Want the sharp point of a mechanical pencil and the expressive line of a wooden one? Try using a lead holder, which marries the best qualities of both instruments. A tool of choice among architects, illustrators, and draftspeople , a lead holder is suited to satisfy pencil pushers everywhere. Lead holders carry thicker pieces of graphite (two millimeters and above) than mechanical pencils, so you can lengthen the point without fear of it breaking. And while wooden pencils wear down to nubs that are difficult to use, a lead holder guarantees a comfortable, balanced grasp. Browse our selection of the best lead holders below.
1. Koh-i-noor All Metal Lead Holder
Koh-i-noor’s sleek and solid metal lead holder writes at one end and sharpens at the other, with the lead pointer integrated into the push button at the top. It is designed to accommodate a hefty—and extremely versatile—5.6-millimeter lead, is beveled for a comfortable grip, and is equipped with a built-in sharpener at the top. Like many lead holders, this one has a drop-type clutch mechanism, which means the lead drops down once the clutch is open rather than being propelled incrementally as it is in some mechanical pencils. Remember to keep your finger against the lead so you can adjust it to the length you want and keep it from dropping out of the holder.
2. Staedtler Lead Holder
From a company known for its quality products, Staedtler’s lead holder for tqo-millimeter leads is a solid and nicely balanced option. It’s designed to feel more like a mechanical pencil, with a grip zone, a metal clip to slip over your pocket, and a push-button clutch to protect your lead when not in use. It also arrives preloaded with HB lead; you can refill it with Staedtler’s Mars leads, which come in a range of colors and grades.
3. Maruzen Art Lead Holder
Maruzen’s round lead holder comes loaded with a 4B, threee-millimeter lead so you can start creating as soon as it arrives. Comfortable to hold, this lead holder features a totally smooth, all-metal body and push button to let you lengthen your lead with ease. What makes it stand out from the competition is its top cap, which unscrews to become a sharpener. It does not feature a pocket clip, but because it has a short length, it fits easily in most pockets or pencil cases.
4. Uni Lead Holder Pencil
This reasonably priced lead holder has the look and feel of more expensive options, making it a good choice for money-conscious artists. What really sets this product apart from the rest, though, is that you can buy color-coded versions equipped with different grades of two-millimeter lead. This alone makes it invaluable for draftspeople who use several grades of lead in their work and don’t want to keep changing the lead in a single holder. (The company also offers a “universal option” and, for iconoclasts, one with a red barrel.) Though the holder itself seems of lesser quality than some of the other options on this list, the lead that comes with this device is silky smooth. And because it is affordable, treat yourself to several.
5. Alvin MC5 Pro-Matic Metal Lead Holder
Designed for professional draftspeople, Alvin’s blue lead holder features a durable all-metal construction with a comfortable grip. The two-millimeter lead holder features a four-way vise-grip jaw that holds lead securely in place, while a push button instantly releases lead to your desired length. We are particularly fond of the window near the push button, which reveals a rotating display of lead degrees; simply adjust it to the lead you’ve loaded for easy identification!