Thanks to The Thackery for sending me these pencils for review.
Japanese pencil company Kirin is a manufacturer of a lot of specialty pencils, particularly colored pencils and small batch novelty pencils. According to their website, they also make bespoke pencils in small numbers as gifts. One of their lines, the Woody Pal, has a few different pencils in it, colored pencils, rainbow pencils, and thick triangular graphite pencils, just to name a few things. These pencils are called the Woody Pal Eddy Pencil, and they come in B and 2B. Besides their novelty graphite pencils, these are probably some of the few that you can use for everyday writing.
The Eddy would be a simple enough, round, natural wood pencil with a smooth Japanese core if it weren't for one thing: the spiral grip. Like some of the grip pencils available, these have wood taken out of the barrel, but unlike those pencils, this is shaved out in one continuous spiral, starting about a quarter of the way from the end of the pencil and going all the way until about the last half-inch, where you would start to sharpen it. The spiral is soft on the edges and is done prior to the thin clear lacquer being applied, so you're not grabbing onto rough, exposed wood, like you might in something like the DOMS Groove Slim or the Ticonderoga Groove.
These are a beautiful natural cedar color and they've got a really great tiny end dip on the top to keep it from being exposed. The B is silver and the 2B is gold. The imprint is simple, it just says Woody Pal in a nice thin slab-serif, almost typewriter-style font. On the opposite side it says "Kirin Japan" and has the grade. No UPC on these pencils. The cores are all centered wonderfully and the cedar smell is yummy.
Speaking of the cores: maybe it's due to the fact that Kirin makes a lot of drawing and colored pencils, but these are fairly soft for what they're graded as. I'd say they're about a half a grade softer than what they say on the pencil. That's fine, but you will be sharpening if you're writing with these. I found these most pleasant on something that I consider "smooth" for pencil, like the Field Notes standard paper. They are able to keep a little bit of a point on that. Something like Baron Fig paper, you wouldn't get through half a page of a Confidant before reaching for the sharpener.
That brings me to another point: Hand sharpening with these is a bit funky. Because of the missing wood, the pencil will jump a bit, depending on the sharpener. I've found I like these best in a 2-stage, like the KUM Automatic or Masterpiece, because I don't have to worry about snapping of the core while I shave the wood down. It's not completely unusable in a single hole sharpener, but 2-stage may save you some trouble. That said, these do make some interesting shavings flowers.
I tend to "death grip" my pencils, so I had a little issue with finger fatigue while writing with these. They felt perfectly fine in the hand when I would consciously lighten up on trying to kill the page, but when I was getting into what I was writing and not thinking, I'd clamp down hard again. The spiral hits me in a certain spot on the thumb that kinda sucks, but again, I hold my pencil like a rabid beast, so your mileage may vary. I'm sure if I took the same care writing with these as I did with my fountain pens, I wouldn't have the same problem.
Overall, this is a fun and unique pencil. I love the natural wood look of these and the spiral grip is definitely neat. A smooth core, maybe a bit softer than graded, rounds out this uncommon pencil.
Available from The Thackery, in 3, 6, or 12. $4.99, $8.99, and $14.99 respectively.