November 5, 2014
Let me throw another five-star review of the Pentel Kerry on the pile.
It has a quirky design. There's a big, knurled metal ferrule in the center of
the barrel. The cap is made of anodized aluminum, but the colored portions of
the barrel are plastic. The colors never quite match (except maybe in the black
version). There's a push-button cap on the barrel that conceals spare leads and
another on the cap that conceals the eraser. Quirky.
The genius of the Kerry is that all of these seemingly idiosyncratic features
contribute to a perfect whole. The beautifully anodized aluminum cap couldn't be
plastic because it must resist substantial tensile forces where it clips onto
the barrel. The plastic portions of the barrel couldn't be anodized aluminum to
match the cap, because they would scratch everytime the metal cap was posted.
The chunky knurled ferrule couldn't be small or plastic because it forms a rigid
shoulder onto which the cap snaps along with spring detents which are held in
place against the ferrule by the plastic portions of the barrel which must
thread deeply into the ferrule to resist the force of the cap against the
shoulder. The complexity of this ferrule/spring retaining mechansim ensures that
the cap stays on tightly and never rattles even after years of use. The two
pushbuttons work in unison when the cap is posted to transfer the knock from the
outer button to the inner. Another system could be used, such as that used by
the Tombow Zoom 505 pencil, another capped mechanical pencil. The Tombow's inner
pushbutton is shaped such that the cap snaps onto it. So the cap becomes the
pushbutton when posted. It's a nice pencil, but the cap is a sloppy rattling
mess when posted. And because the cap and barrel are both metal, the barrel
I've studied the Kerry. Its cap is constructed from no less that eight parts,
not including the eraser and its seating clamp. Pentel has been making this
pencil for nearly 45 years. If they could simplify the cap, they would. It
simply cannot be improved upon. The rest of the pencil, likewise. The mechanism
remains all metal unlike many other "high-end" mechanical pencils, and yet this
masterpiece is only $20. I don't know how they make money selling what is
clearly a $50-$100 pencil for $20. Amazing.
On a personal note, I sketch incessantly. I carry a Kerry in my pocket almost
always. If my shirt doesn't have a pocket, I toss it in my pants pocket. The
Kerry is compact, and strong. It doesn't ruin my pants and doesn't get ruined
itself. My favorite color currently available is the blue of the 0.5 mm model,
which is why this review is on this page. I prefer 0.7 mm lead thickness though,
so I switched out the mechanism with that from the darker blue 0.7 mm model. I
use a dark, 2B lead and the thicker lead lasts longer. I wish it came in 0.9 mm.
And I wish they re-introduced the brighter green from the 1980s instead of the
dreary olive green.
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