Tombow 2558 Pencil

Post 2/3. I’ll get the last one for the day done after dinner. See you in a couple of hours.

dscf8183The lead on this pencil is the standard that one can expect from a Tombow pencil. The lines it puts down are nice and dark allowing for high visibility under light. I used it primarily in well-lit lecture halls and had no trouble rereading and studying my notes when staying in my dimmer lit room. It required a touch more pressure than the Mono 100 and performed just a shade under. It didn’t break under quite a decent amount of pressure (math makes me very frustrated sometimes :P). I had no problem sharpening it to a nice point, but it often lost it quickly once I started writing. While it didn’t affect the performance too much, I personally like writing with a sharp point. I feel it helps me control my hand better and it helps whenever I do drills for my calligraphy practice. All in all, a decent upper tier pencil in comparison to the various lines from Uni Mitsubishi.

dscf8189I have never seen a pencil resemble a standard Dixon Ticonderoga so much and be so different at the same time. The Tombow 2558 isn’t a very flashy pencil. Much like the Ticonderoga, the bright color draws the eyes, but the similarities end there. Tombow opts for a more subdued branding done in a dark purple color that contrasts beautifully with the burnt orange body.

dscf8190This is a no-nonsense pen that is geared towards functionality more than anything else. If one removes the branding, then this is just a standard pencil you see in schools across the nation. That is how simple the design is. It is this design that does it for me. Unlike the Caran d’Ache I reviewed in the last post, this pencil is geared specifically towards writing. It doesn’t give off a luxurious feel or use high-quality materials. Just simple wood and graphite with some embossing on the side. I would recommend this pencil to anyone who wants a functional and simple pencil. It’s a little bit more on the expensive side with a price of $1.20/pencil but if a sturdy pencil that performs well is what you want, I highly recommend this one.

Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood Beech Pencil

Review 1/3 today to make up for the staggered schedule. Next one coming in a couple of hours.

dscf8176This was a pencil that I had been dying to try out, but not up for buying. At $5.45/pencil this is definitely one of the most, if not the most expensive pencils I’ve ever reviewed. Caran d’ache is a Swiss manufacturer of school, office and luxury stationery supplies. Founded in 1915 in Geneva by Arnold Schweitzer, he named his company Caran d’Ache after the nickname of French satiric political cartoonist Emmanuel Poire, who took his name from карандаш (karandash) the Russian word for pencil. In 1929, they trademarked the design for one of the first mechanical pencils. (Wikipedia)

After being around for nearly a century, Caran d’Ache is still going strong with their iconic designs and luxurious materials. This pencil in particular is made from FSC-Certified Grovelier beech wood from the Jura mountains for northwestern Switzerland. (JetPens) Just from that description alone, I was excited to try this pencil out. I have to say, so far after almost 2 months of use, I have not been disappointed.

dscf8173The first thing that I often look at when I want to buy a pencil is looks. I admit it is a bit superficial, but a good-looking pencil more often than not indicated decent writing quality, at least in my experience. Some of the simplest pencils with elegant design and color choices have constantly performed better than garish ones. The best example I can give would be the Tombow Mono 100 and the Palomino Blackwing 602. Simple color palette, subtle branding and an attention to details made them some of my favorite pencils to use.

dscf8170With the Swiss Wood pencil, the clear coat of matte varnish helps keep the natural grain of the wood intact and looking amazing. I have started to love seeing the grain of wood ever since I started collecting oblique holders. I sometimes need a bib when I’m browsing through some of my favorite pen-maker’s catalogues. This pencil showcases the natural beauty of the wood and accentuates it with the red paint and Swiss cross on the back.

dscf8177Writing with it has been an absolute pleasure. It holds a point very well and I’ve yet to have problems with the lead breaking even with a decent amount of pressure. While the smoothness is not up to par with say, the Blackwing 602, it’s definitely up there in terms of how easy it is to write with on different papers. I’ve tested it out on everything from Doane and Field Notes to Rhodia and Maruman. It handled every change like a champ and I never had any trouble switching between them.

However, one thing to note is that there is no eraser. While to me this isn’t much of a problem, it can be a bit of an issue for someone who is more function oriented when it comes to pencils. Having a decent quality eraser can be a huge deal, especially with expensive pencils. The Blackwing 602 is the penultimate (get it?) luxury pencil as it affords the consumer both quality and functionality for the price. The Caran d’ache on the other hand offers natural beauty, high quality materials, but less functionality for its price point. This might be a turn off to some buyers, so I thought I should mention this.

If you’re looking for a premium pencil at a premium price, then look no further than the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood Beech pencil. It maintains the natural aesthetic of the wood grain while adding tasteful additions like the red and white Swiss cross on the back. It’s versatile and high quality lead can be used on numerous papers without a fuss and it can hold a point well. I highly recommend anyone interested in high quality pencils to try it out.

Caran d’Ache Technalo Pencil

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This is my first foray into Caran d’ache pencils and I’m very satisfied with my experience so far. The Technalo was something that I inadvertently picked up because I wanted to try some Caran d’Ache pencils and this one seemed pretty unique and different from the ones I’ve reviewed so far. I was curious to see how the water-soluble graphite would feel when writing. I wasn’t expecting Blackwing 602 performance, but the lead was soft enough to rival it.

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The pen is marketed as a water-soluble graphite pencil. This means that the typical use of this pen would be for watercolor-esque washed and you would see the graphite getting lighter with multiple washes. I have not gotten to test this yet as I lack the proper paper that is able to take a wash or two. Hopefully once I get some watercolor paper I can truly make use of this pencil. Until then, just writing with it will suffice.

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The matte finishing on the body is one of the things that was the biggest gripe I had about this pen. Due to the smoothness, it was extremely difficult for me, someone with sweaty hands, to get a proper grip when I was writing. I ended up forming a death grip near the front of the pen but still struggled to maintain a proper hold.

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There was a lot of rather ostentatious branding as well as unnecessary applications of shiny material. Unlike some of the more subtly branded and understated pencils I’ve reviewed in the past, the Technalo goes out of its way to seem luxurious. However, I have to say that it does look really good even if it’s not to my specific taste.

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The lead was very soft and honestly felt much like a colored pencil. The death grip I was slowly developing lea to me putting a lot of pressure when writing and I could feel the lead depressing when I pushed. It led to one side being soft and wider and when I switched sides, it started out extremely sharp and resulted in a darker line. You can see in stances of this phenomenon in the first picture.

Tombow Mono 100

So sorry for the delay my friends, it took me a while to settle down to my new quarter schedule. Now that I’m back and at it, expect a few reviews throughout the month.

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I got this pencil purely for the sake of reviewing it, but man was I impressed when I first wrote with it. The letters came out nice and crisp, and the point lasted a lot longer than some of the other pencils I’ve reviewed. On the barrel it says “for hi-precision drafting”. While I won’t be using it in that capacity, I’m sure it would undoubtedly perform well. The sleek all black color with that small stripe near the end accentuate the aesthetics of this pencil. It looks like it would be at home on the desk of a high level executive, but at the selling price, it’s an affordable option for anyone who wants a quality wooden pencil that looks good and writes well. I know I’ll certainly be stocking up on a few of these.

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Uni Mitsubishi 9850 HB Review

So many pencils, so little time. This was one of the many pencils from my JetPens purchase a while back. I chose to go back to woodcased pencils for one big reason: nostalgia. Yes, call me sentimental, but the feeling of writing with these traditional writing instruments reminds me of simpler times. This appeals to me in many different ways.

Anyway, let’s get on with the review:

Now I have seen a lot of wood pencils before, but not many can match the simplistic elegance of the Uni Mitsubishi 9850. I originally bought this on a whim, because it was right after JetPens came out with one of their comprehensive review blog posts, choosing to focus on woodcased pencils.(Check it out: Guide to Wooden Pencils) I saw some of the pencils they reviewed, and nostalgia hit me like a truck, and sent me to another world. (little Japanese light novel joke for those who get it)

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To start off, this pencils really looks good. In the looks department, I’d rate it slightly inferior to the Palomino Blackwing 602. That being said, this pen combines a rather unique color scheme to achieve a very balanced aesthetic impression.

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It looks like something a famous author would use to write his greatest literary masterpiece,  but at the same time it could be used by a student doing their math homework. It strikes the ideal balance between design and practicality.

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Absolute perfection!

Now on to the writing experience. My first impression, in its entirety was: “Wow, this pencil sharpens really well”!

[A little background, I have a very peculiar compulsion for all my pencil to have a sharp point. I first noticed it in middle school, and even after all this time, I see it hasn’t left me. Am I alone in this feeling? I sometimes wonder why I feel so strongly about having a perfectly sharpened pencil, but I don’t have an answer yet, and I’m not likely to find one either, so might as well get on with the review.]

After the initial test, the factor that really sold me on this pencil was how long it can keep its point after being sharpened. Spoiler alert, a really long time! This was very surprising as I have always had my pencil points break after the first couple of letters and just cause the entire writing experience to deteriorate as I go on. I can wholeheartedly say that this was not the case when I used this one. It kept its point for an unusually long time, which allowed me to really enjoy writing out my review.

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Sorry if it’s hard to see. If you want me to upload a better version, let me know in the comments.

Now on to the eraser. The eraser was a huge surprise, as I actively try to not use the erasers on any wooden pencil. This is probably due to the myriad of horrible experiences I have had with them. However, after a little testing, I can say that this pencil’s built-in eraser completely blows all the others out of the water. Not even the Blackwing 602’s eraser can compete with this in my opinion.

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It’s quick to erase and requires minimal pressure, which prevents smudging due to excessive erasing. It clumps together for easy removal, and leaves the paper incomparably clean. The experience is similar when I use a separate eraser. Despite all the good things I have to say, I still try not to use it too much. This is due to the eraser being white. I feel that prolonged usage will stain it, and cause the pen to degrade in looks. That’s just another one of my peculiar habits, for those of you who are more inclined to use it to its fullest, go ahead, because it won’t disappoint you.

Overall, I recommend everyone to try using this pencil at least once. I have a feeling that it will appeal to many of you who use pencils on a regular basis. Priced at exactly $1, it is the most affordable pencil of high quality that I have ever used. To date I have not found any other pencil in that price range that can match the Uni Mitsubishi 9850 in performance. Try it out, it might just surprise you!

 

Palomino Blackwing 602 Review

I think that it was late in my junior year that I decided to stop using pencils. I found that when I write with a pen, I tended to stop second guessing myself. This helped me improve my scores on tests, so I was satisfied not using pencils. I had to strike through whenever I made a mistake, but the convenience of erasing was a price I was willing to pay.

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Fast forward to 4 months ago, I decided on a whim to occasionally use a pencil when I was writing out code, because I needed the convenience of erasing. I bought a 20-pack of Palomino Blackwing 602s from JetPens, and was stunned. These pencils were completely different from the crappy number 2 ones I used way back when. They exuded an air of elegance, simplicity, and prestige. After using one up by writing with it everyday for the last 3 months, I can say that this pen deserves every amount of praise it gets, and it gets a lot!

This pen really lives up to its marketing slogan: “Half the pressure, twice the speed”. Regardless of the pressure I use, this pencil lays down a nice thick line of graphite on the page. A standard phenomenon I noticed was, right after sharpening, it wrote the darkest. As the writing session went on, the line progressively thickened, but its color was softened to a light grey. This is common with all pencils, but the change is a lot more noticeable with this pencil in particular.

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The pen comes with an eraser that can be pulled out, and replaced, but since I have 20, I don’t have to worry too much. The eraser holder really draws the eye towards the back end of the pencil. The contrast between the body, eraser holder, and the actual eraser creates a stunning contrast that gives this pen the look of a luxury item(At its price, I’m pretty sure it can already be considered one!).

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The eraser itself is not too bad, but it does leave a couple of smudges, so I use separate eraser.

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Overall, this pencil really surprised me, as a viable everyday use product. While the pricing may cause your wallet to cry, you can console it by categorizing it as a “long-term” investment into your writing experience. One pencil lasted me nearly 3 months of constant use until it was sharpened to the size of my pinky. It will take me quite a while to finish the whole pack, but I can guarantee that once I finish, I will definitely get some more.