I prefer hexagon shaped pencils sans eraser. I like the wood to sharpen cleanly and a lead that is slow to blunt for writing, I want the lead to erase cleanly with minimal effort.
For writing, I like an HB, B or 2B depending on the make of the pencil. Light sketching? 2H. I’m happy with a 2B for drawing & doodling. If I want dark, soft & smudgy, I use something in the range of 6B-9B. Overall, I prefer a certain amount of smooth regardless of the grade.
I think that the best way for me to test a pencil isn’t a side by side chart like the one above but to actually spend time writing and drawing with a variety of pencils on a variety of papers. (any old excuse to keep buying more art/writing supplies) The ones that don’t make the cut are banished to a coffee can in my studio for other people to use.
What particular features are important to you when selecting a wooden pencil for writing, drawing or doodling? What is your preferred method to compare one brand against another?
(#2 pencils are typically graded HB.)