Mechanical pencil: History of Mechanical Pencils, Types of Mechanical Pencils, Advantages of Mechanical Pencils, Choosing the Right Mechanical Pencil

Mechanical pencil

A mechanical pencil, also known as a clutch pencil, is a writing instrument that uses a thin lead stick that is extended from the pencil’s tip through a mechanical mechanism rather than by sharpening. This lead stick is encased in a cylindrical barrel made from plastic, metal or other materials. The barrel is equipped with a mechanism that allows the user to extend the lead, retract it, and advance it again. The mechanism also enables the user to replace the used lead stick with a new one when it runs out.

Mechanical pencils are popular writing instruments used by people in various professions, including students, artists, architects, engineers, and draftsmen. They are designed to provide precise, consistent and clean lines while writing or drawing, making them ideal for technical drawings and sketches.

History of Mechanical Pencils

The earliest known mechanical pencil dates back to the late 16th century when a Swiss mathematician, Conrad Gesner, invented a device that was used to hold graphite sticks. This device was made of wood and had a hollow center that allowed the graphite stick to slide in and out. However, this device was not considered a mechanical pencil since it required manual sharpening of the graphite stick.

The modern mechanical pencil was invented in 1822 by a British engineer named Sampson Mordan. Mordan created a mechanical pencil with a cylindrical barrel that housed a thin lead stick that could be advanced by twisting a mechanism located at the pencil’s end. Mordan’s mechanical pencil was made from silver and was the first pencil that could advance the lead without the need for manual sharpening.

Mechanical pencils became increasingly popular in the 20th century, especially after World War II when they were mass-produced in large quantities. Today, mechanical pencils are widely used all over the world and are available in a wide range of designs, colors, and sizes.

Types of Mechanical Pencils

There are several types of mechanical pencils available in the market today, each with its own unique features and benefits. Some of the common types of mechanical pencils include:

Click Pencils:

These are the most common types of mechanical pencils and are also known as “button pencils” or “push-button pencils”. They have a small button on the top of the pencil that when pressed, extends the lead stick out of the barrel.

Twist Pencils:

These pencils are also called “twist-action pencils” and work by twisting the pencil’s tip to extend or retract the lead. This type of pencil is often used by artists and draftsmen who require more precise control over the amount of lead they use.

Shake Pencils:

Shake pencils, also known as “shaker pencils,” have a weight inside the barrel that moves up and down when the pencil is shaken. This movement advances the lead, making it easy to use and convenient for those who frequently use pencils on the go.

Automatic Pencils:

Automatic pencils are also known as “self-advancing pencils” and are similar to click pencils. However, they have a unique mechanism that automatically advances the lead every time it is lifted from the paper. This feature makes it easier to use and saves time as users do not have to press the button to advance the lead manually.

Drafting Pencils:

Drafting pencils are mechanical pencils designed specifically for technical drawing and drafting. They have a fixed sleeve that helps prevent the lead from breaking and provides precise control over the pencil’s line width.

Advantages of Mechanical Pencils

There are several advantages of using mechanical pencils over traditional wooden pencils. Some of the most notable advantages include:

Consistency: Mechanical pencils provide a consistent line width and are ideal for technical drawing and drafting. Unlike wooden pencils, mechanical pencils do not require sharpening, which can cause the line width to vary depending on the sharpening angle and pressure.

Precision: Mechanical pencils provide precise lines, making them suitable for drawing and writing in small spaces or on fine paper. They also allow users to control the amount of lead that is extended, which is particularly useful when drawing or drafting intricate designs.

Durability: Mechanical pencils are more durable than traditional wooden pencils since they are made from stronger materials such as metal and plastic. They can also be refilled with new lead sticks, which means they can be used for a longer period without the need for replacement.

Convenience: Mechanical pencils are convenient to use, as they do not require sharpening or the use of a separate eraser. Many mechanical pencils come with an eraser attached to the top or bottom of the pencil, making it easy to erase mistakes.

Environmentally Friendly: Since mechanical pencils do not require sharpening, they produce less waste than traditional wooden pencils. Additionally, many mechanical pencils are made from recycled materials, making them an environmentally friendly choice.

Choosing the Right Mechanical Pencil

When choosing a mechanical pencil, there are several factors to consider, including:

Lead Size: Mechanical pencils come in different lead sizes, including 0.3mm, 0.5mm, 0.7mm, and 0.9mm. The lead size you choose will depend on the type of work you do, with smaller lead sizes typically used for fine detail work and larger lead sizes used for drafting and sketching.

Barrel Material: Mechanical pencils come in a variety of materials, including plastic, metal, and wood. The material you choose will depend on your personal preference and the type of work you do. For example, metal barrels are more durable and suitable for heavy use, while wooden barrels are more comfortable to hold.

Grip: The grip of a mechanical pencil is essential for comfort and control. Some pencils have a textured grip, while others have a soft rubber grip. Consider the type of grip that will be most comfortable for you, especially if you plan to use the pencil for an extended period.

Mechanism: The mechanism of a mechanical pencil determines how the lead is advanced and retracted. Consider the type of mechanism that will be most convenient for you, such as a click, twist, or shake mechanism.


Mechanical pencils are popular writing instruments that provide consistent, precise, and clean lines. They are suitable for a wide range of applications, including drafting, sketching, and technical drawing. There are several types of mechanical pencils available, each with its own unique features and benefits. When choosing a mechanical pencil, consider factors such as lead size, barrel material, grip, and mechanism. With the right mechanical pencil, you can take your writing and drawing skills to the next level.

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