I’m primarily a pen user, but I do spend some time using pencils as well. When I do this I tend to prefer wooden pencils over mechanical ones, as I enjoy the wooden pencil experience more than I do the reliability and convenience of a great mechanical pencil.
Here are my favorite everyday wooden pencils.
When I say “everyday” pencil I mean something that isn’t too fancy, isn’t too expensive, and it certainly isn’t rare or limited edition. These are good, replaceable pencils that work well and that I enjoy using. The criteria to make it on this list is very simple, but that’s the point of a an “everyday” product.
Musgrave Tennessee Red
My absolute favorite everyday wooden pencil is the Musgrave Tennessee Red. These pencils have a classic design, they sell for about $1 each, and they have a wonderful variation from one pencil to the next which I really appreciate. These pencils are made of cedar that smells wonderfully refresh and makes sharpening them a real joy.
The graphite on these pencils is just right in terms of hardness and color, and the eraser works well enough too. They don’t erase that well and the eraser isn’t particularly good, but it’s a great all-round pencil.
For me, an everyday pencil doesn’t get any better than this.
You can buy them direct from Musgrave for $13 for a 12-pack.
Musgrave Hermitage 510
I randomly bought these pencils some time ago and I’ve found that I’ve run through a lot of them, perhaps more than any other pencil in the past year. At first I wasn’t entirely sure what to do with a red pencil — it’s not like I’m grading math homework at night — but I quickly found that I really enjoy the legibility of the red for jotting quick notes. I appreciate the reasonable price as well, at 50 cents per pencil.
These are my favorite pencils for working in my garage, woodworking particular. I find that the red is really easy to see against any shade of wood and, being a pencil, it erases almost as well as a standard grey graphite so you get better visibility. The only downside of these pencils is that they have a fragile graphite so you need to keep them blunt and not push too hard when using them.
You can buy them direct from Musgrave for $6 for a 12-pack.
Mitsubishi 9852 “Master Writing”
The 9852 is a great all-round pencil with a classic look despite coming from Mitsubishi Pencil Co., who doesn’t tend to include erasers on many of their pencils. This is a nice pencil for general writing with a very good eraser and a deep bronze-colored ferrule that just looks plain cool. I really enjoy the writing on the side as well, saying “Master Writing” and “* HB *” prominently on three sides.
The Mitsubishi 9800 is an everyday writing pencil, similar to the 9852 but without an eraser. The 9800 is a really good looking pencil that sells in a great green paint color with high quality HB or B lead. Other hardnesses are sold but they aren’t as readily available in the US. I really like the printing on these pencils as well as the thought that they use “Matured” wood, which is noted on the side.
You can find these pencils on Amazon for $6.50 for a 12-pack.
Yes, it’s an obvious choice, but I do really like these Blackwing pencils. They are long, good looking, and are always selling in different limited edition sets. I tend not to buy the limited editions as the standard ones tend to look better in my opinion.
The Blackwing 602 is softer than an HB, more like a 2B or 3B, which means they have a nice, dark color. These are made of super high quality California wood that smells great and takes a sharpening particularly well so I tend to use them in very long points.
The pencils are on the expensive side with them selling at $25 for a 12-pack.
Runner Up: Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood
I honestly go back and forth on these pencils. On the plus side they are beautifully made, sustainably designed, and the points seem to stay sharp forever. On the negative side, these pencils are expensive and the lead, which is said to be HB, is too light for me.
As a result, I’ll spend some weeks using them a lot and then others I won’t think to pick them up at all, instead favoring something less expensive with a darker color.
I’m truly torn on these pencils, but I still use them fairly often so I’ll include them on this list.
The best place to buy these pencils is at a stationery store, but you can also find them on Amazon.com.