What’s the best everyday pencil?

This was one of the first posts I wanted to write when I started this blog, and 7 months later – here I am!

It took a bit of time to get a collection together in order to hopefully answer this question. I will be looking at 9 pencils, all HB (where possible), to try and determine which is the best for everyday use. I don’t claim to be an expert (there are whole blogs dedicated to this question, including the brilliant Pencil Revolution) and this is obviously just my preference, but in order to do this, for each pencil I will be looking at the following areas:

  • Look: How the pencil looks
  • Feel: How it feels to hold
  • Write: How it writes
  • Extras: Does it have any extra features?

So, without further ado, here are the selection:

pencils
From left to right (and in height order, as it goes): Palomino Blackwing, Palomino Blackwing 602, Staedtler tradition HB, Tombow Mono100 HB, General Pencil Co Kimberly 525 HB, Derwent Graphic HB, Muji HB, Faber Castell 9000 HB, Faber Castell Design Grip Black

Palomino Blackwing, £2.50 from Pedlars
blackwing
Look: It looks bloody lovely – matte black (always a winner) with gold writing, gold eraser holder and white eraser.  Super cool.
Feel: Feels nice to hold, I prefer holding matte than shiny.
Write: Writes great, quite a dark grey, must be softer then HB. But no complaints.
Extras: The best thing about Blackwings is the flat eraser on the end. The end is cleverly designed so that you can replace the eraser when necessary (you can buy packs of them).

Palomino Blackwing 602, £2.50 from Pedlars
blackwing602
Look: Also very cool, same as the original Blackwing, but with a shiny mid-grey finish, and a black eraser.
Feel: Nice, but I prefer the feel of the matte. I also like the heaviness of these pencils, which I guess is down to the eraser.
Write: It’s ok… The pencil says “Half the pressure, twice the speed” on the side. Some people may prefer this, but I don’t. I like to feel what my pencil is doing!
Extras: As above, great looking eraser:
blackwing rubbers

Staedler Tradition HB, 25p(!) from Cass Art
staedler
Look: To me, this is a classic design (along with the yellow and black version). I’m not sure about other countries, but these are a staple in UK schools, so for nostalgia alone, I love it.
Feel: Fine, much lighter then Blackwings, even though it has an eraser too.
Write: I don’t have much of an opinion about this one, maybe because t’s what I’m so used to using. It does the job just fine.
Extras: Has a pink eraser.

Tombow MONO100 HB, £2.50 from Pedlars
mono100
Look: Glossy black, quite a lot of wording on it (possibly a bit busy…?). I like the gold ring around the end of the pencil.
Feel: Fine. Light.
Write: I was a bit disappointed with this one actually.. Quite dark in colour and I think it will wear down quite quickly. Maybe not worth it for the price.
Extras: None.

General Pencil Co. Kimberly 525 HB, £2.20 from Pedlars
kimberly 525
Look: Racing green with gold writing and a metallic gold cap on the end (which doesn’t do anything but is a nice design touch). I like it.
Feel: Nice.
Write: I’m impressed with this one. Doesn’t wear down too quickly, so you feel like you’re using the right amount of pressure.
Extras: None.

Derwent Graphic HB, I can’t remember what I paid for this individually, but they’re £7.25 for 12 at Cass Art
dervent
Look: Matte black, with white writing and an orange stripe around the end. Pleasing.
Feel: Nice grip, because of the matte finish.
Write: Quite light in colour, but doesn’t wear down quickly. I like it.
Extras: None – but worth noting it’s made in England, which is nice.

MUJI HB, £1.45 for 6 from MUJI
muji
Look: Pleasingly simple, plain wood, nothing else.
Feel: Fine, super light.
Write: I really want to like this but I really don’t! I’ve been using one of these a work and I find it so soft! I’m not entirely convinced it’s actually HB. I seem to be having to resharpen really often. Good if you like sharpening I suppose…
Extras: None.

Faber-Castell 9000 HB, £13.20 for 12 from Cass Art
castell 9000
Look: Dark green glossy, with lots of gold writing. Unfortunately, probably the worst looking of the bunch.
Feel: Ok, a little slippery.
Write: I like this A LOT. Quite light in colour but wears down really slowly, so keeps its tip sharp for longer. I prefer my writing with a fine nib, so this one is perfect.
Extras: None.

Faber-Castell Design Grip Black, £1.52 from Cult Pens
castell black
Look: SUPER cool – as in the rule that all matte black things are super cool. Even the wood in this is black!
Feel: Hmmm… Well, I’ve never really been a fan of grip pencils, I think I’m ok at holding pencils without the extra help, so I just find the bobbles annoying…
Write: Really nice, very similar to the Castell 9000 above, but I think possibly a slightly softer lead.
Extras: None.

CONCLUSION
Well, when I started this I though I’d find it difficult to have anything different to say about each pencil, but turns out there is a lot of variation! They all (ok, most of them…) have their merits, but in terms of a favourite, there isn’t one that totally does it for me. Instead, I’m going to choose one favourite for looks, and one favourite for functionality.

Looks: It’s GOT to be the Palomino Blackwing doesn’t it? Just really cool (I guess I’m shallow), and cleverly designed. I don’t even care that it’s slightly softer a pencil than I’d usually go for. I’d be proud to have it on my desk.

Functionality: In terms of writing, I liked the Castell 9000 the best! Annoying that it’s such a boring looking pencil, but it just suited my writing the most and made it look neatest.

So there you go, that’s my lot. Now, what glaringly obvious omissions have I made? Please let me know! And what’s your pencil of choice?

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4 Comments

  1. Have you considered a Derwent with a B lead? Normal pressure leaves a light line but I get around that by retracing emphasized lines once or twice. Draughtsmen’s 314 pencils are a bit darker than HB but can form a useful chesel facet after sketching. Carpenters pencils (rectangular in cross-section and sharpenable by either a purpose-built sharpener or a pen knife) generally come in HB, prodice medium to dark values and can lay down a variety of line-widths just by rotating the pencil.

  2. Pingback: Stationery Organised Neatly: Brown & Brass | All Things Stationery

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