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What are Drafting Pencils?

what are drafting pencils

If you are wondering what are drafting pencils, then take note that they refer to writing implements specifically made for precise drawings. These were quite popular back in the days before computer-aided design. However, there are still a lot of professionals, like architects and draftsmen who like to manually draw their blueprints.

You may think that you may use any pencil as a drafting pencil but that is not the case. In this article, you will be learning more about modern drafting pencils and what they could do.

Drafting Pencils Defined

drafting pencils defined

Drafting pencils are technically mechanical pencils. However, take note that drafting pencils also have certain characteristics that make them quite different from the mechanical type.

Basically, it is constructed from highly durable materials, including brass and aluminum. You can also see that it has a rugged design. In addition, most drafting pencils have this textured grip, which allows you to have better control over it and make you feel comfortable when using it for drawing.

Drafting pencils are meant for high-precision technical drawings, so they need to have features that would assist in doing just that. The following are just a few of the most distinctive qualities and features of drafting pencils:

Highly durable

Drafting pencils are ideal for hours of continuous use, which is why they need to be made using materials that are more durable than plastic. Most drafting pencils have mostly aluminum parts. Some even contain brass.

However, because they use tougher materials for their overall construction, it also means that their prices are a bit higher than the usual mechanical pencils. However, this does not mean that they are extremely pricey. You can usually get a good quality drafting pencil for a reasonable price.

Longer metal lead sleeves

When you are using a drafting pencil, you will also be using rulers, squares, lettering templates, and other drafting tools. To prevent your leads from breaking while using those tools, they need to have longer metal sleeves. The sleeves also raise the rest of the pencil enough that you can see the marks on your rulers.

Use more lead sizes

Most mechanical pencils usually only use 0.5mm or 0.7mm, which are the traditional sizes. In comparison, they come in additional sizes, like 0.3mm, 0.4mm, and 0.9mm. These additional lead sizes allow the draftsperson to create different line weights.

Feature small erasers

You might think that having a small eraser is not beneficial, but it is. If you are manually drawing high-precision technical drawings, there will always be times when you make minute mistakes. To erase tiny mistakes, you will need a small eraser.

Have textured grips

Another feature that you can find in a drafting pencil is a textured or knurled grip. This will give you a lot of fine control when you are drawing. This means that the pencil is less likely to slip out of your hand while you are drawing, preventing you from ruining hours of work.

What are Drafting Pencils Used For?

what are drafting pencils used for

In the not-so-distant past, architects and draftsmen used drafting pencils to create initial sketches for blueprints, also called drafts, hence the name.

These pencils needed to be able to write fine and uniform lines. These pencils need to be very precise as they will be used for making blueprints. Even a slight discrepancy can lead to disaster.

These days, even though most construction plans make use of a computer-aided design, there is still a place for the humble drafting pencil. Some architectural firms still have a couple of clients who like hand-drawn plans.

It looks like a piece of art when done properly. Also, drafting pencils are still used to mark out revisions in printed blueprints.

Are Mechanical Pencils the Same as Drafting Pencils?

are mechanical pencils the same as drafting pencils

Technically speaking, all drafting pencils are mechanical pencils but not all mechanical pencils are drafting pencils. However, you can still use other kinds of mechanical pencils for drafting purposes, but they won’t work quite as well as dedicated drafting pencils.

However, as mentioned earlier, it is hard to find mechanical pencils marketed as drafting pencils. You may need to look for mechanical pencils that have all, or at least most of the features that you would find in an actual drafting pencil.

In particular, you should keep an eye out for pencils with a thin metal sleeve as that is the most important feature.

For you to have an easier time differentiating drafting and mechanical pencils, here are their common differences:

Base Construction – Drafting pencils are more durable with their textured metal, usually aluminum construction. Meanwhile, mechanical pencils make use of plastic barrels or other cheaper materials since they are meant for academic and general purposes.

Lead Sleeves – Drafting pencils have metal lead sleeves whose primary purpose is to keep their extremely thin leads from breaking. However, this also means that drafting pencils are not quite convenient to use for general note-taking purposes. You will find yourself scratching the paper often with the lead sleeves. As for the mechanical pencils, most of them do not have lead sleeves. They usually have a tip that is similar to a ballpoint pen, making them suitable for general writing tasks.

Lead Dispensing Mechanism – With each click of the button, regular mechanical pencils push out more lead compared to drafting pencils. This means you have more control over the length of the lead you use in a drafting pencil. This also helps in preventing the tips from breaking.


So, what are drafting pencils? As you already know, drafting pencils are mechanical pencils specifically designed for precision drawing. These are the pencils that allow you to use thin pencil leads without breaking and are also ergonomically designed to make them comfortable and easier to use.

Do take note that even though all drafting pencils are mechanical pencils, not all mechanical pencils can be used for drafting purposes. Know the features of a proper drafting pencil and you will be able to find the right one for you.

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