Review of Dixon Tri-Conderoga.

We were planning on reviewing the Dixon “Black” (formerly the Millennium) in time for Halloween, since it is a great black pencil that not a lot of people know about and since I personally like it better than the Black Warrior as far as black pencils go. But I was online chatting with my buddy, and he asked why Ticonderoga is named such. I went to the website and saw the promo for Dixon’s new Tri-Conderoga, and, well, the Black will just have to wait a bit longer.

Technical data:
Material: Genuine California Incense Cedar.
Shape: Triangular, large diameter.
Finish: Rubbery black “Soft Touch” coating.
Ferrule: The famous Dixon green and yellow ferrule, triangular.
Eraser: High quality, latex-free black eraser.
Core: HB graphite.
Markings: Gold Foil. “DIXON TRI-CONDEROGA/HB(2).”
Packaging: So far found in a pack of six with a complimentary sharpener.
Availability: Staples stores nationwide.
Origin: Missouri, United States.

Dixon bills this as “The World’s Most Comfortable Pencil.” With competitors like the GRIP 2001 from Faber-Castell, the Ergosoft from Staedtler and from Dixon’s own Tri-Write, these will be hard shoes to fill. But it turns out that the Tri-Conderoga is as unique as the other triangular-shaped pencils on the market, perhaps even more so. Faber-Castell’s GRIP 2001 has the unique grip zone and started the recent triangular pencil craze, at least to some extent. However, as fans of Petroski’s book are aware, triangular-shaped pencils date back to the mid-twentieth century, but the design was rarely used due to it being wasteful of wood (pg. 207-208). Staedtler has the rubbery Erogsoft in response, and Dixon has the Tri-Write, a triangular version of the famous yellow Ticonderoga. The Tri-Write is the only one of the three to be made of Incense Cedar.

The Tri-Conderoga is a departure from the other three for several reasons, the most obvious of which is the diameter. This pencil is nearly as thick as the wide pencils youngsters learn to write with. As we all probably remember, these are strangely comfortable to hold. However, the drawbacks with these thick pencils were that they usually had low-quality cores, stinky wood and thick cores that could not be sharpened to a point for use on adult stationery. The Tri-Conderoga has a core that is the same thickness as regular pencils, so they can be sharpened just as well as others. Dixon’s very nice Product Manager tells us that the Tri-Conderoga “is totally different than anything on the market – for adults.” He’s very very correct, and I can’t find a thing about this pencil that is anything but adult. Don’t let the diameter fool you at Staples. These are not the same things you used in first grade.

The coating does not feel as thick as the one on the Ergosoft, and I’d consider that a good thing. The thickness of the “soft feel” finish does not hinder sharpening at all, and it does not give under pressure from your hands — it is not spongy or shifty. It’s very solid and does exactly what it is supposed to do. Speaking of sharpening, Dixon includes a pretty nice black sharpener with the packs of six pencils that has two holes, one of which fits the Tri-Conderoga perfectly.

The core is, as you’d expect from Dixon, smooth, dark and strong. I don’t think we need to go into that much more here. Writing with a Dixon is always a pleasure with these great cores.

Adding to the quality feel of the pencil is the ferrule. Of course it is yellow and green like the famous yellow Dixons, but Dixon went the extra mile and made a special ferrule just for this pencil. It is the custom triangular fit that we would have loved to see on the otherwise terrific Tri-Write. The new ferrule fits very flushly with the barrel, and you won’t find the paint-spread (yay, we coined a term!) that a lot of modern “quality” pencils are suffering from these days around the ferule.

The eraser matches the quality of the pencil’s feel, and I haven’t touched a Dixon in a long time that didn’t have a great eraser on it. It’s large and triangular, and having points on the eraser is especially nice for correctly the smaller errors one sometimes makes.

Writing with the Tri-Conderoga is, admittedly, a bit awkward at first. This is not really due to the diameter but rather to the severity of the triangular shape. I for one don’t hold my pencils correctly when I hold them in my natural way. I somehow got away with gripping my pencils incorrectly, and the good sisters at St. Thomas didn’t notice. With the GRIP 2001, the triangular shape is rounded enough that it can be gotten around; I can hold it the way I’d hold a round pencil. The Tri-Conderoga is so triangular that this cannot be replicated. The shape and size of this pencil mean that you have to hold it correctly.

But that is not a bad thing. On the Tri-Conderoga’s website, Dixon cites studies showing that triangular writing instruments promote the proper grip that leads to comfort and legible handwriting. Rather than passively promoting said grip, the Tri-Conderoga performs a feat of pencil TOUGH LOVE and makes you hold your pencil correctly. I said this was awkward for me at first. But inside of a written page, it became more natural, comfortable, and I did notice a new degree of uniformity in my writing. The pencil did exactly what it was designed to do and did it very very well, and I found it to be comfortable to write with inside of a few minutes. Very comfortable.

Some people might prefer the GRIP 2001 for its millennial paint job or German heritage, and some people might still prefer the Tri-Write for it’s traditional yellow gloss. But anyone who appreciates writing comfort at all would enjoy at least some test runs with this pencil. The writing is smooth and comfortable. The eraser is top-notch. The pencil itself is very up-scale and stylish, but it does not feel fragile like some more expensive pencils do at times. Rather, it’s very durable and solid. And of course, there’s the great smell of the cedar.

We would definitely recommend this pencil. The exact combination of the precise shape, the unique size and the finishing touches really set this pencil apart. This is no ordinary triangular or coated pencil. It’s truly revolutionary.

34 thoughts on “Review of Dixon Tri-Conderoga.”

  1. Another great review! I’m still partial to the Grip 2001, but the Tri-Conderoga has grown on me over the past couple of days. The eraser is the best on any pencil that I have tried, and while the line isn’t as dark as from my Grip 2001, I do like it. Overall, a great addition to pencildom!

  2. Would anyone know where or how to buy these in Canada?

    Staples/Business Depot/Grand & Toy don’t have them, nor do their online sites.

  3. Thanks PRevo for a great review. I found these today at Staples – but only after making the kind worker there scour the store and climb a ladder! These are great to write with and a nice design improvement over the Tri-Write. Plus they are black, even the eraser – now how cool is that?

  4. After some use, I have to say I like the Tri-Write better. Mainly because it is a little smaller than this pencil.

    Both are great pencils, for the day to day I like the Tri-Write better.

  5. I went down to Staples in Mesquite, Texas today and found a couple of six packs of Tri-Conderogas hung behind a shelving stanchion so they were practically invisible. No matter. With age and arthritis, my fingers are getting stiffer, and a recent serious injury to my right arm has not helped at all. But the Tri-Conderoga’s girth seems to be much easier to hang onto without developing a hand cramp.

    It might be easier to order these pencils online. Also until the end of the year, Staples will deliver any order (regardless of total cost) to your door.

    Thanks for posting your review!

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  7. Can anyone recommend a good sharpener for this pencil? I’d prefer a longer point than the included sharpener provides.

  8. The Tri-conderoga is a very good pencil but it does take some getting used to because of its bulk and girth, especially when new and unsharpened. This is a big pencil, no doubt about it. However, it becomes more manageable as it shortens after some sharpenings, the handling reaching its peak at middle-length; it becomes a great pencil at half-length! Sharpening IS a problem. Only the black sharpener included with the pencils worked for me. Other sharpeners destroyed the rubbery coating (leaving an unpleasant rubber dust on my fingers)or gave me uneven points. The artistic designers of this pencil ought to be congratulated: The green of the ferrule is beautiful against the black barrel as is the neat triangle that encloses the graphite-grade. Triangular pencils are indeed not new. The Richard Best Pencil Company was a pioneer in the 1950’s with their Tri-Rex line, which included the elegant and wonderful “Royal Scot” pencil and the “Futura.” (What we’d give to have pencils like that again!)The company was bought by J.R. Moon products, who kept the Tri-Rex name on some of their pencils—these can still be found at teacher supply stores.

  9. They don’t sharpen! That is my only issue with these beautiful pencils. The included black plastic sharpener leaves a wedge of wood along one side which interferes with writing. I wrote to Dixon, but was told to purchase a sharpener with “multiple holes,” but I am not really comfortable buying a special sharpener just for these pencils, when I can’t be sure they will center correctly.

  10. A Tri-Conderoga was given to me just today by a lovely gentleman in my office. I ran to the drugstore and purchased the standard, 2-hole plastic pencil sharpener, and it worked out fine!!

    I am already in love with this pencil. It will, indeed, replace my beloved Tri-Write! The black against green is beautiful and the smell is delicious.

    Ohhhh, this pencil is the absolute best.

  11. In the review of the Tri-Conderoga, they say that this pencil helps you to hold the pencil in the true Tri-Pod grip, which is the correct way to hold a pencil. People have said that this pencil has actually corrected the way they hold the pencil and they are more comfortable when writing and it has improved their handwriting. But to take it one step further, look at the Dixon Ticonderoga website, and see the brand new product called the Ticonderoga “My Hold Right Pencil” It is made with the three primary colors and comes with stickers to put on a childs finger nails. Then the teacher or parent reads the enclosed poem to the child which instructs the child to match the dots on their finger nails to the colors on each side of the pencil, and much to everyones surpise, the child is holding the pencil correctly. It was developed by an elementary school teacher, who was told by teachers in upper grades in their school that they were not happy becasuse the Kindergarten and First Grade Teachers weren’t teaching the children the correct way to hold their pencils. This had a very negative effect on the childrens work in the upper grades as the teachers couldn’t read the students work. She spent long hours developing this method, AND IT WORKS. It uses Red, Yellow and Green, the three colors that children are aware of and also the colors on the stop and go lights. It was developed so it works perfectly for right handed or left handed children. If this product had been around 30 years ago there would be a lot fewer people with bad hand writing. This teacher needs to be given a lot of credit to be able to help so many children. The way you hold your pencil also has an effect on how you hold your eating utinsels and other tools that you use in your every day life. Take a look at it.

  12. There are some new innovative pencil products entering the market. If you like to see exciting, new pencils, look for some of these from Dixon Ticondergoa Co. 1.- TICONDEROGA NOIR – This pencil has a fascinating holographic finish that looks like crystal. It really draws your attention. The unusual thing is the NOIR (Black in French) part of it. As you sharpen it, the entire point of the pencil is black, the pencil is made of solid BLACK wood. It’s totally wild. 2. TICONDEROGA with MICROBAN. The finish of this pencil contains Microban which inhibits the growth of antibacterial germs. Perfect for home, school and office. 2. Ticonderoga Breast Cancer Awareness Pencils. These pencils are pink and have wonderful designs promoting Breast Cancer Awareness. A portion of the profits of this pencil is donated to Breast Cancer Research.

  13. As I am a long time fan of the yellow and green Dixon Ticonderoga standard pencil, it was a natural progression to try the black and gold triconderoga. What a revolution! Comfort, quality and excellent design. BUT the revolution needs a companion product like an battery powered electric self centering sharpener. For my Ticonderoga pencils I use a Radio Shack desk sharpener powered by four AA cells that sharpen them quickly and perfectly every time. The only sharpener I have found beside the barely-acceptable)manual sharpener included in the box, is the old standby adjustable round hole sharpeners that allow the pencil to be mis-alined even with the closest fitting sized hole on the selection wheel. Where is the good old fashioned engineering excellence that produced the Radio Shack unit. Someone should step up and fill the need for a Triconderoga electric desk sharpener. Respectfully. John

  14. I am very happy to hear that some are still enjoying the comfort of the Tri-design. My late grandfather designed and engineered the original tri-design pencil called the Tri-Rex” for the Richard Best Pencil company in Springfield, NJ in the 1950’s. I know he took great pride in producing a quality product.

  15. We bought a package of these for the workplace,and suddenly my colleagues have all become Triconderoga Hoarders and very possessive of their writing utensils even though we have a shared workspace. At one point, the Triconderogas started to disappear, and we found them stockpiled on our manager’s desk. The nerve! I’m going to have to carve my initials on mine. I agree with the above comments: an electric sharpener needs to be developed to sharpen these without wasting them.

  16. Could you possibly inform me as to who in my area would carry your variety of triangle shaped pencils? I live in the area of Smithfield. North Carolina. My zip code is 27577 and my area code is 919. The larger towns that surround me are Raleigh, Cary, Garner, Clayton and Goldsboro in the other direction. Thank you for any information that you might be able to provide. Have a Great Day and again, Thank You !
    J toler

  17. I bought a whole bunch of different types of pencils to see which one might be right for me. I love this Tri-Conderoga and feel like all those other pencils are just going to stay in the drawer. I like that it is a heavier pencil–the Tri-write seems too light for me. I’ll be sticking with this pencil for the foreseeable future.

  18. This is the BEST PENCIL IN THE WORLD. Why? Forces kids to use a proper grip. Does not roll onto the classroom floor. Awesome eraser doesn’t make holes in paper. And, the coating discourages kids from slurping, chewing or otherwise putting this pencil in their mouths. After scads of boxes of bad Laddies with internally broken lead last school year, I am a convert! Nothing is too good for my little Kindergarteners. Great review!

    1. Thanks, Jennifer! I never thought about the coating also preventing chewing, but I’d certainly not want to eat bits of that stuff. :)

  19. I am 64 and a teacher. Love the black triconderoga. Give them out to special students. One commented that they do better work with it. If only each student could have one.

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