What Is a Drafting Pencil?

A drafting pencil is a special type of pencil that is used by architects and graphic designers to make precise, technical drawings. Drafting pencils are similar to regular pencils, but there are some major differences between them.

Drafting pencils are less commonly used now because computer software has largely replaced them. However, design and architecture students are still trained in how to use them.

What Is a Drafting Pencil?

A drafting pencil is a special type of pencil that is used for drawing. They are used less commonly than they were before the rise of computers, but they are still a commonly used item amongst architects, graphic designers, artists, and other specialists.

Additionally, even though modern technology has largely replaced the use of drafting pencils in professional settings (especially when it comes to drawing blueprints), most colleges and technical schools still train their students in how to draft designs using drafting pencils.

What Makes a Drafting Pencil Different from a Regular Pencil?

Holding a Pentel Graphgear 1000 Pencil
The Graphgear 1000 – a popular drafting pencil

There are several differences between a drafting pencil and a regular pencil.

Drafting Pencils Have a Rugged Design

Drafting pencils are usually made out of especially durable materials such as aluminum or brass. They also usually have a rugged design that you do not see on regular pencils. You will sometimes see a regular mechanical pencil that also has these features, but they are much less common.

Drafting Pencils Have a Narrow Lead Sleeve

Drafting pencils also typically come with a long narrow lead sleeve that is made out of metal. This is to help make it easier to use the pencil while working with a ruler, lettering guide, or some other sort of template.

The benefit of this is that it is easier for the person using the pencil to see the tip of the pencil’s lead. This allows the person using the pencil to make more precise drawings than they would if they were using a regular wooden or mechanical pencil.

These lead sleeves are also designed to be retractable. This lets the artist or designer collapse the pencil and put it in their pocket without having to worry about the pencil poking through the pocket and/or hurting them.

Drafting Pencils Use Several Different Types of Lead

There are different hardness grades for the lead that drafting pencils use. Most professional artists and designers tend to keep a few different types of lead nearby so that they can handle a variety of different tasks.

Some of these drafting pencils even include indicators that you can adjust to help you keep track of the lead that you are using and easily identify it.

This is the opposite of regular mechanical pencils, which can usually only accommodate one specific size of graphite.

Drafting Pencils Have Tiny Erasers

The small eraser of the Pentel Graphgear 1000 Pencil Tip

Another feature of drafting pencils is that they typically have a very small eraser on them. This is because this eraser is meant to be used to fix small, precise mistakes. When artists or designers make larger mistakes, they typically will use a larger professional eraser to fix those mistakes.

Regular mechanicals also usually have small erasers. However, drafting pencil erasers are usually even smaller and they tend to be stored under a small metal cap at the end of the pencil. Regular mechanical pencils may or may not have this cap over the eraser.

Drafting Pencils Have Tools to Clean Out Lead Jams

Another thing that sets drafting pencils apart from regular mechanical pencils is that drafting pencils are normally used for several hours every single day. There is a lot of lead that goes into them and sometimes this lead will get jammed up.

Because of this, most drafting pencil brands will also include a special tool to help with this problem. Most drafting pencils have a rod attached to the pencil that you can use to remove a piece of broken graphite that has become stuck inside the pencil.

This tool clears the jam and allows you to keep using the pencil.

Final Thoughts

What is a drafting pencil? It is a special type of mechanical pencil that is used by architects and graphic designers. They are used to create precise technical drawings by hand. They are similar to normal mechanical pencils but there are key differences that enable a designer to do their work.

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