A good lead holder, or lead clutch, is a mainstay for any studio space or drafting desk. Lead holders offer the convenience of a mechanical pencil but, because they can accommodate a heavier lead, they can produce a much wider range of lines. These leads can be shaped with fine sandpaper (a fairly messy process) or they can be sharpened using a lead pointer. Most pointers are designed to specifically accommodate 2-millimeter leads, but a few will sharpen leads of several different widths. Since the blades in these tools only touch graphite, they last longer than ordinary pencil sharpeners. Choose a good one, it will serve you well for a long time. We’ve rounded up some of the best lead pointers on the market to help you find the one that best suits your needs.
1. Staedtler Rotary Lead Pointer
Staedtler’s rotary lead pointer is well designed and simple to use. Thanks to its automatic sharpening stop, this tool won’t break your lead. And its integrated dust wiper will rid your pencil tip of any imperfections. Though it only accommodates 0.2mm leads, it has two sizing holes–one for longer points and one for shorter ones. A satisfying, easy-to-control device that yields a precise point each time, this rotary sharpener won’t disappoint.
2. Kum Long Point Sharpener with Lead Pointer
A pointer that takes two graphite sizes, Kum’s long-point sharpener is designed for both 2-millimeter and 3.2-millimeter leads. This automatic sharpener makes a smooth, clean cut and won’t break tips. Though the high-carbon steel blades are reinforced for longevity, extra blades are included should the originals wear out. As a bonus, this sharpener will also sharpen wood pencils, with one blade to remove the wood, and a second to sharpen the lead into a long point.
3. Ohto 2mm Sharpener
This beautifully designed sharpener from the Japanese brand Ohto is a miniature work of art. Small enough to take anywhere, it consists of just the pointer and an ergonomic holder to rest your thumb on for a firmer grip. It doesn’t have a reservoir for shavings, though, so use it outdoors or over a garbage can.
4. Mitsubishi Pencil Sharpener
Another pocket-sized lead pointer, Mitsubishi’s Uni Pocket Sharpener will keep your pockets clean with its cigarette lighter-like design. The cap swings out to reveal the sharpener, and swings back to cover the hole when you’re done sharpening. A container underneath with a pull-out tray holds the shavings. The blade sharpens well and is replaceable.
5. Kum Polystyrene Lead Pointer
Also made by Kum, this classic pointer accommodates both 0.2-millimeter and 3.2-millimeter leads. Designed to position your lead at an optimal angle and featuring a specially hardened steel blade, it yields a sharp tip. Small enough to slip in a pocket, it has a built-in container for the graphite dust.