Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What is a drafting pencil?

Ever since I saw the drafting pencil section on Jetpens, I've always wondered what exactly makes a drafting pencil different from just your average mechanical pencil? Additionally, what's the deal with all these "leadholder" doohickeys you also see?

After doing some Google research, I found my answer. For those who are also new to high-quality writing implements, I thought I'd share a bit of this newfound wisdom. Lead holders were actually the first graphite pencil in history and were "fabricated to avoid the blackening of the fingers that accompanies handling graphite by inserting a small rod of the substance in the end of what was essentially a hollow stick." The lead holders that exist today are a continuation of their historical forebears. At the most basic level, they are mechanical pencils with really thick lead refills.

So what differentiates a drafting pencil from a mechanical pencil? Here is a short list summary of the differences between the two:

Drafting pencils:
  • longer sleeve (around 3-5 mm) - in mechanical pencils, this is the tip where the lead comes out. The longer sleeve on a drafting pencil allows it to glide better along a ruler or template;
  • available in many different lead sizes, including 0.3 mm and 0.9 mm, as well as your usual 0.7 mm and 0.5 mm;
Mechanical pencils:
  • shorter sleeve (around 2 mm);
  • normally, models are only available in either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm lead sizes;
Drafting pencils are most commonly used in architectural/art settings, although I know many student friends who just use them as high-quality mechanical pencils. I myself am debating whether to add a nice drafting pencil to my next Jetpens order as well!

Signing out,

- Emily


  1. I'm not really a huge pencil fan, and I usually avoid using them at all costs, however this was still a very helpful and informative review, thanks for sharing!

    Ill be sure to put a link to your blog over on mine.

  2. I'm glad it was helpful. :) And thanks! I'm making a list of blog links so I'll be sure to add yours too. ^___^

  3. I think there might be a some other differences as well: drafting pencils are designed for precise lines while using a ruler or template, and as such lack some of the more comfort oriented features of mechanical pencils designed for general use. They don't have automatic feeders, or sleeves that slip back as the lead tip wears, neither does the lead support have any 'give' to act as a shock absorber. On the other hand, they normally have higher quality, more durable components.

  4. I say add (to your collection) ! Thanks for making the distinction. I've often wondered that myself but looks like you've done all the leg work ;-D

  5. I just got a ohto promecha 1000p in .7mm and its great. Adjusting the lead sleeve has a serious difference in the writing style and for drawing its just a dream. The weight is very interesting on it and very front heavy. It was a lot thinner and smaller looking in real life than I had imagined, but no less better.

  6. wow..a great site...i love it.. i love to project some lines using that kind of pencil coz it so neat to use it....and have a fine lead...

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  7. really nice technical pencil, it is really nice to draw a strokes for creating structures in architectures. love it.

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