Some Points

PointsAmerican Machinist Magazine, 1914

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3 Responses to Some Points

  1. Sola says:

    Hi Sean, thank you for posting this – I got a couple of chisel points a while ago but I couldn’t get them to work very well, even in a calligraphic setting. It’s interesting that there are two kinds of points – so you can slim the point down sideways too. Hmmm. Do you know how and for what purpose they were used?

    BTW I sharpened mine (Microtomic 2B and 4B) by hand and the wood quality was astounding, it fell away like butter! I tried the same with the Van Dyke to see if the wood was comparable, but it was inferior to the Microtomic. I wonder if chisel point pencils are made with better wood to make sharpening easier?


    • Sean says:

      Hi Sola. I really like chisel point pencils, and from what I can tell they weren’t around for too long. In terms of drafting, if you were to draw a long straight line along a straight edge with a regular point, the point would wear and you could have a line with an increasing thickness. Having a chisel point meant this wouldn’t happen as much, and the structural integrity of a chisel point meant that it was less likely break. “Lofting”, I believe, is what the technique is called.

      I hand-sharpern mine, too (there’s an accidental pun there: “mine” meaning “lead” in German. Then again, it also can mean “torpedo” too, so…), and finish-up with some low-grade sandpaper. I have a feeling that there were still architects and artists who still hand-sharpened their pencils, so it would surprise me if they used different wood for chisel point pencils. And if they did, I’d think maybe that they would take advantage of that in advertising.

      Flat-lead mechanical pencils make things a little easier:
      But, there’s something very gratifying in fashioning a hand-wrought point. 🙂 With your calligraphy talents, please do a post with your chisel-point pencils!


      • Sola says:

        Thank you for your kind words, but… I did think too that the broad point would make a good italic tool, but it was difficult to produce a strong/dark enough outline (even with the 4B) and I also found it difficult to maintain the precise angle at which it wrote best! I also used sandpaper to angle the edge but that too was tricky. (Incidentally, we have a workshop coming up in May with the intriguing title “Graphite Techniques for Calligraphers” – take a look at some pencil-derived lettering here. )

        And thank you for the link and the explanation – I’ll experiment with drawing straight lines and altenative edges. The flat-edge mechanical pencil looks very precise! Would probably produce much thinner lines than pencils.


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