One of the nicer natural pencils that often gets overlooked, the Forest Choice #2 is one of my favorite pencils that I rarely use. I have rectified that error in the past few weeks and decided that though they've been reviewed in multiple places, I felt like I wanted to give them the treatment.
There's been some talk about expanding the Forest Choice line, maybe separating it from the Palomino branding, but the pencils I have are still branded as Palomino Forest Choice. Early Forest Choice pencils were just under their own brand, and it seems they may be going back to that. The carpenter pencils and colored pencils, as well as the Forest Choice notebook line, are free from the Palomino branding in the pictures on the Pencils.com website. For a little bit more info on the subject, check out Palomino & Cal Cedar owner Charles Berolzheimer's interview on the Erasable Podcast.
These pencils are FSC-certified and these were the first pencils given that certification. I don't think it determines the quality of the wood, but it's a nice thing for the environment. There are other pencils that have followed suit.
The pencils have a natural finish and a green paint applied for the "imprint". They are actually blind embossed with the words Made in Thailand, but the FSC logo, Palomino logo, and the Forest Choice word mark are all painted on. The ferrule is green, but it doesn't quite match the dark green of the paint. It's a little brighter and more metallic. The eraser is a bright red and a little gritty, but nothing like a Musgrave eraser.
The wood is cedar, of course, and really nicely grained. There is just the thinnest of clear coating over the pencil, sealing it off from gaining that nice hand-stained patina. The cores in my box of 12 were all centered perfectly. It's a fairly standard HB core, not quite as smooth as the Palomino HB, but it's not overly gritty or hard, either. It's just not a Japanese-quality core. I'd say it's closer to the Golden Bear core than anything. The point retention is about average for an HB, again, similar to the Golden Bear.
The eraser does its job, but isn't the greatest. I find that colored erasers that aren't "dust-free" usually have a bit more grit to them than a standard pink or white eraser. It's just a theory, but I wonder if the coloring agent has something to do with it? In all honesty, I don't know why every eraser isn't dust-free these days, besides the erasers that have special qualities for different tasks.
Overall, this is a fine natural pencil at just around a quarter per stick. It's one for me that gets lost in the shuffle too often, but having spent the last couple weeks with this one, it's definitely back in the rotation.
Available from Pencils.com, $2.95 for 12.