10 Best Carpenter’s Pencils In 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks
Whether you’re a finish carpenter or a home DIYer, taking accurate measurements and making accurate marks is important to ensuring a job well done. Everyday pencils used for drawing are not usually suitable for marking wood and other work materials because they don’t leave a decent mark.
Carpenter’s pencils not only leave a straight mark on contoured timber, but they also tend to be thicker than standard pencils so are easier to grip, even when wearing safety gloves. They also have a flat or elliptical shape so that they don’t roll off when you put them down. Choices include different colors of lead, according to personal preference or the color of the material being marked, thickness of the lead, manual or mechanical pencils, and even custom-printed pencils.
Below are 10 of the best carpenter’s pencils to match any budget and to ensure that you can make reliable marks on your work materials.
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites in 2023
|Best Overall||DIXON Industrial Carpenter Pencils||
|Best Value||24 Lot Misprint Carpenter Pencils||
|Premium Choice||Markal 96270 PRO Holder||
|IRWIN Carpenter Pencil||
|Bright Yellow Custom Carpenter Pencil||
The 10 Best Carpenter’s Pencils
1. Dixon Industrial Carpenter Pencils – Best Overall
Dixon Industrial Carpenter Pencils are rectangular in shape. They have a graphite center and are available with a choice of soft, medium, or hard lead. The exterior of the pencil is red with black borders so is easy to see in most lighting conditions and the rectangular shape ensures that the pencils don’t roll off, even if the work surface is vibrating because of the use of a saw or other power tool. A pack contains 12 pencils, but you will need your own carpenter’s pencil sharpener because one isn’t included in the pack and a standard sharpener won’t work with these pencils.
The pencils are very reasonably priced, leave a visible mark that is easy to follow, and come in a pack of 12, making them the best available carpenter’s pencils, but it is a shame they don’t come with a suitable sharpener.
2. 24 Lot Misprint Woodcase Carpenter Pencils – Best Value
When having carpenter’s pencils custom printed with a logo or brand name, misprints can happen. It’s infuriating if you’ve paid for the printing, and it means returning the pencils to have them replaced. However, it also means that the misprinted pencils are resold at a fraction of the price of a standard carpenter’s pencil and if you’re not too fussy about exactly what color pencil or lead type you get, the misprints represent a great way to save money and get a bulk lot of pencils.
The 24 Lot Misprint Woodcase Carpenter Pencils are wooden pencils with an elliptical rectangular design. They come in a variety of external wood colors and lead types, and all have misprinted company names. The misprints are cheap and decent quality pencils, making them the best carpenter’s pencils for the money: ideal for use at home or on worksites, but you don’t have control over the hardness of the lead.
3. Markal 96270 PRO Holder – Premium Choice
Wooden carpenter’s pencils are simple and convenient, with the most difficult aspect of using one being the sharpening of the lead. However, while they are thicker and therefore more robust than a standard artist’s pencil, they are still wooden and prone to snapping under certain conditions. At worksites, it is easy to snap a wooden pencil by standing on it or placing heavy tools down on top. It’s infuriating and, if it happens often enough, it can prove costly.
The Markal 96270 PRO Holder is a lead holder, rather than a traditional pencil. The holder is made of metal, so is very difficult to break, and it has a thickened base for easier grip, but a needle-nose tip that allows access to difficult spaces. The holder works with 2.8mm diameter Markal replacement leads and there’s a sharpener in the butt of the holder. It is expensive, and you will still need to buy replacement leads, but it is a very robust and long-lasting design that is ideal for those that regularly break their pencils.
4. IRWIN Carpenter Pencil
IRWIN Carpenter Pencils are oval-shaped pencils that won’t roll away while working. They have a medium, broad lead that can be used to make solid lines on textured materials or can be sharpened and used for fine drawings. They are reasonably priced, costing just a few cents more than similar-styled pencils, and a pack contains six pencils so they should last for some time. The wood is of good quality which makes the pencils difficult to break.
However, the pack doesn’t come with a sharpener which means using a craft knife, typically with mixed results, or investing in a carpenter pencil sharpener.
5. Bright Yellow Custom Carpenter Pencil
Carpenter’s pencils naturally lend themselves to customization through the addition of text or a company logo or brand name because the elliptical or rectangular design has two flattened sides. This can be a good way to utilize and promote a business brand. These Bright Yellow Custom Carpenter Pencils, which are available in a range of other colors, can include up to 60 characters of text so you can add a company name or personalize the pencils as a gift for the DIYer that is constantly misplacing their pencils.
Customization does mean that the pencils are more expensive than buying standard pencils or those with the manufacturer’s branding, but the pencils are good quality, have #2 HB graphite leads, and they come in a pack of 12. Although the product description doesn’t mention it, buyers have reported receiving a sharpener that works with these pencils, too.
6. Swanson Tool Co CP216 AlwaysSharp Refillable Mechanical Carpenter Pencil
Carpenter’s pencils can be sharp for precise lines and thick for ensuring that the pencil mark shows up on textured and rough surfaces. This can mean constant sharpening and dulling of the lead to achieve what you need.
The Swanson Tool Co CP216 AlwaysSharp Refillable Mechanical Carpenter Pencil is a mechanical pencil but Swanson claims that its refillable leads are always sharp. They can be used one way to get deep, thick lines, or turned and used to achieve a sharp line. The lead never needs sharpening. Replacing the refill lead is easy, too. The pencil contains eight leads and lead cases and when one is finished, replace it at the top of the pencil and put the cap back on to push the next sharp lead through.
The pack contains two pencils, which also have a handy clip so they can be conveniently clipped on a tool belt or pocket, and an additional eight replacement leads. Each pencil comes with eight leads, so you get a total of 24 leads in this packet. The pencil pack itself is reasonably priced, considering it contains two pencils and extra leads, but finding compatible leads at a reasonable price is more difficult.
7. 24 Pack RevMark Carpenter Pencils with Printed Ruler
The 24-Pack RevMark Carpenter Pencils with Printer Ruler is a pack of 24 wooden carpenter pencils, each of which has ruler markings for quick measurements. The cedar wood used in the construction of the pencil gives it a nice smell, and the pencils come in a variety of colors that stand out against work material in most instances. However, the color does fade if the pencils are left out in the sun, which means that the ruler measurements can also fade. The pencil itself is a medium lead and sharpens well, although the pack doesn’t include a sharpener.
However, the ruler is not only prone to fading but if you want to use it to mark measurements, you will need two pencils on hand, while a small gap at the end of the pencil makes accurate measurements difficult.
8. OX Tools Pro Tuff
|Lead Type:||2.8mm diameter|
The OX Tools Pro-Tuff is a mechanical pencil made with a plastic casing, a metal needle-nose tip that provides easier access to difficult-to-reach positions, and that includes a pencil holder, a sharpener incorporated into the holder cap, and four leads. It takes a single click to extend the lead, which makes it easy to carry on marking even if the lead does break or wear down, and the inclusion of a sharpener means that you don’t have to use a craft knife or buy a separate piece.
The pack is quite expensive and not as strong as the Markal, which has a similar design but a toughened case. It is beneficial that the pencil includes extra leads and a sharpener, however, but there are some issues with the plastic pencil breaking and preventing the lead from being held in place, for some buyers.
9. Hiboom Solid 5 Pcs Carpenter Pencils
|Lead Type:||2.8mm diameter|
The Hiboom Solid 5Pcs Carpenter Pencils set consists of five pencils with different color casings as well as a total of 30 pieces of 2.8mm diameter leads. The leads come in three colors with six red, six yellow, and 18 black leads, so you can use different colors for different markings and therefore avoid confusion. The pencils have a 45mm long nose, which is thinner than the main body and designed to allow marking through drilled holes and in difficult-to-reach locations. There is also a sharpener built into the caps of the pencils.
The pencils are reasonably priced considering the number you get in the pack and the number of refills that are included, but the plastic caps, where the sharpeners are held, are quite loose and prone to falling out, and the belt clip is difficult to remove from a belt or other material.
10. OX Tools 10 Pack Trade Carpenters Pencils with Sharpener
Carpenter’s pencils are convenient and more functional than a standard drawing pencil, but even with stronger wood and a design shaped to prevent the pencil from rolling off, most users will need to keep a stock of several pencils at once.
The OX Tools 10 Pack Trade Carpenters Pencils with Sharpener is a pack of 10 wooden carpenter pencils and a sharpener designed for use with this type and shape of pencil. The pencils have a medium lead and are well-contoured to prevent rolling. The pack is well-priced, especially considering the inclusion of the sharpener.
However, the sharpener isn’t the best quality, and the wood and the lead of the pencils are somewhat prone to snapping and breaking.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Carpenter’s Pencil
Carpenter’s pencils are similar to regular pencils, in that the most basic types are made from wood with a graphite core, called lead. The pencil can be sharpened to achieve a point and leaves a mark when used on certain materials and surfaces.
However, standard pencils struggle to leave a straight line on wood and rough materials, if they manage to leave a visible mark at all. Circular pencils also roll, especially on uneven surfaces or when the work surface is vibrating, for example, because of the use of a power saw. Carpenter’s pencils are designed to counteract these problems. And, as with artist pencils, you also have the option of standard wooden pencils or mechanical pencils with an extending and replaceable lead.
Is a Carpenter’s Pencil the Same as a Regular Pencil?
A carpenter’s pencil is similar to a regular pencil. It is typically made from wood and contains a lead, which is actually made from graphite. However, the shape of the pencil differs, making it more convenient and ensuring that it stays in place when put down. The thicker pencil is easier to grip, and the thicker lead also ensures that pencil markings are more visible on wood and other surfaces.
Sharpening a Carpenter’s Pencil
Wooden carpenter’s pencils are a very different shape from standard pencils, and they won’t fit in standard pencil sharpeners. As a result, many people end up using a craft knife or other knife to sharpen the wood and the lead to create a fine drawing point.
Alternatively, you can get specialist carpenter’s pencil sharpeners. These are safer to use and designed specifically to fit the dimensions and shape of this type of pencil. This does mean that, as well as remembering the pencil itself, you have to remember the sharpener as well. Some mechanical pencils include a sharpener in the cap. Some wooden pencil packs may also include a free sharpener, which is a convenient way of getting everything you need.
Pencils are easy to lose. You put one down in one area of work and can’t find it when you move to a new area. This is a problem with a standard pencil because you need to find another, it’s a bigger problem with a carpenter’s pencil, especially of the mechanical variety, because they are more difficult to replace.
Some of the mechanical carpenter’s pencils have a clip that allows you to attach it to a belt or item of clothing, which can be very useful if you are the sort of person that constantly misplaces their pencil.
A carpenter’s pencil is typically used in environments beyond the office or the kitchen table. They come in for more abuse, especially when they are being used to measure timber cuts. The pencil needs to be thicker than a standard pencil, if it is a wooden carpenter’s pencil, and if it is a mechanical pencil, it shouldn’t be made of flimsy, thin plastic. If you regularly work on-site and around heavy machinery, or you put your pencil on the floor where it is at the mercy of heavy work boots, look for a mechanical pencil that is made from thickened plastic or, better still, has a metal outer.
While most of the pencils have a black or dark gray lead, some come with leads of other colors. This can be useful if you work with darker materials where the black graphite mark would be difficult to spot, or you can use multiple colors to represent different markings. Either buy multiple sets of different colors or a set that contains several of each color.
Mechanical pencils cost more to buy than wooden pencils, but when the lead runs out, you don’t need to buy a whole new pencil. You can, instead, buy replacement leads. You will need to ensure that you buy the right diameter and size of lead, and while many pencils use a standard lead size, some have their own leads that necessitate buying the same manufacturer and lead type so make sure these are readily available and not prohibitively expensive.
Whether you’re buying wooden or mechanical pencils, it is possible to buy packs or sets. Wooden pencils can come in packs of numbers between 6 and 24. Mechanical packs can contain one or more pencils, as well as multiple replacement leads so you can keep marking for weeks or months without having to buy any replacements. These packs tend to represent better value for money than buying the pencils separately and one at a time, and they offer the convenience of knowing that you have extra pencils handy when you need them.
Carpenter’s pencils are flat pencils that are thicker than art pencils. They are more robust and sturdier, and the lead tends to be thicker so that it leaves discernible marks on materials like wood. The shape of the pencil prevents it from rolling off, and there is a choice of wood or mechanical pencils according to your preference, as well as lead color and hardness.
Above are reviews of 10 of the best carpenter’s pencils, including the Dixon Industrial Carpenter Pencils which are reasonably priced, good-quality wooden pencils. Misprint Woodcase Carpenter Pencils are also good quality pencils and really cheap, being misprinted branded pencils that have been returned to the supplier and resold. If you prefer a mechanical pencil, the Markal 96270 is a rugged pencil with a metal case that is very difficult to break.
Featured Image Credit: GaiBru Photo, Shutterstock