During the last few years my crew has become frustrated with the standard carpenter pencils found in most lumberyards. In many cases the lead breaks so frequently that a new carpenter pencil doesn’t last a single day. We ordered some pencils online that were supposed to be higher quality and they weren’t any better.

I started a thread on the subject of pencils on the Contractor Talk forum and after receiving some recommendations ordered a few pencils. Here are two I like.

FastCap FatBoy Pencil
This pencil caught my eye because it’s mechanical with fat (about 3/16 inch diameter) lead. I bought two from Amazon for $14 each. The FatBoy is like a regular mechanical pencil only fatter, with a rubberized surface that’s comfortable to grip. It will fit in a shirt pocket or a tool belt’s pencil slot.

The FatBoy comes with three leads, two black plus a red one for marking dark lumber, like the treated Doug Fir we use here in the west. The lead is hard and wears very well; I used it for weeks without it breaking or needing to be sharpened. You can sharpen the lead with a pencil sharpener or knife.

Replacement packs sell for $4.40 and contain five red leads or five black leads and three erasers.

CH Hanson SuperPencil
I bought two of these from Amazon for $8 each. They contain no wood; they’re entirely graphite—or graphite mixed with something that makes them very flexible. The CH Hanson website has a picture of the SuperPencil being bent into a 180-degree arc in a vise. That’s good, because the wood pencils in my nail bags frequently snag—and then break—when I squeeze through stud bays and climb through trusses.

According to the manufacturer this pencil marks on wood, paper, and concrete.  We’ve used it on wood, wet and dry. It puts down a line, but not one that’s very dark. It sharpens easily (with a knife) and is a nice alternative to wood pencils.