RogerBW's Blog

Kuru Toga Roulette 17 July 2014

Since I bought one in 2012, the Kuru Toga Roulette has become my absolute favourite writing tool ever.

I had done very little handwriting for some years, but these days when I'm running role-playing sessions I like to keep a record of what's going on in order to be able to write up events later as a formal campaign log. I find it much less intrusive on my concentration to take notes on a piece of paper than to use a laptop or tablet. I typically write about one close-spaced page per hour of play, and wanted a way of doing so that would simply work with minimal fuss. This is what the Roulette has provided.

It is in many respects a standard ratchet-type propelling pencil. The kurutoga ("twist and turn") mechanism, developed by Mitsubishi Pencil, is a trio of gears which rotate the lead through a small angle each time the tip is pressed to the paper; this means that, rather than developing a chisel tip and then snapping as standard propelling pencils tend to, the lead remains evenly pointed. (I'm told that expert users of propelling pencils can do this for themselves as they write. I'm not an expert.)

The mechanism is available for 0.3mm and 0.5mm leads, in a variety of case shapes with different materials and grips. The Roulette puts a 0.5mm lead (good for general use) in an aluminium case with a three-band knurled grip (rather than a plastic, rubber or gel surface). It's quite light, but not so much so as to escape from one's grip, and purchase on the knurled surface is excellent; for me it's the ideal hand feel. Two colours are available: natural aluminium, and a dark "gunmetal".

The friction of lead on paper is ideal for making writing easy and pleasurable, rather than the fight for control it can often be with a ballpoint. I've no objection to fountain pens, but haven't found anything that feels just right for me the way this pencil does.

I have had a good enough experience with the Kuru Toga Roulette that I've now nearly retired my ageing Palm Tungsten T3 in favour of a paper notebook. Yes, really. If you meet me in person and are interested, try it out.

I got my first Roulette from (a site hazardous to the wallet); it's now available rather more cheaply through Amazon, and probably via other retailers.

Now, if I could just find more thick heavy A4 paper like the pad I got off a law firm in Paris a few years ago…

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  1. Posted by Owen Smith at 12:14pm on 17 July 2014

    I like propelling pencils, I've used them for over 35 years. I like a cheap plastic Pentel 0.5mm one, it's very light. I tried the Roulette on Roger's suggestion but I find it too heavy and also too thick in my hand. And I am an experienced propelling pencil user so I rotate it myself when the writing gets a bit thick. Better still I can select how thick or thin I want my writing by rotating my pencil, and the Roulette denies me that. I find the grade of lead makes a big difference, I prefer 2H.

    It was my father that got me into propelling pencils. He was working as a draughtsman when I was in my teens and he brought all sorts of interesting things home, including scale rulers and proper drawing angles etc. Want to do a drawing at 1:33 scale? Just draw it with the 1:33 side of the ruler, no need to work things out.

  2. Posted by John Dallman at 06:59pm on 17 July 2014

    OK, that's interesting, and the price is reasonable when spending an Amazon voucher: I've ordered one.

  3. Posted by RogerBW at 10:48am on 18 July 2014

    Owen: they do make lighter models with the Kuru Toga mechanism, but it sounds as if you're just that sort of expert for whom it wouldn't really add anything. I like having a consistent line without having to muck about with changing grip.

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