please, your experience with GOOD pencils with erasers

dear everyone
i hope you are doing ok with the election frazzle-razzle in the USA.

Here, i am turned to simpler things just for a break from the huge stuff

1. do you have a pencil you like? I need a pencil with dark black lead, non smear, significant line width (not like a micro point in pens) and that has an eraser that actually works. (I seem to have a pile of pencils that have erasers that are hard, and sort of smear the lead around without really picking it up. Seems like a softer eraser works far better. I imagine these that dont work are made on the cheap somehow)

if you can help I would appreciate it

2. also, IF ANYONE, has a simple list of hardnesses and softnesses of pencil lead and what the NUMBERS and LETTERS mean, please let me know. Or if you have an easy way of remembering the codes.... HB and 2 and 2B and PQR, I cant tell what I am buying in terms of darkness of lead or fineness or thickness, because packages are sealed and you cant try them out

3. If you have a favorite brand you use, please let me know too. I imagine some must be more reliably made than others.

thank you,

Syndicate content

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Lead hardness: see this

Lead hardness: see this article at JetPens. HB is the same as a #2. You may not be able to find a lead that is both very dark and smear-resistant. But if you've been working with the extra-hard leads, the midrange leads around #2 may be dark enough.

As far as erasers go, you may be as well off to get a separate block eraser or a clicky-style eraser. Any of those will be very soft compared to most wooden pencil erasers.



My favorites are mechanical pencils for just writing and erasing. For art, you kinda need an artist's graphite pencil (the wood kind that usually don't have any erasers).

In the mechanicals, if you want a thick line, go for a thick lead. Half a mm, (.5) is the smallest lead I've seen in standard stores. Larger than that will make a wider line regardless of the softness of the lead. However, if you want a DARK line, you need a softer lead. A #2 pencil is sort of a balance between long life/non-smear and visibility/versatility. Softer leads will be darker but will also be prone to smearing. Harder leads will smear less, but will also be lighter. You may find that with the harder lead, you want to press harder to get the visibility--it would be better to go softer in that case so your hand doesn't wear out.

For erasers, I like the white ones. You can get them in the clicky variety mentioned by the previous poster, or many mechanicals come with a little stub of a white one pre-installed. You can also get the white ones in large brick-like jobs. I have used the kneadable kind, and those work but they seem to tear up the paper a bit more than the white ones. The white ones may not be as good for art, though. It depends on the application.

What I can't stand, though, are the pink ones. Those dry up in a heartbeat, it seems. The white ones can get dry and brittle too, but they seem to last a lot longer than the pink ones. The kneadable ones, OTOH, seem to last near forever. I've got one that's 15 years old that probably still works (haven't tried it lately) though it would be extremely stiff to knead these days.

If you're doing hand-drafting, you'll want a mechanical pencil and probably an eraser 'pig'. The pig can be helpful in reducing some smear and erasing larger areas, but I can't stand 'em. I dunno what their right name is, but we used to call them 'pigs' because they're fat little bags of eraser bits. You rub the bag on the paper and little shredded bits of eraser come out and spread all over the place.

Anyway, it kinda depends on the application. Drawing art is different from drafting and mechanical drawings, and they're both different from writing. The erasing is similar. For mechanical drawings and art you might want an eraser that doesn't tear up the paper, which might not matter as much for writing.

For writing, I have some fairly cheap translucent plastic mechanicals--they were like four or five in a blister pack at the office supply place some ten years ago or so. I'd give you the brand name, but the name was on the plastic clips, and they all broke. If I was going to replace them, I'd get a pencil with metal parts around a transparent or windowed barrel. :) And I definitely like a mechanical pencil with a little white stub eraser on top--I don't like grabbing a different tool to erase. I'm rather fond of .5mm lead, and a slightly softer lead for a darker line. I've got B and 2B leads in my replacements, but I forget what's in there now. :)

I have an opaque gray bic that I *don't* like, and a blue Zebra that I also *don't* like. I wish I could find my favorite one, it was smokey gray translucent with black plastic trim. :/ Haven't seen it in about a year.

I have a mini pencil in my pocket right now for jotting. It's a "Mini MVP" with a rubber grip and transparent green plastic barrel. It came in a multipack. I actually bought it for the kids, but I got tired of ink stains in my jeans pockets from the G2 Minis. I like the action OK. This one has a .7mm lead that marks fairly well. The cards that go back in my pocket get smeared, naturally, from rubbing against the jeans, but I can still read notes I wrote over a week ago on my current card. It doesn't suck.


No opinion on the leads but

I've got to disagree a bit with Shris on the eraser side.

There is one (and only one) pink eraser that is any good: Pink Pearl. They do a great job of cleaning away pencil marks, are reasonably gentle on the paper, and don't dry up fast. In fact, the one I use at the office is now almost 13 years old.

The office manager insisted on buying some other crap pink eraser so I brought in my own. I keep it hidden at the very back of my drawer, so no one can steal it. ;)

Honor the dissent


I am definitely not a connoiseur of pink erasers. An eraser that has its own brand name could easily be above the norm of the cruddy pink rocks that come in a standard #2. :)

One other point I have on erasers, though, is precision. If you're erasing writing or drawings, I prefer a smaller eraser to a big one. The big ones end up getting rounded off as you use them (unless you take a knife and slice it to a desired edge/point) and therefore lose least for me. The small ones do too, but with a smaller starting size, there's less 'slush' no matter how round the thing gets.

Shoulda said it on my earlier posts, but these are all *my* preferences, YMMV.


Ah, good point

Pretty much all I use the eraser for is updating phone numbers in my address book, so precision isn't a big problem.

(Almost everything else I write at work has to be in non-erasable ink for legal-ish reasons. Not that I don't make mistakes in that stuff, just that it gets crossed out with a single line and thus left legible if anyone ever questions stuff in the future.)

Pencil with eraser

The Staedler "Remedy" 9712, 0.05 mmis what I chose when I returned to studies this year. It has a great white eraser and when I refill it with HB leads, I'm very happy with it. I'm a left and hadn't discovered the G2 yet (Thanks DIY).

Mechanical pencils are good...

You didn't say you wanted wooden pencils or mechanical pencils, so I'll go ahead and tell you about my favorite mechanical pencils. I like mechanical pencils that have a nice thick white eraser that isn't covered up by a cap. I always lose the caps and the erasers they cover are so small and puny they aren't worth the trouble.

So my favorites are the Pentel Twist-Erase (long thick eraser that is exposed when you twist the barrel) and the Pentel Forte A55, which has a shorter eraser but it's a nice thick one, and no cap. The Forte A55 has a barrel diameter that's small enough to fit in the pen holder of my Filofax and other binders, but it's not so small to cramp my fingers or make me feel that I'm going to drop it. The Twist-Erase has a rubbery grip and doesn't fit in my planners. I still really like it for my everyday writing needs and because of the nice eraser, but wish it would fit in a pen holder. The Forte A55 seems to be a good solution.

The Sharp Kerry pencil is also very nice--it is supposed to prevent the lead from breaking better than others do. However, it's $18 or more, and I got three and can't find any of them now--they probably were left behind somewhere. That got expensive and I'm not buying any more. As it is, the others are expensive enough that I think twice before stocking up. The eraser is disappointingly tiny, too.

You're going to have a trade-off between the hardness of the lead and the darkness of the marks it makes. A harder lead rubs down less and makes lighter marks, whereas the softer leads make the darker marks. You might go to an artists' supply shop and try out their range of pencils to see what you like. And the softer the lead, the more easily the lead will break off. I've gotten used to leads breaking at least once a day--wish it didn't happen, but it does, and must be accepted.

I've found I like the .5mm 2B leads--thinner, but darker. And I don't know if you'll find leads for mechanical pencils that are softer than 2B without special ordering them. You might be forced to buy a bunch of artist's pencils in the hardness and lead diameter you like. And then you'd buy the erasers separately. Depends on what you're using them for.

I prefer mecanical pencils.

I prefer mecanical pencils. I own a steadler and a pilot. Both are over 15 years old. The fact that they last forever is my favorite part, after the fact that the lead is always sharp.

As for wooden pencils, my experience is that the best brands are either French or Japanese and in both cases nearly impossible to get in North America. So I don't bother with them. Especially considering that most of the time, the cheaper wooden pencils have erasers that harden and leave pink streaks on paper, if they don't tear through it.


My favorites are the side advance with a twist eraser. I have a Pentel Side FX in both .05 and .07, and I love them both, with .07 being thicker lead and .05 being more like a fine point pen. I also have a Foray .07 that is side advance and twist erase that I really love, but I don't know which model it is. Side advance pencils are typically too thick to keep in a pen/pencil loop, but I don't need that so I'm ok with that. I like the fatter pencils as I find they are easier to write with. I use the HB lead, for a decent compromise in both hardness and darkness, and I prefer Pentel or Foray lead.

You can go to wikipedia search (pencil lead define or something like that?) for a really good explanation and code table of harder/softer and lighter/darker leads.

Mechanical pencils and separate erasers seem to be the best


The blog below should help you with wood pencils.

There is also a good blog about mechanical pencils.

One of each

My two favorites are the new PaperMate Clearpoint ( i have the .7 and the .9, really prefer the .9) and the levenger wood regular pencils, which are amazing. I agree with those who say you need a separate eraser. I just went yesterday on lunch break because my office doesn't stock the blocks.