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What makes a good pencil?

Posted by Casey Tucker on

With Blackwing announcing their new Limited Edition Vinyl Pencils this week (keep an eye on our website for release dates late next month), we looked at what makes a pencil, a good pencil...


Not All Pencils are Created Equal

You may think it's very simple to make a pencil but surprisingly the amount of variations, wood types and even the shape of the pencil body means that there are an abundance types and options.

1. The Wood

Blackwing are one of our favourite pencil brands mainly because of the wood they use to create the iconic pencils, Incense Cedar. 

Known commonly as the 'superior wood' for pencil making Incense Cedar has a very smooth grain. This means you are able to sharpen the pencil without the wood splintering and there will be very little wear or tear during the pencil's lifetime. 

A high quality pencil will use cedar-wood because of it's long lasting benefits and smooth texture, however there are other options available.

Pencils made from wood such as Basswood or White Fir are considered a more budget option. These pencils still sharpen well but they are more likely to splinter and are often made with slight imperfections.

2. Shapes 

The traditional shape for pencils is hexagonal, like with Blackwing. This shape makes the pencil ergonomic and is the best shape for writing and drawing to give a good grip. 

Other shapes are designed for different reasons, jobs and purposes. If you're looking for the ideal pencil for your child to learn to write, we suggest round pencils, that are easy to grip and manoeuvre for small hands.

Whereas, flat pencils, almost rectangular in shape may be less common but are ideal for woodworking as once put down they will never roll away like other shapes!

3. Graphite

This is probably the most important factor in determining a good pencil. Despite common knowledge there is actually no lead in a "lead pencil", the core is in fact made of graphite and wax or oil. Good pencils will have a smooth core that creates a defined mark on the page, with little to no smudging or breakage of the graphite that can cause flecks to be left on the page.

Blackwing is a perfect example of a brand that uses the best materials to make their pencils. The cores are made in Japan to a formula that is smoother and softer than most pencil leads, creating a pencil that writes like butter.

4. Ferrule

Blackwing is different to other pencils, firstly because of it's ferrule. Ferrule is the small metal piece that attaches the eraser at the end of the pencil. Most are crimped around the pencil and are round shaped, like the pencil itself, but not with Blackwing, Their ferrules are glued to the end of the pencil and are rectangular shaped. Blackwing says this long and flat ferrule gives it a better grip and allows you to change your rubber colour whenever you want. 


So, we may be a bit biased but the facts prove it, the perfect wooden pencil has to be Blackwing. Shop our Blackwing collection, including their previous limited edition pencil here. And keep an eye out for their next special edition that is sure to be as popular as always!

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