Rotring 600 mechanical pencil review1 December 2014
The Rotring 600 perhaps needs no introduction. But just in case… it’s a mechanical pencil made from brass that’s available in black or silver. Different versions can take 0.35mm, 0.5mm and 0.7mm. There’s also a clutch pencil version that takes 2mm lead. It costs around £23 in the UK and $33 in the US.
The pencil is weighty but well balanced and not so heavy it’s uncomfortable to use for any length of time. It just feels solid and well constructed which is, in fact, the case. The Rotring 600 feels as if it will last you a lifetime, assuming your cat doesn’t knock it off the table and under the sofa, never to be seen again. Even if that were to happen, the pencil itself would survive. It’s a pencil that’s built to be used.
The barrel is an iconic design. It has a hexagonal cross-section, which looks great and also stops the pencil rolling away, and the red ring of Rotring. The knurled grip is also something we all think of when we think of Rotring and it’s done well, not too knurly but just enough so it’s comfortable and grippy.
By now you’re perhaps detecting a theme. This pencil is extremely well designed but every part of that design enhances its functionality. I think that is the secret of the Rotring 600’s success.
The weak point, in common with just about every other mechanical pencil, is the eraser. It’s fairly small and although it does actually rub pencil marks out, just about, it disappears at an alarming rate.
At the business end everything gets great again. The tip and mechanism hold the lead firmly, allowing great precision.
The internal tube holds plenty of spare leads and there is a lead indicator (ranging from 2B to 4H, including F) just about the clip. The clip is a very strong piece of metal that performs its function well.
I really love this pencil. Can you tell? It doesn’t have the posh rotation mechanism of the Uni Kuru Toga but it has oodles of character and class. I’ll pick the Rotring 600 over the Kuru Toga any day of the week.
You can find some more reviews of the Rotring 600 on Pennaquod.
Great pics! Fantastic review as always.
Love this review. You captured exactly how I feel about my own 600. Purchased one around August and I would be lost without it. Even prefer it to the 800. It just feels more solid and less likely to break.
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Have you ever stumbled across methods for removing the clip? Wanting to make a nearly perfect pencil even more nearly perfect. Contacted Rotring company support for a canonical method, but they only said it would void the warranty and offered no suggestions. I’ve measured diameters of the shaft, grade indicator, etc., and am not convinced simply pulling it off wouldn’t cause damage. Thinking of making a small screw-driven spreader…
It feels like it ought to be possible but I haven’t heard of how. If you manage it please let us know!
Well, I spent hours researching this to little avail (I’m that opposed to clips on mechanical pencils), and mentioned that I was thinking of making a ‘screw-driven spreader’. What I did do was buy a spreader for C-clips that came with four sets of working ends one can switch out to get the right angle on a given clip (about $15USD). I took one of these and a very small, fine-toothed triangular file and turned the two little cylindrical pins into little ‘teeth’, angled so that they might grab the inward surfaces of each side of the gap. (This is no doubt hopelessly unclear–might help to think of a pair of small, precise needlenose pliers with teeth, except that the teeth are on the outside instead of the inside, and when you squeeze the handles together, the jaw opens instead of closes.)
I used this modified tool on the Rotring clip…couldn’t get a good enough purchase on the sides, and slipped twice and scratched the outer surface of the clip. Oh well, I hates the clips anyway.
So..time to get serious. (Switching to second person.)
— Clamp the Rotring in a well-padded vice, so that the clip is about one palm’s breadth above the table top.
— Use a Dremel with a small carbide wheel, held with two hands (one to operate and one resting on the table to steady), find a calm place inside, and slowly and carefully use one edge of the wheel to score (not cut through) the clip, about where the clip arches over a flat side of the pencil. (In the second-to-last photo above, at the top of the arch at about the location of that whitish speck.)
— Three or so very gentle passes with the wheel–you don’t want to cut through the metal and gouge the shaft of the pencil. Inspect your work–you want a v-shaped channel that goes roughly 80% through the metal without going through.
— Try to lift the side of the clip you’re trying to cut off. Use your fingernail, a sliver of metal such as the outer edge of an old erasing shield or hobby knife, or a thin wedge of wood. The metal of the clip is tough but surprisingly brittle, and simply snapped off for me, first try.
— I should say that I wore magnifying reading glasses inside completely sealed safety goggles, used a respirator, and worked very close to the pencil. I don’t know why they were designed that way, but Dremels rotate in the direction that tends to propel debris towards one’s face instead of away. The carbide blade kicks up many very fine little slivers of metal that you don’t want in your eyes or lungs. Sometimes I will position the input hose of a shop vac right next to the work to help remove particles floating in the air.
…finally, my little Rotring, unshackled, can spread its wings and fly…
Wow! Thanks for all your effort in researching this. I don’t mind clips but the dedication here is worth my appreciation.