What's the Best Pencil for Woodworkers

A few jocular comments notwithstanding, this is a serious question for the professional woodworker. December 28, 2014

I'm fed up with breaking lead. I used some liquid graphite pencils but they are an empty promise. I went back to a 0.9 pencel - the mustard yellow mechanical pencil. What's your favorite? I might just go back to a ball point pen.

Forum Responses
(Cabinetmaking Forum)
From Contributor O:
I like the Paper Mates the best. The leadís thick and the plastic pencil is thick. They work, and you can see them in the shop.

From contributor S:
I like the Mirado Black Warrior HB2 for a non-mechanical pencil.

From contributor R:
Well, if we're talking about non-mechanical ones: Ticonderoga Susan Komen edition from Staples. All wood, round, perfect lead and the pink color scheme means they don't tend to walk out of the shop.

From the original questioner
Ideally I'd like a pencil that doesn't need sharpening, so I guess that means mechanical as the liquid graphite ones don't work very well at all on many woods/sheet goods.

From Contributor O:
I wear a leather pencil holster that holds three pencils. Typically there are two #2 wood octagonal pencils and one #4 in the holster (in third position). This keeps them handy and there are backups within reach. I have several sharpeners in the shop, but my favorite is an old one salvaged from my grandfather's house that holds the pencil while it is being crank sharpened. Itís very sharp, after at least 50 years of use. The #4 is always sharp since it is so hard, and is good for layout where it makes more of an impression than a mark. The holster? Merely so I can make jokes about being a "quick draw."

From Contributor E:
I have salesmen that call on a regular basis and they bring me pencils all the time, along with tablets, so those are my favorites. I never run out. I have a very good mechanical pencil sharpener that I just don't mind using.

From Contributor J:
There is a world beyond the keyboard. I work in the field every day. My pencil is a top three priority. If you really care about efficient work, you might appreciate this. Writing on paper and making marks on wood demands a true multitask instrument. I have tried them all, and cannot improve on the perfect tool. #2-1/2 wood pencil. NOT #2 OR #3. Two and one half hardness. This pencil will write on paper without ripping it, and make marks on wood a hundred times after a #2 is crumbled. As for sharpening, it's a simple carpentry task performed in seconds with a sharp instrument and a little practice. If that's too much hand skill for some, maybe you could program a CNC router to do it. Over time, availability has become more of a challenge, but I just bought three 12 count boxes of Ticonderoga's online for less than ten bucks.

From contributor S:
My favorite regular pencil would be a Dixon Tri-Conderoga HB, three sided pencil. I use a Staedtler Mars 9mm mechanical pencil. I took drafting in school 50 years ago and was taught to always rotate the pencil when drawing lines to lessen the sharpening time. It also takes a bit of the pressure off so less breakage.

From the original questioner:
I tried the Pica Dry ones. Caran díAche makes them. Itís apparently the original architects pencil. It has a sharpener in the lid. It's ok but no different (except the built in sharpener) to any other architects pencil that I can see. Iíll try some of the other hard lead Ticonderoga types and get an electric sharpener. I don't sharpen chisels or plane irons either. I use disposable bladed chisels and plane blades from rali.