In the age of computer-aided design software, drafting by hand may be turning into a lost art, but drafting pencils are still as popular as ever. Designed to stand up to the rigors of heavy-duty, professional use, they are a favorite among artists, designers, and anyone who values quality and reliability in their writing instruments. Let’s explore the main characteristics of drafting pencils and take a look at some of our favorites.


There are no hard rules for when a mechanical pencil qualifies as a drafting pencil, but they generally feature some or all of the following characteristics.

Design Style
Drafting pencils typically have a rugged, utilitarian design. They are made from durable materials like brass, aluminum, and high-quality plastics. Knurled or otherwise textured grips are common, providing improved control for precise writing and drawing.
Lead Sleeve
Virtually all drafting pencils feature a long, narrow lead sleeve, also referred to as a guide pipe. The lead sleeve makes it easier to use the pencil with a template or straightedge, and it also gives a clearer view of the tip for precise drawing. Because they are so thin, lead sleeves are delicate and can poke through pockets and pencil cases. To protect the both the pencil and its surroundings, some drafting pencils have lead sleeves that can retract when the pencil is not in use.
Lead Grade Indicator
Pencil leads come in a range of hardness grades, and many designers prefer to keep multiple lead grades on hand in different pencils. Most drafting pencils include adjustable lead grade indicators to help keep track of which leads are in which pencils.
Range of Lead Sizes
Just as leads are available in a range of hardness grades, they are also available in a range of sizes. Most mechanical pencils use either 0.5 mm or 0.7 mm leads, but drafting pencils often provide additional lead size options, such as 0.3 mm, 0.4 mm, and 0.9 mm.
Small Erasers
Drafting pencils typically have a small, thin erasers hidden under the push button, which doubles as a stopper for the lead tube. It is useful for making precise corrections to a complex drawing, but larger-scale corrections may require keeping a separate eraser on hand.
Clean-Out Rod
When a drafting pencil is used for hours a day, every day, the occasional lead jam is all but inevitable. To help clean out any bits of broken lead that get stuck in the lead sleeve, many drafting pencils include a clean-out rod attached to the underside of the eraser.

The Graph Gear 1000 combines a number of unique and useful features into one surprisingly affordable package. With its aluminum construction, it feels solid but not heavy, making it comfortable to use for long sessions without fatigue. Adding to the comfort is the distinctive grip section, which features a combination of knurled aluminum and inlaid rubber pads. The Graph Gear 1000 has a retractable tip, which is extended by pushing down on the top button and retracted by pushing on the clip, ensuring that the pencil can never accidentally be pocketed with the tip extended. The Graph Gear 1000 comes in a full range of lead sizes, from 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm.The clip itself is large and spring-loaded, allowing the pencil to be clipped onto thick objects like book covers and notepads.

The Rotring 600 has an almost legendary status among drafting pencils. Simple yet striking, it exemplifies the principles of German design and engineering. While not a very large pencil, its all-brass body gives it a weighty, almost indestructible feel. If you prefer quality and craftsmanship to a host of specialized features, this is the drafting pencil for you. The 600 is available with matte black and silver finishes, with a choice of three lead sizes: 0.35 mm (identical to other brands’ 0.3 mm), 0.5 mm, and 0.7 mm.


The Super Promecha is the ultimate drafting pencil for anyone who enjoys tinkering and customization. By twisting the grip section and the rotating component in the window above the grip, both the length of the lead sleeve and the amount of lead extended with each click can be adjusted. Like the Graph Gear 1000, it is made from sturdy aluminum and available in a full range of lead sizes from 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm.


The Pro-Use II has an unusual shape, but everything about it is designed to make it incredibly comfortable. The wide, lightweight aluminum body reduces hand fatigue and cramping, and the ridged grip section provides excellent control while being smooth and pleasant to the touch. Its relatively short length gives the pencil a center of gravity closer to the tip, further improving both comfort and control. Even the slight curve of the barrel is perfectly designed to rest against the side of the hand when in use. The Pro-Use II is available in 0.3 mm, 0.5 mm, and 0.7 mm lead sizes.


Featuring a real wood body and matte silver trim, the stylish S20 has a firm spot among our favorite drafting pencils. In addition to giving the pencil its unique and modern appearance, the subtly tapered wood body has a warm, organic feel that makes it a pleasure to hold. Its light weight and excellent balance make it easy to use for long periods without fatigue. The wood is grippy and comfortable, even without a textured grip section. The S20 is available in brown and red wood finishes, with a choice of two lead sizes: 0.3 mm and 0.5 mm.


Whether you’re a diehard mechanical pencil user or just someone who appreciates good engineering and build quality, drafting pencils make a great addition to any collection of writing tools. The pencils listed above represent a range of price brackets, but there are many more affordable drafting pencils for students and others on a tight budget who still want a durable, high quality pencil. Below, we have organized a handy reference table listing all of the drafting pencils we currently carry.