I have to admit, I am just as particular about pens and pencils as I am about tools. Most people (hi, Dad!) are less picky and will use any ol’ pen or pencil as long as it has got ink or graphite in it. A few weeks ago I had been searching for a good mechanical pencil for technical drawing and more precise shop use, and came across the Pentel GraphGear 1000.
Quite a few well thought out features separates the GraphGear 1000 series of pencils from those you’d ordinarily find on the rack at an office supply store. First, the 4mm sleave retracts back into the pencil when you release the pocket clip, meaning that the risk of punctured pants pockets or a bent tip is virtually eliminated.
Second, the pencils have a knurled metal barrel with soft cushiony pads poking through. To be honest, I don’t think that these pads are really necessary since the knurling is well defined but easy on the fingers, but they they certainly aren’t a bother. It’s too soon to say whether this is the most comfortable mechanical pencil I’ve ever used, but it comes close without a doubt.
I’ve been using the 0.7mm pencil for about a week now, and I liked using it so much that I went ahead and ordered a 0.5mm version as well. When I first ordered the pencil, it was priced at ~$18, but it looks like the price has come down a a few bucks since then.
For the same $15-18 you can instead buy several dozen wood pencils or quite a few plastic-bodied mechanical pencils, but in my opinion the GraphGear 1000 is well worth it.
These pencils have straight extra long tips that make them excellent to use with rulers, straight edges, and other layout tools. Plus it’s one less thing to have to sharpen.
Buy Now(via Amazon)
Pentel GraphGear 1000 pencils are currently being produced in Japan. They’re available via Amazon and various art supply and drafting supply sources.
EDIT: This type of pencil is NOT intended to be used as a carpenter pencil substitute. It’s for more precise lines on smooth surfaces. General shop use has been edited to now read more precise shop use. As Mac and JeffD commented, pencils with thicker leads are essential to complement mechanical pencils like this one.