As I've mentioned before, I'm a big fan of The Erasable Podcast. And they are my inspiration to really dive into pencils and explore this new world of writing goodness. So, it seemed only fair to start out with the pencil that Tim Wasem raves about, over and over and over - the Palomino HB.
After playing with this pencil for a few days, I think I get it. It has a really beautiful, high-gloss finish that is exceedingly orange (or blue, if that's your thing). The only branding on the pencil is what you see in the picture above, and the gold foil really is quite striking along with the gold ferrule and white eraser. Based on looks alone, I actually think I like this better than the Blackwings because I think the Blackwing ferrule is goofy looking. But that's for another review...
This pencil is made from cedar with an HB core, as the name suggests. Though I only have a sample size of one, the core was well centered on my pencil. When it came to sharpening, I found it much smoother going with a knife over my little wedge sharpener, which seemed to get bound up in the wood sometimes. Perhaps a dull blade? Either way, I prefer the visceral pleasure that comes from taking a knife to a pencil and getting a nice long point on it.
When it came to writing with the pencil, it was okay. I don't mean to knock it by saying that it was just okay - it was smooth and pleasant to write with and has probably set the standard for how I would like an HB pencil to write, but it didn't change my life. It wrote well, was acceptably dark (but not as dark as I would prefer), and held a point for more than a few lines.
Overall this pencil fared well when it came to smearing and erasing. To test the smearability of the graphite I ran a finger over the word "smear" for ten passes (five to the left, five to the right). The erasing was one pass left, followed by one pass right with the pencil's own eraser and then with a standalone eraser. I found that with more passes the line erases almost completely, but I had to keep it standardized for the review so that there will be some basis of comparison later on.
When it comes to value, this pencil is not bad. It sells for $13/dozen, and I think that price is right on par with the quality of construction and writing experience. It is obviously a pencil that received more attention and thus should cost more than the cheaps and semi-cheaps out there but less than the luxury pencils. For that price, I would buy a dozen, though I think I would prefer the blue to the orange (I've mentioned before my issues with orange). I would also recommend this pencil for someone who is looking to move beyond the really cheap pencils but isn't feeling ready to spend nearly $2/pencil for a dozen Blackwings.
This pencil was purchased with my own money and I am not being compensated for this review in any way. All opinions above are my own are you are free to disagree if you like.