Pencil Review: General’s Cedar Pointe
There aren’t many pencils still made in the USA. Hell, there aren’t many things still made in the USA! What a joy, then, to find a USA-made pencil of the quality and sheer pleasurability of the General’s Cedar Pointe.
The Cedar Pointe is an unusual pencil, to be sure. The wood is entirely unfinished — no paint, no lacquer, no nothing — which gives the pencil an entirely unique feel in the hand. The raw wood practically clings to the skin. For people who especially enjoy the smell of incense cedar (which is, ironically, not the good-smelling cedar you make chests, hangars, and hamster nests from, but which some people really enjoy nonetheless), Cedar Pointe’s got your fix — this is a stick of raw cedar, wrapped around a lead.
Aesthetically, the cedar is the main attraction. One facet is stamped with the brand and grade (2HB), and the country of origin (U.S.A.), all in black. At the non-business end, a matte black ferrule holds a black eraser. Which is, by the way, a pretty good eraser — soft and effective. But essentially the pencil’s “furniture” is meant to attract as little attention as possible, leaving the gorgeous wood shaft to hog the spotlight.
Still, you can’t write with good looks. Fortunately, the Cedar Pointe delivers in the lead department. Although “HB” has come to mean just a space between the “hard” and “soft” ranges of a company’s line, in the Cedar Pointe it seems more like a blend of the best features of a hard and a soft pencil. The line is fairly dark and plenty smooth, like a B, but the lead has just enough “grit” to be felt. Plenty of folks have remarked on how loud the Cedar Pointe is — there’s a definite “skritch” factor. But the lead isn’t brittle or crumbly. It is, for me, just right, and my preferred pencil for smoother papers like the Rhodia pads have.
If I had to choose a favorite pencil, the Cedar Pointe would be it. I enjoy the way it feels, the way it looks, and most of all, the way it writes. Plus, the name makes me think of the movies Grosse Pointe Blank and Point Break, and that’s fun, right?
P.S. The unfinished body means the Cedar Pointe picks up a lot of marks, both oils and graphite (and other dirt) from your fingers and pencil case, and dings and dents from impacts. I consider it a feature.
Too bad General’s has just recently stopped making this pencil as #1 grade. An uncommon find, the #1 Cedar Pointe was even darker and smoother than the HB. General’s has strange marketing habits and doesn’t do everything it should for its best pencils, like the Cedar Pointe, the Semi-Hex (also once available in a #1 grade!), or the Supreme. It is terrible that it suspended the #1 Cedar Pointe before doing more to market it.