Which Is Cheaper In The Long Run: Mechanical Pencils Or Wooden Pencils? (A Carpenter's Guide)

Which Is Cheaper In The Long Run: Mechanical Pencils Or Wooden Pencils? (A Carpenter’s Guide)

When marking out timber or wooden joints, you’ll find that thing behind your ear can be incredibly useful as you’ll have a robust and distinct design that can withstand heavy use as they can be prone to be thrown around and rattling inside toolboxes.

But with the inclusion of a mechanical pencil, will your work be made easier, or should you stick to a regular wooden pencil? And which one will have broader uses for other materials that need marking?

In this guide, we’ll break down each pencil type to show its features and weigh the pros and cons to determine which is the best pencil for you. To make your time on the job easier, read on to find out more.

Mechanical Pencils

Mechanical drawing pencils come in various styles and colors to help you identify marks with different meanings on your material, and these can work on metal, plastic, glass, wood, and paper for long-term use.

A mechanical carpenters pencil can come in various materials, including wood mechanical pencils. They’re also designed with a deep-hole marker to allow you to reach those hard-to-reach areas where a degree of precision is required.

You can also get refills as all you need to do is replace the mechanical pencil lead inside once you’ve reached the end and sometimes have a built-in sharpener to make your pencil more effective – meaning you won’t need a pencil sharpener.


The first significant benefit is that you don’t need to carry a utility knife to sharpen these pencils like you would if you had a wooden pencil, saving you more time to get on with your working process.

You’ll also find that the plastic grips on these pencils are easier to hold between your fingers and have a handy clip that can attach to the pocket.

If you have different colors, you’ll find that marking darker colored materials is much easier than a standard wooden pencil, which can work in just about any job you throw at it.


One of the first drawbacks of a deep-hole carpenter pencil is that the lead inside the pencil can shatter easily if you drop it by accident or apply too much pressure to the tip of the pencil.

The thinness of the pencil can also present the issue of markings being too faint, which some might see as more of an inconvenience if you decide to place them inside of your pocket, for example.

You might come across the issue of price, as a three-pack of mechanical pencils will likely cost you more than wooden pencils if you want a pack of carpenters pencils specifically.

Wooden Pencils

Which Is Cheaper In The Long Run: Mechanical Pencils Or Wooden Pencils? (A Carpenter's Guide)

These pencils are built to last and have the needs of carpenters in mind as they have a rectangular shape which prevents them from rolling around compared to ordinary pencils that wear out too quickly for heavy use.

Wooden pencils are made of the wood from an incense cedar tree, which is durable yet soft enough to sharpen.

You can also use them as a measuring guide, so if you know their length and thickness, you could use them as a spacer in between boards as you have an accurate guide.

If you have two of these pencils, you can use one as a scribe for an uneven edge and surface, and the other you can use to mark along the side, which will give you a better fit for more complex jobs.


You can get these pencils in sizes like 4H-hard and HB- medium that produces a nice dark line for clarity, and the medium sizes can work just as well for wet or unseasoned timber, giving you more versatility if you’ve purchased a pack of these pencils.

You’ll also find that the lead is a generous size that is worked into strong basswood, so these are sturdier, and you’ll find it difficult to break the lead inside by everyday use and drops.

Flat pencil sharpeners can also sharpen some types of these pencils, so you may not have to use a utility knife to get the edge on the lead you need, saving you time and effort.


The first big drawback is that some of these pencils can only be sharpened with a knife, which can be a pain to get right, and in some cases, you might find the edge is worse than when you started.

This means you can waste a lot of the lead and might be looking for a specific tip depending on the material you’re working on.

The thickness can cause a problem as the thick lines make it difficult to tell to a degree of accuracy where you need to cut exactly but will be more prominent in jobs where you don’t have much room or clearance between markings, so it depends on how you use the pencil.

Our Verdict

We can agree that both have their benefits, but if you’re making light marks and able to make them on more types of material, we find the mechanical drafting pencil to be the most effective option here.

The mechanical pencil refill feature will save you from worrying about how much lead you’re wasting, so if you’re doing joinery work or marking out decking, for example, you’ll find that wooden pencils will suit you fine and act as handy markers as well.

The main takeaway is that a solid carpenter pencil can offer more precise lines in areas like smaller holes or gaps, but you should consider that you might be paying more for a pack of three than you would for a pack of 5 or 10 wooden pencils.

Tips To Get More Use From Your Pencil

Don’t Waste Too Much Lead

It might be worth practicing your cutting with wooden pencils to ensure the edges are straight and the lead can still function effectively. You can go one step further by sharpening the other end in case one side gets dulled, and you can adjust for the different thicknesses you have to use.

With mechanical pencils, you want to ensure that you use the lead insert all the way to the bottom or to a point that you physically can’t use it, saving you money on refills.

Go For Solid Lead Pencils

This way, you’ll find that you can use them for even more purposes as these types of lead work for both types of pencils and can save you from having to switch out carpenter pencils during your job.

You also want pencils with distinct markings or colors to easily spot them in case you’re using them as a spacer or if you happen to misplace them.


It’s not going to be easy to determine which pencil will work for the type of job you have, as contractors generally undertake various jobs that differ in complexity.

It might be best to try one out so you can get a feel for each one and that they last through your demanding work process, so you’ll want to test each out for things like durability and ease of use.

Of course, having a pencil that has multiple uses can be something you value, so in this case, you’ll want to look out for additional features.


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