There are a variety of pencil point protectors available to help us keep those nicely sharpened pencils safe when dashing out and about away from the safety of our desks. This is a step beyond having a nice case to carry your favorite stash around in. There are a few caps out there I haven’t purchased to try (yet?) but, since I haven't found much out there about them, I thought I'd share some info on the ones I currently have.
General’s Sav-a-Point plastic protectors are available from a wide variety of sources. A web search for them consistently turn’s up places to get a package for under $2.50 (perhaps not quite that low with shipping, unless you find a source with enough items useful to you to qualify for free shipping deals).
Amazon carries a two different package sizes of the Sav-a-Point - the General Pencil S-800BP Sav-A-Point Kit* with 6 caps and sharpener and the Sav-a-Point Kit* with 12 caps and a sharpener. The down-side of these are that they are a fixed size, minimal adjustment possible, and you get a rather cheap plastic sharpener with every package. They do stay relatively snug on a standard pencil. They also fit pencils like the Tombow Mono 100, which are a just slightly bigger than your standard No. 2 school pencil, very tightly. They have the benefit of being transparent so you can see the point and since it's pliable plastic, they fit small-ish to standard triangular ones like the Rhodia HB pencil. You may find, however, that if you like a really long point, it may end up sticking out through the tiny opening in the end of this cap. They also stretch a little once they are on a certain sized pencil and may not be snug if you try to move them to a smaller diameter pencil after using them for a while.
Tombow has an interesting square protector, the Ippo Interlocking Pencil Cap that comes in packs of 4 and can be connected together to keep a group of pencils organized. These caps definitely prevent rolling off the desk.
A minor annoyance — you can’t connect them into a nice neat line of 4 (or more) pencils due to the way they have the dovetails and slots positioned - you can do 2 or 3 in a line or 4 in a cube and add on in odd additions from there. It's trivial, but bugs me none-the-less.
Since these are essentially a square tube, with little to no taper, it's not clear that these won't suffer from the same problem as the General's in that, if you like a wickedly long point it may not be sufficient protection since it can slide down the body of the pencil a fair distance before being stopped by the point. Put it on quickly and forcefully enough and the point isn't quite safe.
**I missed a detail here. The Tombow caps have 4 little bumps on the inside that do actually stop the pencil from going too far into the tube. It's as effective for protection as the Kutsuwa aluminum for those super long point pencils. The inside of the tube is concave, not flat. This allows it to stay more snug than you might expect on round and hex pencils of standard size. Those bumps inside the tube make these the most usable across the slightly slim (think Edelweiss, Wopex) to the slightly thicker (Tombow 100) pencil range as well.
Faber Castell seems to have a variety of Perfect Pencils out there. They consist of one approximately 3/4 length pencil, a cap that has a clip (à la a pen cap) as well as a built in sharpener. The sharpener makes it one of the larger caps both in length and girth, as well as being the heaviest. On the flip side, it acts as a mini pencil extender when “posted” the way you would a pen cap.
The pencil provided with the dark green cap is a Faber Castell 9000 in B hardness. Seems a bit presumptuous to call it perfect, but it is a nice smooth writing pencil. There are variety of cap colors other than classic green available at vendors like Amazon. They start around $4 plus shipping from 3rd party vendors to a range of $8.95 to $45.00 for a “gift set” via Prime, all the way to $420 for a Graf von Faber-Castell Perfect Pencil Set (I've seen two different Graf sets at that price).
The less expensive ones come in a variety of colored plastic caps with a black pencil that has a black ferrule and black eraser. The gift sets seem a tad pricey at $45 for three 3/4 length pencils and an aluminum cap/sharpener/mini extender. I’ve no idea if it’s well constructed or any more durable than the ~$10 plastic one that I decided buy from CW Pencil Enterprise.
As I write this, I’ve only been able to find one source for replacement B hardness 3/4 length pencils with the white eraser, and they wanted $19 for three 3/4 length Perfect Pencil “refills”. I fully intend to use this cap on other standard sized pencils when the Castell pencil has been consumed, but it’s a little annoying that the non-eraser, full-sized Faber pencils can be had for as little as $1.43 per pencil at a vendor like Blick, for example, and the 3/4 length with eraser is so hard to get.
Metal caps vary both in length and in their ability to accommodate different shapes and diameters of pencil. The Kutsuwa is the longest and lightest weight of the ones I have. It’s also the one that can handle the slightly larger diameter pencils like the Caran d’ Ache Grafwood, Swiss Wood, Exotic Wood and so forth. These caps don't do well at all on pencils that are slightly thinner than a standard yellow school (or Blackwing). If you have a hoard of Caran d' Ache Edelweiss you are going to want to get one of the other caps, such as the General's or E+M.
The E+M nickel or brass plated are the shortest caps and, while they do have the slit to allow some adjustment, they are the stiffest and are not the best for your longest point pencils. These short caps are better suited to pencils that have a shallower sharpening angle, such as you see on some colored pencils. JetPens.com has a good guide about pencil sharpeners illustrating this (and you might just find the sharpener you were looking for) ;). This cap shape also seems to be produced by Cretacolor.
I found a small quantity steel caps from a German vendor who, sadly, doesn’t seem to have them in stock any longer. I think they are by Standargraph. I’m on the hunt for more of this middle sized metal cap as it’s very durable, works well for longer points and wasn’t prohibitively expense. It's right in between the Kustuwa long aluminum cap and the short E+M bullet shaped steel cap. It's relatively snug on the smallish Edelweiss pencils while having the slit to accommodate standard pencil diameter and a few that are slightly larger.
A glaring absence is anything that will fit the mini-jumbo and jumbo pencils. I've gotten a couple of the Caran d' Ache metallics from CW to try and there isn't anything comparable to protect points beyond keeping them in a case. They are about the same diameter as the Black Wood.
To be certain, this is a bit of a specialized item that is likely to have smaller demand. None-the-less, now that I've got them for the other pencils, I'd like the same point protection capability for my $4 to $6+ larger pencils as well.
Linked below are a few sources for caps — these vendors sell some that I don't currently have to review, but I'll be sure to update this post, or do another, when additional caps arrive:
- Castell 9000 Perfect Pencil - single, with pencil and sharpener
- E+M Nickel Plated Pencil Cap - single
- Kutsuwa Stad - Metal Pencil Cap - 4 pack
- E+M Brass Plated Pencil Cap - single (don't have this, but it's basically a finish difference)
- Sonic Mochikata How to Hold Pencil Cap - Pack of 3 (there are 4 diff color packs - I'm on the fence regarding "how to hold" products and don't have this one to test)
- Sun-Star Sect Pencil Cap - 4 Colors - Pack of 12 (don't have this one to compare yet)
- Tombow Ippo Interlocking Pencil Cap - Blue Group - Pack of 4 (there’s also a “pink group”)
- Pencil Shield Point Protector (just ordered. Will let you know)
- Cap pencil sharpener (Kum, just ordered this one too)
Pencils mentioned above:
- Caran d' Ache
- Rhodia HB
- Staedtler WOPEX
- Tombow Mono 100's
*In the interest of full disclosure some links are to Amazon are via their affiliate program - there are other places that might carry these items for less, and I link to Amazon for convenience and for the amount of product information that usually accompanies a product. No one is ever obligated to buy through these links.
**updated my initial impression and corrected details for the Tombow Ippa cap. May 10, 2016