All Replies on What marking pencils do you use?

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View Bob #2's profile

What marking pencils do you use?

by Bob #2
posted 04-10-2010 05:07 PM

38 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4328 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 4093 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


986 posts in 4230 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 3187 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 4093 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


315 posts in 4097 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


1507 posts in 3664 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 3235 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 3272 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 3525 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 3309 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 3207 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 4180 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

6301 posts in 3394 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 crap and a nap".....!!

View Kristoffer's profile


675 posts in 3416 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

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3374 days

#16 posted 04-10-2010 09:24 PM

I switched, quickly, from the 2B to 4H drafting pencils, and then to mechanical pencils with #4 lead, replacement.

But … when I’m trying to get “precision joinery,” I’ve been using my Stanley utility knife, and … today … FINALLY ordered my first dual-bevel marking knife (eight bucks).

Though it’s REALLY tough for my eyes to find fine cut lines … I have to stop making joinery decisions about what’s most convenient for ME, and make them—instead—based on what gives the best results.

Chasing pencil lines—I think—has been a primary source of my slop, in recent projects.

It seems to me, too, that for many cuts (router cuts, dadoes, etc.), the initial “score” with a marking knife can leave a MUCH cleaner cut, with greatly reduced tear-out.

And I’ll take THAT all day long ;-)

I may get a decent scratch awl, too, and file the point into a knife edge. Also seems easy to use and accurate.

-- -- Neil

View shredkeenan's profile


61 posts in 3657 days

#17 posted 04-10-2010 09:28 PM

To me it looks like you weren’t holding the pencil perpendicular to the sharpener on the first two and that’s why the lead is not at the center of the point.

I use a 0.9mm mechanical pencil or marking knife.

View Sawdust4Blood's profile


408 posts in 3222 days

#18 posted 04-10-2010 09:59 PM

If I need accuracy, it’s a Japanese marking knife. Otherwise, I use oval carpenters’ pencils but sharpened with a knife and/or sandpaper to a chisel tip rather than round point then I draw a fine line as though the pencil were a knife blade. This allows me to keep a finer line without the tip always breaking.

-- Greg, Severn MD

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4162 days

#19 posted 04-10-2010 10:34 PM

I buy my pencils at art an store, Boise Blue in Boise, Idaho. for general marking on wood or leather I use 4H. I think they are Ebersol-Faber. For dark leather I use white art pencils also for Walnut. If it’s really critical, I use an Exacto knife

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View john's profile


2376 posts in 4582 days

#20 posted 04-10-2010 10:51 PM

I use nothing but the best :-)

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Karson's profile


35148 posts in 4600 days

#21 posted 04-10-2010 11:43 PM

I use seconds pencils. Let me explane. A person on the web lived in a town where a poencil factory was. He would buy all of their outcasts. Maybe color, chipping etc. He would sell them very cheap. a gross for a couple of bucks. He also had carpenter pencils etc.

The factory has gone out of business and he has run out of pencils so I’m living off my supply. Some may say “John and Sally Wedding Day” But I don’t care. All american made pencils with nice cedar smell when sharpened.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View bigike's profile


4055 posts in 3488 days

#22 posted 04-11-2010 12:27 AM

i use mech. pencils if i do use a regular #2 i sharpen it then flatten two sides so it makes the tip like a blade to get a better line almost like a marking knife.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View Steven H's profile

Steven H

1117 posts in 3260 days

#23 posted 04-11-2010 12:49 AM

I use Staedtler Lumograph drawing pencils. HB is what I use.

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3266 days

#24 posted 04-11-2010 01:08 AM

I never use any special pencil just whatever I manage to find, crayons, pens, sharpies….I don’t use the tape measure either. I got a lot more accurate when I stopped measuring and marking so much.

View Mogebier's profile


170 posts in 3233 days

#25 posted 04-11-2010 02:07 AM

I close my eyes and rely on The Force.

-- You can get more with a kind word and a 2 by 4, than you can with just a kind word.

View Jim's profile


150 posts in 3522 days

#26 posted 04-11-2010 02:49 AM

I used to be a sketch artist and draftsman in school, so I got into these types of “pencils”. Technically they are called lead holders or technical pencils. They are nice because they sharpen to a pretty fine point and you don’t have to worry about them breaking as easily as your typical #2’s or mechanical pencils. Plus there’s a sharpener in the rear of the pencil so it’s always handy. They run a little high in price for a pencil, but I’ve used the same one for years now (don’t know how I haven’t lost it yet) and haven’t even made it through half a box of lead. Staples has them and other places with drafting supplies should carry them also.

-- -- Jim - Kokomo, Indiana

View bayspt's profile


292 posts in 3904 days

#27 posted 04-11-2010 04:00 AM

California Republic Golden Bear H Picked up a tube of 50 for 1.99 at a local discount store (like big lots) After reading this I went in and stole one of my sons ticonderogas and I have to say it’s ok too. Hand work or delicate stuff I use a marking knife. I have a right hand I bought a wood craft and a double bevel I made from an old steak knife.

-- Jimmy, Oklahoma "It's a dog-eat-dog world, and I'm wearing milkbone underwear!"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3183 days

#28 posted 04-11-2010 04:32 AM

I finally got rid of most of my thin pencils. I sharpen the hell out of them just to justify using them up. I tried mechanical pencils but I keep breaking the lead when I write on paper, let alone on wood. I started using those big fat pencils without erasers that you buy for kindergarten kids to use. I do use carpenter pencils but don’t buy them either.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Rob Drown's profile

Rob Drown

800 posts in 4033 days

#29 posted 04-11-2010 08:34 AM

I used to work as a Engineer and did my own drafting. I used 2mm lead, mechanical lead holders and a lead pointer. Still use them and they work great. You can get as fine a point as you need or you can use softer lead if that is what you need.

I like the Mas Staedtler Mechanical Drafting Lead holders and rotary pointer. I use 2h and 4h for final layout. For sketching or design go, a regular 2h or even a carpenters pencil. If I am beginning to do Jointery then I use a marking Knife or marking gauge. Cuts are hard to erase.

-- The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools. Confucius, 经过艰苦的努力的梦想可以成真

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3274 days

#30 posted 04-11-2010 02:56 PM

Fine precise cuts – - a marking knife
Rough stuff – - a square carpenter’s pencil.

Tried a fine point mechanical pencil once – didn’t like it. The lead breaks too easily.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View buckeyedudes's profile


155 posts in 3328 days

#31 posted 04-11-2010 03:01 PM

I use the little 3” shorties with an eraser that you get free at the golf course.

They work just fine and it keeps my golf bag under control!

-- Before you louse it up, THIMK!

View JJohnston's profile


1622 posts in 3491 days

#32 posted 04-11-2010 04:06 PM

I use whatever wooden pencils I can grab at grand openings, health and wellness fairs, job fairs, etc. If I need a really fine line, I’ll sharpen it, then scribble on a piece of scrap at a low angle until I get a chisel-like bevel on one side. I like mechanical pencils for writing, and I use them at work, but for marking, the leads are still too thick for precise marking, and too thin for the bevel method I use, and too thin and weak for rough work.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3525 days

#33 posted 04-11-2010 11:10 PM

So funny – because of this post I paid attention today and sharped a few of my pencils. The one that came out the best (like the third in Bob’s picture) was a regular HB type that lsays on it “Happy Birthday”. I have no clue where I got it. But it did a great job!

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3891 days

#34 posted 04-11-2010 11:15 PM

I use WURTH and crown knife

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View JayPique's profile


61 posts in 3488 days

#35 posted 04-11-2010 11:20 PM

I measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, and cut with an axe.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3309 days

#36 posted 04-12-2010 06:35 AM

Jay, that is really quite the brilliant comment. That really should be a signature. I love it.

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

View buffalo689's profile


175 posts in 3207 days

#37 posted 04-12-2010 06:44 PM

“I measure with a micrometer, mark with a crayon, and cut with an axe.”

-- bill

View Builder_Bob's profile


161 posts in 3259 days

#38 posted 04-12-2010 07:10 PM

0.5 mm mechanical pencils bescause they fit in the holes of my Incra T-RULE12 Precision Marking T-Rule

-- "The unexpected, when it happens, generally happens when you least expect it."

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