Friday, April 28, 2006

Lead Size & Hardness

I have been prompted to publish this posting by people finding this blog with searches indicating they are looking for lists of lead diameters that are currently readily available, and some information on lead grades or hardness.


Standard Mechanical Pencil Lead Sizes (diameters) (Currently In Common Use)

Lead sizes are designated by their diameter, in millimetres (mm).

0.3mm / 0.35mm (Usually the same thing, just rounded down to 0.3)
0.5mm (The common fine writing thickness)
0.7mm (Common writing thickness, stronger than 0.5)
0.9mm / 1.0mm (Usually the same)
1.18mm / 1.1mm / 1.15mm / 1.2mm (Usually the same - a whole lot of different rounding values for the same stick of lead!)
1.3mm
1.4mm
2 mm
3.15mm / 3.2mm
5.6mm

Nowadays mechanical pencil lead diameters are all measured in metric. A common writing size is 0.5mm = 0.0197 inches = about 1/50th of an inch. The lead in ordinary wood pencils is usually about 2mm = 0.0787 inches = a little under 1/12th inch.

One problem is that some sizes are frequently rounded up and/or down to another number, without any consistency, so you are sometimes unsure what diameter you really have. Many of them started out as imperial fractions of an inch so the metrication of them also produced rounding. For example 0.3mm lead is usually 0.35mm just rounded down; 1.1mm and 1.2mm are usually 1.18mm rounded down or up, but sometimes 1.1mm is really 1.1mm as distinct from 1.18mm. Sometimes 0.9mm is called 1mm. For example my Rotring Tikky 1.0 takes a 0.9mm lead. Faber-Castell lead refills are marked 1.0(0.9) and 0.35(0.3), but Pentel mark theirs the other way around, 0.3(0.35). Confusing, but in general with these “variable” leads the differences don’t seem to matter as they are all the same thickness or the pencil mechanisms involved can handle the differences.

Lead Grades / Hardness / Darkness

There is no real standardisation of lead hardness or darkness. Leads are often called #1, #2 etc in the USA, but most of the rest of the world uses the "HB" system. H stands for Hardness and B for Black. In the middle there is also an F (for Firm). The more H's in the designation the lighter (and harder) the lead, and the more B's the softer and darker. So HB grade is Hard Black, 6B is extremely soft and dark, 4H is very hard and light. The standard writing grade is usually HB, which is about #2 in the USA. Slightly darker and softer is B, which is about #1. From the softest darkest through to the hardest lightest lead, the range is usually 6B up to B, then HB, F, and H up to 6H, but some manufactureres may go from about 9B through to 10H. As a rough guide, for the USA, #1 = B, #2 = HB, #2 ½ = F, #3 = H and #4 = 2H. But thats variable, one manufacturer marks some of their HB pencils as #2 and some as #2 ½ !?

0.5mm and 0.7mm are unquestionably the most common lead diameters and have a wide range of hardness grades available. Other diameters have considerably less selection of brands and hardness’s. For instance in 0.5mm Pentel offer 12 grades, but only 5 grades in 0.9mm. Most manufacturers offer far fewer grades.

Another point of interest is the change from ceramic to polymer leads. Somewhere in the 1 to 2mm range they usually change. I think it’s safe to say that under 1mm they are all polymer leads, and 2mm and over are all ceramic leads. In between it’s a mixture, but mostly polymer. For instance, I believe that the standard 2mm leads sold by Staedtler and Faber-Castell are just their normal wood pencil ceramic leads (without the wood!). Leads of 2mm and over are usually for use in clutch mechanism pencils – leadholders, clutch pencils, sketch pencils or whatever you prefer to call them.

137 comments:

Anonymous said...

On lead sizes - for completion
5.6mm seems quite common (KOH-I-NOOR models)
but
I recently bought a Montblanc Leonard sketch pencil
It uses a 5.5mm lead
and, no, the 5.6mm type won't fit

kiwi-d said...

Well thats interesting to know that it won't take 5.6mm. I guess MB's way of making sure you have to use their refills rather than someone elses?!

pauline said...

could someone please tell me which lead size is for the parker 52 mechanical pencil. i have just bought a 0.9 mm and it is too slim

kiwi-d said...

Personally I don't know, but as a general rule, starting in the late 1940's many pencils began the change from 1.18mm (.046 inches) to 0.9mm, so if 0.9mm is too slim for your pencil then its almost certainly 1.18mm, which is often abbreviated to 1.1 or 1.2mm.

Stephen said...

Re: 5.6 mm leads:

Looking at the Leonardo instruction booklet, it does say 5.5mm, and a Montblanc refill tube is labelled:

Refill for Leonardo Sketch Pen
Soft Lead 4B: 5,5 mm

I had never noticed this.

So I remembered a box of Koh-I-Noor 5.6mm leads I have - and lo and behold, they are labelled "5,45 mm". So maybe 5.6mm isn't as much of a standard as
is thought.

I also have some leads from Bexley (for the Multi-Max) that are not labelled as to dimension, and some no name leads from art supply stores.

I can't visually see any difference amongst them, and don't have any way of measuring 1/10th of a millimeter.

I haven't actually changed the Leonardo's lead previously. I put in the Bexley lead - and there were no problems at all. Next I tried the art supply store lead, which I somehow think would have to conform to the 5.6mm standard - and it wouldn't go in the Leonardo!

So I agree with 'anonymous'. Which is too bad, because the pencil is just a bit less useful if it requires a specialty size refill.

jomosomo said...

Hello,
I like to use the Dixon Sensematic 0.7mm pencils but replace the graphite lead with either Blue or Red colored lead. The problem is that the only colored lead refills I can find are in 60mm lengths. The Sensematic is designed to work with 120mm length leads. Does anyone know where I can find 120mm long 0.7mm dia colored leads?

BTW, I realize that you can use the 60mm long leads but the problem is that after you use about 1/4 of the lead it stops feeding properly. Thanks.

Pencil Pete said...

So what's N grade? I used to use it for drawing on sheets of plastic (Herculene Graph) that would eventually be copied onto light sensitive paper that I can't remember the name of.

Other grades would smudge too easily. You had to spit on the rubber to get this stuff off, and you had to press hard or wet it with spit to make it write.

Anonymous said...

Pete, an interesting question.

Drafting film pencils and leads have long had their own alternate grading systems. E, N, P, S, and K are among the letters used that I'm aware of, combined with a digit, 0 to 5 or 6.

If you know the Mars Lumograph pencil - Staedtler used to have a sibling pencil for drafting film, the Mars Dynagraph. It had grades like N0, N1, N2, etc.

http://www.leadholder.com/wood-stdtlr-dynagraph.html has some pictures. If you search Google, you'll find that Staedtler N-grade lead can still be purchased! I presume this is "old stock".

Anonymous said...

Hi Folks,
I don't know how to create a blog so please forgive my ignorance. I Have a mechanical pencil I love. It is a US Government Skillcraft. It is see thu grey smoke color. I do not know what size of lead to buy. Does anyone know anything about them??

Thanks for your input.
Dave
dbrimson@comcast.net

Anonymous said...

Several months ago I bought a tie bar that was a working mechanical pencil. A message was posted for me that 0.9 mm was too small and 1.1 mm was too big. Due to illness I wasn't able to monitor this blog for long so I don't know if later comments were made. I caught the early ones, which were not too encouraging. I resorted to sandpaper on a 1.18 mm lead. Desparate, huh?

Soooo, I bought another tie bar/pencil thinking surely it wouldn't have the same problem. But it did. Any suggestions?

kiwi-d said...

Tie Pin - this is the link to the posting.

http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2007/11/help-tie-pencil.html


Sorry - its sounds like you've got a real strange one there.

adair said...

I purchased a Rotring 300 0.3mm pencil recently, and now realize that this size in Europe has been replaced with 0.3mm. Will 0.3 lead refills work in the 0.35?

kiwi-d said...

Adair - yes, probably they will. Give it a try.
0.3 and 0.35 are usually the same size lead, just some brands call it 0.3 and others call it 0.35.

Mark said...

I have a gold Eversharp pen and pencil set and I can't find a lead that will fit the pencil. Anyone got any idea what is the correct lead diameter?

kiwi-d said...

Hello Mark
Many old Eversharps use 1.18mm lead. Some of their later ones use 0.9mm. Also, many use square lead - yes, square lead. Check the tip with a magnifying glass to see if the hole is round or been pushed "squarish". eBay will surely provide your lead needs.

Anonymous said...

Hi, all
So, where are you buying larger diameter lead? I have a 3mm and two 5.6mm but can find any refills from the online art stores?
sorry, can remember my silly password
Dino

Anonymous said...

Hi, all
So, where are you buying larger diameter lead? I have a 3mm and two 5.6mm but can find any refills from the online art stores?
sorry, can remember my silly password
Dino

Sandy said...

what is the difference between ceramic and polymer leads?

sparc p1ug said...

Does any one make a single mechanical multiplencil that has variable hardnesses? They have multipens that can change into blue, red, black, and penscil, and i've seen different versios of that as well. I've seen mltipens that have as many as 8 different ink colors. Is there a single multipencil with selectable lead hardness and/or diameter?

kiwi-d said...

Sandy - there's a link in the sidebar called Lead Composition.

Sparc Plug - there are multi-pencils like Pentel 357 that have different lead diameters that you could put different harnesses into, but I'm not aware of any that have multiple tips of the same diameter that you could thus load different hardnesses into.

Gunther said...

Spark p1ug: Check out the uni ME3-605 - it can use three 0.5mm leads.

kiwi-d said...

Garrrrrr!
Thanks Gunther. To make matters worse, my uni ME3-605 is sitting right there in front of me as I sit at my computer. Must have been blined and confused by the other 30 pencils sitting right there in front of me :-)

Gunther said...

Don't worry. At least you can see what's sitting right there in front of you – you should see my desk ;-)

Thib said...

Does anyone know what online art store sells 5.6mm lead in various degrees of hardness? I thought it was a common thing but the three art stores in my town do not carry them. Odd...

Henrik said...

@thib: I can only recall pencilthings.com - look under Manufacturers, Cleo skribent, Gessner (pencil). They carry 2B, 4B and 6B.
Art shops/ sites may carry them too. I use my Gessner a lot so I usually shop these leads at pencilthings.
kind regards Henrik

Christopher Tidy said...

I've seen a rather attractive mechanical pencil for sale which accepts 3 mm leads:
http://www.cultpens.com/acatalog/Copic_Nobby_Design_Pencil.html#a5546

I am tempted, but would like to know if suitable coloured leads are available. Preferably in a good range of colours for drawing. Does anyone know of a source for such leads?

Many thanks,

Chris

stephen said...

Christopher, I own that pencil. While it is a very attractive pencil - it really does take 3mm lead (3.03mm in my micrometer), and will not accommodate the 3.15mm leads that are far more common on the market.

Christopher Tidy said...

Thanks, Stephen. That's useful to know.

Chris

Anonymous said...

Dave:

You need to try the Faber Castell TKmatic L in 0.5mm
It might become your favorite!

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am searching my bud off to find 1.0mm lead. The 0.9mm is way to thin. It must be 1.0mm. On this website you say the "0.9mm / 1.0mm (Usually the same)". No it is not and that .1 makes the world of difference. Can someone tell me where I can find 1.0mm please.

kiwi-d said...

If 0.9mm is way too thin then i imagine you need 1.18mm, not 1.0mm. 1.18mm is ioften labelled 1.1 or 1.2mm.

Anonymous said...

kiwi-d, thanks but anything bigger will not fit. It is a very old pencil and according to my measurements, 1.0 mm is spot-on. The lead push in and then something inside grabs it. The opening is precise 1.0 mm. I will search the web futher. Thanks for answereing me.

Cheers

kiwi-d said...

There was a rather uncommon old lead size of just on 1mm. I have never seen such lead offered for sale anywhere, new or vintage. Good luck with the hunt, and please let me know if you ever find any.

stephen said...

On this page in the Victorian section, they say they have "1.0mm Type M leads, 2 3/8 inches long, unusual size lead made for select Mordan pencils."

Stuart said...

I have a TK-Matic L and while it is very well built, I don't really like it. It's very heavy, and is not well-balanced (or at least not for me anyway). I think the center of gravity is well above the point at which you grip the pencil, so the whole thing tends to wobble in your fingers as you're writing with it.

I suppose this raises a new parameter for Dave to measure when doing reviews - where is the pencil's center of gravity?

I feel it should be at the point where your fingers grip the pencil, or at least not very far above that. You want to avoid a lot of weight that will act through the fulcrum (your fingers) to move the point around. Otherwise, you'll need to keep a deathgrip on the pencil to try and control the point so you can actually write legibly.

Anonymous said...

got it http://www.coolsafetyproducts.com/site/898652/product/Y-PR-HB. I am putting in my order. I will inform you if it is still wrong. But i think this might be it. If it is, I am buying them out :-)

kiwi-d said...

Hello Stuart - I believe I already cover your centre of gravity request. Down the bottom of my reviews you will find information about the pencils balance point.

kiwi-d said...

Anonymous - I don't like your chances of that Yoropen refill working for you, but hopefully I'll be wrong :-)

You could try making your own 1.0mm lead - start with 1.18mm, out it on a sheet of very fine sandpaper and press down with a flat board and gently roll it on the sandpaper to grind it down to size.

1000km said...

Interested to know opinions of which lead grade is best for writing? I'm leaning toward the 0.7mm in 2B, but interested to learn of your preferences.

Claes said...

-> 1000km
It depends on the paper
you write on, i.e. how
rough/smooth it is, as well
as your personal preference.
Have fun!
Claes in Lund, Sweden

Henrik said...

@ 1000 km.
I prefer the 0.5 mm 2B as I'm a very light writer. Allthough 0.7 mm has become very popular, because it rarely breaks, I find it too wooly for my use.
Besides, Claes is right: the choice of leads depends very much on the paper used, pressure and angle. For big fast writing I sometimes use a sketch pencil - 5.6 mm 4B.

Henrik, Denmark

1000km said...

Thank you for these comments. I write with medium pressure at a 60 degree angle, using relatively smooth Clairefontaine and Kokuyo papers. I'll go with the 0.7mm 2B and see how I get on.

Anonymous said...

Stuart: The TK-Matic L is not a writing instrument--it's a drawing instrument. It's a technical or drafting pencil, designed mainly for using along the edge of a ruler. I've owned one for years, and it's simply one of the most useful drawing tools I own. Balance? Mmm... Since you hold it vertically to the paper, I'd say the balance is just about perfect.

Roger said...

There should be an "unusual lead sizes" section in the site. I'm just "in love" with a Pentel PG2-AD, 0,2mm mechanical pencil.

kiwi-d said...

Roger - yea, OK, I'll give it a bit of thought.

Anonymous said...

Im looking for 2mm colored leads that will hold up underwater. The only kind I can find are the waxy crayon type that melt underwater

Claes in Lund, Sweden said...

-> Anonymous -- melt? How hot is the water (in degrees C or F)? Or have you happened to find lead intended for watercolour painting (which are meant to dissolve in water)? What brands have you tried? /Claes

Anonymous said...

Water Temp is 70F-80F. I have tried the 2mm Turquoise Drawing Leads Colored By Sandford. Melt is probaly not the right term as they more desolve.

Anonymous said...

where can I find 1.0mm pencil leads. 1.2mm are to thick, .99mm are to thin

tuesday said...

I'm a quilter and they sell specialized pencils for quilting, but they seem to be .9mm ceramic lead mechanical pencils. Can you steer me to such, as I'm sure the price tag of a regular mechanical pencil will be less than on quilting sites

kiwi-d said...

Before suggesting anything can you post a link or two to these special quilter pencils?

Steve2 in LA said...

Hey y'all. I've been using 1.0mm Rotring mechanical pencil now for years and have finally run out of lead.

Imagine my surprise to discover that 1.0 mm leads are virtually impossible to acquire, here in the USA and nobody in Europe seems inclined to sell me a supply.

I've tried .09 mm and it just slides out the bottom, making it useless. Anybody else have a similar problem and/or a solution. I'd be seriously grateful for some advice.

Grass!

Anonymous said...

I have a set of multicolored lead - red, green, blue all in one slim piece of pencil lead. However, it is bigger than 0.9 and I cannot figure out what size it is exactly.Nor can I find a pencil to hold this intriguing lead!

what would be a great invention is a clamp-type lead holder that works with anywhere from 0.9 up to 1.? but less than 2.0.
Ever hear of anything like that?

Anonymous said...

What is this thing with lead darkness. I know that Faber castell HB is lighter than Staedtler HB so I just change to Faber Castell B to get the same darkness - whats the problem? I know some brands that put darker leads in their pencils for sale - Pilot for instance - their leads are always darker in their pencils. A good
"marketing" tactic would be for Faber-Castell to place 'B' leads in all their pencils.

2 1/2p

Anonymous said...

I have a Pentel pencil that has a 5 imprinted on the barrel. Does that indicate the size of the lead that it requires?

kiwi-d said...

Yes, on a Pentel the 5 will mean it takes 0.5mm lead.

rene said...

y looking for a propeling pencil sistem laedholder 1mm wehr y can fund yhave a site www.sitepro you can sai on it if you no somthing thank rene

Will England said...

Sweet - thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Hi!

I am just wondering which lead size is most popular between 0.5 mm and 0.7 mm, anyone has any idea? :D

kiwi-d said...

For readers of this blog it was 0.5mm.
Check this Poll of readers.
http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2007/08/poll-2-preferred-lead-diameter.html

Anonymous said...

Okay, thanks! I read that you were a 0.5 mm person, do you still prefer 0.5 mm nowdays? :o)

kiwi-d said...

Yes, but 0.7mm has grown on me a bit.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone seen Black color 2mm leads?? I don't mean 4B or something graphite... is BLACK COLOR, like the BKUE ones. I once had one... it came with a blue staedler package(I guess during the process the just slipped one away or something... but it's been really difficult to me to find them... could any of you guys recommend me a trade mark for those???

Matthew R said...

You mean 2mm film leads? Yes, they're available.

2nd_astronaut said...

Very nice site, kiwi-d!

Gunther mentioned in the comments above the Mitsubishi UNI ME3-605 (3 x 0.5 mines)... Does anybody happen to know where to get this pencil (the jetpens link provided by Gunther does not have this pencil anymore)?

Gunther said...

Unfortunately the ME3-605 is discontinued.

2nd_astronaut said...

Ah, thanks Gunther. That is the reason why it got so few hits in google. So I have to be patient and observe ebay...

I found another multi-color pen (besides the Pentel one, whose leads are too thick in my opinion): there are old Norma Multi-Color-Pencils. But I have doubts, if these (long ago discontinued) pens are still reliable (or ever had reliable mechanisms). Does anyone have such a pen (or know another multi-color pencil)?

Wynne and Wes said...

koh-i-nor makes one i think.

Stephen said...

2nd_astronaut, your comment reminds me of some older multi-pencils I have. While they have many charms - ease of use and reliability are not among them.

2nd_astronaut said...

Wynne and Wes: thanks, but I did not find the Koh-i-noor one... I found a Multi-Color pen within one lead (Magic FX).
Stephen: I saw your comment too late -- I bought an old Fend Norma Super on ebay in the meantime. It seems that it will more likely be a pen to look at than one to write with it. I will see...

Wynne and Wes said...

caran d ache has the artist set with colored leads but that exoensive

Anonymous said...

hello there!

Am looking for leads for an old Conway Stewart Duro-Point pencil. Tried a 0.5mm lead but far too slim, want to try a 1mm but not sure i this will be right either any ideas?

Regards.

Anonymous said...

For those having trouble determining the actual size of any lead used try going on the Harbor Freight web site & look for a dial or digital caliper. This will read sizes in 0.001 inch increments so you can see what you have and match it to what you are being provided with for an exact match regardless of what the manufacturers are saying. I only say Harbor Freight because they seem to have very reasonable prices in our area of Southern California. Their basic slide caliper is $1.99, dial is $16.99 & digital is $17.99 or $19.99. I have both slide & dial from the '70s when they were about 5 to 10 times the cost of today.

James SoCal

Wes said...

Please vote in my new poll "Which lead size do you prefer?" at http://criticalscribe.blogspot.com/.

Wes said...

Please vote in my new poll "Which lead size do you prefer?" at http://criticalscribe.blogspot.com/.

lesandivy said...

My vintage mechanicl pencil (1860s) is embossed "GRE",as George Richards Elkington was the inventor of electroplating am wondering did he also make silver pencils? Have made lots of enquiries but no answers yet. les

Anonymous said...

I can't make out how to change the lead in my rotring (tikka-papermate) pencil. Does anybody know?

Anonymous said...

I am looking for 1,3 mm colored leads...Where I can get
Many thanks

Anonymous said...

i have a pencil and i cant fighure out what kind of lead it hass it is an bic XG power and has 2 different shades of green on it its grey at the top it is made from china

Anonymous said...

I just inherited my father's old Cross mechanical pencils, and of course find that they require an Imperial-sized lead (2-3/4"). Will I have a hard time finding this size in my local stationery store? ... And thanks for blogging about your personal interest. Such work makes the Internet much more informative, useful, and fun.

kiwi-d said...

2-3/4" is just the length of the lead, its of little consequenece - being shorter or longer is no big deal, just snap it off or replace more often. It is the lead diameter that matters. Probably 1.18mm or 0.9mm.

Anonymous said...

I have a Sheaffer Imperial I mechanical pencil.
I have found inside the pen, behind behind the erazer, two leads.
My problem is that I cannot get around how to replace the lead.
I thought it would be from the top. Hmm..
Then from the refill by feeding lead in from the Point End, but nothing can get in.
I did turn clockwise then anti-clockwise, but nothing can get in.
Could the fid been jam?
I have no idea and cannot find anything on google.
Any help welcome

Anonymous said...

i have a pencil but then im not sure what kind of lead is it though its bigger then 0.9 and it wont tell me what kind it is its very unque and looks very expensive i found it in my house somewhere but on the pencil there is a label and it say pierre cardin?any help? email me at checkitoutsong@yahoo.com plz and thx :D

Anonymous said...

Another difficult to find lead size: 2.5 mm
Koh i nor produces the leadholder still but I can't seem to find the lead.

kiwi-d said...

Ahhh, you need to go to the Koh-I-Nor boutique in Bratislava. Maybe have a spa too.
http://davesmechanicalpencils.blogspot.com/2009/11/leads-from-austria-and-slovakia.html

Anonymous said...

Do you have a recommendation for a mechanical pencil that uses multiple pencil leads - e.g. .7mm in red, blue, green, etc. Thank you.

vikkigutz@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

http://www.jetpens.com/index.php/cPath/45_470

YOU CAN ONLY BUY THIS PEN ONLINE, YOU WILL ALSO HAVE TO BUY THE COLORED LEADS FOR IT. JET PENS HAS MANY COLORED LEADS AND GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Anonymous said...

Until I read your explanation, I did not realize that mechanical leads could be found in different hardnesses. I didn't think of my pencil as an artist pencil, just an office pencil. I always use a number 1 pencil and can't stand the normal number 2. I have a Parker 75 pencil from the mid 70's that I almost never use because the lead is too hard. I really would like to use it because it feels just great in the hand. After measuring, it appears to use a .9mm. Are you aware of leads this size that would be softer than HB...?
Thanks!

Kiwi-d said...

Yes.
For example, Pentel USA offer 0.9mm lead in 2B, B, HB, H and 2H. You might find that modern HB is softer and darker than your 1970's lead.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick reply Dave....what kind of store would you look for these Pentel leads, or would you say to go to an online store...?

Anonymous said...

Dave, Thanks for the info...after reading your page on pencil lead, I found a pack of three 36 count Pentel AIN leads on Ebay. 1 each of HB, B, and 2B, coming from Hong Kong for $ 5.99 plus $2 shipping, so I can try all three....Thanks again, my 75 will be back in action after only 35 years.
Chris

Anonymous said...

Hi Dave,

just found this theme.
Less than two years ago, I bought the existing remains of 0.3mm leads in 2B, produced in Germany. Besides AIN, I am truly the owner of the old "Welt Reserve" 'cause noone else produces them anymore.

I'd like to send you some leads for testing, but can't find any email address to contact you for the shipping address.

-Arne
:)
-Arne

Kiwi-d said...

Kia ora Arne
Well that sounds a most interesting and generouis offer. Over in the sidebar in the About Me section is View My Complete Profile. There's a contact on my profile.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I don't have to go dig up my Engineering Graphics 101 notes from a hundred years ago!!

Steelwench

Shockbeton said...

This comment relates to some older posts.

For those looking for actual 3 mm lead (not 3.15), Caran d'Ache manufactures this size. I found some at http://www.ipenstore.com .

For true 1.0 mm lead, rotring and Faber-Castell sell pencils for this size lead. The rotring lead seems impossible to find, but a search at Amazon.com turned up the Faber brand. I haven't actually measured the lead to see if it is true 1.0 mm, but FC are sticklers for accuracy to a fault.

Incidentally, this explains why their lead grading system remains lighter than others. FC: "We developed the grading system, dammit, and the rest of the world is wrong!"

Kiwi-d said...

Hi Shockbeton - as mention in the body of this posting, F-C and Rotring 1.0mm lead is actually what the rest call 0.9mm, and in fact F-C and Rotring label their conatiner as 1.0(0.9)mm to make this clear. Their lead is not the 1.0mm that some rare old vintage pencils require.

Anonymous said...

Jetpens.com also sells .4mm AIN lead and .2mm Hi-Polymer lead, as well as pencils that take these sizes. Are these sizes common in Japan? New sizes?

Kiwi-d said...

0.2mm and 0.4mm are not new.
0.4mm is possibly gaining some ground in Japan. 0.2mm is uncommon and will stay that way because of strength problems.

Anonymous said...

How come nobody knows about 0.05mm(that's 1/10th of 0.5 that they listed as the smallest) and .07mm mechanical pencils I use them all the time for drawing fine details.

Kiwi-d said...

Hello Anonymous. I am afraid you are mistaken. It's quite common for a lot of non-metric folk (mostly US) to get confused about where to stick the decimal point for lead sizes. The lead sizes are 0.5mm and 0.7mm. There are no .05 and .07mm leads.

Anonymous said...

In fact, an 0.05mm pencil lead would be smaller than most strands of human hair. That'd be a feat of engineering.

Alan said...

Dave - I have a Tornado Pencil that lists as 1.15 MM. Do the more standard sizes fit like 1.12 and 1.18 as these seem to be easier to find than Retro's 1.15 size, and also seem to be more available in a softer lead which I prefer like a 4B or at least B hardness....any help you can offer??

Kiwi-d said...

To the best of my knowledge 1.1, 1.12, 1.15, 1.8 and 1.2mm lead are all the exact same lead. They are not different sizes of leads, they are just different people listing the same size lead with different ideas on how to round the numbers up or down, convert from imperial to metric, etc.

Vikram said...

Hi Dave, I recently bought a Lamy abc 110 pencil-the twister one, mentioned in one of your posts. It does not use the 3.15 mm lead you posted, but instead a thinner one, thicker than .9mm. I have read online that it is either 1.1mm or 1.4mm. Do you know about this? Which one is it?

Kiwi-d said...

Sorry - I don't have a Lamy abc.

Steve said...

Vikram

The Lamy ABC has just recently changed lead thickness from 3.15mm to 1.4mm, same as the Stabilo EasyErgo has just changed from 3.15mm to 1.4mm

So now they both use the same thickness lead as the Faber Castell E-Motion

Sapphire said...

The Lamy abc uses 1.4mm leads available from Lamy, Faber-Castell and Stabilo

Anonymous said...

Lamy abc uses 1.4mm

-Arne
:)

Jeff said...

Which lead is sturdier, HHHH or BBBB? In other words, which lead breaks less under writing pressure?

I'd like a fine point on my lead (mechanical pencils only), but .3mm breaks too often. I use .5mm pencils. Are there any lead/pencil experts out there who can point me to a .3mm (or other fine point) mech. pencil which can be used without breaking the lead?

Anonymous said...

I am a long-time 0.7mm pencil user. I've found that using a softer lead than my default choice (ie use B or even 2B instead of HB) makes me press less hard and break leads less often. With a harder lead I seem to press too hard (without being aware) in order to get a blacker line.

As a separate matter, I've been experimenting with the vintage pleasures of 2mm clutch pencils. I know they're not really in the mainstream of Dave's interest, but something possibly interesting is the apparent variation of hardnesses between manufacturers.

I'm guessing this is because 2mm leads are clay-bound and unlike polymer the recipe is 'traditional' to each manufacturer. Unscientific testing (more like tasting really, compared to the assay techniques of Dave's micro-lead reviews)suggests that in 2mm leads:
Staedtler Mars Carbon is 1 to 1 1/2 grades softer than, say, Faber Castell (ie S-M grade B equivalent to F-C HB); creamy writing texture.
Rotring leads are softest of all (another 1/2 grade ?), and in addition feel gritty/friable.
Faber Castell leads have very slight 'texture', feeling as though they're coated with flour or talc, but are more smudge resistant than Staedtler.
Caran d'Ache seem strangely hard: their B feels more like an HB or an F.

I repeat, this is all very unscientific.

Kiwi-d said...

Anonymous - interesting observations - thanks.

Anonymous said...

hi there! does anyone know who makes mechanical pencils with oval shaped leds? i cannot find them anywhere (but i know they exist! :-)). a fellow musician was using one and i loved the way his sheet music came out... cheers!

Kiwi-d said...

Interesting. I haven't heard of any oval leads. Are you sure it was oval? There are plenty of mechanical pencils with rectangular leads, and the corners are a little bit rounded so if it was already a used lead and you didn't know, you might possibly think it was oval instead of rectangular.

Anonymous said...

thank you for the response! i thought it was oval, but after reading your post, it might have been a worn in rectangular led. hmmm, i will have to further investigate...:-) thanks again!

Anonymous said...

I found an old Parker Duofold Big Bro pencil. The clip is marked 5-16.
Can someone advise?
What size lead in today's marking would fit?
EIS

Anonymous said...

1.18mm

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know where to find 4B to 6B lead refills for an 0.9mm pencil? Does it even exist? I use an 0.9mm Graphgear 500 and I want really dark lead for it -- the blackest lead I can find is 4B Pentel for my 0.5mm pencils... no one seems to make even 4B for an 0.9mm (?)

wolvercat said...

Where do you get your 0.5mm 4B leads, for your Pentel. I can't find any where to buy them here in town (Buffalo, NY).

Would you be so kind as to post a link here to where I can get them.

If anyone rather email the link(s) to me, I can also be reached at: wolvercat2004@yahoo.com

Thankx;


~Wolvercat

Rot Ring said...

You can get them from here
http://www.jetpens.com/index.php/cPath/99

wolvercat said...

Thankx...ordered some today.

Anonymous said...

Pentel ain leads is best for me. ita is perfect lead

Mickilyn said...

When I was a kid my dad had an OLD-even-then wooden pencil with a weird lead that he called a "parcel pencil" - it looked like a regular pencil & you could erase it, but dampen the paper you'd written on even slightly and it turned into ink. I could be wrong, but think it may have been a depression era pencil.

Does anyone know if that kind of pencil is still made, what they'd actually be called (I suspect parcel pencil was just my dad's term), and if so if you only can get it in traditional pencils or if you can get it for mechanicals?

Thanks.

Kiwi-d said...

They are called copy pencils, indelible pencils, ink pencils, etc. They used to be very common before ballpoint pens and photocopiers. Not sure if anyone still makes them but they are readily available on auction sites. Pencil Talk and other wooden pencil specialist blogs have lots on them.

There were some leads available for MP's but they seem to have been rare. No longer made.

JonW9 said...

Re 5.5 mm leads: Fastcap makes a mechanical pencil for carpenters that uses this size - but the lead is so soft that it won't do a thin line, and wears down extremely quickly. Does anyone know if the leads for the Montblanc Leonardo are any harder? Or any other source?

willthebaleine said...

Hello all. I possess an Alexander mechanical pencil made in USA, which i think means that it is quite old:)
I cannot find the lead type that would fit in the pencil. However I know it must be bigger than 0,7 and than 0,9, still being smaller than drawing leads.
Does somebody know the most common lead for this brand of pencil?
Thanks for your help!

2nd_astronaut said...

willthebaleine: Older pencils usually have 1.18mm leads. They are still available, e.g., here http://woerthershop_en.system-shop.at/index.php?aktkat=21

Anonymous said...

Is anyone still looking for 1.0 mm lead? I have the opposite problem, I have several packages of vintage Eagle "Thin Leads" that seem to be almost exactly 1.0 mm diameter and I have not been able to find an inexpensive pencil to be able to use them. I suppose I should make them available to those who have a pencil that will fit them. If anyone is interested post a message here and we can figure out a way to get in touch.

Kiwi-d said...

They will be 0.9mm.
Its not all that common but most major manufacturers make a few pencils in 0.9mm size, including some inexpensive ones.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymus
a cheap and useful pencil is the Faber Castell TK-FINE 9719
Works with 0.9 and 1.0 mm leads

-Arne
:)

Anonymous said...

Actually it is a little thicker than 0.9mm. I recently bought an "auditors point" pen and pencil(.9mm) set, since the pencil looked about right, but the eagle leads don't fit.

OK, I just measured with my dial caliper they are 0.047in which should be just about 1.19mm. Sorry about the inaccurate post above, but I have the same issue still, so if anyone has a use for the 1.19mm leads I have quite a few. They are in round wooden tubes, slightly smaller than a AA battery, with a black and white paper label, 24 leads per tube, HB.

Stuart said...

I just wanted to stand up for the Norma pencils that 2nd_Astronaut expressed doubts about.

My father used his on a daily basis for more than 30 years and it still works just fine. He bought one for me which I also have, and it's lasted me 40+ years. (I've never used it as much as my father used his though. I've always had multiple pencils I use, with the Pentel 205 being my workhorse.)

Mart said...

Hi, a mechanical pencil newbie over here. Are there any leads that are packed/sold by the producer in cardboard or other bio-degradable boxes? So far all the leads I've seen in regular shops are offered in plastic containers. Thanks for replying!

Kiwi-d said...

Hard to find but Pentel sell some leads in cardboard container.

Mart said...

Thanks @Kiwi-d!

JonW9 said...

Still looking for 5.5 mm leads which are harder than HB. Any ideas?

Anonymous said...

Very interesting... how about this question.

Is there a mechanical pencil that actually works ? I have wasted my money on Staedler pencils ..AND THEY ALL FAILED !

So... if you were advising someone about mechanical pencils...which one would you suggest they purchase { 0.7 mm } .

Also.... what is a reasonable price to pay for a pencil that works ?

I might add that, when I was a kid...EVERY MECHANICAL PENCIL WORKED PERFECTLY ! { I am 65 } you could even put tiny pieces of lead in from broken leads ...and they worked !

Now.... they don't work no matter what you do !

Thanks all.

Kiwi-d said...

What do you mean by failed?

They never worked, they worked until the lead ran out but then after refilling they didn't work, they worked for a year (or few years) but then broke?