What marking pencils do you use?

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Forum topic by Bob #2 posted 04-10-2010 05:07 PM 19137 views 0 times favorited 38 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bob #2

3810 posts in 4415 days

04-10-2010 05:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: marking pencils pencils tip question

ON one of the most recent conversations here regarding units of measure that could, should,and can be used to construct things from wood, I would like to point out that regardless of what measure you use your no better than the mark you make transferring information from your rulers to your project.

Some folks use scribing knives for very accurate lines but I have found that often removing the scribe lines can be problematic.
I think most of us use a pencil one form or another plot around depending on the project.

I’ve been having quite a time with the pencils in my shop for the last two or three months and decided last week to buy higher-quality pencil sharpener to help me get a finer point for marking.
When I set it up to use it and grabbed a few pencils out my drawer i was surprised to find that many of the pencils I was having trouble with were made up some wood other than cedar and that the lead was not centered in the body of the pencils. Here’s a picture of what I mean:

From wood stuff 2010

Those rough furry pencils with the offset leads are from China.
The yellow one was purchased from a legitimate office supply store and the white one purchased from a dollar store.
The dark green one was purchased from Lee tools and is made in the United States.
The Lee Valley pencil will take a nice sharp point dead center in the wood stock and maintain it for several markings without incident.
The yellow pencil is virtually useless as any side pressure on the lead snaps it right off. In addition, you need to take a knife and cut back the wood on the side of the lead before you can use it. As my time is limited in the shop my preferences to purchase better quality with fewer problems.
What do you folks use for pencils and why?

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

38 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4521 days

#1 posted 04-10-2010 05:14 PM

I use mechanicals from Lee Valley.

-- 温故知新

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4287 days

#2 posted 04-10-2010 05:37 PM

I laughed when I read your post. Experience is a tough teacher,....test first, lesson later.

I would add that almost any pencil is better then no pencil at all, but I have had the cheap stuff with lead off center and even the slightest pressure causes one to resharpen it so many times that you might as well just stand in front of the pencil sharpener until the thing is gone… might think and just throw it out,but Murphys law would state that some one will pick it from the garbage, place it on a bench just to frustrate you one more time….....

I buy pencils from an office supply, their generic name brand. Staples.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Tony's profile


993 posts in 4424 days

#3 posted 04-10-2010 05:41 PM

For really accurate cuts, left and right handed marking knives.

For general marking (not too critical) your standard mechanical propelling pencils (0.3, 0.5 & 0.7 mm HB leads).

For rough cutting a large oval carpenters pencil, chalk or crayon.

Various coloured artist pencils for contrast on woods such as Walnut and Mahogany.

If none of the above are available, or within 1 step distance, whatever I have to hand (nail, screw, thumb nail, chisel, saw)

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Woodripper's profile


22 posts in 3380 days

#4 posted 04-10-2010 05:52 PM

I am with Hobomonk and Tony, mechanical for me. No sharpening req but I do have silver pencils for darker materials.

-- WoodRipper

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 4287 days

#5 posted 04-10-2010 06:06 PM

I agree with Tony…........a descending preference

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View bobdurnell's profile


317 posts in 4290 days

#6 posted 04-10-2010 06:18 PM

Bob #2 Glad you asked the question. I know that everyone has their favorite. Mine is a Dixon-Ticonderoga No.1. Hard to find I odered mine from Staples. Yes they need to be sharped alot but I found a secret weapon while teaching. The previous teacher had an old wood knob Berol (I think) replaced in the classroom and kept the old one on a shelf. I recovered it and it is the best sharpener I have used.

-- bobdurnell, Santa Ana California.

View AaronK's profile


1508 posts in 3858 days

#7 posted 04-10-2010 06:34 PM

i do mechanical too. 0.5mm for “fine” lines and 0.7mm for more coarse lines. I find that they work ok, although I would prefer something a hair narrower for the fine and something a bit thicker for the coarse. but like i said, they work well enough that I feel better about them than having to sharpen wooden pencils.

I tried using a marking knife, but found that most of the time i dont need it. My work style (as a hobbyist) has developed around pencil markings. I might see using a marking knife for inlays or really super fine stuff, but for regular joinery my pencils have been great.

View cutmantom's profile


407 posts in 3428 days

#8 posted 04-10-2010 06:41 PM

I use cheap mech. pencils that are I think meant to replace wooden pencils for students. .9mm works much better than .5mm, I have seen a .9mm and thought about trying it

View BOB67CAM's profile


269 posts in 3465 days

#9 posted 04-10-2010 07:50 PM

i use the cheap 10 pack of bic mechanicals, they seem to always have ver nicely centered lead ;)

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3719 days

#10 posted 04-10-2010 08:04 PM

Honestly, I use whatever I can find. Somehow I am continually losing my pencils…. but I do have one of those flat engineer’s pencils.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3502 days

#11 posted 04-10-2010 08:18 PM

I think marking is one of those things that you adjust with experience. I used to use the carpenter pencils when I first started. I found accuracy to be a real problem. I moved to mechanical pencils and am much happier with the cuts, but I think I will eventually move to marking knives.

Good question to post,


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View buffalo689's profile


175 posts in 3401 days

#12 posted 04-10-2010 08:39 PM

I can’t find my pencil , AGAIN..

-- bill

View Lee A. Jesberger's profile

Lee A. Jesberger

6866 posts in 4373 days

#13 posted 04-10-2010 08:53 PM

Hi Bob 2 (cause you got here late);

I wrote an article in my woodworking tips site, covering this very topic:

I still use the thicker leaded Mechanical pencils. They make a fine line, yet will work on rough lumber all day long, without me breaking the point off.

For fine stuff, a knife is what I prefer.


-- by Lee A. Jesberger

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

6537 posts in 3588 days

#14 posted 04-10-2010 08:55 PM

Greetings all:... I use a mechanical drafting pencil that I’ve had since 1970 when I took mechanical and arcitecture drafting. Back then you used big huge drafting tables and built-in T squares. All of my drafting supplies was made by Post… best on the market at the time, and Starret rulers, which I still have, also. All were made in the U.S. by Americans. They have stood the test of time, and still going strong….....
Has anybody seen my extra lead… I can’t find it nowhere…...... where’s my sharpener?

-- " At my age, happy hour is a 2 hour nap".....!!

View Kristoffer's profile


675 posts in 3609 days

#15 posted 04-10-2010 09:17 PM

Lately I’ve been using DIXON Ticonderoga pencils because the box said “The Best Pencil in the World” and I thought that that was funny, so I had to to buy ‘em. Funny stuff aside, they’ve worked great for marking and the eraser actually works without smudging.
When I run out of them I think that I’m going to try the mechanical pencils, but I don’t really remember having much luck with them when I was younger. But why would I fix what isn’t broken? Maybe I’ll just stick with the Ticonderoga pencils.

-- Cheers and God Bless

showing 1 through 15 of 38 replies

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