How To Clear A Carpenters Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam

How To Clear A Carpenters Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam

While mechanical pencils are both useful and pretty cool-looking, a common problem is that they can become jammed easily.

A jammed mechanical pencil typically occurs when a bit of lead inside has become stuck in the mechanism, or if there is too much lead in the chamber. 

Many people think that once this happens it’s the end for your mechanical and it’s time to throw it away. But don’t do that yet!

There is a pretty easy fix to getting your pencil to work again, all you need is a pencil cleaning rod and some patience. 

Here is a quick guide on how to fix your mechanical pencil. 

What Is A Pencil Cleaning Rod?

What Is A Pencil Cleaning Rod

When your mechanical pencil jams, the first thing that you should do is to give it a good shake. This may be all that is needed to loosen and remove the piece of lead that is jammed inside the mechanism.

If that doesn’t solve the problem though, you will need a pencil cleaning rod to fix the issue. 

Also known as a "clean-out rod," in the past, they were provided with practically all technical and drafting pencils.

However, as goods have become more affordable and less focused on the needs of the professional user, it is less probable that this will be the case.

If your pencil does not come with a cleaning rod, you can try to locate a tiny piece of metal wire or a safety pin to use instead.

However, this may be very difficult to do, particularly for use with pencils with diameters of 0.2 mm and 0.3 mm.

You may get creative with this and try something like a very slender pipe cleaner, but whatever you use for the task, make sure that it won't make the situation worse or leave any broken lead within your pencil.

If it does any of those things, you won't be able to fix it.

You may purchase an eraser kit that has a cleaning rod if your pencil did not come with one.

Just make sure that the rod is the appropriate size for your pencil, which means that the diameter of the rod should not be more than the lead.

However, it is acceptable for it to be smaller, such as 0.3 mm for a 0.5 mm pencil.

Cleaning rods are very cheap pieces of equipment, and can typically be bought for $5 or under in craft stores, stationary/office supply stores, or online. 

Here are some options for you to look at:

  • LAMY Eraser Refill
  • Pentel Mechanical Pencil Orenz Eraser Refill (PPE-2)
  • Pilot Mechanical Pencil Eraser Refill (HERFS-10)
  • Pilot MS-10 eraser refill kit

Fixing A Jammed Pencil

Your first instinct when getting lead jams will probably be to wiggle the pencil and make several presses on the button, which will let see if the button responds.

You wouldn't be spending your time reading this article if what you were doing was successful; so, you should stop doing it right away before it makes the matter any more difficult.

Here is a very easy step-by-step guide to fixing your jammed pencil. 

  • Flip the pencil over, unscrew the front tip, and glance inside to see if there are any stray bits of lead trapped inside. If there aren't any, the pencil is good to go. Even though this may sound like stating the obvious, it is the very first thing that has to be done. Move it around and look through the hole that the lead travels through to see if you can see anything through it.
  • Check to see whether the clutch, which is at the front of the pencil body and is responsible for holding the lead, can move freely; this will tell you if the lead can be held securely. 

Are bits caught inside? While you are holding the pencil, press the button while ensuring that you are maintaining the correct orientation (holding it upside down).

Not only will the lead come out, but so will anything else that may have been stuck within the pencil and been preventing it from functioning properly.

If these first two steps don’t work, it’s time to get the cleaning rod out. To unclog a blocked passageway using the cleaning rod follow the next steps:

  • Take the eraser out of the pencil and grab your cleaning rod
  • You have the option of holding the pencil with the sharp end facing up or the eraser end facing up. While you are holding your pencil, hold the button at the top down.
  • Applying some pressure to the cleaning rod will allow you to insert it into the hole from where the lead emerges. You shouldn't apply excessive force, but you should be sure to get it in. (If you feel any considerable resistance, this indicates that your pencil is severely jammed, and you should read the information that is provided below.)
  • The use of the clearing rod is intended to remove any obstacles or jams that may have been stuck in the mechanism. Take it out with caution, and then push the button as many times as necessary until the lead is freed.

What If My Pencil Is Badly Jammed?

What If My Pencil Is Badly Jammed

Didn't work? Let's go on to the more in-depth portion of the repair, shall we?

  1. Remove the eraser as well as anything else that may be stopping the lead from escaping.
  2. Remove all of the lead from the pencil, then turn it upside down and set it on the surface of your desk.
  3. Next, take the cap off the pencil, and then unscrew the front of the pencil.
  4. Either pressing the pencil button or pulling on the release cord will allow you to release the clutch.
  5. You also have the option of pressing the pencil down (along with hitting the top button) while also pressing a tiny collar down. This will do the same thing.
  6. Insert the cleaning rod into the pipe, and then use it to dislodge any lead shards that have become stuck within.
  7. It is not recommended that you attempt to reuse any tiny fragments, so you should dispose of any little debris that breaks loose from the pencil.
  8. At this point, the damage to your pencil should have been fixed, and it should be ready to be used.


A pencil jam is not the death of your mechanical pencil, with a bit of effort you should be able to solve the issue.

Follow the steps above and you should be able to quickly fix the jam and carry on using your favorite pencil!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Causes Pencil Jams?

Because mechanical pencils are pretty straightforward tools, there aren't many things that can go wrong with them. Having said that, things can and do go wrong.

The majority of the time, a stray piece of lead will become lodged in the clutch or sleeve of the pencil, which will prevent further lead from being pushed through.

You then click the button without realizing it, which causes more lead to be crammed down there and makes the situation worse.

Even while it happens more frequently with a lead pencil tip that has a smaller diameter, such as 0.3 mm, jamming is still possible with any drafting or mechanical pencil.

Leads with a higher hardness rating, such as 2H or 3H, have a greater risk of shattering and are more likely to cause a pencil to become jammed.


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