Posts filed under Modern Fuel

Modern Fuel Pencil Review

Modern Fuel Pencil Review

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

Modern Fuel is an independent shop based in Austin, TX that you might know from their previous Kickstarter campaign. A custom-made, precision writing device, the Modern Fuel Pencil is a gorgeous feat of design and manufacturing.

I've always had a thing for drafting pencils and lead holders. My dad, being an engineer, always had a collection of different pencils at his desk that I could experiment with. Later, I worked at a college bookstore that stocked drafting supplies, giving me even more opportunity to test and experiment with all the specialized and precise tools that abound in that discipline.

Modern Fuel Pencil Tip

Once I became more and more familiar with the stationery world, I started branching out and trying more mechanical pencils. The pencil market is fascinating due to the level of engineering and design thought that go into these things. Rotating lead? Fascinating. Shaking the pencil to advance the lead? Gimmicky, but still cool because it works. Once you get into the all-metal drafting pencils, there's a different level of ingenuity and craftsmanship that appears. The Rotring 600 is still one of my favorite writing instruments, and I love using it. You might say that the Modern Fuel Pencil fits in that same category, but you'd be wrong.

Modern Fuel Pencil

This pencil is off the charts when it comes to detail and precision. The tolerances on this things are unbelievable. I'll never get tired of completely missing a seam because it's almost impossible to see. With this pencil, I didn't know the nose cone unscrewed until I looked at photos on the website and realized you removed the nose cone in order to replace the lead mechanism with a different size. Mind: blown.

Modern Fuel Pencil Nose Cone

Another marvel (at least for me) is the lead pipe. I've seen and used plenty of pencils that retract the lead pipe when not in use. This is a helpful feature because the lead pipe acts like a stabby syringe when shoved in pockets or dropped over body parts. It works beautifully, but I'm mostly impressed by the minute tolerances between all the parts. There's no wiggle room, but it doesn't feel rigid or stiff either. That's an incredibly difficult task to pull off well, and Modern Fuel have done it.

Modern Fuel Pencil Eraser

The other end of the pencil also operates exactly like you expect. The black eraser is always in full view, and I really appreciate the visual contract it provides against the shiny steel. It also happens to work well as an eraser. Remove the eraser and you have access to the lead storage, but this opening serves a duel purpose. There's a small hex nut in the barrel that allows you to unscrew the lead mechanism. Like I mentioned earlier, you can easily swap out the mechanism with a different lead size. The fact that the nut that controls this swap is hidden inside the barrel is yet another feat of design that delights me.

As an added bonus, you can opt for an "Eraser Plug" accessory that replaces the eraser with a flush nut. It's a beautiful, clean look and I'd imagine this is a great alternative if you prefer a larger eraser.

Modern Fuel Pencil Tolerances

The clip that came with the pencil is also black, providing some additional visual contrast to the stark metal. The clip is surprisingly strong and does a great job of keeping the pencil from rolling away. The clip does not come pre-installed, and it takes a good bit of effort to install! Luckily, it stays put and it doesn't create any scratch marks on the pencil body during the install process.

Those are the details of the pencil, but then there's the pencil as a whole. It feels great in the hand. There's a satisfying weight that's still within the comfort range. It's just enough weight to make your marks feel sure and controlled, but not too much to cause fatigue after a few minutes of use. The stainless steel quickly warms up in your hand, and even though there isn't any grip texture on the body, it's surprisingly secure. When writing, it feels like using a precise instrument instead of a mechanical pencil. It feels like a tool that was purpose-built with laser-focused vision. In short, it's a perfect mechanical pencil.

Modern Fuel Pencil Comparison

With such high praise, it seems like this pencil has it all. It looks great, it performs flawlessly, it's dependable and versatile. What are we missing? Ah, yes. The price. At $200, this is likely the most expensive pencil I'll ever use. After the initial sticker shock faded, I spent some time thinking about this object. I thought about how much I've paid for fountain pens that are produced on a large scale from a combination of plastics and precious metals. All things considered, I think $200 is a fair price for this pencil. If you understand the level of quality attached to this pencil, you'll know exactly what you're buying, and it will be worth every penny.

The Modern Fuel Pencil is certainly not for everyone, and that's OK. For those of us who enjoy exceptionally high-quality writing instruments, this pencil is a delight. If you like the design and have the means, I encourage you to pick one up.

(Modern Fuel provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Modern Fuel Pencil Writing
Posted on February 13, 2019 and filed under Modern Fuel, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.

Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil 2.0 Review

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Andrew Sanderson, the owner and designer behind Modern Fuel, sent me a prototype of his 1.0 mechanical pencil last year to get feedback on. I liked it, but didn’t love it, and explained to him why. It was too light, and the balance was a bit off. The refinement for a 1.0 release wasn’t there, at least in my book.

With Version 2.0, Andrew has made all the updates I personally was looking for in a quality machined mechanical pencil, and, after getting to test out this prototype, I am happy to back his current Kickstarter project.

The change list from Version 1.0 to Version 2.0 is large, and includes new materials, a retractable tip, and most impressively, a custom built internal mechanism. That last item alone had to be quite an engineering feat.

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By designing his own mechanism, Andrew allows you to easily swap out the internals of the pencil and change the lead size. 0.5 mm, 0.7 mm , and 0.9 mm mechanisms are available, and you can even order all three for a single pencil. The retractable tip was a pleasant surprise as well. I didn’t expect that at all, but it is a big bonus for mechanical pencil fans.

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My prototype model is made from stainless steel, and is accordingly heavy. Not too heavy, mind you, but I prefer using the 0.9 mm mechanism due to the weight. In general, the heavier or larger the pen or pencil, the wider the tip I prefer. The 0.9 mm delivers a line similar to using a wooden pencil, and allows for a greater range of motion when writing. I’m still surprised at how much I like the width.

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One add-on that I haven’t seen offered before is an option for an eraser plug. The standard configuration ships with an eraser, but you can buy an accessory that allows you to remove the eraser and seal the opening. I’m generally a no pencil eraser person, but I think I prefer having the eraser available on this style of pencil. I don’t think the plug adds anything style or functionality wise and likely isn’t worth the additional $12 unless you are really committed to the look.

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Like most of our buying decisions, this one comes down to value. Will you get enough usage out of this product to justify the price? The Modern Fuel Mechanical Pencil starts at $70 for Stainless Steel, Brass, or Copper, and $130 for Titanium. That’s very expensive, but worth it in my book. The amount of engineering alone justifies the price for me, plus I like supporting people who make cool things. After using this prototype for the past few weeks I decided to back the Stainless Steel model, and am excited to get this in the rotation once the project completes.

My thanks to Modern Fuel for loaning me this prototype for purposes of this review.


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on October 9, 2017 and filed under Modern Fuel, Mechanical Pencil, Pencil Reviews.