The Best Mechanical Pencils 2017

best mechanical pencil

At some time or other we all need to use a pencil, it could be in the working environment or even in the home for various tasks and we usually reach for the trusted wooden pencil only to find the lead is blunt and you don’t have a pencil sharpener, so you reach for your trusty kitchen knife and hack off the end to expose some lead. Sound familiar?

Which brings us to the point of this article, have you considered a mechanical pencil?

The mechanical pencil has been the go-to instrument for architects and illustrators for decades. Known for its ease of use and never needing to be sharpened like the standard wood pencils. The mechanical pencil comes in many different variants either plastic or metal and in most cases have a replaceable lead core allowing the lead to be refilled.

Mechanical pencils are mostly simplistic in design whereby you just press the top of the pencil or depending on the style of mechanical pencil, a button on the shaft to extend the lead and start writing, drawing etc. The lead can be retracted by pressing the button and gently sliding the lead back into the pencil housing.

Kuru Toga Family

Invented in Japan this has been hailed as the most innovated pencil technology in recent years. As you write or draw with a mechanical pencil the lead will invariably wear down at an angle giving the lead a chiseled effect which could catch on the paper you are using. The Kuru Toga mechanism rotates the lead as you continue with your task, this means the line remains even at all times.

Selecting and purchasing a mechanical pencil is all about the application you are going to use it for and of course personal preference when it comes to style and functionality. With that in mind here are some reviews of the more popular mechanical pencils which are widely available.

The Kuru Toga Roulette Mechanical Pencil

kuru toga roulette mechanical pencil

As described above, this pencil uses the rotating lead technology. Simple to operate with excellent results.


  • The exclusive lead rotating technology keeps the lead sharp at all times.
  • The pencil uses a diamond-infused lead which gives it a strength other leads cannot match.
  • Very well crafted and comfortable to hold.
  • A clean, stain-free eraser albeit a little on the small side.
  • Comes standard with replacement lead refills and extra erasers.

The Kuru Toga pencil comes in many different flavors but the standard version of the pencil is outstanding in many respects. It looks great with the clear pencil barrel showing off the inner workings of the self-rotating mechanism and has a chunkier feel to it as opposed to other mechanical pencils on the market, that being said it is very comfortable to hold. What aids in the comfort of this pencil is the superb grip, the plastic has a series of raised bumps which enhances your grip. In addition, the pencil also has a strip of rubber on the nib for those people who like to hold their pencil a little closer to the nib. Even though it’s an all plastic pencil, it is very robust in design, so dropping the pencil won’t be an issue. The performance of these mechanical pencils are excellent, the rotating lead mechanism needs to be experienced, keeping that lead sharp and even when writing. It’s no wonder this pen is so highly rated and you won’t go wrong selecting the KuruToga as your pencil of choice.

Other good mechanical pencils:

The Paper Mate SharpWriter 

paper mate

A mechanical pencil of choice for many professional due to the strength and break resistant lead. Known for their ability to write on many different surfaces.


  • The pencil uses the twist method to extend the lead.
  • Uses a cushion at the tip to help prevent the lead breaking
  • ​Sports a pocket clip for easy carrying.
  • Disposable nonrefillable pencil
  • Cheaply manufactured

The Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Automatic Drafting Pencil

pentel arts mechanical pencil

The Pentel features a professional looking metallic barrel and delivers very fine lines.


  • Ergonomic design with a comfortable grip
  • Metallic body
  • Standard pocket clip for easy carrying
  • Refillable self-sharpening hi-polymer lead
  • The Paper Mate Clear

Why consider a mechanical pencil over a wood pencil?

No need to sharpen as the lead is generally thin enough so you can keep on writing or drawing. The width of the pencil lead remains consistent. Wood pencils, once sharpened write very thin, but as the lead wears out the writing or drawing lines increase in thickness. The mechanical pencil is refillable. Unlike wood pencil which when reaching a stub you throw away, the mechanical pencil can be refilled cost effectively making them a long term investment.

Are all mechanical pencils the same?

The short answer is no, different manufacturers use different types of mechanisms for the dispensing of the lead, without going into too much detail, here are a few types

’The twist-click Mechanism

The most common mechanical pencil mechanism, the top of the pencils barrel is twisted and the lead is pushed forward, you then twist the barrel and hold it to return the lead back into the pencil.

Shaker Mechanisms

This involves shaking the pencil up and down, a weight inside the pencil pushes the lead forward.

The auto-feed mechanism

When the lead has worn down a cone surrounding the lead pushes back feeding more lead out of the head, this innovation means you never have to stop writing or drawing due to the auto feeding lead function.

Wrapping it up

We touched on the various types of pencil types available with a brief review of some of the more popular choices out there. If it’s all a little confusing, the best place to start is deciding what you want to use the pencil for. If it will be exclusively for the purposes of writing, then you will want to consider a mechanical pencil with a thicker lead. If your needs are purely for drawing or sketching the lead thickness you require will be dependent on your style, perhaps considering a softer grade of lead is a choice. There are many sites online which review and or sell the many types and styles of mechanical pencil and in some cases will offer advice based on your needs and budget ensuring you make the best decision when choosing your instrument.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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