Timber Twist Bullet Pencil Review

A few of the old bullet pencils in my collection.

So, after seeing tons of people posting on the Erasable Podcast Facebook Group about these things, I had to have one. Made by the fine folks at Metal Shop CT, the original Twist Bullet Pencils are a rugged take on the old plastic bullet pencils companies would use as promotional items. I have a few of these in my collection, but none of them stack up to the quality of the Twist.

With the original Twist, they were all machined aluminum bodies with your choice of 7 anodized colors, and the choice of brass or aluminum for the bullets (the part that holds the pencil stub). An old school bullet pencil, made of either plastic or whatever thin metal they chose, used a friction fit method, which could loosen up over time. Metal Shop has machined the parts with threads, so they screw or "Twist" together. You can screw in an eraser or clip to the top, and the bullet has threads on both sides so it stays put.

Okay, so I don't have one. I have the newest model: The Timber Twist. Instead of a body made of metal, you have your choice of 4 different woods, Red Oak, Mahogany, and two styles of Walnut, heartwood (darker) and sapwood (lighter). The bullets stay the same. I chose Heartwood Walnut because I like darker wood finishes. I also chose the aluminum bullet over the brass or copper because I wanted this to be as light in my hand as possible.

When you order, they include 2 pink erasers and 3 Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil stubs. You can request white erasers if you so desire, according to their website, but you must ask for it in the order notes. I actually didn't know that was an option when I ordered mine, but I'm not so sure I could go with white anyway. A grimy pink eraser looks classic, but a white eraser that's been in my pocket all day wouldn't look good with my wood color choice. You can purchase extra erasers on the site. They are a bit bigger than a normal eraser, width-wise, so you may have to order some, unless you have some jumbo pencils laying around you're willing to sacrifice.

They file down the Blackwing stubs so they fit in the bullet well. They also recommend that with a thicker lacquered pencil, like the Blackwing, its a good idea to scrape off some of the lacquer and rounding the hex before trying to screw the bullet on. I took a Blackwing Pearl and made a few bullets with my Dremel, but if you have a stub ready to go, a knife will work just fine. Check it first, because other than the Blackwing series of pencils, I haven't had to round off anything. Usually just pulling off the ferrule works just fine, if your stub formerly had an eraser.

One issue I noticed is that if you don't screw the stub in very very tightly, the threads on the side when your point is inside the body will snag a bit and not want to close as smoothly. They are made to expand a bit with the pencil inside, and with just the right looseness or tightness, it can get just a hair off. Playing with it a bit helps. I also got a tiny bit of graphite stuck in the body thread, which made it a bit wonky, but I used my Dremel buffer cone inside and brushed it out, or at least knocked it down a bit so it wouldn't snag. Pro tip: don't do what I did and sit on the couch all day, screwing and unscrewing the threads because you love it so much...that's more than likely what caused my issue!

The Heartwood Walnut Timber Twist Pencil.

That being said, I did reach out to Jon Fontane from Metal Shop CT about my threading issue before I flushed it out with the Dremel. He was more than quick on the response: I emailed him on a Sunday and I expected to hear from him later in the week, or maybe on Monday...definitely not less than an hour after I sent the email! He gave me a few tips to try to help, and then offered to pay shipping to take it back and fix it/send me a new one. He offered to make it right, right on the spot. I couldn't have asked for a better experience, even though I didn't need to ship it back, it was nice to know that I could. That's why we shop local and small whenever we can, right?

I've been using the Timber Twist for about a month now. It's been part of my EDC since I got it. I keep it in my front right pocket and use it in my Field Notes I carry for work. It is light, and a pleasure to hold. I can see how some people would say the full metal original Twist would be a bit heavy for long-form writing, but I've written one or two journal entries with this pencil, and it's never fatigued my hand. But it's usually used to write quick notes on my day-job sales route. I'm glad to have it in my pocket because with my former "ear pencil" always falling out, or having to be held while I wore sunglasses, or dropping on the ground and breaking the point...I don't have any of those problems any longer. When I whip this thing out and start taking notes in front of a customer, the ones who know me and my pencil geekery just roll their eyes, but the ones who don't know about it are genuinely intrigued. It's a conversation starter. I love it.

Starts at $46, available from Metal Shop CT.

Started Lunch Table with all his jackass friends. Owner/operator of Hagan Design Co. Blogs about all things stationery over at Lead Fast