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AW Admin
02-17-2020, 08:32 PM
I used to use wood-case pencils a lot in right through high school and college, but sometime in the 1980s pencil quality changed. The lead (technically, the graphite) became scratchy, and broke easily. Pencils were hard to sharpen, and the erasers made holes in paper if they worked at all. I stopped using them, mostly, in favor of keyboards and mechanical pencils.

I discovered a couple of years ago that there are still really good, pleasurable to use affordable wood-case pencils. I draft a lot in pencil, then re-draft in fountain pen. I take notes in pencil too. Pencils are portable, so I can write pretty much anywhere. I bought a box of very affordable inexpensive Apsara Long point sharpeners (https://www.amazon.com/Apsara-Long-Point-Sharpeners-Pack/dp/B00792NO2S/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=apsara+long+point&qid=1581956587&sr=8-2&linkCode=ll1&tag=absowrit-20&linkId=2b108139b27f73f48e86b590e1e999ec&language=en_US)* after finding just how good these Indian pencil sharpeners were.

But in the last two years or so, I've discovered some wood-case pencils I really like. I've discovered I favor softer lead over super hard lead (something closer to B than HB), though most of the pencils I like are labeled as HB/#2 pencils in terms of hardness. (An

I like the Palomino Forest Choice a lot; don't buy them from Amazon, they're way over prices. Try C.W. Pencils (https://cwpencils.com), or a local stationary shop.

U. S. pencil maker Musgrave has some lovely affordable pencils. I love the Musgrave News 600; no eraser, a round body, and very dark smooth graphite. A box of 12 is $6.25 from Musgrave (https://musgravepencil.com/collections/the-heritage-collection/products/600-news-wood-cased-round-pencil-musgrave-pencil-company).

I like Mitsubishi pencils, especially the Mitsubishi 9852EW. This is probably my very favorite affordable every-day writing pencil.

This is an unpainted, natural wood pencil with an eraser that doesn't suck. It's very pretty, and the graphite is reliably smooth. A box of 12 is less than 10.00 on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Mitsubishi-Pencil-recycling-hardness-K9852EWHB/dp/B001BL3XB0/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=mitsubishi+9852EW&qid=1579630025&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=absowrit-20&linkId=32a7797128ff11eb91c22000b479d24b&language=en_US).*

Indian pencils are astonishingly good and very affordable.

Nataraj and Apsara are the two main makers, both owned by the same corporation. I like the Apsara Platinum Extra dark (https://www.amazon.com/Apsara-School-Wooden-Sharpener-Erasers/dp/B018OPVV0U/ref=as_li_ss_tl?keywords=apsara&qid=1581956055&sr=8-1&linkCode=ll1&tag=absowrit-20&linkId=3e8ff40ee849fbecd20f9e255855884b&language=en_US)* a lot. Twenty pencils, two erasers and two very good sharpeners are $5.99 from Amazon. This is a pencil without an eraser, but it's very smooth graphite, and on the dark side of HB/#2.

Amazon has an Apsara Kit with a bunch of pencils (3 dozen), sharpeners and erasers for $15.00. (https://www.amazon.com/Apsara-Writing-craft-writing-Retail/dp/B06XDFQGDT/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=apsara+kit&qid=1581956215&sr=8-2)* That's how I first tried Indian pencils; it took a while to ship, but I was pleased.

One of the reasons I've been using pencils more is that needing to sharpen a pencil gives me a natural pause, a break, to think about what to write. And it gives my hands a bit of a break, too, in addition to the benefits of slower, more time to think writing, that I find I personally get from writing by hand. That said, there's always the Steinbeck method, wherein you pre-sharpen a dozen or so pencils in advance, and swap pencils at need.

I created a pencil FAQ (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?342652-Pencil-Resources) with some resources.
There are truly a lot of really good not expensive and pleasurable to use pencils out there; I suspect I'm in the minority here, but anyone else like wood-case pencils ?


* AW Amazon affiliate link

Maryn
02-17-2020, 11:40 PM
I want to love pencils more than I can overall. As a leftie, my hand smears graphite and any inks that don't dry fast enough. But I need good pencils to do the crossword. And a good eraser would be a treasure, since the mechanical pencil's erasure leaves a gray smudge even when it's new. (There was a time I dared to use a pen, but that was long ago, when I was apparently smarter.)

Thanks for the suggestions, AW Admin! I'll have to try some of them.

Maryn, resisting the online subscription because crosswords have to be on paper, damn it

Anne_B
02-18-2020, 02:58 AM
A couple of years ago one of the office-supply blogs gave big points to General Pencil Company's Badger #2 pencil, manufactured in Jersey City, NJ. I bought a dozen and they're fine. I especially love how dependable and effective the erasers are -- no red smears from inferior rubber (or whatever equivalent they're using).

Note to AW Admin: Firefox is flagging the CW Pencils link in your post as a security risk. It looks to me as if the link includes periods after the C and W that shouldn't be there. Firefox didn't flag the link I used from the CW Pencils order email, which was just plain cwpencilsDOTcom .

AW Admin
02-18-2020, 03:10 AM
A couple of years ago one of the office-supply blogs gave big points to General Pencil Company's Badger #2 pencil, manufactured in Jersey City, NJ. I bought a dozen and they're fine. I especially love how dependable and effective the erasers are -- no red smears from inferior rubber (or whatever equivalent they're using).

Note to AW Admin: Firefox is flagging the CW Pencils link in your post as a security risk. It looks to me as if the link includes periods after the C and W that shouldn't be there. Firefox didn't flag the link I used from the CW Pencils order email, which was just plain cwpencilsDOTcom .

Fixed; thanks. One of the hazards of using a screen reader.

Layla Nahar
02-18-2020, 06:01 AM
I have trouble using anything but pencil. Maybe because my scrawl is just to awful to look at in dark ink. But I use mechanical pencils. I love clicking on them, and the always sharp point.

AW Admin
02-24-2020, 08:30 PM
I've recently bought a few pencils from one of the few American pencil makers; Musgrave Pencil (https://musgravepencil.com) of Shelbyville, Tennessee.

They've been a family business making pencils for over 100 years. They make a lot of "specialty" pencils and custom pencils. I bought every day graphite pencils from their Heritage collection (https://musgrave-pencil-company.myshopify.com/collections/the-heritage-collection); these include very ordinary yellow school sorts of pencils, a variety of HB/#2 pencils, and very soft pencils for sketching as well as writing. They're all quite decent and usable, all very affordable. I also bought three recent higher-end Musgrave pencils; these are still mostly affordable, the higher end version of their standard yellow HB, and a special pencil made of older red cedar slabs that writes well and is really lovely to look at.

I'll likely use these for a week or so before blogging about them; I'm trying to take photos of them at present.

stephenf
02-28-2020, 05:40 PM
Roald Dahl wrote with pencils , apparently he sharpened 6 pencils at a time . He did not like stopping ,to sharpen them . Melvyn Peake only used pencils . He wrote in school exercise books , but his hand writing was bad and he was also dyslexic , so his books are a sort of translation of his work . I like Staedtler or Faber-Catell pencils , I use an old Staedtler hand crank sharpener, that I enjoy using too much , most of the pencils I use are reduced to shavings . The smell of pencils being sharpen is one life's pleasures.