We love mechanical pencils. You"d probably guess the from the huge number of them we stock. There"s one amazing range of mechanically pencils available, in every sorts that styles, v all kinds of features, for countless different purposes. So we assumed some sort of guide could be useful. We"re aiming for this overview to serve several purposes:

If you require some advice on making use of your pencil (pun intended), we deserve to help. It"s not constantly obvious how to include spare leads, for example, or clean a jam once things acquire stuck.If you desire to to buy a mechanically pencil, yet you"re not sure what form would it is in best, we have a couple of ideas. The best pencil because that you might depend on a the majority of things, but we"ll assist you narrow things down.We additionally hope it will be an exciting read, if you discover mechanical pencils interesting. We do!


What Is a mechanically Pencil?

Definitions vary, however for the objective of this article, we"ll consider a mechanical pencil to be any kind of pencil through a lead-advance device that pushes the lead forward in part way. We"ll mention clutch pencils briefly too, wherein the command is released when you hold down a button, however we think about those to be a separate type. Woodcased pencils room obviously no counted here, yet that doesn"t median we don"t love them too.

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Other names for mechanically Pencils

Mechanical pencils might be called different things in different places, by various people. Below in the UK, "automatic pencil" and "propelling pencil" are quite usual terms, and also people may also refer to "clicky pencils". Ones designed for technical drawing may be described as "drafting pencils" (or even "draughting" in brother English), or "technical pencils", though this terms have additionally been used for traditional clutch pencils.

Although not supplied here, Wikipedia tells us "pen pencil" and "lead pencil" are used in India, and also "pacer" is supplied as a share term by part people, despite it"s actually the name of one old document Mate pencil. We"ll stick come "mechanical pencil" here.

History of mechanically Pencils

The first pencils were more like contemporary clutch pencils than what we currently think of as "normal" wood pencils. Graphite was very first used in lumps, with probably a bit of towel wrapped roughly to organize it. When things began to progress towards the pencil, the an initial attempts affiliated wooden holders come grip sticks of graphite, so they could be used an ext easily and cleanly. The an initial description the a leadholder to be by Conrad Gessner, back in 1565.

If you want to it is in really traditional, Cleo Scribent do a replica, called Der Gessner. It"s rather fiddly to adjust, due to the fact that there"s no spring mechanism, yet the simple elements that a clutch pencil are all there.

For plenty of years, push-fit lead approximately 1.18mm in broad was many common, v a twist system that wound the lead down prefer a screw together it was used, and also pencils were often decorated with ornate design in sterling silver.

The should write intricate personalities meant Japan had actually a better incentive to make diluent leads, which lead to the birth of the contemporary mechanical pencil there.

Tokuji Hayakawa made the "Ever-Ready spicy Pencil", which to be a large success, and his firm took the surname of the pencil, and also became "Sharp" - the electronics firm we understand today.

Thinner command wasn"t possible with the classic mix that graphite and clay, together it was as well brittle. Contemporary thin leads are based upon high-polymer organic materials that deserve to take much an ext force without breaking, and they"re getting far better all the time.

Why use a mechanical Pencil?

There space some an excellent reasons why you could prefer a mechanical pencil over a woodcased pencil.

No Sharpening. If the command is thin enough, girlfriend don"t have to keep sharpening it - just keep creating or drawing. Not only does it save time and also effort, however sharpening deserve to be messy.Consistent heat Width. As soon as a woodcased pencil is fresh sharpened, it writes a very thin line. As quickly as you"ve composed a bit, the line gets thicker and thicker. V a mechanical pencil, the line claims the same, for this reason it"s a more predictable tool.Consistent Balance. As a wooden pencil it s okay shorter, the balance changes. Mechanical pencils don"t change as you use the lead. It"s no hugely essential to everyone, yet some artists discover this renders a big difference because that them.Refillable. Friend don"t litter away stubs, you simply keep putting much more leads in. There are no trees to be reduced down. It deserve to be said that mechanically pencils room the much more environmentally trusted option, if you usage one because that a lengthy time. Offered that the leads normally come packaged in plastic boxes, though, it"s no a straightforward calculation to understand which is better, however there"s a lot come be said for a single tool you deserve to use because that years.Choice the Styles and Materials. Mechanical pencils have the right to vary hugely in how they look at - part look prefer technical tools, some look like deluxe goods, and also some look like basic plastic-bodied pencils. Some also look prefer wooden pencils!

Not that we have anything versus other varieties of pencils - we have lots of clutch pencils, and also a huge variety of woodcased pencils here at Cult Pens, and also they"re all best tools because that someone. A wood pencil have the right to make a broader range that marks, and also has a specific simplicity the mechanical pencils can"t match. It"s perfectly possible to love lock all!

Using a mechanically Pencil

For the most part, mechanical pencils are quite straightforward to use - with many of them, you simply click the switch on the finish to feed out more lead anytime you need to. Retract the command by holding the switch in and gently advertise the lead in. Once one pole of lead is offered up, keep clicking till the next appears. When you"re all out, just add an ext leads of the appropriate size, usually through a hole under the button, frequently hidden under the eraser.

There room some variations and also oddities, though…

Twist-click Mechanisms

This device is most common in pencils that room designed to go v a equivalent ballpoint pen. You twist the top part of the barrel, and also the command clicks forward. Release, and the top component springs back, however the lead remains put. Twist and hold, and also you have the right to push the lead earlier in. It"s just like the clicky mechanisms, but twisting bring away the location of pushing. These generally pull open in the center to add more leads.

Inside, this type of pencil often uses an adapter, similar in form to the refill for the matching ballpoint, which contains the totality pencil mechanism and lead tube. Essentially, the pencil is a ballpoint pen through an adapter equipment to turn it into a pencil. There"s typically a cap at the peak of the adapter which you eliminate to add more leads.

(Some the the pencils at that link will it is in of the other twist type, however we"ll point out those particularly in the following section.)

Continuous twist Mechanisms

These aren"t so typical these days, yet there space a couple of around, choose Faber-Castell"s e-motion. The inside is a type of screw-mechanism, whereby you wind the lead down as it"s used. As soon as you complete a lead, you remove the little stub, and also push a new lead right into the mechanism, and also wind it earlier up to the top. Sometimes these only organize one lead, however they regularly have what to keep spares. The e-motion, because that example, has room for 6 extra leads concealed behind the nose-cone.

Shaker Mechanisms

Another systems to the difficulty of stopping to click out more lead is the shake mechanism - give the pencil a for sure shake up and also down, and a weight surprise inside go the project of hitting the button for you. These typically have a switch in the usual location too, yet a rapid flick the the wrist takes much less time far from scribbling down your notes.

Auto-feed Pencils

Some pencils don"t do you protect against at every to extend an ext lead, at the very least until you with the finish of a rod of lead and have come click the following one through. The way these work have the right to be a small unexpected, as you should write with almost no lead visible in ~ all.

There is a (usually) plastic cone around the lead. Normally, you"d need to make sure you clicked out more lead prior to it wore down enough to reach the sustaining tube or cone, however not v an auto-feed pencil. Just keep composing or drawing. When the command wears down enough that the cone touches the paper, the cone is pushed back up a small way. A spring inside pushes that back, feeding part lead back down v it. The result is the the lead will wear down until it will this cone, yet then won"t walk further.

It sounds together though it would certainly be uncomfortable and scratchy to write with, yet the cone is smooth and rounded so it doesn"t catch the paper. You may still discover it much more comfortable come click lead out the usual method when you have time, however if inspiration strikes, simply keep scribbling!

Sliding lead Sleeves

It"s a little subtle, but we"re walking to do a difference here in between pencils wherein the sleeve the surrounds the command can slide up if pushed; and also pencils whereby the sleeve is designed to slide up easily if writing. A couple of pencils now have actually sleeves with edges that space smoothly rounded, so they won"t record on the paper, and made to slide up really easily. The result is that you can keep creating in the same way you can with one auto feed pencil. The difference is that these pencils won"t actually feed out any more lead, therefore you"ll need to stop and also click eventually. By the point, though, there"s tied to have been enough of a pause in proceedings because that you to provide the switch a click.

Kuru Toga

Probably the greatest innovation in mechanically pencil technology in the last couple of years, the Kuru Toga is, fairly literally, revolutionary! together you write or attract with it, the up and down motion is offered to revolve the lead.

Because a pencil is usually hosted at an edge to the page, the lead wears under at an angle, and also forms a chisel-shaped reminder with a spicy point. This shape makes for a more thick line, and also the sharp allude can record on the paper. Some people naturally work about this by turning the pencil together they go, wearing the command down much more evenly. The Kuru Toga does this because that you. The result is a finer line, and less lead breakage.

While it more than likely works finest with Japanese characters (yes, no surprise, it was invented in Japan!) whereby the pencil is lifted indigenous the document several times because that each character, that still functions well through English writing, and also even helps a little bit with cursive script.

Twist-extend Erasers

With many mechanical pencils, the eraser is there for emergency use only. If you required to erase much, you"d most likely want a different eraser. A couple of pencils, though, have actually larger erasers, through twisting mechanisms to expand them, therefore they deserve to last a lengthy time. If friend erase often, it"s a good feature.

Lead Jams

If you use mechanical pencils, in ~ some point you"re most likely to have actually a command jam. That happens. A tiny bit of lead gets stuck somewhere in the mechanism, and also stops the from working. Lead can not click forward, or it could click forward but slide ago in once you try to usage the pencil.

Most mechanical pencils deserve to be dismantled come some level to clean a jam. Usually, the part near the guideline unscrews, which lets you view the mechanism. If friend then press the switch down versus your desk, the clutch system pushes up. There"s a brass ring around the clutch jaws, holding castle shut - push it down, and also it will certainly release the jaws. As soon as they"ve sprung open a little bit of party tapping need to dislodge any type of tiny bits the lead.

If the mechanism can"t be opened up, blockages have the right to usually be clearing by hold the pencil tip-up, with the switch held down versus your desk, and feeding a cleaning pin in with the reminder to push any small bits that lead out from where they"re stuck. Part pencils encompass a clean pin, attached to the eraser, yet many don"t. If girlfriend don"t have actually one come hand, another piece of thin wire or a pin might fit, yet don"t pressure anything too vast into the tip. In ~ a push, a spare item of lead can do the job, yet it take away a steady hand to feed it in without snapping it!

Multifunction Pens v Pencils

A many multipens have pencils as one of their functions. These space most generally either twist-action or gravity select models, and also the pencil mechanism and lead chamber space all fitted into the an are of one of the small ballpoint refills. They usually operate like many pencils do, by simply clicking a button on the top to extend much more lead. Adding more lead is a bit more fiddly, and also generally requires pulling the tiny pencil device off its mounting, similar to you would certainly to change the ballpoint refills. There"s an are for a few leads in the tube it fits onto, but don"t put too many in there - two or three spares is every there"s an are for.

These aren"t the finest pencils for hefty users, but if friend only require a pencil occasionally, they can be appropriate - a pair of different ballpoint colour in one pen is fairly useful, and also a pencil thrown in so it"s constantly handy!

Buying Guide

Buying a mechanical pencil is easy. It deserve to be a little bit more complicated to buy simply the right mechanically pencil because that you. And maybe even more challenging to to buy the appropriate one for someone else. The good news, though, is that they"re almost all fairly reliable and also tough, and also most are quite comfortable come use, for this reason it"s unlikely you"ll walk too much wrong.

If you"re the kind of human who likes to put a little bit of thought right into this type of decision, though (and a many our customers are), we"re here to help.


It"s not a poor idea to start with thinking about what you"re most likely to use the pencil for. If it"s greatly going come be for writing, you"re more than likely going come look for various features to someone who will use their pencil for sketching.


If you"re walk to it is in writing v your pencil, you"ll want lead thick enough that that won"t break as well easily. With contemporary leads, 0.5mm is quite strong enough for most people, but much more heavy-handed world do sometimes discover they snap such slim leads, and 0.7mm or also 0.9mm leads are far better for them. Some have cushioned lead, where an interior spring cushions the lead against rough treatment.

If her writing contains the type of notes where you sometimes simply can"t avoid scribbling, favor taking down lecture note or meeting minutes, you can want to take into consideration pencils the make it simpler to feed an ext lead in a rush, v shaker instrument or next buttons. Auto-feed pencils can work well, too, keeping the command usable at as you save going.


Drawing or sketching have the right to have quite various requirements come writing, and can need a bit of experimenting to check out what suits you, and what feels best for your style.

Lead thickness is really important for drawing. Unstable sketching can advantage from thick leads, because that bold lines, usually using softer grades of lead. Because that this style, you may well desire to consider clutch pencils too, together there are much more of them accessible with more thick lead. 0.5mm is the standard size for an ext technical styles, yet the humble 0.5mm mechanical pencil is a an extremely versatile tool, and also is used by countless artists for all sorts the styles. For thorough drawing, you could want to think about 0.3mm leads.

If the pencil is going come live in a pencil pot on your desk, that won"t matter much to you if the isn"t bag safe. If you"re going to be sketching out and also about, though, it can be really important. Conical advice aren"t usually too risky anyway, however tubular tips deserve to be a little bit too sharp to want them in her pocket if lock don"t retract. For quick and also easy retracting, a "double-knock" mechanism helps - the mechanism is retracted v either a side button or a firmer push of the end button. Others might need you to push the guideline in versus something while holding the switch down.

If the eraser is vital to you, you"ll need to make sure it"s a great size, more than likely of the extendable type. These typically twist up and also down come expose more eraser together needed, usually v the added bonus the you can twist it earlier down the end of the method when pocketing the pencil. Because that drawing, though, girlfriend may already have a desired eraser that you"ll bring separately, in i beg your pardon case, any kind of eraser would be for emergency usage only.


Mechanical pencils deserve to have a surprising selection of features. If girlfriend think the variety of possible attributes to think about is a bit much as soon as you"re make the efforts to choose which pencil come buy, simply imagine how it is because that someone who needs to write an write-up all about them!

Here are some of the features you may want to think about when buying a mechanically pencil.


The classic mechanism because that feeding lead is a button on the opposite end to the guideline that pushes command forward one "click" at a time. There"s rather a facility set of components inside to make it all work, yet it"s every so tried and tested that they work really reliably, and you have the right to usually get years of usage out of even the most basic mechanical pencil.

So why could you consider other mechanisms? Well, side-mounted buttons, shaker mechanisms and auto-feed mechanisms have the right to all feed command a little bit quicker. For most people"s use, it"s no that critical, yet if you have to keep up with lecture note or take it minutes in meetings, the time taken to click out much more lead might be enough to placed you behind.

They"re all based on a device very comparable to the push-button clutch, for this reason they"re all usually an extremely reliable.


Most mechanical pencils have actually an eraser. They"re very important to some people, and fully irrelevant come others. If you hardly ever erase, you more than likely don"t care much about the eraser. Oddly, though, civilization who erase a lot may not treatment much either, because they have actually their favourite eraser, and they"re happy to lug it separately. Those in the mid-ground, that do care about the eraser, need to think about the size and replaceability of the integrated eraser. Lock can practically always it is in replaced, yet make sure you have the right to actually get the replacements. There room very few cases where spare erasers exist and we don"t share them, and also we do have actually spares for most of the pencils we stock, however it"s best to inspect if it"s crucial to you.

In most pencils, the erasers won"t last long, because they"re for this reason small. If you mean to usage the eraser sufficient that this is a problem, look because that pencils with big extendable erasers. Several different brands have pencils with long erasers that have the right to be expanded by twisting.


You probably have actually some idea just how much you desire to spend, or at least how much you"re willing to spend! There space plenty the perfectly an excellent mechanical pencils around for much less than £5, but you could need come spend an ext to acquire what girlfriend want.

Tougher build. While even the cheapest plastic-barrelled pencils have to last well, something with a metal body is likely to it is in tougher.Features. Friend may have to pay a little bit an ext if you want a large extending eraser, say, or a quicker way of advancing the lead.Looks. A cheap plastic pencil will certainly be perfectly functional, but might no look the part in a meeting. If you"re attract a quite suit, it would certainly be a dead to have actually the cheapest pencil poking the end of your pocket. Your tastes can be an ext towards the technological or machined-metal look, but again, you"ll have to invest a little more for the right look.Feel. In part ways, this deserve to be the most necessary thing. If your pencil feels ideal in your hand, it can make a huge difference to exactly how much you usage it. The most crucial part is the grip - you could love knurled metal for the grip, or discover it as well rough; rubber is best for some people, when others prefer a smooth surface to touch. The rest of the pencil is most likely less important to the feel of it, but it can still do a difference. More expensive pencils will commonly feel more solid 보다 the cheaper ones.

Lead Thickness

If you understand what thickness of command you desire to use, this is a great way to narrow down the choices. Countless pencils space only accessible in one size, therefore if you recognize you want 0.9mm lead, it"s no great looking in ~ pencils only accessible in 0.5mm. Numerous of the much more technical style of pencil are easily accessible in several various widths, most often 0.5mm, 0.7mm and 0.9mm, while some include 0.3mm or 2mm come the range.

The thickness you want depends an extremely much on her usage, and also depends a many on an individual taste, too. If your writing is small, or your illustrations detailed, you"ll require thinner lead. If you"re heavy-handed, you"ll need thicker lead. 2mm leader are similar in broad to the core in a standard wooden pencil, so for most purposes, you"d have to sharpen them to get a sharp enough point.

Other varieties of Pencils

While this post is all about mechanical pencils, there room other types of pencils to take into consideration - a mechanical pencil isn"t the ideal answer come all troubles for all people!

Woodcase Pencils

We"re all perfectly familiar with wooden pencils - a rod of wood with a "lead" core, occasionally with one eraser ~ above the end. Castle don"t have the predictable line broad of a mechanical pencil, and also they acquire awkward to use once you"ve worn them down through sharpening. There"s a simplicity about them, though, that"s impossible to beat. The simplicity way you constantly know it"s going come write, and also you deserve to pass one come anyone without having to describe anything.

Clutch Pencils (Leadholders)

Clutch pencils are very closely related to mechanical pencils. They usage a very similar clutch device to tight the lead, yet they lack the extra complexity required to push the command forward with a click or twist. Climate usually have a switch on the end, and when you push the button, the command is released. Friend manually move the bring about where you require it, then let walk of the button.

They are just normally easily accessible for 2mm lead and thicker, and there room plenty that clutch pencils easily accessible in sizes approximately 5.6mm.

To many people, they combine the finest features of mechanical pencils v the ideal features that woodcase pencils. Lock don"t differ in length as you usage them, and also while they can be sharpened to obtain a an excellent point ~ above them, sharpening isn"t crucial if friend really must keep scribbling. They keep lot of the simplicity of a wooden pencil, though, through big, straightforward clutch jaws gripping the lead, and also just a spring to make them close and also grip.

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The thick lead renders them less useful for many, though, together you do must keep sharpening if you need a reasonably thin line.

Other Resources

If you"ve read all that and you still want to know much more about mechanical pencils, you might have a little of an obsession developing! us do recognize a couple of great areas to send you, though, if you desire more: