Best woodworking pencil

I know a lot of people disrespect the mechanical pencil for the wood-shop because the lead is too  thin and breaks too easily.  I used to have similar complaints.  I work with a lot of irregular wood with rough saw marks and things that would spell the end for the fragile lead on a mechanical pencil.   I need something that laughs at chainsaw marks and other irregular surfaces.  I have the solution, and it ain’t fancy or expensive, but it is reliable.

papermate sharpwriter as the bets workshop pencil

In this photo you can see how the PaperMate Sharpwriter pencil performed on cedar that still has plenty of rough chainsaw marks in it.  I took two strokes with the pencil along the square and there was no lead broken.  I didn’t need to stop and extend the lead.  Why does it work so well?  The PaperMate Sharpwriter has a little shock absorber in the tip.  It helps keep the lead from breaking.  This feature is awesome, and beyond that there are actually several other reasons I like this pencil

  • They are cheap.  I can buy a dozen, and the cost is about 50 cents each.
  • They are yellow, so they stand out.  (I have bought other packs that end up being multi colored and I never remember what color I am looking for.)
  • They have a pink rubber eraser.  (I like the white erasers on paper, but I find the pink work better on wood)
  • Twist the tip to extend exactly what you want.  The push-buttons on most mechanical pencils, put out how much THEY want, not how much I want.  The twist gives me the control.   Yes the push-buttons are easier, but often lead to broken leads because it pushes too much lead out.
  • They are light, if I want to put one behind my ear, I can.  The reality is, I am chaotic with my pencils.  There is not one always in my pocket… they are everywhere, one by my drill press, one by the bandsaw, one by my bench, 5 or six on the floor …
  • I’ve been using these for over a year, I have never had one fail.  When I pick one up, it works.

I know a lot of woodworkers like and recommend the Pentel GraphGear 1000.  It has some nice features like a retractable tip and metal construction.  It is a work of art.  If I were an organized pencil person and only had one pencil that was always in my shirt pocket, this would be my favorite pencil.  The problem is, my pencil game is not that organized.  My T-shirts have no pocket so I need more than one pencil around and I can buy a box of PaperMate Sharpwriters  for the nearly the same as one GraphGear… that and the GraphGear is too heavy to ride behind my ear for more than a minute.

2nd runner up woodworking pencil Pentel GraphGear 1000