Posts filed under Pencil Reviews

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil Review

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil Review

The Palomino Blackwing 602 has been my pencil of choice for years. I use pencils that are firmer, darker, lighter, or better looking on a regular basis, but I always go back to the 602. There is something about the feel and style of the pencil that draws me in. Blackwing’s Firm core has been perfect for me.

Based on my pencil core likes - firm, dark, good point retention - you think I would have latched on more permanently to Blackwing’s Extra Firm core when they first introduced it a few years ago in the Blackwing Volume 24 edition. I loved it, of course, yet for some reason, I kept reaching for the 602.

Palomino Blackwing Review

I think the reason was psychological. What if I use up all of these pencils and there are no more? So I wouldn’t use them. This errant line of thinking has been something I’ve been trying to erase from my stationery mindset over the years. Use the things I like whenever, wherever, and however I want, no exceptions.

Palomino Blackwing Natural Pencil

In the case of the new Palomino Blackwing Natural, it took a stock offering of their fantastic Extra Firm core to save me from me. This core may be better for me than the Firm core in the 602, and I’ve been too stubborn to find out.

The Blackwing Natural was announced at the National Stationery Show back in February, and since their initial retail release in March, have been exceedingly hard to come by. They’ve appeared and vanished at all of my favorite retailers faster than I could buy them. It took a post-Atlanta Pen Show trip to Archer Paper for me to accidentally stumble on a box to purchase. Yes, a box of a dozen. Single pencils begone!

Palomino Blackwing Natural Writing

I took the Natural out for a spin last week to use with my CW&T Studio Sketchbook at my son’s baseball practice. This notebook is an excellent choice for pencils with its textured paper, and I have been using it for brainstorming product ideas and general doodles.

As I began writing, I just kept saying to myself “Huh.” As in, “Huh, this is better than expected, “ and “Huh, I’ve been missing out.” Don’t let the Extra Firm designation trick you into thinking the Natural is something along the lines of a 4H grade pencil. As someone who enjoys those H-grade nails, this is nothing like that at all. Palomino’s Blackwing designation of Extra Firm is in relation to the other cores in the lineup, which range from Soft to Balanced to Firm, to now Extra Firm.

Palomino Blackwing writing samples

Comparing one pencil core to another can be difficult when they are somewhat close. Slight differences in hand pressure can change everything, so view my tests and commentary with that in mind. That said, the Natural is as dark, or darker, than the 602. That is what’s confusing me. Can this really be firmer and darker than the 602 at the same time? And keep the same, or better, smoothness? Maybe so.

(Note: I ordered and tagged the Pearl and MMX incorrectly on the page. The Pearl is the Balanced core and the MMX is the Soft core, and they perform exactly that way.)

Palomino Blackwing Tip

This brings me back around to the 24 edition. Did I miss this the first time around - over three years ago - because of some weird limited edition angst? And, miss future opportunities with the release of the 530, 54, and others, for the same reason? I only have my mindset to blame.

Palomino Blackwing Eraser

Visually, the Natural is everything that Blackwing fans have been clamoring for from the beginning. It was inevitable that Palomino would release a raw barrel in the lineup. It was also inevitable that once they released the Extra Firm core in the Volumes lineup that it would come to the stock lineup eventually. The combination of those two things is why they have been running behind in production and are hard to find right after release.

I still think the 602 is better looking, but I do love natural barrel pencils. I upgraded this one with an orange eraser, as I also do for my 602 pencils. All that’s left to wonder is if the Natural will take the top usage spot over from its stablemate in the long term. It may already have.


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Palomino Blackwing Natural Page
Posted on April 15, 2019 and filed under Palomino, Blackwing, Pencil Reviews.

E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil Extender Review

E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil Extender Review

(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)

As I've been carrying this E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil Extender around over the last few weeks, I've had to explain several times why such a product exists. "Sometimes pencils are special," I said. Some people understood. When you have a special pencil and you want to use it down to the last splinter, you need a pencil extender.

E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil

This extender is hexagonal, made from Beech wood and has a metal grip that holds your special pencil nub in place. The gripper fits most standard pencils' diameter and it has a metal ring you can slide up or down to tighten or loosen the grip. Of course, standard size is subjective. Typical yellow school pencils work perfectly, and so do most of my cute graphic pencils, but a few of my most precious pencils do not. Palomino Blackwings don't, due to their flat ferules--but they do fit if you break off the eraser. Yes, I broke a Blackwing to test this for you. You're welcome. Alas, some of my wider colored pencils don't fit, and some pencils with bulkier metal around the eraser don't quite work, either. But most of my pencils do fit, which means this simple contraption will get used.

E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil Extender 1
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It does have its downsides, though. If not tightened enough or if your pencil has a narrow diameter, it may wiggle a bit in the holder. Also, because the metal gripper is made to be flexible, it can easily be crushed or bent out of shape. I'd consider it a somewhat fragile product. Also, because it covers the end of the pencil, it blocks access to any remaining eraser you might have, so you'll need a separate eraser handy. Of course, if your pencil is down to its last few sharpens, the eraser may already be gone, anyway. The metal gripper can obstruct some sharpeners as your pencil gets smaller as well, so you may have to remove the pencil from the extender to sharpen it the last time or two.

E+M Peanpole

The remaining length of your pencil stub is also a factor. About 1" of pencil can fit into the holder. If your pencil is 3" or longer, the extender can feel a bit long. That's still probably better than too short, though. In any case, the window of comfortable use for this product might be a bit on the narrow side.

E+M Peanpole Wood Pencil 1

It's still worth it, though, to get the full use of your favorite pencils, and it prevents waste, which is always a plus. And at $4.30, it not much more than some of the fancy pencils themselves--and definitely worth a try if you, too, cherish pencil splinters.

(JetPens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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Posted on March 28, 2019 and filed under E+M, Pencil Reviews.

Pentel Super Hi-Polymer 0.5 mm 2B Lead Review

Pentel Kerry Sharp Super Hi-Polymer Lead

Over the years, one of the things I’ve discovered that I am good at is turning the most basic, boring stationery products into fun stationery reviews. I find it easy because I care about this stuff on a (probably) unhealthy level, and enjoy talking about the minutia around each and every product.

I also think I’m good at it because I lived it. I grew up using many of these products in the 70’s and 80’s, and it is a testament to many of them that they are still around and thriving, like Pentel’s standard mechanical pencil lead - the Super Hi-Polymer.

Pentel Sharp Hi-Polymer Lead

If you have been into mechanical pencils, or even stationery as a whole, you have seen the classic, clear, diamond-shaped lead holder that Pentel uses for this product lineup. It is as ubiquitous as the Pentel Sharp P-Series mechanical pencil that is often paired with it. If fact, did you know the P-Series pencil barrels are color coded by lead size, and the caps of the lead holders are colored to match the pencil barrels? Well, now you do.

Another thing Pentel does within the Super Hi-Polymer lineup is offer then in a huge range of hardnesses - 12 by my count on the 0.5 mm product page. This variety was mind-blowing to young me when shopping at the campus bookstore, even though I wasn’t brave enough to test any of the far end of the scale ones out at the time.

Top Secret, for Pentel internal use only, Paper Straw Holder edition.

Top Secret, for Pentel internal use only, Paper Straw Holder edition.

I am now, and even though this 2B graphite isn’t far past the middle, the quality of the product is as good now as it was back then.

My preconceived notion was that 2B would be too soft for me for regular use, but that hasn’t been the case at all. It is soft and dark - as it should be - but the point retention has been better than expected. I think I only extended the lead once on my written review page. My lines were tighter than I expected, too.

Although this lead isn’t “The One,” I am compelled by how much I like it versus how much I thought I would like it. That makes me anxious to try two things: The firmer side of the scale in the Super Hi-Polymer lineup, and Pentel’s higher end Ain Stein graphite lineup, which features long words about how special it is. Since none of the other fancy-named leads haven’t blown me away, maybe Pentel holds the key to what I am looking for in this experiment.

(Pentel provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

Pentel Sharp Hi-Polymer Lead Review
Posted on March 11, 2019 and filed under Pentel, Mechanical Pencil Lead, Pencil Reviews.