Review of Forest Choice graphite pencils.

This is the very first review featured on PRevo. It has been reserved for Forest Choice, namely their cedar graphite pencils — because of their generosity and because I have personally always wanted to try their pencils and finally got to this week.

Some General Information:
Material:Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified Incense-cedar.
Shape: Hexagonal.
Finish: Unfinished cedar, sanded extremely smoothly, no varnish or lacquer at all.
Ferrule: Solid green metal, thin paint.
Eraser: Soft pink, non-smudge.
Core: HB (#2) graphite.
Markings: Dark green gloss. On one side, the FSC insignia and “FOREST CHOICE.” On the flip side, “”
Packaging: Ribbed kraft paper, by the dozen and the gross.
Origin: California (wood); Thailand (manufacturing).
Availability: Forest Choice online store.

That’s the technical information. Now for the good stuff.

It is certainly fortunate that the inaugural review on PRevo is of such an excellent pencil. The shape is a pleasantly rounded hexagonal barrel. The colors of the ferrule, the paint, the woodgrain and the eraser play on the senses in such a way that one would wish to have something important (but earthy) to write with one of these fine pencils. The touch and appearance factor are definitely to the advantage of this pencil.

Writing with a Forest Choice pencil is just as pleasurable as holding or beholding them. The core is as smooth as the sanded wood and considerably dark. If you have used some cheaper pencils with unwaxed cores, then you know how black an HB pencil can be. The core of the Forest Choice pencil achieves this darkness and somehow does so without adding the smear/smudge factor. What you get is a nice dark line that remains a line if you touch it, rather than turning to a grey blob upon getting disturbed in any way. I used them to hand-write the larger part of a term paper, and I did not have the trouble I sometimes have with reading pencil writing from the keyboard. It stood out against the page like gel ink would. To be sure, the core feels more like a smooth B grade lead, almost a 2B. It is rich.

The eraser, while extremely soft, is still a good match for the dark lead and takes the lines off the paper easily. The wear-down is minimal, and it does no damage at all to the paper so far as one can tell.

Sharpening is a breeze, of course, since the cedar has a long and straight grain. And it exudes that subtle cedar fragrance as the shavings hit the saucer or the table.

The texture and smell of unfinished and sanded cedar is really something that online photos and words cannot really convey. You have to try them. Forest Choice pencils are a little more expensive by the dozen than your average pencil, but they are also made of a higher quality wood, with a darker core and with a softer eraser that actually works. You will more than get your money’s worth, with writing pleasure to boot. I sure did.

(Edit, July 2017: Since I was asked, I did buy the pencils used for this review. I had reached out to FC in 2005 to ask about the shipping rates for their “lovely unfinished pencils.” They sent me a huge box of literally unfinished, round pencils for free that I used with great pleasure for  years. I immediately ordered a few packs of Forest Choice pencils and have been buying them ever since.)

[Note: Reviews of Forest Choice’s colored pencils and carpenter’s pencils to follow in a few weeks, when I get around to ordering them. Review of PaperMate American Naturals next Friday! These photos copyright J.G. 2005.]

31 thoughts on “Review of Forest Choice graphite pencils.”

  1. Great review. It does sound very similar to the Dixons, but with a little more class. Shall we say the pencil with the added tow package, sunroof and V8 engine? Perhaps they write a little bit darker than the Dixons do? Seems like they have a similar feel. How does the cedar work? I haven’t been to the web site, but I am guessing it is new growth.

    I will have to give them a test write.

    I am also a fan of the Pilot G2 pencil, so when you get to mechanicals we will have to chat.

  2. Thanks very much. ;)

    You’re write. I think that the Forest Choice pencil is like the new Ford 500 — classy, subtly modern and well-made (I like Fords). The write is slightly darker than a Dixon (#2/HB).

    To be honest, if I ever get involved in mechanical penciling, it’s almost always with a G2 and almost always because I am playing with my huge box of multi-colored G2s. I haven’t used a lot of newer mechanical pencils (Papermate has some nice-looking ones in their new line for fall), but I really like the G2 pencil. I have two friends who swear by the Dr. Grip Ltd. by Pilot, too.

    We’ll get to reviews of mechanical pencils one of these days. Would you be interested in reviewing the G2?

  3. Frank,
    I suspect they’re not as soft as the Blackwing 602; I think the Blackwing sports a 4B core. Not that that’s a bad thing. Also, the Forest Choice pencils will last longer, and you can lose them, since they’re not $20-$30 each on eBay, lol.
    Please let us know what you think of them once they arrive:)

  4. I have never scribbled with the Dr. Grip, but it is a very intriguing name. Perhaps it would be good medicine for me. :)

    Since I seem to be the only pencil royalty around I might give reviewing a stab. Stamping with the old royal seal might be within my duties.

  5. I’ll report back once I receive them. I can’t wait to see how they stack up against the Blackwings or my current favorite, the Faber-Castell GRIP 2001.

  6. I’d like to thank you for your favorable review of our ForestChoice graphite pencils and congratulate you on your very interesting Pencil Revolution site. It seems your blog is becomming a great means of instant communication for pencil enthusiasts.

    For me, pencil lead runs in my veins and and my bones are made of cedar as I represent the 6th generation of my family who has worked in the pencil industry.

    I look forward to your future reviews and you have in turn given me the boost to move forward with my Timberlines blog.

  7. I received my Forest Choice pencils today. I immediately took two out of the box and sharpened them. Here are my impressions.

    First, I was impressed by how dark they write. I favor pencils that write a dark line, and these did not disappoint.

    Second, the eraser is everything (and more) that was discussed in the review. They erased my mistakes cleanly and quickly and did not drag against the paper at all.

    Third, I did find that I had to keep sharpening them to keep a sharp point, much more so than the Grip 2001s and the Blackwing 602. This isn’t necessarily a complaint, but it was a bit frustrating.

    Overall, I really like the Forest Choice pencil. It doesn’t replace my Grip 2001, but it does give it an excellent run for the money.

  8. Incredible. Now we’ll have people sniffing their pencils instead of chewing them during a boring class or a difficult exam. Should be much more entertaining.

    Seriously now. I’m pleased to see the existence of these eco-friendly pencils. My only question is, what’s the graphite made from/of?

  9. I’m not positive, but I think it’s a pretty standard graphite/ceramic composite. It runs very dark and soft, so I might be wrong. Hopefully, Woodchuck will be able to provide more info:)

  10. I just got these in the mail. They are so incredible. They write darkly and smoothly in my Moleskine. I will definitely be getting more of these.

  11. The Golden Bears have a similar core and are also cedar, and the eraser is very nice. I think the quality is about the same all around; they just have a very different “vibe.” I love the FCs to death myself;)

  12. While there are many positive comments about this pencil, and it’s certainly a nice looking instrument, I have some problems with their “environmentally friendly” marketing. These pencils are manufactured in Thailand. Logs are heavy and I can’t help but wonder how much fuel it takes to ship them to Thailand and then ship them back as pencils. I also wonder how many North American creatures are hitching a ride to Thailand and how many non-native creatures are making the return trip. If they really want to make an environmentally friendly product, these pencils need to be manufactured near the source of the wood.

  13. Hi – I am doing a term paper on the production of the ForestChoice incense-cedar pencil and I was wondering if anyone could help me get some inside specifics/info. on the production of this pencil? It’s short term notice – i need to write the paper by December. If anyone can help, I’d appreciate it! Thanks!!

  14. Are the Forest Choice pencils available anywhere besides their own online store? I’d like to try them but the $6.75 S&H charge makes a dozen pretty expensive.

  15. How sustainable can the pencil be if the wood comes from California, is shipped to Thailand to be made into a penciul and then shipped back to the US for sale?

  16. I have to agree with the commentor above who was skeptical about this pencil’s environmental claims. Despite all of the cool environmental aspects of this product, the bottom line is that wood is shipped to Thailand and pencils are shipped back to the U.S. (which has some of the world’s most productive and sustainable forests). It doesn’t matter how little other pencil companies care for the environment, the fact that they manufacture the pencils in America means that they are likely more environmentally friendly than these pencils.

    I love seeing companies who are trying to go green…but this seems more like greenwashing than anything.

  17. While times were different in 2005, pencil manufacturing in the United States is, mostly, a thing of the past. Musgrave and General’s are still around, but they are lonely. Even the revered Dixons have moved out of the US.

    This could translate to pencils being inherently un-green because they are almost always imported. But disposable (even a lot of refillable) pens are also not made in the US and are imported.

    Either way, they are extremely nice pencils that are always a pleasure to use.

  18. Hi, I found this site while searching for a particular pencil I used back in high school. Sure sounds like you know you’re stuff when it comes to pencils. Would you know about the Choice #2 pencils made in the 1980’s ? I cannot find them anywhere or find any information about them. I always preferred to use that certain pencil in school because it was a very smooth writing graphite. The other thing I liked about them was the wood they were made from, it was also very smooth when sharpened, almost like a plastic. I couldn’t use any regular pencil because of the scratchy feeling that bothered me, same as scratching your nails across a chalk board. Any info about these or where to get them would be much appreciated. Thank you.

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