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The standard thickness for mechanical pencil lead is 0.5 mm, which will be fine for most people when writing. Anything thinner than this will be too thin, thus prone to snapping. If you write with particular vigour you may want to go for a slightly thicker 0.7 mm lead.
Bear in mind that the majority of mechanical pencils are designed for 0.5 mm lead, so you may need to choose a different pencil if you prefer 0.7 mm or thicker. It doesn't take too long to get used to 0.5mm when writing, however, and can help you learn not to put too much pressure on the pencil when writing.
If you are an artist who is thinking about using mechanical pencils, it might be worth getting a range of different pencils with various lead compatibility to give you more options when drawing. In addition, if you want to use a range of hard and soft lead for drawing, you may want to look for pencils with lead grade indicators on them in order to differentiate which kind of lead is in which pencil.
Take a look at our drawing pencils while you are here.
There are also pencils with push mechanisms on the side which allow you to extend the lead easily with your thumb while writing. This tool is ideal for those who need to write a lot in a short amount of time without an annoying break in the action.
While extending lead with this method will disrupt the flow of your writing, it allows you to completely control the amount of lead you put out or inside the pencil. However, some twist pencils can only carry one piece of lead at a time, and they usually only hold thicker lead (0.9 mm and above).
On top of this, mechanical pencils with shake mechanisms always have a push-button attached, so you have the freedom to extend the lead whichever way you choose. These make them perfect for those who want to take notes quickly.
While this is convenient, some people may not like the feeling of writing with the tip constantly touching the paper. Nevertheless, this mechanism is perfect for those who don’t want to bother with extending the lead themselves, and just want to write their thoughts on paper without delay.
Sliding sleeves, for example, retract back into the tip of the pencil along with the lead when they feel pressure. Dynamic sleeves extend to cover the lead when the lead feels significant force, and spring cushions pull the lead back into the body of the pencil when it is strongly pushed.
Many mechanical pencils have rubber grips which make it more comfortable to write or draw with them for hours at a time. Others may simply have indentations in the plastic or knurled metal grips to prevent your fingers from slipping and sliding, and some pencils are completely smooth.
When considering pencils with different grips, ask yourself: How often do I plan on using this? From my experience using pens and pencils in the past, do I prefer those with bulky grips, or do I prefer holding something slim and smooth?
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Orenz Nero Mechanical Pencil
Automatic Mechanical Pencil Suitable for Both Students and Professionals
Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil, Silver Body
Self-Sharpening Lead and a Lightweight Design to Avoid Hand Fatigue
600 Drafting Pencil, Silver Body
The Perfect Mechanical Pencil for Technical Drawing
Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil
A Durable Mechanical Pencil for Everyday Use and Journalling
Essential Mechanical Pencil Set
Great Value and Ideal for Artists and Professionals
DelGuard Mechanical Pencil
Protective Mechanism to Prevent Your Lead Snapping
Mono Graph Shaker Mechanical Pencil
Affordable and Easy-To-Use Shaker Pencil for Students
Diamond Drawing Pencils ｜Set of 6
A Beautiful Set of Long-Lasting Mechanical Colouring Pencils
Classic Century Pencil
Luxury Mechanical Pencil for a Special Gift
Vintage Metalsmith Tornado Pencil
Compatible With Extra Thick 1.15 mm Lead
Despite the metal body, this pencil manages to stay light, so it will not make your hand tired even after hours of use. If you want a professional-looking Kuru Toga mechanical pencil that will last for ages, give this one a try.
The HB lead widths range from a detailed 0.3 mm to a more chunky, sketch-suitable 0.9 mm and advance with a simple click, making this a good pick for mechanical pencil beginners. Though they are made of plastic, the build quality is higher than most.
Written and Researched by Brigid Bernard
No. 1: Pentel｜Orenz Nero Mechanical Pencil
No. 2: Uni｜Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil, Silver Body
No. 3: Rotring ｜600 Drafting Pencil, Silver Body
No. 4: Pentel｜Sharp Kerry Mechanical Pencil
No. 5: MozArt Supplies｜Essential Mechanical Pencil Set
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