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Mechanical Pencil vs Wooden Pencil

mechanical pencil vs wooden pencil

Do you feel the compulsion to choose between a mechanical pencil vs wooden pencil? Then you need to learn what benefits each provides. Although it is better to use both mechanical and wooden pencils interchangeably, choosing one makes you more proficient. Now, if you want to use just one, which pencil is better?

Both mechanical pencils and wooden pencils have their own sets of benefits. For instance, a mechanical pencil will always have a sharp point, which means you do not need to sharpen it ever. On the other hand, wooden pencils are easier to use for shading because the leads are wider.

Continue reading to learn more about the differences between the two pencil types.

Comparison Table

  Variety Durability Performance Price
Mechanical Pencil Somewhat limited and not readily available Aside from the pencil lead, very durable Can write consistent line weights Pencil leads are quite cheap but the lead holders cost high.
Wooden Pencil Available in almost all art supply stores Will wear down to a stump the more you use it Needs sharpening once the tip goes blunt, but is much lighter than mechanical pencils A set of pencils usually costs no more than $15

Mechanical Pencil Vs Wooden Pencil: The Differences

mechanical pencil
Mechanical Pencil

There are many differences between mechanical and wooden pencils. In most cases, you can differentiate the two using the following factors:


When it comes to choices of brands and types, mechanical pencils are quite limited. However, the number of options is increasing with time.

In the meantime, though, the only way to buy different varieties of mechanical pencils is through online shops. The reason is that most brick-and-mortar art supply stores rarely carry more than a couple of brands of mechanical pencils.

In addition, finding leads with the specific value you need for a particular size holder can be quite tricky, even when you shop online. For instance, if you need a value that is darker than what a normal 6B mechanical pencil lead can provide, you may only find them in another size. This means you will also need to buy a new holder for them.

In comparison, you will not be left wanting different pencil values when you choose wood pencils. For instance, many pencil brands offer multi-piece sets containing dozens of pencils of different values.

You can still find that one specific type of mechanical pencil lead that you are looking for. However, it is possible that you will also need to own several different pencil lead holders to accommodate different leads.


Of course, most of us have made the mistake of clutching the lead of mechanical pencils too long, which meant that even a slight bit of pressure broke the lead. However, that is usually just the only issue about mechanical pencils when it comes to durability.

The nice thing about mechanical pencils is that when you need to pack them inside your bag, you just have to retract the lead back into the holder. The metal lead sleeve will prevent the lead from accidentally breaking.

The same could not be said about wooden pencils. When taking your pencils with you to draw outdoors, you cannot just throw them in your bag. The pencil leads are always exposed, so you will most likely need to sharpen your pencils often.

This is the reason why these pencils will not last quite as long. You will need to use a pencil case whenever you need to carry your pencils around with you.

In addition, if you do not store your pencils properly, the glue that held the wood slats that sandwiched the lead would disintegrate and cause your pencils to split. When your pencils do split, there is no fixing them.


wooden pencil
Wooden Pencil

For most people, the pencil’s performance will be the deciding factor for choosing one over the other. The nice thing about mechanical pencils is that they are very consistent. This is important when you want to draw fine details.

Because mechanical pencil leads come in fine sizes, there is no need to sharpen them. They will always make the same line weight with every stroke.

However, the accuracy and consistency would flounder somewhat when you are using the thicker mechanical pencil leads. These thicker leads perform pretty much like how wooden pencils do. You should also sharpen the tips if you will use them for detail work. However, for shading and the like, these larger mechanical pencil leads work quite well.

In comparison, you can still use wooden pencils for detail work, but you will need to sharpen the edge to a sharp point quite often, or as often as you need. Not only can this be quite annoying if you are working on a large piece but it also means that the pencils will get considerably shorter the more you use them.


Although how expensive a pencil is will be subjective (some people might not feel that certain things are expensive), it is still a factor to consider when shopping for art materials. Excluding the cheap mechanical pencils used for school, the prices for a mechanical pencil suitable for artists will range from $4 to $20 on average.

The leads, on the other hand, can cost around $10 for 100 pieces. Depending on the grade and brand of the leads, they can be a bit pricier. In addition, when it comes to pencil leads, the softer they are, the more expensive they get. This is true both for mechanical and wooden pencils.

This is a problem when using mechanical pencils. The softer mechanical pencil leads need to be significantly thicker to keep them from breaking. This means that since the leads are thicker, they require another mechanical pencil body with a clutch mechanism big enough to handle the bigger leads.

That said, get a different-sized pencil body.

On the other hand, you can get a decent-sized set of graphite pencils for under $10, depending on the brand. However, if you used one pencil down to a stub, you should buy another one.

Just like mechanical pencil leads, wooden pencils get more expensive the softer their graphite is. Some brands sell 8B wooden pencils for around $5 apiece.

In terms of price, you have to make a higher initial investment in mechanical pencils. This is due to the holders being quite expensive. However, in the long run, you will be spending less because pencil leads are way cheaper than wood pencils.

Which is Better?

There is no definitive way to compare mechanical and wooden pencils. It will all be subject to whatever your preferences are. Both pencil types have their shortcomings but a good artist will know how to work around those and somehow still deliver good results.

The best way to choose which one is right for you is to factor in your drawing style. Do you like drawing fine and consistent details? Then mechanical pencils are your best bet. Do you use a lot of different pencil grades when drawing? Wooden pencils will be more convenient then.


When choosing between a mechanical pencil vs wooden pencil, technically mechanical pencils have a slight advantage. However, you should consider your drawing style and technique. It is best to try both types out and then choose what you like using the most.