Pencils, the book

Started by MountainDon, February 04, 2007, 01:32:33 AM

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Why are pencils yellow? I've just completed reading "The Pencil" and I now know. It's a most fascinating, if somewhat longish, history of that common everyday tool. Let's start a book club!  :-?  We all use 'em all the time


You got me on that one. :-?

Now I have to ask why. :-/


In the late 1800's an Austro-Hungarian company decided to make a top quality pencil, the world's finest, and it decided that it's colors would be those of the Austro-Hungarian flag. The graphite was black, so the pencil had to be painted golden yellow. It seems it was truly a great pencil; it sold for three times the average pencil price. It was named the Koh-I-Noor. (Seems to me I remember that name from engineering drafting days. The graphite used was from Siberia; FYI. Anyhow, it was a superior pencil and because the color yellow was associated with the quality, every Tom, Dixon and Harry started painting every pencil they made yellow. Today 3 out of 4 pencils persists to be yellow regardless of quality. And, IMHO, most pencils today are junk. I love my Staedtler mechanical drawing pencils! (circa 1965)


I took 2 years mechanical drawing in HS and remember only that my 2H and 4H pencils were bluish turquoise.  It really helped with studying plans for jobs now though.


IIRC, those were Staedtler.  H = hard, B= black. 4H harder than 2H. grading goes BB, B, HB, H, F, 2H, 4H.... i think .... softer lead BB was "blacker" than B and so on.     Did ya learn to twirl the pencil as you drew lines. I still do that to this day.   :)  Can't stand unevenly worn pencil points.


I didn't learn that one - sounds like a good idea - probably keeps the pencil sharp.  Just letters -millions of perfect letters , numbers etc. or keep trying until you could.  I still use the letters I learned back then.


ARROWHEADS!!!!   ::)   just had to be so, or old Louie, musta been about 100+, would on your case......


YUP - I did lots of arrowheads and learned to use line weights so you could easily read plans.  That is something that is lost with nearly all of the computer generated /Autocad etc plans I see nowadays.  I erected an 82 foot tall building where all of the cad drawn  lines and letters were the same weight.  Talk about a nightmare to read --- Hundreds of beams and they were all mashed together on the plan.  I eventually took a pocket PC out there and set up a database to keep track of beam number, page and location as I found them.


It's called progress.   :)    Just lately I've been hankering to get out the T-square, etc.  (older than my son) and get started on the final drawings for the cabin-in-the-woods. I gotta see something on paper rather than fly by the seat of my pants. We haven't changed anything in about a month or so in talking about it.


Computers strike (out) again!   :-[   When I got there I couldn't find the book on the shelf. The librarian checked and said it was supposed to be "on the shelf". But it wasn't where it was supposed to be. So I have a hold placed on it. It'll likely show up in a day or so.....  ::)

Youngins, How are your plans for building in CO coming along?


Thanks for asking...
Logistics...logistics...logistics...We are a bit frustrated about the distance between us and our property.

We decided to first build the playhouse - kind of like the one in the photo at the bottom of the gallery section - in our backyard. It will give us the basic idea of what we can expect and benefit the kids at the same time.

We have plans drawn up - already checked with the city.  Just need HOA to bless it  :-/ and then we will start.

Here are the basic details:
Foundation = Skid (Take it with us to CO!!)
Dimensions = 8'x12'
Height = 5'
Windows = 3 (Two in front and one on end)
Doors = 2 (One in back will open "out" so kids cannot barricade themselves in)
Roof = Hip (This should be fun  ::))
Siding = Red cedar shingles

As soon as HOA approves I will start a builder's topic on it.

How about yours?


My place? ... waiting for winter to end.    :)

Building the playhouse sounds like a good idea to hone your skills and so on. Also great for the kids. I used to have a small playground design/build/install business and always loved the reaction from the kids when they first saw their new playground structure.


Does anybody remember the little sanding block where you would file down the lead of an HB pencil into a chisel point for those caligraphy letters?


I had the little sanding block.  My uncle had a typewriter shop in Newport, OR. so I got the cool tools from him.

What I wonder is why a set of Gramercy drafting instruments like my old ones are advertised as "Vintage Gramercy Drafting Instruments" on Ebay?  :-/

I know -- next question-- what's a typewriter? :-?


Your dating yourself with "typewriter"....


A pre electric typewriter!!  With the carriage flying back and forth; the bell!

I've been told I'm vintage.   :-X

How about a slipstick??  :-? Slide Rule to those who never had one. A mechanical analog computer for those younger members. I still have my old HP (Yes, that HP!) someplace... saw it a few years back, complete with its hard genuine leather case with belt loop. Bamboo with white plastic overlay; I think the really old ones were Ivory, but I'm not that vintage. What every geek of the sixties carried.   8-)

Oh I just had another flashback. Computer punch cards... boxes full of them. Heaven help you if you slipped and spilled them on the floor.  :-[   Pascal programming language.  


I helped mom and dad with their business and we had one of these to keep track of income.  

I used many pre-electric typewriters.  Electric in HS, but couldn't get great grades.  The teacher in the class only gave girls good grades and really didn't seem to like guys in his class.  Maybe I should have worn a dress. :-/


Burroughs Business Machines! Had a friend who was a tech for them. Wonder what he ended up doing?


Quintessential slide rule joke:

How much is 6 x 2?

(fiddle around with slide rule)

"about 12."

I must say I've used that lesson to check whether the answer I'm getting is reasonable--round to numbers I won't make a mistake with, then see if it's "about" what I've gotten.

My dad had a Marchant calculator that he used for statistics.