From an aesthetics standpoint, I absolutely love the Golden Bear. With two color options-blue barrel; orange eraser or orange barrel; blue eraser- the Golden Bear is perfect for NY Mets or Knicks fans. All kidding aside, for a pencil that is twenty five cents, you cannot beat the quality that Palomino offers. This pencil may not perform like a Blackwing, but you definitely get your money’s worth. The lacquer on the barrel is superbly shiny and the barrel itself has just the right amount of edge (somewhere between a Ticonderoga and a Musgrave Testing). The ferrule is gold to match the gold foil stamp and has an orange (or blue) band around the center of it. The cedar smell is fairly strong and the graphite is about standard for a number 2 pencil.
Performance wise, the Golden Bear has some high points,but just as many low points. Starting with the positive, the point retention is great for a budget number 2 pencil. It was nice to not have to sharpen as frequently as I am used to. Also, the craftsmanship of the Golden Bear is amazing considering it is so cheap. Palomino really knows how to manufacture quality pencils and it shows. I cannot get over how shiny the lacquer is or how centered the graphite cores are. Well done. Now for the negative. The eraser is horrible as it barely erases its own graphite and leaves a ton of dust. Not really a deal breaker for me since I prefer to use a block eraser anyway, but still. Not good. Another negative was the amount of smear and transfer to opposite pages I got with this pencil. I cannot see myself using this pencil regularly due to the way I like to keep my notes, but for classroom use this pencil would be perfect.
One can find a pack of these pencils at http://www.pencils.com
Sorry for the past two weeks of not posting. School has been on break and I really haven’t had the chance to extensively use a pencil. This week between filling out my planner for the semester, taking notes at various back to school meetings, and making checklists for college transfer I finally was able to form an opinion on my latest pencil, the Cedar Pointe #1. General Pencil Company’s Cedar Pointe #1 had been pulled out of production for about a year when pencil fanatics (ahem Erasablers) petitioned to have the pencil put back into production. Not only do I love the General responds to customer input, but the fact that they still manufacture the pencils right here in the US is a bonus (double bonus is that they are located in my home state of NJ!).
The Cedar Pointe #1 is a lot smoother and darker than its 2HB counterpart. It has an all natural finish with a black ferrule and eraser. The Cedar Pointe #1 sharpens nicely and retains its point quite well since the graphite is a bit softer and darker than its 2HB cousin. The eraser that comes on the end of the pencil is useful and while it leaves quite a bit of dust, it erases evenly and cleanly. My only complaint really, and this is something easily remedied, is that it smears a bit and transfers to the opposite page when writing in a notebook. One could very easily use a sheet of paper in between pages while writing, but for someone like myself constantly jotting down notes and lists, it is just not feasible to use this on projects that require no smear.
I enjoyed writing with this pencil on and off for the past few weeks and while it is one of my favorites, it does not seem to be a pencil I would use often for school purposes due to the transfer issue. I can see this pencil in my pencil cup on my desk for scribbling something on a post-it. It does its job and its does it well (not to mention my heart flutters at the sight of an true raw natural pencil. You can purchase this pencil in singles by going to CW Pencil Enterprise or you can visit my friend Gary at Papernery Pop-Up Shop as he is currently selling them by the dozen (with bulk discounts on 2 and 3 dozen!). Overall 8.5/10
Now that school is out for the month, I find that I am using pencils a bit less and have more time to focus on some other aspects of the hardcore pencil-using community. I often talk about how pencils I use are sharpened (mostly via handheld sharpeners) and how the nature of my sharpening has me going through many new blades since I use a fresh pencil every week. This is where the Classroom Friendly Sharpener comes in. I have found that pre-sharpening my pencils before heading off to class really helps me to cut down on the initial wear and tear a handheld blade experiences when dealing with a new pencil. At first glance, the Classroom Friendly looks like an ordinary pencil sharpener you would find mounted in the classroom. That is where the similarities to the old school sharpeners end.
The sharpeners come in six different colors and are priced at $24.99, but bulk discounts are offered. The Classroom Friendly offers an automatic stop, so you will not eat your pencils needlessly. The shavings drop down into the removable receptacle below and it is easy to clean and maintain. The sharpener comes with a mount for a table or desk, but you can also use the sharpener without the mount as you do not need to hold onto the pencil as it is being sharpened. There are three sets of “teeth” that grip the pencil when inserted into the sharpener and while this does a good job of holding the pencil tight, it leaves some pretty significant gouges in the pencil being sharpened. This is not an issue at all for classroom use, but for pencil collectors and enthusiasts, it is something you should know. Some rubber grips might be a better idea if Classroom Friendly decides on a re-design.
As far as sharpening is concerned, the Classroom Friendly is amazing. Not only does it sharpen well, but it is super quiet which is a bonus for teachers. I jokingly mounted the sharpener to my nightstand for a bit and sharpened a pencil while my wife was sleeping next to me and she did not move at all. This thing is REALLY quiet. I also enjoy the nice, long point it provides and it is comparable to everyone’s favorite Long Point sharpener by KUM. The Classroom Friendly sharpens evenly and accurately every time and I have not had an instance yet where I have received sub-par results (I have sharpened about 30 or so pencils with this thing so far).
With its sturdy metal construction, quiet operation, and intuitive nature, the Classroom Friendly Sharpener is a no-brainer for teachers everywhere. I also can recommend it to pencil enthusiasts as the Classroom Friendly does its job well and there is a way around the gouges it produces in your pencils. Just wrap a post-it around the barrel of your pencil before you sharpen and you will not have any problems. If you do not already own a Classroom Friendly, you should pick one up. It is well worth the cost. Head here if you are interested!
*I was provided a Classroom Friendly Sharpener free of charge for a review, but my review was not influenced by Classroom Friendly or any other entity than myself.*