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How to choose a propelling pencil

April 03, 2018 3 min read


Choosing your mechanical pencil step by step

Good morning everyone!

Last week we launched our Nib Size Guide to help you choose the perfect fountain pen. Today's post is meant to assist those graphite writing lovers in purchasing the perfect propelling pencil.

Developed in 1822, the first propelling pencil was created in Great Britain by Sampson Mordan and John Hawkins. It is used to write, draw or sketch and it consists of a hollow tube usually made of plastic or metal that bears interchangeable leads and incorporates a mechanism that allows the advancement of the lead.

Today we give you some advices to have into account before purchasing a propelling pencil. Keep reading!


Most common lead diameters are 0,5 mm, 0,7 mm and 0,9 mm. Get to know its properties and tipical purposes

  • 0.5 MM
  • 0.7 MM
  • 0.9 MM

Recommendable for those whose handwriting is small, as the stroke 0,5 mm leads create is finer. It is also indicated for artist that draw using little strain.

deal to write numbers since this lead is soft but tougher. Ain't need to apply as much pressure as using a 0.5 mm lead, which is better when it is necessary to make corrections and wipe off a written line without leaving any groove.

Therefore, we recommend it for artists that want to draw with precision. Both 0,5 and 0,7 mm are perfect for technical drawing.

If you usually apply much preassure to your mechanical pencil, use a 0,9 mm lead as they are darker and leave less grooves on the paper.

There are other lead sizes available for artists and draftsmen, like 2mm or 5,6 mm. Regarding these thicker leads, also called sketch pens, they usually incorporate lead sharpener as they will need to be sharpen in spite of being used with a mechanical pencil.  

Usually, thicker leads are more flexible when moulded. This is the technique used in sketching out and drafts.


These acronyms refer to:

  • Hmeans hard, the hardness increases with the number.
  • B for black, softer leads create more intense black lines.
  • HB for hard black,which refers to the combination of both.

The average hardness is HB. If the lead hardness is not indicated, it is usually this one. HB is definitely the best option for those who aren't sure of which lead to choose.

Soft leads create darker strokes while the lines made with a harder one are lighter. Regarding its uses, harder leads are perfect for drawing up while the softer ones allow us to darken the sketch and to create more intense shades.

If you need to mold the lead, the softer it is, the easier it will be. However, they blunt faster.

lead hardness guide chart


As well as the characteristics of the lead, it is crucial to purchase a propelling pencil that is comfortable and easy-to-use for you, specially if you will be using it for hours. Mind its shape and weight as to choose the perfect one for your needs.

Additional functions we can find in propelling pencil :

  • Coarse grip
  • Lead sharpener

We hope this post may help you choosing the perfect mechanical pencil for you! All selected products are in stock, so they can be shipped within 24 hours.

At Iguana Sell we remain at your disposal. If your have any doubt regarding our products or services, do not hesitate to comment this post, contact us via mail, phone +34 91 441 50 41 or visit our boutique at Núñez de Balboa 90, Madrid. We are looking forward to meet you!

Have a nice day!

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