The Caran D’Ache Swiss Wood is often recommended by those who are looking for a new pencil for writing. It has a unique look, with the body of the pencil being constructed with a dark beech wood from the Jura forest, and a hefty weight. However, does the price and looks of this pencil translate into a good writing instrument, or is this pencil all talk and no write?
Country of Manufacture: Swiss
Price: $4-5 (retail), note that prices can vary wildly (Amazon prices it at $17)
The Swiss Wood has a base wood color. It is fairly dark and appears to be at least somewhat stained. The body of the pencil is further coated in what I think is wax. This gives the wood a smooth appearance in comparison to the raw wood that is exposed when the pencil is sharpened.
The end of the pencil is glossy red. This contrasts greatly with the rest of the matte brown body. The very bottom has a white cross.
The lettering on the pencil is done in a white paint. The lettering is punched into the wood itself, which makes the white lettering stand out even more. I particularly enjoy how the words on this edge of the pencil are all informative and useful. The last bit of the text states that the pencil is FSC certified, which is a nice touch considering the name of the pencil.
On the back, the barcode is printed on, while the item number is again punched into the wood with white paint. While I’m not a big fan of these barcodes on pencils, Caran D’Ache did a good job of blending the barcode in with the rest of the design.
Fit and Finish
I have had mixed experiences from the Swiss Wood. The lettering on my most recent purchase is foggy and not straight at all. It honestly looks like someone shifted the pencil mid print and dragged the ink up a fraction of a millimeter. There is also some discoloration on the wood near the end of the pencil.
However, with my older Swiss Wood, the lettering was impeccable, with no bleeding or smearing. The wood was also a very consistent brown.
The wood feels a bit denser than normal cedar pencils (which it should be) and, as such, sharpening the pencil also has a different feel. A bit more force must be used to get consistent shavings.
As for the writing, the graphite core feels hard on the paper. It feels as though you are writing with a marble. The lead wear is similar as well. The takes a while to feel like you are writing on a flat surface instead of a round one.
The line it puts down is well suited for writing, though not as much for drawing.
The lack of lacquer on the pencil and the natural wood feeling make the pencil easy to hold. It feels grippy, but not overly so. Further, the weight of the pencil makes it feel significant in the hand, which makes writing pleasurable.
The pencil has a distinct smell to it. I don’t notice it until I put it up to my nose, while I have heard from some that the smell is fragrant enough to smell at arms length. The smell can be described as sort of a sawdust smell. It has some undertones of paint as well.
I understand why the Swiss Wood is well suited for writing. The lead core inside puts down a decently dark line while wearing down slowly. The wooden finish of the pencil makes the pencil pleasant to hold. While not a particular favorite, as I prefer a darker line than it produces, for longer writing sessions, or for days that I want to look a bit hipster, I would definitely pick up the Swiss Wood.