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 (2 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 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. Sanford Turquoise Lead Holder
Sanford’s Turquoise lead holder comes loaded with a 2-millimeter lead so you can start creating as soon as it arrives. Comfortable to hold, this ultrathin, lightweight lead holder features a crosshatched metal grip and push button to let you lengthen your lead (like the Koh-i-noor, it has a simple drop clutch mechanism). The handy clip makes for easy transportation in a pocket or attached to a notebook.
3. Staedtler Lead Holder
From a company known for its quality products, Staedtler’s lead holder for 2mm leads is a solid option. This product features all the you would want in a lead holder, including integrated lead sharpener, push button clutch, grip zone, and metal clip. It also arrives pre-loaded with HB lead; you can refill it with Staedtler’s Mars leads, which come in a range of colors and grades.
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 2mm 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. Rotring 800 Lead Holder
Made by a company known for its high-quality writing and drafting instruments, Rotring’s lead holder is a solidly made tool that combines the best elements of lead holders and mechanical pencils. Unlike our other picks, but like Rotring’s mechanical pencils, this holder extends lead one click at a time, preventing dropped leads. Though slim, the all-metal holder is reassuringly weighty while still being well balanced, the clutch is solid brass, and the clip is firmly attached to the barrel. And, with its pleasing proportions and thoughtful details like a round grip for comfortable holding and a hexagonal barrel to prevent rolling, it is as beautiful as it is functional.