Saturday, June 1, 2019

A Better Blackwing Eraser

From left: Standard Blackwing eraser, Rasoplast, Mono Smart,
Sumo Grip

Although I use a variety of graphite pencils to draw with, Blackwings are especially versatile because they are ideal for both writing and sketching. One retains permanent residence in my daily-carry bag (it made it onto my Top Products list in 2018), and I probably have a couple dozen sharpened at any time and distributed all over the house. Its high-quality graphite, wood, distinctive design and general esthetics (not to mention price) easily put the Blackwing into the premium pencil category. Why, then, does its trademark ferrule contain such a mediocre eraser?

If I’m drawing, I usually reach for a soft, kneadable eraser, but when I’m writing an appointment in my planner or making a list, I prefer the efficiency of flipping the pencil around to its attached eraser. (In elementary school, we Americans took for granted that pencils have erasers attached, but I didn’t know until I became a pencil geek that erasers attached to pencils are an American innovation; most countries produce pencils without attached erasers.) I have been continually annoyed that Blackwing erasers look nice but do not perform as well as most standalone erasers I’ve used.

After discovering in the pencil community that some people hack their favorite block erasers to fit a Blackwing ferrule, I became inspired to do my own. To see the full results of my epic eraser hack-a-thon, please see my review at the Well-Appointed Desk.

Hacking in progress.
Spoiler alert: Of the 10 erasers I tried, most were too soft to work as erasers in ferrules, but three strong performers came through as sufficiently firm. The Tombow Mono Smart is my favorite, followed by the Sakura Sumo Grip and the Staedtler Rasoplast Black. Finally my Blackwings have frustration-free erasers! Now please go read all the nitty-gritty details in the review.

(When I mentioned to a sketcher friend my plans to hack a bunch of erasers to find the best for this purpose, her eyes disappeared into the top of her head. Geeky as the task may be, it’s a public service I’m happy to provide. You’re welcome!)

With a sharp Opinel, it's not a bad way to spend a rainy afternoon.


  1. Great idea to improve the Blackwing so that it works better for you. I don't think I would have thought to do that. Bravo!

    1. Well, you haven't reached the geek status that I have! Ha-ha!!


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