And you're sitting there, still thinking about how they got the lead into the generic pencil. Well,
you're fascinated about the inner workings of a generic pencil, you probably haven't heard of a
mechanical pencil. Sometimes also called automatic pencils, clicky pencils, lead pencil,
propelling pencil, clutch pencil, and Pacer.
So how exactly does the "clicker" work? Well, if you can get
the tip of your pencil off, you can see something similar to the
diagram at left. Two halves with a hole in the middle. And if
your pencil has lead, you will notice it sticking out through the
halves. You will also notice that the button you press is loose
and non-springy. Well anyway, the cap is sized so that the two
halves can stick out, but not the metal ring. When the halves
are clamped together (when the cap is removed), the lead is
stuck in between. But when you push the button, the halves
stick out, and without the metal piece, they separate. Then
the lead can slide through. Poorly constructed pencils can not
hold the lead.
Inside, there is a small spring
that pulls the halves together.
Note that here I say "halves."
Depending on the quality (and
price) of your pencil, you may
have more separating pieces
which can be made of metal or
plastic. For example, the
PaperMate Clear Point has
three of these sections, making
a peace symbol.
There are many kinds of mechanical pencils. Another common type is the PaperMate Sharpwriter.
If you haven't noticed, to get the lead out, you twist the tip. Every fifth grader has taken apart at
least one of these.
And yes, there is even a pencil museum.
For more nerdy info, click here. (link provided by Charles Pan, whose Wikipedia random articles
can actually be useful except those lists of companies in Arizona whose name starts with "R".)