Pencil Review: Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood 348 HB

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

What can I say about the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood 348 HB pencil? Its beautiful. It also costs $5.45 per pencil. Who pays $5.45 for a pencil? I do. Why? Curiosity. And its pretty.

Aside: Caran d’Ache is known for producing some of the best colored pencils and watercolor pencils in the world that can also cost upwards of $5 per pencil and I’m considering investing in those too. Does that make me crazy? Maybe.

The Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood pencil is a beautiful beech wood pencil, stained dark with no additional shellac. It smells like a campfire. (Yes, I sniffed the pencil). The end is dip-sealed with glossy red enamel and the white Swiss cross is printed on the end. The lettering is printed in a crisp white foil along one fact of this hexagonal pencil.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

I love hex pencils and the Swiss Wood is slightly wider than a standard hex pencil. It may be too wide to fit some standard sharpeners but it fit fine in my  Palomino/KUM two-step long point sharpener.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

The experience writing with this pencil seemed to be “oh, this is how a pencil should feel.” It was smooth and silent on the paper. When scratching back and forth, I got a good dense color. The Swiss Wood just coasted along on the paper and kept a good point in the process. With some effort, I could smudge it but while writing I did not notice any graphite on the heel of my hand which is a true test for any lefty.

It erased with almost no trace of the previous scribblings with my “oops!” eraser that lives on my desk.

When compared to the Field Notes pencil, it was so apparent how much grittier the FN pencil was than the Swiss Wood. Of course, the FN pencil is a freebie but I assume most of my fine readers own at least one of these pencils so when I say the Swiss Wood is leaps and bounds better to write with than most pencils, you have basis for comparison. I also compared the Swiss Wodd to my favorite go-to pencil, the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 HB. The Grip 2001 was definitely a lighter graphite and scratchier than the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood. Am I going to have to throw it over for a gross of Swiss Woods? Maybe!

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

I’m inclined to think that, if you’re a bit of a pencil snob, its worth it to add a few of these Swiss Wood pencils to your collection. I think I might like the writing experience better than the Palomino Blackwings (blasphemous, I know.) but the Blackwings actually look like a bargain-priced pencil next to the Caran d’Ache Swiss Wood.

But, even at $5.45 (comparable to the cost of your average Venti Vanilla Latte), the Swiss Wood is worth trying. Just skip the latte today.

Caran d'Ache Swiss Wood Pencil HB

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10 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I find the Swiss Wood pencil to be almost identical to the Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’ Ache volume pencils. I am wondering if it is the same graphite. I justify buying the series because I get four pencils… I am kind of self indulgent that way. I would be curious to find out your opinion with regards to the writing experience you and others have comparing the editions versus the Swiss Wood pencil.

    1. The leads of the Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils are not the same in all sets – the leads in the first and fourth sets are considerably softer than in the second and third set which I would rate quite hard.

      I prefer the Swiss Wood 348 over the Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils because the first is made from real wood and not from reconstituted wood (I felt deceived by Caran d’Ache once I have found out that the Les Crayons de la Maison Caran d’Ache pencils are not made from the woods listed in the leaflet).

  2. RE: Caran d’Ache watercolor pencils: YES! Get some. I have the Museum Aquarelle water-soluble pencils, and they seem over-priced, but now that I’ve indulged, I can’t go back to most other brands — they are so yummy. I don’t use graphite pencils, but if I did, I’m sure I would have snapped up one of these, too.

    – Tina

  3. Thanks for the nice write-up Ana. I don’t believe the Swiss Wood is stained. It’s something that gets repeated in a lot of online reviews which is too bad because I think the fact that its not stained is one of the cooler things about the pencil.

    1. Thanks for the clarity. Since the pencil arrives without information and packaging I had to make my best guess but since the wood color goes all the way through to the graphite core I should have realized its the wood itself and not a stain.

  4. Any tips for blocking out the ugly bar scan on the barrel? How could they even think of putting such a thing on such a beautiful, expensive pencil? Caran D’Ache used to just warp it around their pencils.

    1. Isn’t it awful? Many pencils purchased by the dozen in a box do not have the bar codes on them, but sadly most pencils these days are forced to bar code for inventory purposes. Oh, the horrors!

      1. I’m going to try a wood-staining marker to darken the barcode on this pencil, at least make it less distracting. I’ll let you know if it works!

        1. Acetone nail polish remover might take the white paint off. I might give that a try. I’ll let you know if it works.

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