The 10 Best Drafting Pencils

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This wiki has been updated 19 times since it was first published in April of 2018. Whether you're working on the first draft of a home blueprint or a Sunday cartoon, you have to start with the right drawing tool. A good drafting pencil has helpful components like a protective lead sleeve; a reliable, textured grip; and durable, consistent moving parts. We've ranked some of the most effective options, based on their value, build quality, and advanced features. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Retro51 Hex-O-Matic

2. Graph Gear 1000

3. Rotring 600

Editor's Notes

October 18, 2019:

If you're a talented artist or engineer or you're working hard to become one, you'll figure out pretty quickly that dollar-store writing utensils don't usually cut it. Luckily, you don't have to look far to find a quality mechanical pencil. If you prefer the light weight and slim profile of a traditional automatic pencil, you might really like the Alvin Draft-Matic. The Staedtler 925 and Uni Kuru Toga aren't a whole lot bulkier and they offer high-end craftsmanship and a patented lead-rotating mechanism, respectively.

If you know you'll be working on a lot of intricate artwork or exacting architectural designs, there are some old standards to be aware of as well as some newcomers to consider. Many students and professionals alike swear by the Rotring and both Graph Gears; the differences lie in their body shape, grip type, and materials used. For what it's worth, the Graph Gear 1000 may be the most popular on the market due to its long run of nearly unchanged construction, which helps reassure that it is a truly durable pencil. For example, it uses a metal lead reservoir, rather than a plastic one, to avoid stretching over the years which can result in the eraser/cap becoming insecure or even falling out inadvertently. Then there's the Retro51, which looks a lot like Rotring and actually appears to incorporate some of that company's past design choices as far as construction and heft go. Many users feel, in fact, that the relatively new Retro51 is superior even to Rotring's supposedly high-end 600 model.

And if you're looking for big, bold lines or well-dispersed shading, take a look at the Staetdler Mars and the Koh-I-Noor. The first is big and the second is huge, and both are suitable for on-site or in-the-field tasks that require a more visible mark than a .5-millimeter lead can make. And after you've found yourself a quality pencil, maybe check out some high-quality erasers -- that is, unless you don't plan on making any mistakes.

Special Honors

Ohto Super Promecha 1500P A lot of influential technological developments come from Japan, so it's no surprise that this pencil is packed with quite a bit of engineering. You can set your preferred lead exposure and even configure how much is extended with each click of the advancement button. The only drawback to all of its bells and whistles is that it's relatively fragile compared to most, so you may want to leave it in a safe spot at the drafting table or drawing board when you're not using it.

Platinum Pro-Use 171 This Japanese-imported writing utensil was designed and manufactured with the utmost care, and in fact claims to be the next generation of mechanical pencils. Whether or not that's 100% accurate, it's a really fantastic device, with advanced features like a spring-cushioned tip to prevent lead breakage and the ability to adjust how much of said lead is actually exposed while you're writing. It comes in 4 sizes from .3 to .9 millimeters and offers above-average, if not excellent, stability and control.

4. Staedtler Mars 780

5. Staedtler 925

6. Uni Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

7. Koh-I-Noor Hardtmuth

8. Alvin Draft-Matic

9. GraphGear 500

10. Platinum Pro Use II

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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