Tag Archives: pencils.com

Review: Stabilo GREENgraph HB

Another recent purchase via Pencils.com the Stabilo GreenGraph is yet another good looking pencil. We can talk about my love of olive drab green and how it might skew my review of this pencil’s good looks. Or not.

This pencil features a flat olive green paint and cream colored pin stripes and imprint. The pairing of colors is very nice, and as I’ve stated previously easy on the eyes. The reverse side has a bar code  printed in white. It’s not obtrusive. The ferrule is brass colored and tightly fixed to the body of the pencil. It holds a super firm white eraser. The flat paint of this pencil feels strange at first but through use it isn’t slippery even when moist. (I tested this out by picking up my iced coffee, getting my hand wet with condensation then continuing my writing.) greengraphgreengraphThe wood is soft and fragrant but I don’t think it’s cedar. The pencil is FSC certified. The average sized core is well centered. It sharpens with ease in any of my sharpeners. It holds a point nicely.  In terms of darkness Iid rate this more as a B or 2B grade than HB. greengraphIn use this pencil is very dark, smooth with feedback from the graphite. Some pencils, like the Staedtler Rally and this are smooth but have what I call feedback in the graphite. this means that rather than feeling like skating across paper like a Blackwing it’s more like driving a dirt bike through sand.  The feeling isn’t drag per se but more subtle. With a fountain pen this would be called feedback. This is a pencil that if you  like feedback from your pen and paper combination you’ll get it. This is a pencil for people who don’t like the feeling of the Blackwings.

I digress, the pencil is nicely dark both in writing and in sketching. It layers up to dark nicely it is hard enough that lighter shades are possible as well. It was really fantastic for sketching. I also really enjoyed it while writing. I used it for a brainstorming session for internship group art therapy ideas and really enjoyed the writing experience.  I also used it while reading a textbook for underlining the pulpy paperback. It worked well. greengraphThe super firm white eraser worked really well. It is one of the best erasers I’ve gotten on a pencil in a long time. I was able to use it while sketching and for cleaning the written word off composition book paper. Though I’ve used it repeatedly the ferrule and eraser are still fixed firmly to the pencil. greengraphIn terms of value, this pencil when purchased in a 3-pack via pencils.com is around $1 per pencil. When purchased in a 12-pack the value is better at 83 cents per pencil. This puts them into the affordable but not cheap category for me. I like them enough that I wish I’d bought he 12-pack rather than the 2-pack. Pencils.com is the only place to get the at a reasonable price.  I cannot find them on ebay and the price on Amazon was about $30 for 12!!!


Review: Musgrave Test Scoring 100

Another recent purchase from Pencils.com was a 12-pack of the infamously smooth and dark Musgrave Test Scoring 100 pencil.  This made in the USA pencil has been suggested to me as a “dirt cheap” alternative to Palomino Blackwings.  They do not disappoint.TS100Where some pencils arrive in a nice box or blister pack the Musgrave Test Scoring 100 (TS100) arrives in a plastic bag. One side of the bag is clear the other white. Each end of the package is heat sealed. It is one of the most no frills packages I’ve received. It’s not attractive and it doesn’t protect the pencils. That’s okay because the places where the TS100 are sold typically put them in cardboard boxes with plenty of padding. Mine arrived in perfect shape.

I find these to be a very good looking pencil. The silver paint is evenly and smoothly applied. the ferrule is bright silver aluminum and fixed securely to the pencil. It holds a pretty crappy pink eraser. While the eraser is not the best it does the job of cleaning graphite from a page. This pencil would look significantly better with a white eraser. The imprint is on one side and is black. The imprint is good enough but isn’t perfectly crisp.TS100

The core is well centered and the pencil sharpens easily in any sharpener I tried.TS100The pencil performs wonderfully. The graphite core is thick. It’s dark with little pressure while writing and sketching. It’s possible to get a great deal of dark and light shades. Subsequent layers of graphite create even darker areas. This is a fantastic pencil for sketching. It’s ability to lay down deep darks with so little pressure makes it a great option for a single pencil to carry. It is harder to get light areas. I’d rate this a 3 or 4B when compared to other art pencils. It is similar in darkness to the Palomino Blackwing.TS100As for writing, this pencil is effortless. It glides across all the types of paper I tested and leaves a deep dark line. It is one of the more effortless pencils I’ve written with. Because this is a super smooth soft pencil, point retention is not the best. Again, I’d compare the point retention and writing to the Palomino Blackwing.

In terms of looking for a single pencil to carry for sketching or writing, this pencil is a fantastic value. Coming in at 27 cents per pencil these are a great value for any use. Also, how often are neat silver colored pencils found?

The only negative things I can say about this pencil is that the eraser is terrible and that the corners of thesides are very sharp. But these are not all that noticeable. The eraser issue is solved by using a stick or block eraser. The edge issue seems to be eased by rotating the pencil.

Shipping Services

While I’ve been reviewing products on this blog for a good long time, one of the many things I’ve neglected to talk about is shipping from the various companies. We review shipping on Amazon, so why not from our favorite online pen and pencil companies? Here is my not so exhaustive list of shipping reviews in regards to pen and pencil companies.

Pencils.com: All of my shipments have been discreetly shipped in a white cardboard clamshell style box. Each box has been securely tapped on all edges. They open from the top and are gift-like in the package. Each package has been filled with styrofoam peanuts. I have not checked to see if these are the biodegradable sort, but they don’t look like they are.  The boxes always arrive in good condition, even when manhandled by the idiot delivery guy and not the good delivery woman. All items have arrived in perfect condition. Shipping is reasonably priced, right in the middle of the pack. They occasionally have free shipping sales. I try to take advantage of these sales. Speed of shipping is slower than other companies but not slow enough for me to complain. When they run a free shipping sale, they ship parcel rate, which is slower than the regular first class I usually select. You can pay more for priority shipping.

Jetpens: They ship in bubble wrap mailers. They do put loose pencils into thin card boxes. My last shipment arrived with a square of cardboard to protect the pencils. This is a far cry from some of my earlier shipments where items were sent loose in a bubble mailer.  As we all know that sort of shipping is the death of pencils. However, any order over $25 ships for free. Which is a huge savings. The free shipping is slower, as it’s sent first class and not priority mail.* I get my Jetpens goods within 3 to 4 days. Considering the goods are coming from Cali and I’m  in Mass, that’s really not bad.** I never order unless I can get over the $25 mark so I can’t comment on their paid shipping. I have never had a Jetpens purchase arrive damaged.

PencilThings.com: I placed my first order on the 9th and it arrived on the 14th.  I get the feeling this is a one woman operation so not a bad turnaround to get from New Mexico to Massachusetts. Considering that the good mail lady was on vacation and the moron had her route, really not bad.*** My small order was shipped in a bubble mailer. The pencils were not backed by cardboard or anything else.  Shipping was $5 and the order was shipped first class  and weighed 3 ounces. You do the math. Anyway, nothing was damaged and they are one of the few places that offer things like pencil caps and clips. They have a HUGE range of KUM brand sharpeners that can be hard to find other places.

Goulet: Ever since Goulet did away with their Fountain Pen Network discount I haven’t placed an order. They rarely offer free shipping and when they do it’s on orders over $50, $75 or $100.  However when one of my packages was damaged in shipping and not delivered, they replaced my package free of charge. So their expensive and speedy shipping is guaranteed. When my package eventually was delivered, damaged, to Walgreens about a month later (weird) and Walgreens opened it and called me, Goulet told me to keep both. This is a huge positive. Generally, Goulet packages arrived in 3 days from Virginia.

Any conversation about Goulet bears mentioning that they ridiculously over protect their package. All packages are backed by cardboard wrapped in blue cling film and bubble wrap then shipped in a box. Inks are put into ziplock baggies. The extra space in the boxes is packed with crumpled paper, and there is always extra space since all of the boxes I’ve ever gotten have been over-sized for the items contained within. This makes perfect sense for inks and delicate pens. But is completely wasteful for notebooks and other items . I always shed a tear for the environment when I place a Goulet order. There is no middle ground or variance for different items. Every item is packed with the same excessive packaging. Which I suppose is good, because you pay for it.

Amazon- Every package I order from them is packaged differently. IF I’m getting things from Amazon and not a reseller, it’s generally in a small cardboard box with large air pockets. I’ve gotten things from resellers in bubble mailers, boxes, card mailers, paper envelopes with no bubble wrap, and the list could go on. With all the variances I’ve never had an Amazon order go missing or be damaged.

Rated by shipping price, lowest to highest:

  1. Jetpens (over $25)
  2. Amazon (with prime)(rated lower than Jetpens due to many pencil related items being add-on items)
  3. Pencils.com
  4. PencilThings.com
  5. Goulet

Rated by Packaging, best to ok:

  1. Goulet
  2. Pencils.com
  3. JetPens
  4. PencilThings.com
  5. Amazon (rated here as ok mostly because I never know how something will be packaged.)

Rated by Speed, fastest to Slowest:****

  1. Amazon
  2. Goulet
  3. Jetpens
  4. Pencils.com
  5. PencilThings.com

Overall I’ve got perfectly adequate shipping from all of the vendors listed and I’ve been happy with service. Ratings are subjective and my opinion based on my purchase history.

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Review: Forest Choice Pencil

IMAG1724My least favorite of the pencils in the Pencils.com Palomino pencil pack is the Forest Choice. This “least favorite” business must be qualified with the fact it’s my least favorite of a group of spectacular pencils. IMAG1725

This is a very good looking pencil. It’s incense cedar case is lightly finished with a clear finish. the green imprint is crisp and includes the logo and website. The ferrule is a nice evergreen color and holds a pink eraser. The ferrule is fixed securely. Even after repeated use it doesn’t loosen.

The cedar sharpens with ease in any sharpener. The core holds a nice point with the KUM long point sharpener or a wedge. It’s labeled an HB and performs as such when compared to normal type pencils. In the Palomino world this would be rated an H as it’s the hardest of the group of pencils. As such it’s pretty good for underdrawings or taking notes, as the harder core holds a point better than a softer core. It will not give a range of shades nor a deep dark.IMAG1726

I like the look of this pencil very much, but wish it came with the standard Palomino core. This is a nice core but for my preferences not soft and smooth enough. Honestly though, if you are looking for an ecologically minded pencil for note taking or writing this is a great pencil. Even for basic sketching this is a great pencil.

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