I’ve heard a lot of hype about the Palomino Blackwing 602 pencil, and I’ve been eager to try one. I wasn’t excited about dropping $20 on a box of untested woodcase pencils, though, so when Brad from JetPens offered to send me one to try out, I jumped at it.
The blue-ish gray, metallic finish with the gold stamped logo and the distinctive eraser design make for a good looking pencil. On the other side of the pencil they’ve stamped the tagline, “Half the pressure, twice the speed.” I guess that’s their way of saying that the 602 is smoother than your typical yellow, no. 2 pencil. It’s no big deal, but it would look sharper if they left it off.
The lead in the Blackwing 602 seems to be in the range of 2B on the hardness scale. It’s smooth with just a little bit of resistance on paper that gives it a nice feel for drawing. You can get a wide range of tones out of it by varying the pressure used. With leads that are too hard or too soft, it’s hard to get as much range.
The eraser design gives the pencil a unique look which is a big part of its branding, but I don’t really have much use for it. It erases well enough and is easy to replace once it gets worn down, but it leaves a lot of little black crumbs on the paper. It is also rather large which makes a new pencil feel back heavy and little unbalanced. That wouldn’t be as noticeable as you sharpen down the pencil, and it gets shorter. I would probably just take it out and stick with a kneaded rubber eraser.
Is the Blackwing 602 “the best pencil ever made”? I don’t know about that. I like it more than I thought that I would, and I think that it is comparable to other good quality drawing pencils from manufacturers like Tombow and Faber-Castell. If they were to make a model without the eraser and sell it for less money, it would be an interesting option, but I don’t see that happening.