So, is there any practical difference between mechanical pencils that use "0.5 mm" lead vs. the slightly thicker "0.7 mm" lead ? When I stumbled across I've been ranting since long before this site began about the evils of thin lead pencils and the corruptive power they have over impressionable youth. ... (and by thin, I mean thinner than 1.8 mm) I get the impression that I've completely missed out on some superior writing instrument. --DavidCary 15:15, 26 May 2005 (EDT)
Leadholders are, in my opinion, far superior to mechanical pencils, mainly because the leads they use are more robust. The leads are 2mm in diameter and, unless oversharpened, don't break under common--or uncommon--writing pressures. I currently use a Staedtler Mars 780 leadholder.--Drdrang 02:11, 18 Jun 2005 (EDT)
- I'm sure leadholders are great for those who want the best lead control, but the whole point of the mechanical pencil for most is to eliminate time wasted by sharpening! Thus the thin-lead pencil is not evil, unless you need to get good drawings. --PSzalapski 12:44, 21 Jun 2005 (EDT)
- There is almost no sharpening if you choose the right lead. When I say below that a 2H lead holds its point for a long time, I mean weeks. --Drdrang 10:21, 30 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I see that a leadholder is also called a "clutch pencil".
Pencil leads come in a variety of hardnesses. The softer series of leads have a "B" designation with a number in front--the higher the number, the softer the lead. The harder series of leads have an "H" designation with a number in front--in this case, the higher the number the harder the lead. For the 1B and 1H leads, the leading number is dropped, so they are known as B and H, respectively. Finally, there is an HB lead whose hardness lies between the two series. Draftsmen and artists are particular about the thickness and blackness of the lines they produce, so these fine gradations are necessary.
Since I don't do any drafting by hand anymore, I have settled on the 2H lead because it holds its point for a long time while still making lines and characters dark enough to read and be reproduced by photocopying.
--Drdrang 02:11, 18 Jun 2005 (EDT)
- Various ways to sharpen a (nonmechanical) pencil.
- Pencil sharpener (manual and electric)
- Pocket knife
- For carrying pencils around, Sav-a-Points can come in handy to keep your sharp pencils sharp.
 The "Perfect Pencil"
Another alternative is the Perfect Pencil which has an extender and a sharpener built in that can take any pencil. There's also a slightly fancier UFO version (in aluminium with a wood-colored pencil). If you're rich, try the Graf von Faber-Castell version, in silver with a very fancy pencil indeed.