Friday, 21 September 2012

KUM Blue Ocean Pencil Review

KUM Blue Ocean pencil has been compared to an unbalanced barbell. Indeed with a bulky eraser on one side and a hefty shining cap that doubles as a sharpener on the other, KUM Blue Ocean resembles just that: a barbell albeit an unwieldy one as its two attachments weigh 10.7gr and 6.7gr respectively. However, this barbell of a pencil is a self-contained writing system that carries both the means of the writing instrument’s regeneration and the instrument of its deletion.

From tip of cap to tip of eraser the pencil measures a whopping 19.3cm but take these two attachments away and Blue Ocean is shorter than a standard pencil at 12.5cm.
The pencil is hexagonal, made of pale wood and is painted black with a round unfinished cap. It is ungraded but the lead feels soft. It writes decently and it is quite light (in fact at 3gr it is 1gr lighter than the standard pencil). 

Without its markings KUM Blue Ocean could have been mistaken for any another no-name pencil but KUM took care not only to print the company’s logo twice and in silver letters on the barrel but also to imprint the pencil’s name “Blue Ocean” in small cursive script and finish the whole thing off with the image of a galleon.  

An impressive silver ribbed cap it makes double sure that the pencil’s lead is safely tucked away but also it doubles as a sharpener and features a pocket clip too. It is bit clunky admittedly, ever so slightly cheap-looking but nevertheless imposing with its shining silver contrasting with the black plastic clip and cap top, the red sharpener and red lettering (“KUM since 1919”) on the ribbed surface. Flip the black cap top open (a studded affair with “KUM since 1919” imprinted on it) and a tiny red sharpener reveals itself. It works very well and sharpens smoothly (non-KUM pencils too).

The bullet-shaped rubber on the other end of the pencil has KUM imprinted on it too and does its job quite satisfactorily. Post either the rubber or the sharpener cap and the pencil feels a bit more substantial with the extra weight added, though not quite balanced. Release your grip and it collapses on your hand. Cap and rubber look and are too heavy a load for the Blue Ocean’s slender body. A bit more work on the design would not go amiss.  However, with all its unwieldiness KUM Blue Ocean wins on portability as a self-contained writing system. No pencil case is needed as sharpener and eraser are secured in either end of the pencil, and once the Blue Ocean is reduced to a stub, the attachments can be used on another pencil of choice. 

Happy writing!


  1. Nice review, Palimpsest. KUM is a good company. In March this year, I bought an AS2M KUM sharpener that appeared defective. I e-mailed KUM's NYC rep, Otto Thellman. He replied. A few e-mails later, I'd sent Herr Thellman my defective sharpener and received a replacement from him that works fine. Jack/USA

  2. Thanks for this review. I often feel like I'm the only person left on earth who uses wooden pencils, so it's nice to see them reviewed every now and then. I like the idea of a cap that would keep my Vera Bradley bag from getting dirty, and a built in pencil sharpener is ideal. I like the dark line this one lays down and it seems like a good product.

  3. Jen, Palimpsest has good links to pencil blogs. There are pencil point protectors, both metal and plastic, for wood-cased pencils. Some protectors have integral erasers. Also, there are pencil holders/extenders that're useful when you've worn down a costly drafting or art pencil. I've bought at Pencil Things in the States.

    Wood-cased pencils have some practical advantages still over mechanical pencils, plus, they have good aesthetic qualities in their own right. Jack/USA

  4. Nice! I have a Faber Castell 9000 "Perfect Pencil" that I like for its point protector, must try and find one of these to try.

  5. Nice pen! I still haven't seen one in person but from it seems to appear that it has the edge in terms of aesthetics and quality.