I’ve been using a Pica-Dry Longlife mechanical pencil for the past month and prefer it much more than a traditional wood carpenter’s pencil. It’s comfortable to hold and use; very durable; leaves an easily visible line on just about any surface; the lead isn’t overly soft, so it lasts a long time; and it fastens to my belt so it’s always at hand.
The Pica is about 38mm (1-1/2″) shorter than a traditional carpenter’s pencil and weighs just about the same. The body is made of high impact ABS and the stem is stainless steel. It comes with an innovative holster that has a toothed clip so you can secure the holster to your tool belt or pants pocket and it has a built-in sharpener that works really well. Friction holds the pencil securely in the holster.
At 2.8mm (7/64″) thick the 2B leads don’t easily break, and leave a nice visible line dry, wet, glossy, rough or dusty surfaces. To replace the lead you simply remove the green plunger cap on the end of the pencil and insert a new lead. Each time you press the plunger cap the lead advances about 3/32″. A “Power Lock” mechanism holds the lead securely in place. The stainless steel stem has an internal sealing ring that prevents dust from getting into the barrel. Plus, that long narrow stem makes it easy to reach into confined spaces.
The Pica comes with a water-soluble black lead. You can buy an 8-pack (4 black, 2 yellow, 2 red) of water-soluble leads for $9 or a 10-pack of either colour for $10. Water-resistant leads in blue, green and white are also available, as is a black H lead which is useful for making finer lines. The white and red leads provide better contrast on darker woods.
The Pica is a superb marking pencil for either the job site or the workshop – no more lost, broken, or dull pencils.