This is the Pentel GraphGear 1000 mechanical pencil, and it’s currently on sale for the super-low price of $5.93. This is the 0.5mm size with black barrel. The other sizes are on sale too (or so they appear to be), but at higher pricing.
I wrote about the GraphGear 1000 a few years ago, here. I’ve mentioned it since then, and for good reason – it’s an awesome mechanical pencil.
At its sale price of just under $6, buy one, especially if you’re a Prime member who won’t have to pay for shipping.
I paid a whopping $16.54 for my first one, back in 2011, and back in November 2016 I bought one for $8.67, on sale. I ordered both from Amazon.
Priced at under $6, I’m very tempted to buy another one or two to keep around.
The main selling point of the GraphGear 1000, aside from its solid build quality and durable construction, is that you can retract the lead pipe into the main body for safer carrying and a much-reduced chance of breakage.
The lead pipe is the small and thin guide tube at the front of the pencil, the tip. As you can image, it doesn’t take much to bend or break these off of lesser mechanical pencils. But with the tip retracted into the pencil, the GraphGear 1000 stands a better chance at serving you for years and years.
You could read through the very many user reviews on Amazon, but at this price there’s not much risk to buy one and try it for yourself.
0.5mm is a good size for precise writing and sketching. If you have a heavier hand, 0.7mm pencils and graphite are a little more forgiving.
Deal Price: $5.93
If you’ve used this pencil before, what have your experiences been like?
The “regular” price seems to be $8-10. Blick has them for $8.92 right now, and JetPens $11.50. Office supply and retail stores have them for much higher.
These actually travel in my bag and pants pockets without stabbing me. After using the $3 p200’s for years and breaking them fairly often, I’ve been using a couple of these pretty heavily that way for a year and they’re still in great shape.
Not my favorite for making quick marks and holstering in between. The retracting snap is strong and often advances the lead. Did not love them on my tool belt tho I sometimes keep one there as a finer backup to my pica.
So, how would this (in a .5) work in an Incra or Woodpeckers rule? Could I get it in a thicker line (like .7) and it still fits in the rule? And what is the difference in leads (like 2B vs B)?
The first part of your question will take me some time to answer – I have to dig out either my Incra rules or Woodpeckers ones with holes.
I’ve used larger-sized pencils with Woodpeckers’ tools with no issue. They depict their T-square being used with a wood pencil, and also a 0.9mm mechanical pencil.
I’d be fairly confident that 0.5mm lead fits in Incra holes, and am less certain about 0.7mm.
I like 0.5mm better for use on paper. I’ve used 0.7mm on wood before, but it still might not be the best match.
HB is a good standard/general purpose graphite grade, which corresponds to #2 wood pencils.
Taking a look the mid-section scale, consider:
4B 2B B HB H 2H 4H 6H
The more “B” you get, the softer and darker the pencil lead. The more “H”, the harder and lighter.
If it helps, I think of it as B for Bolder and H for Harder.
The scale goes from 9B to 9H.
I haven’t really experimented much with softer pencil leads before, but it’s on my to-do list. I’ve used HB to 6H for technical drawing.
There’s also F in between HB and H, but I don’t think it’s as common.
When working with harder leads, I skipped grades. So for softer lead, if I wanted softer/darker then B, I might go to 2B. After that, 4B. Same thing for harder/lighter lead. I use HB, H, 2H, and sometimes 4H, and 6H more rarely. I don’t think I’ve ever used 3H or 5H before.
I haven’t used harder leads in mechanical pencils, at least not 0.5mm, because even the better brands are a little brittle. That’s where 2mm lead holders come into play (https://toolguyd.com/getting-started-with-2mm-mechanical-pencils/).
I just tried 0.7 with a Woodpeckers ts-6 T-square, definitively works!
I’ll take two please 🙂
These are amazing pencils. I have 4 of them …..one in each size, from 0.3 and 0.9. Use them for drawing portraits mainly……but really anything. They have a nice feel and are very sturdy. Not too heavy. You can’t go wrong with a few of these especially at $6 each. That’s unheard of! As much as I love these, I have to say that the rOtring 600 is my favorite. I have three. All of them 0.5. Why three? Just to avoid having to changing the lead. Usually I use HB, B and 2B. I have one at work , too, where I use B lead. You just have to learn to adjust your pressure with the different lead types…The rOtring pencils are made in Germany and have some weight to them. I like this because the weight of the pencil applies most of the force when using softer leads. You can find these on Amazon for about $17. Another awesome pencil I found is the Uni Kuru. This has a rotating lead barrel that turns the lead as you write, keeping it sharp and pointy. As far as lead, I like Pentel Ain Stein, which is imported from Japan and Also like Uni brand. Both of these are consistently smooth, non-scratchy and pretty strong.
Side note: Thank you Stuart for the painstaking effort you put into keeping us informed of the latest and greatest!! Your reviews have cost me a pretty penny………but……..thank you. Happy Holidays
I can lose a pack of 30 Ticonderoga Pencils for about the same price of losing one of these
Yes, i have two pencil sharpeners mounted in my shop and lots of Ticonderoga pencils (my wife’s favorite brand as a school teacher – she buys lots of boxes a year for her class)…
Except, they don’t fit into an Incra or Woodpeckers rule.
I was going to say I use a 0.7 and a 0.5 in my garage but mostly the 7 for work markings. I find it rides over ply and softwoods better easier where the 0.5 will sometimes point into fibers and break off. I see where people use the .9 which I might try but .7 works well for me.
Otherwise I will move to a chalk line or markers. but I like to use pencil for any fine work.
Just wanted to give a belated thanks for this post. Had been planning on buying a decent mechanical pencil for a while, the timing was right. Received my one the other day, absolutely love it, best mech-pencil I’ve handled (though I’ve not handled many tbh).
Looks like I’ll be ordering a couple of the other sizes now 🙂