Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L Mechanical Pencil

I have to admit to being purely superficial in my attraction to this pencil. I was browsing the amply-stocked shelves of the Take Note stationery store in Toronto, when the glossy, mid-dark, of the Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L mechanical pencil, and its shiny silver grip and clip, sparkled into the corner of my vision.

I picked it up and immediately liked the smooth, hexagonal barrel, and the lightly curved and textured grip. It was sold before I found out any more about it really. I have enjoyed it all the more since getting to use it. It has a lead grade indicator, which runs from 2B to 4H, and options for 0.35mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm/1cm leads are available. I opted for 0.7mm HB, and the sketch sample below, was drawn using this pencil on some cheap, photocopy paper…

Sketch using Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L mechanical pencil, 0.7mm HB lead, on cheap photocopier paper

Also, on a rare occasion for a mechanical pencil, the Faber-Castell features an eraser that actually seems useful, rather than an insult to anybody that makes a mistake. The eraser module pulls out of the barrel, to reveal a plastic container about 52mm (a little over 2inches) long.

Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L eraser unit

Rotating the nob at one end of the unit, extends and retracts the eraser itself; rather like a lipstick case. I’ve found this to be a really useful feature.

Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L eraser unit, with eraser extended part way

However, not all of the pencil’s features can be called quite so helpful. Just above the grip, the barrel is marked with two small triangular arrows, one soft, the other hard. If you rotate the barrel accordingly, the pencil is supposed to give you either a hard or soft feel to the lead when pressed against a writing/drawing surface.

I say supposed because, like others before me, that one passed me by…

The hard setting is the one you’ll find in most mechanical pencils: the lead’s held absolutely firm. This is supposed to be good for accuracy when, for example, drafting. When set to ‘soft’ the lead is given some springiness: there’s a little give to it when you press it against the paper. This is supposed to make writing more comfortable. In use, the difference was subtle, to say the least, and, personally, I couldn’t see the point. Maybe I’m just not sensitive enough.
Ian Hedley, November 28 2016
Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario L Mechanical Pencil Review


This is a handsome mechanical pencil, the supplied lead is good quality, the eraser is actually useful, and the build-quality feels solid and reliable. The hard/soft lead adjustment seems pretty pointless, but otherwise it’s an attractive product that performs well. It’s not a cheap pencil, I haven’t got the details anymore, but I believe Take Note were selling them for about $20.00 Canadian. But I have no regrets, this is a pleasure to use.





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