Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

Are you a Pencil Person?

Stephanie

Do you enjoy using pencils? I love the smell of pencils, and the different types of wood used to make them. I love the way a sharpened nib moves against a sheet of paper and that sometimes amazingly dark line of graphite…  

But I have a problem with pencils as well.

As soon as the point loses its sharpness, I get frustrated- especially while drawing because as the nib changes shape, so do the marks on the paper. I try to keep a sharpener at hand but I’d have to be sharpening all the time and I’ve used up pencils way to quickly that way for it to be useful. I also have tried mechanical pencils so the leads would maintain their size throughout their use but I always seem to have too much lead extended, or not enough- not to mention the fact that I’m always breaking the thin leads….

If you are a pencil person, how do you work through these issues? Am I missing something? Because I’ve got more than a few pencils in my arsenal and I’d sure love to be using them!


84 thoughts on “Are you a Pencil Person?

  1. Hi J B and Wilson,
    I’ve been a test administrator for several exam bodies including a medical and dental college for over 14 years.
    I think my finicky colleagues are just trying to cover themselves. J B is right – if you can read the mark easily so can the scanner. Here in the UK Scantron is not a commonly seen manufacturer but I’ve used machines with all sorts of shapes and colours of cells – round, oval rectangular and sometimes just a dash. If you insist on using a 5H pencil and have a light hand you just might find the reader can’t pick it up. If you layer on the 5B you might just make the edge so fuzzy the reader rejects it as a stray mark. Both are unlikely.
    Otherwise my advice is to stop worrying about the pencil, make sure you’ve studied properly and relax.

  2. Hi J B and Wilson,
    I’ve been a test administrator for several exam bodies including a medical and dental college for over 14 years.
    I think my finicky colleagues are just trying to cover themselves. J B is right – if you can read the mark easily so can the scanner. Here in the UK Scantron is not a commonly seen manufacturer but I’ve used machines with all sorts of shapes and colours of cells – round, oval rectangular and sometimes just a dash. If you insist on using a 5H pencil and have a light hand you just might find the reader can’t pick it up. If you layer on the 5B you might just make the edge so fuzzy the reader rejects it as a stray mark. Both are unlikely.
    Otherwise my advice is to stop worrying about the pencil, make sure you’ve studied properly and relax.

  3. Hi Wilson,

    Any pencil designated “HB” is 100% equivalent to a #2. From what I can tell, having used a Rhodia, they are HB/#2.

    In any case, these designators are pretty arbitrary and will tell you the hardness/darkness relative only for that one manufacturer. A Palomino HB, for example, runs quite soft, equivalent to a B or even 2B from other manufacturers. I’ve never understood why test administrators are so ridiculously finicky about it; the optical sensors on the test-readers certainly can’t tell what kind of pencil you use, or indeed if it’s ink or not. Basically you want something that will produce a dark mark, but that can erase well enough not to trip a false positive.

  4. Hi Wilson,

    Any pencil designated “HB” is 100% equivalent to a #2. From what I can tell, having used a Rhodia, they are HB/#2.

    In any case, these designators are pretty arbitrary and will tell you the hardness/darkness relative only for that one manufacturer. A Palomino HB, for example, runs quite soft, equivalent to a B or even 2B from other manufacturers. I’ve never understood why test administrators are so ridiculously finicky about it; the optical sensors on the test-readers certainly can’t tell what kind of pencil you use, or indeed if it’s ink or not. Basically you want something that will produce a dark mark, but that can erase well enough not to trip a false positive.

  5. Rhodia Pencil’s and Scantrons
    Does anybody know if the Rhodia is a No. 2? As a student, we have Scantron machines at school to make the life of our teachers easier. I would like to know if we can use them.

    Also, along the lines of how to use a pencil, thanks to the engineers and others who gave the tip to rotate the pencil while you use it. I took a Ticonderoga No. 2 in to class today and turned and turned that thing while I wrote my essay questions. Worked out great!

  6. Rhodia Pencil’s and Scantrons
    Does anybody know if the Rhodia is a No. 2? As a student, we have Scantron machines at school to make the life of our teachers easier. I would like to know if we can use them.

    Also, along the lines of how to use a pencil, thanks to the engineers and others who gave the tip to rotate the pencil while you use it. I took a Ticonderoga No. 2 in to class today and turned and turned that thing while I wrote my essay questions. Worked out great!

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