a finer line - although I rarely need it.
The cost of the pencil lead refills is a bit shocking, at a full two bucks a pop, but each one lasts a looooong time. I'm still on the one that came with the pencil.
The only negative comment I can make is that the advancement mechanism for the lead isn't the type you can just "click" to advance. You have to push the button on the end of the pencil in and then sort of tip it so the lead slides out to the appropriate length. When I first got the pencil, the lead wasn't exposed and when I pushed the button the lead shot out and broke into pieces on the floor. (They still worked when I shovedt them back in though.) Don't worry, it becomes second nature to slide it out once you've used it. I keep mine in my carpenters pouch so I leave it advanced, but you should push the lead back in if you're going to stick it in a back pocket.
For the cabinetmakers, I'd say stick with your marking knives and recently sharpened wooden pencils. For you framers and carpenters though, I highly recommend it. It's easy to use, durable, provides an accurate mark, and it's quick - no more whittling!
JP ************************** One step up and two steps back.
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On Tue, 14 Sep 2004 21:43:55 -0400, Jay Pique wrote:

Looks quite like what I used in drafting classes in high school. There's a special sharpener available as well.
--
Joe Wells


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Your drafting lead holder didn't use 3mm leads, but the sharpener still might work. If you want to carry it around, especially the electric one.
Chas Hurst
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On Tue, 14 Sep 2004 23:36:43 -0400, Chas Hurst wrote:

Well, high school was quite a while ago... I guess those were 2mm leads, I doubt the little twirrly sharpener would work. Of course, the sandpaper-stapled-to-a-board would ;^)
--
Joe Wells


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My guess -without measuring- is 1.5 mm. High school for me was shortly after the earth cooled, class of '63.
Regards
Chas Hurst
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Whoops, I just dug out my drafting set and measured a lead, they are indeed 2mm.

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You guys made me think. I always break the .5mm leads if using them for woodworking so I pretty much just gave up. Now you made me remember way back when I was an auditor. We used a double ended mechanical pencil we called a "stick-pen" but has the name "Autopoint" written on it. We had red in one end and blue in the other (don't ask, it was a long drawn out process for organizing workpapers and audit notes). Anyhow I have a couple of them that have sat in the junk drawer in my desk at work for the last 15 years along with several sets of lead. Drug them out and they are .9mm and seem MUCH sturdier than the .5mm stuff. A little further checking found that my Cross pencil lead is also .9mm and I have a couple of those laying around unused for a decade or so (along with a good bit of spare lead). Now I have new shop pencils (at least for a week or so until I lose all four).
Dave Hall
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I used 0.3mm 0.5mm and 0.7mm leaded pencils in college. The 0.5 would break often but the 0.7 was very robust. I also used (and still use in the shop) a 2mm lead holder for general marking, works great!
-Bruce
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Chas Hurst wrote: [snip]>

aught fifty seven. Made my way through school doing some drafting and used the 2mm mechanicals. I had one around here somewheres for a lot of years. Wonder if my ex didn't get it along with the drafting equipment. Sigh. Changing the sandpaper in the whirly sharpener was always fun.     mahalo,     jo4hn
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19057? Wow - so they have time machines in the future? Why would you come back here?
Mike
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While not quite as strong as their 3mm, those 2mm lead holders you mentioned are cheap and still do a pretty good job in the shop. I got tired of the .5mm breaking, and all the wood pencils. The 2mm lead is cheap, I use two hardnesses and colored lead, and clamped a sharpener to my toolbox. GerryG

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Man. All you guys using .5mm pencils and breaking the lead all the time must be pretty heavy handed. I have three of the Pentel .5mm pencils in my garage/shop that I use and while I admit the lead breaks on occassion, I am generally satisfied with them. I use the soft HB lead and the biggest problem I have is that the leads wear down and I have to stop and extend a little more lead. I also have a couple of .7mm pencils and I don't think I have broken the lead marking anything yet.
Lighten up guys. :-)
Wayne
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2004 18:10:55 GMT, "NoOne N Particular"

I find the .5's a little too breakable but the .7's work just fine for me. -- jc Published e-mail address is strictly for spam collection. If e-mailing me, please use jc631 at optonline dot net
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On Wed, 15 Sep 2004 18:10:55 GMT, "NoOne N Particular"

It depends on the wood.
I can write on ply, MDF, or planed birch, maple, bass, or cherry all day long with a .5 mm pencil.
Oak, ash, mahogany and any wood that hasn't been over the thickness planer or jointer breaks a lot of lead.
I usually use crayons on rough wood. <G>
Barry
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wrote:

This one has a built-in sharpener. You pull the little blue cap off the end (the thing you push on to advance the lead) and then twist it around the lead and it puts a nice point on it.
JP
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I use a 2mm drafting lead holder. The leads are much more available and are about $8.00 a dozen. Great durability and a full selection of lead harnesses to choose from. Rockler has recently started selling one like it.

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They also just happen to be on sale at the Rockler stores right now for $3.99, includes an eraser, extra leads and a sharpener.
John Emmons

rrency=2&SID> > - or here

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On Thu, 16 Sep 2004 16:24:49 GMT, "John Emmons"

Wow. That beats 19 clams for the holder and another 2 bucks a pop for leads, that's for sure.....
JP ****************** But mine's al-you-minny-um.

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You can order them all over the web. Lots of colors and hardnesses. Try a 4H for marking dovetails, almost like a knife.
--
Ross
www.myoldtools.com
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