In our modern world of digital graphics, clicking on the “undo” or “delete” button is commonplace for getting rid of objects that you don’t want in your drawing. When it comes to any form of design or graphics, one of the greatest needs is the ability to eliminate errors and make corrections. The “old school” way of hitting the “undo” or “delete” button was to use an eraser to rub out the unwanted word, line or object. To do that, your project had to be constructed using a pencil. One of the most convenient types of pencils for all forms of drawing and writing is the mechanical pencil.
The abundance of mechanical pencils on the market can make it an overwhelming task when it comes to choosing the one that best fits your needs and preferences. Our buyer’s guide can help you to narrow down your choices by describing certain features and benefits you might gain from owning and using a mechanical pencil. After becoming more familiar with these aspects of mechanical pencils, our reviews of some of the top mechanical pencils on the market will allow you the opportunity to compare how various features and benefits are implemented in the designs of various models.
Once you have finished with our buyer’s guide and reviews, you should be well-qualified to make a purchasing decision that best fits your individual needs and preferences.
Why do you need a mechanical pencil?
The first mechanical pencils were often referred to as “Eversharps” because you never have to sharpen them, and because this was the brand name of the first patented and manufactured mechanical pencils.
The precision of various lines is often extremely important and the tip of the pencil needs to remain at a certain point of fineness for the specific task that is being performed. Artists, architects, engineers, draftsmen and designers are common professional mechanical pencil users. Their work is often in a constant state of development where certain attributes and details will need to be adjusted throughout the process. A mechanical pencil allows for error elimination and correction without the hassle of sharpening your pencil.
What benefits can you expect from a mechanical pencil?
Besides the benefit of being able to eliminate or correct errors and not have to continuously sharpen your pencil, there are a number of other benefits to keep in mind when it comes to mechanical pencils. Those benefits include:
• Ease of control.
• Variations of point fineness for various uses.
• Width of line consistency, which can vary with a traditional pencil or even with a slight change of pressure.
These benefits of mechanical pencils make them a preferred choice for professionals who desire to control precision in their drawings and they can provide the same precision to non-professionals as well.
What are some features to look for in a mechanical pencil?
There are a myriad of budget considerations and personal preferences spread over all of the individuals who make use of mechanical pencils, but there are a few general features which should be kept in mind when it comes to considering the purchase of a mechanical pencil. These features include:
There are several methods of advancing lead in a mechanical pencil. Because this is something that you will be doing often, it is something that you need to consider carefully. Here are the main types of lead advancement:
• Push button. This is the most common type of lead advancement. By pushing a button in the top of the pencil barrel, in the side or built into the clip, the clamp on the lead is released and the lead moves out of the tip a bit further.
• Shaker. A recent bit of technology allows you to shake the pencil which shifts and internal weight that activates a clicking mechanism to advance the lead. This allows you to advance lead without changing your grip on the pencil.
• Twist. This usually involves turning a knob on the shaft of the pencil, which is typically located in the nose cone or grip of the pencil. This allows you to control the exact length of lead you want continuously and with more precision.
• Bend. With this type of lead advancement, you press a certain point in the grip of the pin to release lead. It is similar to a push button in how it works.
• Automatic. You just keep working and when the lead works down to a certain point near the lead sleeve, your pressure on the paper releases a ratcheting mechanism that feeds out more lead. Though this sounds great, these only advance lead a small amount and a large portion of your time will be spent with the lead sleeve in contact with the paper instead of the lead.
Regardless of which you choose, find a style of lead advancement that is comfortable to you and accommodates the way that you use the pencil.
With mechanical pencils, size matters. The precision of various sizes of lead and their specific use is one of the reason that many users choose mechanical pencils. There are various lead sizes and typical uses for each size. Here is a quick reference to some of the most common ones:
• 0.2 mm to 0.4 mm. This is an extra-fine point used for detailed drawings, fine writing and compact math equations. The drawback to these leads is that they are easily broken and you will have to hold back on how much pressure you apply when using them.
• 0.5 mm to 0.7 mm. For the reason we just mentioned, users often opt for leads in this size range because they have a heavier touch. These leads can still be used for finer work, but aren’t quite as crisp and clean in very tight and detailed drawings.
• 0.9 mm and up. These lead sizes are for heavier handed writers. These leads do not break as easily, but their line is a lot thicker and somewhat smudgy. These leads work better for sketches and bolder writing.
Lead size is a consideration for mechanical pencils because each mechanical pencil typically only accommodates one size of lead. Consequently, most individuals who use mechanical pencils professionally tend to have a collection of various pencils with different lead sizes to choose from when it comes to completing different tasks.
A professional, or even a non-professional, who uses a mechanical pencil tends to have the item in their hand for long periods of time. Because of the fact that you will probably be holding the pencil a very long time, grip selection becomes very important when it comes to comfort. There are two considerations to keep in mind when it comes to grip: diameter and material. Here is how these two considerations play out when it comes to grip selection:
• Diameter. The width of the grip can make a big difference in relation to your hand and finger size as well as for accommodating certain physical conditions. A wider grip is preferred by those who have larger hands or who are suffering from health issues related to their hands such as RSI or arthritis. Those with smaller hands often feel more comfortable with a narrower grip.
• Material. The materials used in grips can be an extensive list. The most common are plastic, metal, silicone or rubber. Silicone and rubber grips usually have more of a pillowing or squishy feel to them. Plastic and metal grips tend to be scored in some way to keep them from slipping. Metal grips are preferred by many due to their weightier feel and the fact that they tend to stay cool to the touch.
With all other features taken into consideration, the grip of your mechanical pencil will probably be the deciding factor because of how it relates most specifically to how the pen feels in your hand and how comfortable it is during those long, overnight drawing sessions.
Though we have just covered the most important general features to look for in a mechanical pencil, there are a few additional features which might enhance their use and perhaps tip your decision to one direction or another when you make your purchase. These additional features include:
• Eraser. This is a very secondary consideration because the pencil should certainly outlast the eraser and you will be using a separate eraser most of the time. However, there are mechanical pencils into which erasers can be added, and it is handy to have the eraser on the other end of your drawing instrument. Keep in mind that they tend to be pretty small.
• Retractable Tips. The metal sleeve on the tip of a mechanical pencil can be a threat to poking holes in pencil cases, pockets or scratching surfaces. Besides the damage they can do to other items, they can also be damaged, which essentially makes the pencil unusable. For this reason, being able to retract the tip of the sleeve on a pencil which you carry around a lot is probably a good feature to keep in mind.
• Lead Protection. Similar to protecting the tip, protecting the lead from breaking is another feature to keep in mind. Pencils with a retractable sleeve tend to provide better protection for lead as well.
• Dual clutch. This feature allows you to use up the entire lead instead of wasting that last little bit. A dual clutch continues to hold the lead that is being used into place while the next lead in the barrel falls into place behind it, making switching out lead and wasting lead less of a problem.
• Auto Lead Rotation. This is a high-tech way to keep lead sharp. With every press on the paper, the lead rotates slightly to prevent it from building up a flattened point and decreasing its precision.
The general features we have discussed as well as the additional features to look for in a mechanical pencil should allow you to have a better idea of what features you want and need as well as what will fit into your specific budget. Our top mechanical pencil reviews will allow you to examine which of these features are included in the various models and how they are implemented in order to make a better informed buying decision when it comes to choosing the right mechanical pencil to fit your needs.
Best Mechanical Pencil Reviews
Keeping your mechanical pencil sharp as you work is not a problem with the Uni Mechanical Pencil, Kuru Toga Roulette. This pencil uses rotating lead technology, includes push button lead advancement at comes incased in a durable metal with a scored metal grip. This pencil accommodates 0.5 mm lead for moderate to fine writing and design work.
Rotating lead technology maintains the sharpness of your lead and puts this pencil among the best that you can get your hands on. This pencil comes in attractive and durable metal case with a cooler metal grip. This pencil uses more common push button lead advancement of 0.5 mm lead.
This lead size will not work for really fine and tight detail work. The tip does not retract to protect the lead sleeve.
A Great Choice If…
You need a dependable pencil for moderate to fine writing and broader design work. If you need fine detail work the lead in this pencil will be too large.
A magnetic ring is used to load, keep lead firmly in place and advance the lead while you use this Aviation Aluminum Mechanical Pencil. Designed with 0.9 mm lead, this pencil is best used when doodling, drawing or sketching. The barrel of this pencil is durable aluminum with a consistent diameter from top to grip.
This is a long-lasting durable pencil with an innovative design and lead advancement technology. It has a simple and sleek design and is easier to carry. The aluminum grip on the barrel of this pencil remains cooler during use.
The Not So Good
The thickness of the lead on this pencil must be sharpened in order for it to be used for finer work. It is a little bit pricey compared to others in its class.
A Great Choice If…
You want a great pencil for sketching or have used and understand the older style architectural lead holder and its use. If you are looking for a easy to use fine-point mechanical pencil this isn’t it.
Fine design work can’t be accomplished with a more elegant and stylish pencil than the Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil. This is a high-end pencil for professional use with a 0.3 mm lead for fine detail work, fine writing and intricate drawing. This pencil comes with a metal barrel and grip with soft latex-free inlaid pads and utilizes automatic lead advancement. It also includes a removable pocket clip for both carrying and drawing convenience, a lead hardness indicator, and a retractable tip.
The grip on this pencil is going to feel better in your hand than just about any other you can get your fingers on. The retractable tip feature is certainly a positive. Its attractive design and metal barrel combine to create a pencil that is both durable and elegant. The removable clip is an added feature that is hardly ever seen on other pencils of its class. In a set, these pencils are color coded for various sizes of leads.
The Not So Good
Automatic lead advancement can be a little bit irksome to some users. The eraser that is included is really small.
A Great Choice If…
You require a durable and dependable pencil for template and fine detail work. You might not be overly pleased with the automatic lead advancement feature.
These Jimmidda 0.5 and 0.7 Mechanical Pencils come in a pair for added convenience. Both of these pencils come in a metal barrel and have a scored metal grip for cooler use and comfortable gripping. The two sizes are typically used for moderate to fine general drawing and writing and are less brittle for those who work with a heavier hand. These pencils use push button lead advancement.
You get two different lead sizes with this pair of pencils, which are clearly marked as to their size. The metal barrels and grips on these pencils make them more durable and long lasting as well as cool to the touch during long hours of use. They use common push button lead advancement for easy operation.
A pair that included a finer lead with a moderate lead, like 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm would have provided for more versatility. Color coding rather than the tiny size labels would be a better way of telling the two pencils apart.
A Great Choice If…
You have a heavier touch when you work and want a pair of pencils with a very good feel in your hand. You won’t be pleased if you need pencils for finer detail and precision work.
Well-known for its fountain pens, the manufacturer of the Lamy 2000 Pencil brings some of its expertise over to the mechanical pencil world. This pencil has a fiberglass barrel that is textured to prevent it from slipping in your hand during use. It utilizes push button lead advancement for its 05 mm lead, includes a stainless steel pocket clip and has a pocket saving conical tip and included eraser.
This is a solid and dependable pencil with a sleek and attractive design. It utilizes common push button lead advancement for ease of use and includes a stainless steel pocket clip. The conical tip helps to protect the tip from damage as well as prevent it from scratching or causing damage to other objects.
The lead advancement mechanism on this pencil is touch and go. The eraser is so small that it is next to useless.
A Great Choice If…
You need as sleek attractive mechanical pencil for infrequent use in moderate to fine drawing and writing work. You might be impressed with this pencil’s overall performance as a frequent user.
The Pentel Sharp Kerry Automatic Pencil takes protecting the pencil tip to a whole different level by providing a cap. This pencil has a sleek, handcrafted, metal barrel design with the precision and accuracy of a watchmaker’s tools. It comes with 0.7 mm lead for moderately thin drawing and writing precision. It has a scored metal grip for cooler comfort and comes with a stainless steel pocket clip as well.
The metal barrel of this pencil makes it more durable and cooler to the touch. It has a wider diameter grip providing a more comfortable feel to those who have large fingers or medical conditions that effect gripping smaller objects. The capped tip also helps to preserve the lead as well as the sleeve.
Over time, the cap stretches out and does not fit the pencil well. In addition, the grip is too far up the barrel of the pencil.
A Great Choice If…
You need a medium precision pencil lead for your heavier pressure writing or drawing on infrequent occasions. Using this pencil frequently will lead to great disappointment.
The Uni Mechanical Pencil, Kuru Toga also makes use of lead rotating technology for greater precision and sharpness while the pencil is in use. This pencil comes with push button advancement of its 0.5 mm lead. Its barrel is hard plastic and has a rubberized grip for a softer touch.
The rotating lead technology included in the design of this pencil helps keep the lead sharp during use. The rubberized grip makes it more comfortable in your hand. It utilizes push button lead advancement for easier use.
The lead size is not going to work well for more intricate detail and design work. It is not as durable as pens with metal barrels. The grip leaves a little something to be desired.
A Great Choice If…
You need a budget priced mechanical pencil for medium precision work or draw with a heavy hand. For daily, professional use, this pencil isn’t going to cut it.
This Pentel Arts GraphGear 1000 0.3mm Premium Mechanical Pencil takes mechanical pencils to a whole different level. Besides being a very attractive pencil, this is also a durable one in a metal barrel. It includes a scored metal grip for cool to the touch use and it is enhanced by latex-free rubber accents to soften the feel. This pencil has a dual-action retractor to protect both the lead and the lead sleeve. The finer point lead of this pencil is great for more precision detail and intricate drawing. It also comes with a removable pocket clip for both carrying and drawing convenience.
This is a durable pencil with plenty of longevity built into its elegant design. It has the best cool to the touch grip you can get your fingertips on and is well balanced. Its dual-action retractor helps to protect the tip and lead while also preventing it from scratching or damaging other objects.
The lead in this pencil is going to be more brittle than heavier lead types. This pencil might be difficult to justify if you are working on a budget.
A Great Choice If…
You need a durable and long-lasting pencil for intricate, template and detail work. If you are working on a tight budget, you might not be impressed with this pencil’s price.
The platinum metallic barrel on the Pilot Dr. Grip Limited makes this a very durable mechanical pencil. Those who have difficulty gripping a narrower diameter pencil will like the feel of this pencil, its balance and its fatigue-reducing cushioned tip. This pencil utilizes push button advancement for its 0.5 mm lead making it easier to use.
The build and design of this pencil make it durable and long-lasting. The cushioned grip on a wider diameter barrel make this pencil more comfortable for those who have difficulty gripping a smaller diameter pencil. Pushbutton lead advancement makes it easy to use.
The medium thickness lead of this pencil makes it a poor choice for detailed and intricate design work. It has no tip retraction to protect the tip or prevent it from scratching or damaging other objects.
A Great Choice If…
You need a broader diameter grip for greater comfort during those long hours of work. The medium lead size will not work well for intricate detail work.
This Zebra M-701 Mechanical Pencil, 0.7mm, 2 Pack provides you with twice the pencil power. The barrels of these pencils are made of stainless steel and include scored stainless steel grips. It uses push button lead advancement for its 0.7 mm lead. It also includes a stainless steel pocket clip for carrying convenience.
This pencil is designed for rugged longevity with its stainless steel barrel and mechanics. It is easy to grip and remains cool during long hours of work. It has a durable push button lead advancement mechanism for ease of use.
The 0.7 mm lead size is a little bit awkward when it comes to finer, precision detail work. It makes little sense to pair two pencils with exactly the same size lead in a package.
A Great Choice If…
You have need of two 0.7 mm pencils, one of which you can give to a friend, and want them to have plenty of longevity. Finer and more intricate designs and detail work will need a finer lead than these pens offer.