I will now nerd out a little.

It is well known amongst cognoscenti of office supplies that the fabled Blackwing 602 was/is the best pencil around.  I was reminded of this indisputable fact recently while reading the Reintroduction of Stephen Sondheim’s Look, I Made a Hat, the followup volume to his Finishing the Hat.  He actually has an entire section of the intro devoted to this pencil.

So I went looking for it and found it on Amazon, of course.  I figured I deserved to have the world’s best pencil in order to work in my many little notebooks—at least those in which I work in pencil—and on the score to whatever music I’m not composing at the  moment.  Hey, if that’s what it takes for me to become Sondheim…

Quick review of said pencil: Meh.  It has a lovely black graphite that is indeed easy to write with, and the detachable eraser thingie is cool, but the eraser is not the best eraser for the job.  This one is.


If you go shopping for these pencils, you will also be offered Palomino’s pencil sharpener.  There’s the magic:

Before we go any further, do not buy the Palomino pencil sharpener.  It is manufactured by KUM, a German company, and it is about $4.00 cheaper to buy their brand.

So… Notice the two sharpeners.  This is why your life is improved by owning this thing.  It’s a two-step process.

The #1 sharpener trims the wood of the pencil while allowing the lead to extrude without interruption:

And then the #2 sharpener sharpens the lead to the sharpest point you have ever had in your life on a pencil that was not right out of the box:

It’s awesome.  I make yummy sounds every time I sharpen a pencil.  As you can see, it works on all standard pencils, not just the Blackwings.

In addition, there are two little blades on the sides—see the red circle in the photo above?  That’s for mechanical pencil leads.  Plus it has two spare blades tucked away at the far end.  What is not to like?

It is almost enough to make me want to write something.

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