Everyone has seen a pencil at least once in their lifetimes, so there’s hardly any new information about this writing tool that will blow your mind. However, if you’ve ever wondered how big a pencil is, you’ll find out today.
The traditional #2 pencil measures 7-1/2 inches long and ¼ of an inch in diameter. That said, there is still so much we can learn about pencil size and weights, especially when we introduce the different types of pencils and their grading systems.
Types of Pencils
Before we go into the measurements of a pencil, it’s important to note that pencils come in a variety of types. Let’s take a look at them closely to see how they differ from each other.
Dixon Ticonderoga Pencils—this is the type of pencil that is used for writing and sketching. It’s the most widely used pencil type and comes in a variety of grades.
Graphite Pencils—a type of drawing pencil that uses a mix between clay and graphite to make guidelines. This pencil is softer than other types and will wear down more quickly.
Charcoal Pencils—this pencil produces more defined lines that are richer in tone, thereby contrasting with surrounding colors. This is almost exclusively used for artistic purposes.
Carbon Pencils—a hybrid between graphite and charcoal, carbon pencils are used for their consistent softness and ability to blend. The darkness is more defined than in graphite pencils but smoother than charcoal.
Colored Pencils—the lead is comprised of a mix of charcoal, chalk, and pastels. Their different hues are used to color artwork.
Mechanical Pencils—this type of pencil is comprised of a metal or plastic frame and uses refillable lead sticks of various widths. Mechanical pencils are mainly used to write but can be used as a drawing tool to produce thin lines.
Just so we’re on the same page, I will refer to the classic Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil—the most widely used pencil worldwide—unless specifically stated otherwise.
How Big Is a Pencil?
When people talk about pencils, they’re actually speaking about a very specific type of pencil. The pencil that is most widely used in the world is #2 hexagonal pencils that are made of four primary parts—the wooden body, the lead, the metal ferrule, and the eraser.
When measuring an unsharpened pencil, we will take the distance from the unsharpened end to the butt of the eraser. Doing so will give us a figure of 7-1/2 inches or 19 centimeters.
As for the pencil’s width, there are two figures to keep in mind. Because #2 pencils are hexagonal prism in shape—i.e., it has two hexagon faces and rectangular sides—we can record two widths, namely: the wider point and the narrower point.
The wider point (outer diameter) of a pencil measures 9/32 inches of about 7 millimeters. The narrower width (hexagonal diameter) is about ¼ of an inch or close to 6 millimeters.
Next, let’s take a look at the ferrule and the eraser, which are almost identical in size. Both of these pencil components will measure roughly ¼ inches or 6 millimeters in length. However, since the eraser is slightly inserted into the hollow ferrule, it’s actually longer than it appears.
The following table will summarize the exact dimensions of a #2 pencil.
|Pencil Length||7-1/2 inches
|Pencil Hexagonal Diameter||¼ inches
|Pencil Outer Diameter||9/32 inches
|Ferrule Length||¼ inches
|Ferrule Diameter||9/32 inches
|Eraser Length||¼ inches
|Eraser Diameter||9/32 inches
What Is the Weight of a Pencil?
Pencils are incredibly lightweight writing tools that are easy to grip. When it comes to their weight, there may be a difference of fractions of a gram from brand to brand due to the materials that go into the pencil. In general, cheaper pencils are made of thinner, more aerated pieces of wood and will be lighter than pencils made by quality brands.
On average, the typical #2 pencil will weigh between 0.2 and 0.3 ounces or 6 to 7 grams. This is assuming that the pencil has not been sharpened and that the eraser is still intact.
Out of all pencil types, mechanical pencils are by far the heaviest. They can weigh anywhere from 0.5 to 2 ounces or roughly 14 to 57 grams. This, however, does not include the negligible weight of the pencil lead. Mechanical pencils use pencil leads measuring 0.2 to 5.6 millimeters in width, though the standard lead sizes are 0.5 and 0.7 millimeters.
What Is a #2 Pencil?
If you have participated in a standardized test where you have to fill in the bubbles on an answer sheet, then odds are you were instructed to use a #2 pencil. So, what does the #2 mean?
The #2 refers to the darkness of the graphite lead. The higher the pencil’s number rating is, the harder the lead becomes, and thus, the lighter the shade.
The hardness of the pencil will determine how much of the lead’s material sticks to a sheet of paper to produce a lighter or darker shade. #2 pencils fall within the middle ground in terms of hardness and shade.
What Are the Pencil Grades?
In total, there are 16 degrees in the pencil grading system, which are as follows:
|8B, 7B, 6B||Extra-soft, extra-dark, mainly used for drawings and shading|
|5B||Extra-soft and extra-dark|
|4B, 3B||Very soft and very dark|
|2B||Very soft and black|
|B||Soft and black|
|HB and F||Medium-level darkness and hardness, mainly used for writing|
|6H||The hardest and lightest pencil grade available|
How Much Does a Pencil Cost?
Pencils are generally inexpensive and won’t cost more than 10¢ per pencil. However, the actual cost will depend on the brand, quality, and who the retailer is. For instance, if you shop for pencils at a school store, you might have to pay as much as 25¢ for a single #2 pencil.