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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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