Mechanical pencils, unlike sharpened pencils, can't be sharpened. Instead, lead is "sharpened" by pushing a
button. Actually a very thin lead of graphite, clay and wax is fed through the tip. Other than that, they are just
like sharpener pencils made put of plastic. This site endorses the relatively expensive mechanical pencil, the
PaperMate Clear Point. It is a side-feed pencil with a large twist eraser and unique (although less-grippy) grip. It
also has a pen counterpart.
There are two types of mechanical pencils, the top-feed and the side feed. Top feed is where you push in on the
eraser, while side feed is a separate button on the side of the pencil. Also, mechanical pencils can only use a
certain diameter lead, the most common of which are 0.5mm and 0.7mm. I have, however, seen mechanical
pencils that go up to 2mm, which is regular pencil diameter. These sometimes have their own mini-sharpener in
Mechanical pencils are sort of hard for psychology, but the differences with generic pencils are big.
|Save 'em erasers, save 'em pencils! For
top feed mechanical pencils, sometimes
one has to remove the eraser to put in the
lead (Bic). Now, if you use your eraser until
it's flush with the little eraser holder, you
can't get it out. From then on, you can refill
through the tip (hold down the button and
slide in the lead), but that often breaks
inside the tip, which can be a real problem.
Or, devise some mini-corkscrew to pull it
out. Remember, replace the eraser, or
replace the pencil. Erasers can be pricey
compared with the pencil itself.