Saturday, December 13, 2014

Making bullet pencil erasers

Bullet pencils are one of the best easy to carry writing tools out there: compact, pocket friendly, easy to adapt to your favorite pencil and a very smart design.

after time though a bit of maintenance will be needed and fortunately this is very easy to do.
in this particular post i am just going to describe one way to replace the eraser.

before i start though, i would like to say that bullet pencils are made to make notes on the spot and not the best design for prolonged writing sessions. with that said, i rarely use the eraser. for such "quick" note taking i usually just cross out the mistake and keep going 
but
every now and then the erasers will need to be replaced.
i use a simple extrusion method that involves a brass tube and an eraser block of your choosing.

1.  the brass tube can be purchased at any hardware store for just a few dollars. with a hand file just taper one end to a sharp edged circle.
2. just push the brass tube through the eraser block.

making a bullet pencil eraser: using the extrusion method

3. when the eraser plug is extruded it will come out as a slight hourglass shape. this shape will need to be controlled before inserting into the bullet pencils ferrule. first i cut a little bit off the end to decrease the severity of the hourglass shape, then use a rubbery tape to compress the end. electricians tape is great for this purpose because it can be pulled very tightly around the eraser plug. 
4.  at this time the eraser plug with the electrical tape compressed end will still be wider than the inner diameter of the bullet pencil's ferrule. this will allow for a very snug fit. this is important so it doesn't move around when actually using the eraser. the tape not only compresses the end but will also strengthen the eraser so it doesn't break when cramming it into the pencil. also, if you do decide to add a pin through the ferrule into the eraser the tape will help keep the integrity of the eraser. 
making a bullet pencil eraser: controlling the hourglass shape of the extruded eraser
erasers aren't just erasers anymore, there are options (and smart ones at that).
my 3 main erasers that i use it the Black Factis, the hi-polymer pentels, and the Pink Pearl. i will say though that the Black Factis is my favorite. the black color doesn't look as crappy after being used and fits better aesthetically to a bullet pencil. darker colors fit better with dirty jobs. bullet pencils are designed to be out in the field getting dirty, writing on dirty paper. 
making a bullet pencil eraser: black factis is my favorite, but the hi-polymer and pink pearls are excellent options too

5. my final step in the eraser is to slightly taper in the eraser into a truncated cone. this shape holds up to erasing the a straight cylinder. also goes in and out of the pocket easier. 
making a bullet pencil: a quick sanding so the eraser tapers into a truncated cone

while ignoring everything i have just said,
i do have a couple bullet pencils that i use pencil end erasers with. these are my shop or truck pencils. ones that i may need to use an eraser a bit more and i don't want to carry around a click eraser 
(actually a big fan of click erasers).

pencil end erasers also come in options, the two i have here are the easiest to get. the one on the left is the small variety that can be found at any general store. these tend to do an ok job erasing (just ok), but they do have a sleek profile. the one on the right can be purchased at an art store (we have a dick blick in town so that is where i got these). these are the pink pearls of pencil end erasers. they do a superior job of erasing and have thick walls (heavy duty, takes a beating).
making a bullet pencil eraser: using pencil end erasers
making the post for this only takes a few minutes. below is a well beat up one that i made some years ago. i start with a stock hardwood dowel and sand down until it very tightly fits the i.d. of the bullet pencil's ferrule. i make quick work of this by sanding with a 1" belt sander. the key to this is to frequently check the fit during sanding. when this fit is nice and tight no pins or epoxies will be needed.
one this fit is complete, cut off the dowel long enough to hold the pencil end eraser. from here it is back to the sander to decrease the diameter of the post so it can hold the eraser securely. the post can not be to thick here because it will stretch out the eraser and it will break more easily when being used.

making a bullet pencil eraser: showing off the wood plug that will accommodate the pencil end eraser 
at the end here, i would like to add that i am sure that there are many good ways to make a bullet pencil eraser.  i have found that these two ways work VERY WELL for me.
i hope they do for you too.

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