Pentel P205 Sharp Mechanical Pencil Review
When I first started learning mechanical drawing, my classmates and I nearly all used the Pentel P205 because it was the mechanical pencil sold by the school stationary supply shop. Class upon class of budding little Kiwi engineers were raised on the P205, and so, at least in my part of the woods, Pentels claim that the P205 is “The #1-selling automatic drafting pencil and the industry standard” was unquestionably true. I am sure that it is the mechanical pencil that I and my contemporaries will forever judge all others against. I haven’t really worked as an engineer for many years and it’s quite a long time since I last picked up my P205. I spent the review week in a pleasantly nostalgic mood, remembering the times when I had a real engineering job in a factory – helping design products, tooling, jigs and fixtures, and so on. My mood was helped along by the coincidence that the very week that I was using my Pentel P205 was the week that the Pencil Revolution posted their interview with pencil hero Henry Petroski, who it turns out is also a user of the P205.
But enough of all this nostalgia - on with the real stuff. The Pentel P200 series of mechanical pencils come in a variety of colours and lead sizes – The P205 (black) is 0.5mm, P207 (blue) is 0.7mm and the P209 (yellow) is… yes, you guessed it, 0.9mm. The P205 has a plastic body with metal trims. The plastic is a hard shiny material, very abrasion and impact resistant. The body is twelve sided – a rod of dodecahedral cross-section slightly tapering towards the tip. But in the middle, two faces are sort of joined into one where “Pentel” and the model information are printed on, so it’s a mixed eleven and twelve sided rod. At about 8mm across the faces in the grip section it is on the lower limit of my preferred size range. The grip section is grooved for improved grip, and is effective. Being a slim plastic design, it is a relatively lightweight but well balanced pencil. The pocket clip is a good strong metal clip which works well, but it can slip out of its recessed section and so twist around or slide up and down. It’s a minor point, but it can be a little annoying.
The lead holding sleeve is a 4mm long fixed metal sleeve - the ultimate for draughting and pocket stabbing! Give it half a chance and this baby will punch through and stab you quick as a wink. I do know some people have complained that the long sleeve can become bent over time, but I’ve never had that problem. I guess if you keep throwing your pencil into a pencil mug with a hard base then the sleeve could suffer some damage. But the long sleeve really is great for drawing and template work.
The push top ratchet mechanism is a fairly stiff “positive” one, which I like. The mechanism only advances the lead a very short distance for each activation – about ¼ to ½ less than many other brands of pencils, and some non-draughting Pentels. There is a small eraser under the cap which is better than nothing, but not by much. If you wear it right down you can have trouble getting it out to refill the lead magazine. There is also a lead clearing needle under the eraser, not that I’ve ever had to use it. The top cap is a tight fit over the eraser so you often advance the lead when pushing it back on.
I really like the look of the P205 in black - the black body, chrome trims and proudly marked “0.5mm Pentel P205” are a true classic look. This pencil reminds me of why I like Pentel – it’s not the fanciest, but it’s a good, solid, reliable instrument that just shouts out “efficiency”, “no-nonsense” and “I’m the pencil of real engineers”, and maybe architects too, but I’m not sure about that.
- Best Points – In black it’s a true cool calculating classic look, with a real engineering lead sleeve.
- Not So Good Points – The lead sleeve is not retractable.
- Price Range – Low.
A long time ago, my P205 had a lot of input into the metal sheathed heating element inside this electric kettle. It was a good design, made for one of those rare customers – you know, the kind that was actually prepared to pay for what they wanted. Not rip-off expensive or anything, but they wanted a reliable element that would last a long time, would automatically switch off when the water boiled, and cut-out if there was no water. These days of course it’s made in China, not like in my day when we exported elements to China! Back then Chinese elements were rubbish, but times have changed.