Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Pencil Tin Set Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

It's finally spring, here, but when I open a new box of pencils, it's instantly September and I'm ready to head back to school. This set of graphite artist's pencils have that smell that activates the part of your brain that needs to create.

The Faber-Castell 9000 Graphite Pencil Tin Set contains six pencils of different lead grades: HB, B, 2B, 4B, 6B, and 8B. The lead is bonded to the hexagonal wood casing (so the lead is very break-resistant), and the body is coated in water-based, environmentally friendly varnish. They're all in the signature Faber-Castell dark green with gold-stamped branding and labels.

Faber-Castell have kept a consistent aesthetic in their 112-year legacy. I found an old tin set in an antique shop last year. I don't know how old this set is, but the lovely pencils are nearly identical to the modern ones.

It's safe to say that 100+ years is enough time to become an expert, so it's no surprise that these pencils are excellent. The leads are strong with a lovely degree of difference in lead grades. They write smoothly with just the right amount of feedback, shade beautifully, erase well, and hardly smudge at all, even in the softest grade. The right side of my drawn line is where I tried to smudge them--and I feel I have to tell you that, because it's really difficult to see any smudge. They all held their points quite well, though the softer ones naturally wore down a little more quickly. They're light and the wood smells enchanting.

The Faber-Castell 9000 is available in 16 hardness grades, sold as open stock or in sets of 6, 12, or in a complete set of 16.

These are great artist's tools. Whether you're sketching, drawing, or designing, these are definitely worth a try. They'd also make a lovely gift for an artist. Harder lead grades may perform well for writing, but sketching is where these pencils shine.

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


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Posted on April 27, 2017 and filed under Faber-Castell, Pencil Reviews.

Tuff Writer Mini-Click Gen2 Pen Review

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

The Tuff Writer Mini-Click Gen2 is a second iteration on the Mini-Click that offers a larger selection of materials from the standard aluminum offerings that were available in the first iteration. The Kickstarter funded back in February, and the rewards are already being shipped to backers. I would imagine that these new materials will be available on the Tuff Writer store in the near future as well.

Among the new materials that were offered, backers had a choice of titanium, copper, and brass for the Gen2 version. Aside from the material options, there were also options for each one that ranged from polished, brushed, tumbled, flamed, and aged. Really, there were quite a few aesthetic decisions to make if you backed this pen!

The version I have today is the Aged Brass Mini-Click. This version went for $96 on Kickstarter, but I would expect a higher price once they're available in retail settings. The Aged Brass looks fantastic. The method they used to age the brass gave it a dark, gunmetal look that pairs beautifully with the black tumbled clip and polished click mechanism.

First off, though, let's talk about packaging. These pens shipped in Tuff Writer-branded airtight cigar tubes. Nice touch. You can even repurpose the cigar tube as a way to protect fountain pens from air pressure changes experienced on airplanes. The more you know!

Upon opening the package, I was met with a pretty strong smell that reminded me of gun polish. Not my favorite smell, but it dissipated with time. I can only detect it when I hold the pen directly under my nose now. There's a faint smell on my fingers after using the pen, but not nearly as noticeable as using other brass or copper pens. Something about the finish on this Mini-Click reduces and masks that oxidation odor.

First thing I noticed about this pen? The weight. Oh boy, this is a hefty pen. Weighing in at a whopping 66 grams, this is something you notice in your pocket. If casually dropped onto a conference room table after you close your notebook, the noise will attract the attention of everyone in the room. It's not a toy!

The weight makes it feel sturdy and reliable, but it's a downside in my book due to the fatigue it causes after a couple of paragraphs of writing. It's just too heavy to hold comfortably. I think I would really enjoy the titanium or aluminum versions better because of this, but they don't have a finish similar to this one. Dilemmas!

The clip is black with a tumbled finish. It's held in place with two hex screws that match the black finish. It's an incredibly strong clip, which is important given the weight of the pen.

The body of the pen features 6 different o-rings in different places. At the grip section, three o-rings are grouped close together to form a surprisingly comfortable grip. Further up under the clip, there are three more o-rings spaced further apart. I'm guessing the functional purpose for these is to provide some needed friction under the grip to ensure the pen is secure. Regardless, it's aesthetically pleasing.

The Mini-Click ships with a black medium Fisher refill. Excellent choice for a tough pen like this, although it does require a unique fitting on the butt of the refill for it to work properly. If this fitting will work on other Parker style refills, then it's fair game in this pen. That means you have many, many options outside of the Fisher.

The click mechanism on this pen is...interesting. On the Kickstarter page, they describe the "416SS Pen Advancing Mechanism" as the best refill advancing gadget that is available today. I'm not really buying into the marketing on this because it resembles the same mechanism used by the majority of other Kickstarter machined pens. If you're a fan of machined pens, you'll probably recognize it. The only difference here is that there are machined grooves around the diameter of the push cylinder, as well as a logo on the top of the push cylinder. Nice touches, but not worthy of the marketing language.

I wish that the marketing language the end of my criticism for the knock. Unfortunately, the copy I have has a significant defect. About 1 time out of 5 clicks, the mechanism becomes stuck in either the "open" or "retracted" mode. It takes a pretty hard press on the knock to recover from this state, and it really frustrates me. It would be one thing if it was a rare issue, but it happens very frequently and is very easy to reproduce. I would imagine that this is an example of a small quality defect that doesn't impact very many pens, but it should have never shipped like this. I've said this many times, and it applies here: when you're paying this much for a pen, this type of problem is unacceptable.

With that out of the way, I don't see it as a crippling issue for the pen. Tuff Writer bills this as a modular pen, which makes it easy to replace any part that breaks or gets lost. In this case, a quick swap of the knock mechanism would likely clear up the issue. Easy fix.

Overall, this is a beautiful, rugged pen that will easily outlive me. It could stand up to some of the most harsh environments without breaking a sweat. The price is fair considering the materials used and the time spent producing the aged aesthetic. Knock issues aside, I think this is a great pen. If I did it again, I'd probably opt for the aluminum or titanium versions to cut down significantly on the weight.

Tuff Writer sells the Mini-Click and many other machined pens on their site, and I would expect these new metals to be available soon.

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


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, which I am very grateful for.

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

Posted on April 26, 2017 and filed under Tuff-Writer, Tactical Pen, Pen Reviews.

The Pen Addict Podcast: Episode #253 - Live from the Atlanta Pen Show 2017

Pre-game. Image via @klandwehr.

Pre-game. Image via @klandwehr.

Wow that was fun! This event is the highlight of my year, and I’m glad we could share it with everyone. Thank you for an amazing weekend!

Show Notes & Download Links

This episode of The Pen Addict is sponsored by:

Retro 51: Life’s too short to carry an ugly pen.

Mack Weldon: Smart underwear for smart guys. Get 20% off with the code PENADDICT.

Posted on April 24, 2017 and filed under Podcast.