One Week With . . . The General's Semi-Hex Pencil

I'm taking a new approach with my product reviews on this site.  Rather than try to put out 2-3 shorter reviews per week, I'm going to aim to do 1-2 more in-depth pieces, tentatively titled the "One Week With . . . " series.  The current plan is to use a product for a week or so, and then (hopefully) offer some more informed observations.  First up is the General's Semi-Hex Pencil.  

 Beginning of the week:  two freshly sharepened semi-hex pencils.  

Beginning of the week:  two freshly sharepened semi-hex pencils.  

I've had a pack of the #2s for years, and while in town at the Atlanta Pen Show this past April I stopped by Sam Flax and grabbed two loose #1's.  (For whatever reason, they didn't have a full dozen).  But this is the first time I've sat down and thought about this particular writing instrument with the goal of writing a comprehensive review. 

In my opinion, the Semi-Hex is one of the nicest "yellow number two" pencils out there.  The pencils are real cedar, and the #2 graphite formulation is smooth with just a touch of tooth to it, which I actually prefer to the waxy, glass-like smoothness of certain higher-end pencils like the Mitsubishi Hi-Uni, the Tombow Mono line, or even the Palomino range.  The #1 is ever-so-slightly darker, but to be honest I did not find a noticeable difference between the two when the pencils had a sharp point.  Once the point wore down some, the #1 was somewhat smoother and less "gritty" feeling.  

The finish on these pencils is adequate, but it does have a tendency to flake (especially around the ferrule), and the metallic green stamping rubs off on your hands early on.  The #1s I have are better finished than the #2s, and they have a different design as well.  It could be a batch variance, but I suspect that in recent years, General's has done some cost-cutting in an effort to remain competitive, and the #2 pencil quality control suffered a bit as a result.  They're still better than 95% of what else is out there on the market, but it's somewhat sad to see. 

 Not the flaking around the edge of the ferrule, as well as the chipping paint on the ferrule itself.  While I didn't expect much at the price point (around $0.40 per pencil), it's still slightly annoying.  

Not the flaking around the edge of the ferrule, as well as the chipping paint on the ferrule itself.  While I didn't expect much at the price point (around $0.40 per pencil), it's still slightly annoying.  

The eraser on the #1 is better than the  #2 as well.  The #2 eraser is a bit hard, and while it does erase, it can smear.  As a result, I've been using a separate eraser with these pencils. 

My favorite thing about these pencils is that they last forever.  The picture below is what's left of three Semi-Hex pencils after they saw a week of heavy notetaking use.  There's still three quarters of each pencil left!  Point retention is excellent, on both the #1 and the #2.  

 After a week of heavy use.  The top #1 was used more heavily than others. I've done a pretty good job of wearing away the imprint on the top pencil. 

After a week of heavy use.  The top #1 was used more heavily than others. I've done a pretty good job of wearing away the imprint on the top pencil. 

 The #2 tucked into the elastic band around my Midori Traveller's Notebook. 

The #2 tucked into the elastic band around my Midori Traveller's Notebook. 

For me, the only question is whether or not to build up a stash of these.  I have a half dozen or so #2s left, and I'm seriously considering packing away a gross or half-gross for posterity.  You can buy them directly from General's or from Pencils.com.