Why I love Mechanical Pencils
I love mechanical pencils and I feel they get a lot of unnecessary stick from the pencil community so I’m going to fly the mechanical pencil flag and show them some love!
I first really began getting into mechanical pencils during my graphic design studies. Up till then I had only ever used really cheap ones which were absolute crap. My first real good one was a Pentel p205, a fixed sleeve click advance pencil. I was given this pencil by a relative and fell in love straight away and it lasted for such a long time without any hiccups. I still actually have my original p205 tucked away in my desk drawer. Aaaaannnddd here it is…
I bought a few more over the years purely because I loved them, I always have a stash handy somewhere. I consider this pencil in particular to be my gateway pencil which got me into the world of mechanical and drafting pencils and would recommend it to anyone.
Anyway, let me explain why I love mechanical pencils in general so much…
This is the biggest and main reason which first ‘lead’ me to mechanical heaven. You don’t need to sharpen a mechanical pencil. A simple click or shake is all you need to advance the lead (graphite). I mean, c’mon. You can have a consistent and precise line for writing or sketching? Sign me up! For me this meant no more getting up in class to go sharpen my wood pencil into the bin, no more frantically hunting for a missing sharpener when I was in desperate need for a sharp point.
Mechanical pencils are refillable! And they can hold a lot of lead in the barrel. A simple shake will provide enough feedback as to how much lead you have available in the barrel. If you need more, load it up. And the refills are cheap.
It’s like two points in one.
Hear me out. I get that by writing at an angle the lead gradually wears down giving you a thicker, fatter line than the one you began to write with. All you do to solve this is slightly spin the pencil round and there you go, pointy mcpoint point.
I don’t see this extra spin any kind of a hindrance as I have always done this with wood pencils, mainly for comfort or to give my hand a 2 second break. But the thing I like about this ‘hidden feature’ is that it’s kind of like having two different point types in one point. Menacingly sharp one way, soft and fat the other way. So if you’re drawing, wearing the lead down and need a sharp line, spin the pencil round and hey presto, sharpness. And usually by the time you’re done with the precise sharp edge you have another fat edge coupled with a new sharp edge only a spin away.
The mechanical pencil is more adaptable than people think.A mechanical pencil is more adaptable than people think.Click To Tweet
So many different styles.
I ever I go to meet a client you better believe I’m taking the big boys with me, I tend to favour the machined or really engineered look of a Rotring or the Graphgear 1000. I know not all of them look good, in fact, some make my very soul shiver like those awful cushion grip things you would get as a kid for christmas but lots of them look amazing and in my opinion one of the best, if not thee best looking mechanical pencil is the Pentel Graphgear 1000. If it was a girl I’d take it out on a date! It’s gorgeous.
Mechanical Pencils come in so many different shapes and sizes, weights and lengths, colours, you can get metal ones and plastic ones, you can even get wooden ones. So much choice! This is both good and bad though, I know that ultimately they all do the same thing but I can’t help being drawn to unique designs, I can spend an age looking at them all.
You have to consider different grips, do you prefer rubber or knurled metal etc. You get the idea.
All the features
This is where things really get interesting, they’re sooo many features to consider when buying a mechanical pencil. One of my key criteria is a retractable nib for example.
It’s important to consider what you want from a pencil, do you need a retractable nib to save your leg or nipple getting poked. What kind of grip do you prefer, how fast do you need the lead to advance, is an eraser a must have, what kind of mechanism do you prefer (such as side-click or twist advance).
Then there’s the lead thickness, the most common sizes range from 0.5 – 0.9 personally I don’t use lead smaller than 0.5. You can also go one step further and indulge in some clutch pencils (lead holders) which use 2mm+ leads which are perfect for drawing.
I own many different mechanical pencils which serve varying purposes. Some I use to write, some to draw and some which do both. Some are fixed sleeve and some are retractable, I like these to carry around in my pocket. The possibilities are endless.
Now this varies, you can get fantastic pencils relatively cheap considering the amount of engineering that goes into some of them. Cheap and cheerful may be the way to go for some of you but you may want to splash out and treat yourself a little bit to get what you want. You can get many very good mechanical pencils for less than £10, bearing in mind this is a onetime purchase. Unless you lose it of course which I’m sad to say I’ve done a few times over the years.
For me, when I buy a new mechanical pencil, it’s more personal than a functional purchase. I make my choice based on all the factors mentioned above, for some it is simply a case of need but for me it’s much more than that. I don’t buy it because I need a cheap pencil, I need something that looks so good I want to use it, something that enhances my writing experience and something that has been designed and made by people who clearly share the same feelings as me about these wonderful little tools.
Right now I know I haven’t gone into a lot of detail but I didn’t intend to in this post (I can do if you like. Let me know), it is just me telling you what turns me on about mechanical pencils. I hope I have managed to persuade some of you to take the plunge. If you’ve ever thought they might not be right for you and my ramblings above explained enough why I love them. Go on, give them a chance.
As usual you can follow me on twitter – @discoveranalog if you’d like to talk more.