Pencil Types: 5 Popular Types of Pencils & Their Advantages

Pencils are in style. All types of pencils! From standard to mechanical, construction to colored, pencils are at once on trend, au courant, and refreshingly familiar. Like meditation apps, adult coloring books, community gardens, and national parks, the low-tech pencil maintains its position as a perpetual element of daily life as back-to-basics and slow-and-steady hold particular appeal.

In fact, pencil sales grew 6% last year and are predicted to rise steadily over the next five years. The promotional pencil in all its forms, from a tactile wood casing to a sleek metal barrel, represents trying, erasing, sketching, fine-tuning, quiet reflection, and blue-sky brainstorming. In essence, the humble pencil is the growth mindset personified!

So which type of pencil is right for you? When it comes to personalizing pencils with your name, cause, campaign, or special occasion, there’s always a pencil type or two that’ll fit the bill. Below, we unpack the most popular pencil types:

Wooden or Standard Pencils

Along with harkening back to our school days, the wooden pencil has a natural feel that brings out the nature-lover in all of us. Other benefits:

  • Wooden pencils are inexpensive, so losing or sharing is no problem.
  • Depending upon how diligently you sharpen, you can adjust the point size to suit your preference.
  • Sharpening a wooden pencil is a tactile ritual that some find appealing, including students looking for a reason to get out of their seats.
  • Due to the wood casing, the lead breaks less easily than lead in a mechanical pencil.

Check Out These Wooden Pencil Winners

Colored Pencils

Not to be confused with crayons, colored pencils allow a full range of creative expression, including:

  • A level of precision and detail that can be easier to achieve than with oils or water colors.
  • Easily transportable, you can whip out your pencils and paper just about anywhere inspiration strikes.
  • It’s easy to just work for a few minutes without investing time in mixing paints and waiting for them to dry.
  • High-quality colored pencils are much more affordable than the equivalent brushes and paints.

Our Favorite Colored Pencils

Carpenter Pencils

The advantages of the carpenter pencil are many when it comes to carpentry work and other building projects, including:

  • The large, rectangular shape makes the carpenter pencil easy to grip, and sure to stay put.
  • The lead allows for sharp, fines lines at the corners as well as thick, bold lines at the broad edges.
  • Rectangular lead is much less likely to break off and wears down much more slowly than a round pencil lead.
  • The tough lead draws easily on concrete, stucco, and wood including rough lumber and sheet goods like plywood.

We couldn’t leave a discussion of the carpenter pencil without some tips on sharpening. The best approach is to whittle the end with a box cutter or other razor edged tool. You can create the tip that suits your purpose, including classic, blunt classic, offset scribe, and projected point. For the full DIY on achieving the perfect point on your carpentry pencil, check out this tutorial (thanks, Matt Jackson!).

Customize This Carpenter Pencil for Visibility Among the Building Set

Golf Pencils

Not just for golf anymore! The name can be deceiving, because in addition to keeping score in a golf game, the golf pencil serves other purposes as well. To name a few:

  • The golf pencil is designed as small as possible to meet the score-keeping needs of a player without taking up more space than necessary. This makes it uniquely suited to smaller hands learning to write. Golf pencils are great for children in kindergarten and first grade as they practice numbers and letters.
  • Golf pencils are popular at churches and other places of worship, libraries, lottery tickets, restaurants, weddings, and other ceremonies where they’re likely to be used briefly.

We Like These Golf Pencils

Mechanical Pencils

When consistency is the name of the game, the mechanical pencil comes through. Among the advantages of this ever-popular pencil type:

  • Because the mechanical pencil comes loaded with lead in the size you want, and advanced by a simple click or twist, there’s no sharpening, no searching for a sharpener, and no trying to achieve the perfect point when really you just want to keep drafting, sketching, graphing, calculating, etc.
  • Unlike a wooden pencil, which becomes duller the more you write, the tip of the mechanical pencil remains the same width each time you put pencil to paper.
  • Unlike a wooden pencil, which gets stubby the more you use it, the body of the mechanical pencil does not shrink as the lead gets used up.
  • Being refillable, mechanical pencils are considered environmentally friendly.

Our Favorite Promotional Mechanical Pencils

Pencil Lead

Pencil lead can be darker or lighter; softer or harder. There are two ways the darkness and hardness of pencil lead is measured: The numeric scale, and the HB scale.

Numeric Scale

This scale is used in the U.S. and is simple: the higher the number, the harder the lead and the lighter the mark left on the paper. The standard hardness in the U.S. is #2.

HB Scale

This scale is used everywhere else and often appears on U.S. pencils, too. It’s based on letters (three of them) and numbers (2-9). H stands for “hard” and produces a lighter, thinner line. “B” stands for “bold/black” and produces a darker, denser line. The numbers indicate the degree of hardness or blackness. The higher the number (2-9), the bolder/blacker (in the case of B pencils) or harder (in the case of H pencils) the lead is going to be. There’s also an “F” in there, between all the B’s and all the H’s. The “F” stands for “fine” and stays sharp much longer than a B or even an H pencil. There’s only one type of F pencil so no number gradations are necessary to indicate degrees of “fineness”. A #2 pencil in the U.S. is equivalent to what’s called an HB (hard and bold—middle of the road) pencil elsewhere.

More Perspectives on Pencils

  • What Is Pencil Lead Really Made Of? (hint: not lead—not now, not ever!)
  • Why Pencils Are Better Than Pens (hint: erasing!)

As we celebrate the joys of marking, drawing, diagramming, calculating, erasing, slowing down, and making mistakes, the dependable pencil is right here at our side. Check out our wide selection of customized pencils and find the pencil type that speaks to your brand. Add your messaging and attach your name to writing, erasing, and all around forward thinking!

Find us on us on Facebook or Instagram and let us know which type of pencil you personalized.

Karleen Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

Published by
Karleen Andersen

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