Paper World

Staedtler Leadholder

Thick drafting pencil

I always snap the point off regular pencils and mechanical pencils, so this is the pencil I’ve always wanted. Commonplace among draftsmen and technical drawers, the Staedtler holds 2mm leads, which do not break under pressure. I use mine all day. It’s simple to retract and the recess in the removable push-button also doubles as a sharpener (see below image). Remove the push button and there is a hole you stick the lead into. The lead gets very sharp and you can sharpen anywhere, anytime without having to remember to bring along a sharpener.

It has become my everyday pencil — the only thing I write with unless I am behind a keyboard or must use a pen. I don’t do any drafting or fine art applications, though I do sometimes sketch network diagrams (I am an intermediate-level sysadmin). I also use the pencil for journal writing. The size of the lead really allows for a lot of flexibility in the line width. The pencil never fails, has a good weight, and I find I can hold it very precisely. The texture of the barrel is rough, almost like a nail file or cheese grater. Some people might not like the feel, but the pencil doesn’t slip when wet.

I use a soft lead generally and find it needs sharpening one or more times a day. The sharpening can be a bit messy, but tapping it against a wastepaper basket takes care of the extra graphite dust. I still inevitably get graphite powder on my shirt, but it washes out without staining, so I don’t really care. Also, it takes some practice to get comfortable with the system. At first, the lead comes flying out, so you have to get used to holding the pencil a few centimeters above the paper and releasing the lead to the right amount. It works really well once you get it.

I’ve looked at other leadholders. If I saw a nicer designed one (i.e. a Parker or a Schaeffer) I might be tempted to get one. Part of what I like about the Staedler is the price and durability. One pencil and a year’s supply of lead costs me about $10 at Utrecht art supply. I’ve lost and given away a few but haven’t had any break or wear out.

-- Michael Bubb 02/15/21

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