For years, I’ve been using your basic office-suppy HBs for everything from dovetail joints to the Sunday New York Times crossword, even though they’re impossible to really sharpen, and the leads break constantly.
My friends up at Lee Valley in Canada have solved this problem. Check out the sell copy for their pencils:
Lee Valley pencils are made in the traditional way with traditional materials – incense-cedar bodies with refined graphite leads.
Not only are these easy to write with, but the light, stiff cedar body keeps the lead in one piece. Have you noticed how often you find broken lead in most pencils? You won’t in these. Even more important, the leads in ours are silky smooth and black, not some form of gritty gray.
Since you may have forgotten the luxury of different lead hardnesses for different uses (a 2B writes like a Belgian chocolate tastes), we offer a six-pencil sample pack with one each of 4B, 2B, B, HB, H, and 2H. Otherwise, we sell them in boxes of twelve.
Made in Great Britain.
I bought a dozen. They’re awesome. They get sharp faster, stay sharp longer, and don’t break. I’ve already noticed that joints fit together better on the first try.
They have not helped me finish the crossword puzzle any more quickly.
Pencils available at: http://www.leevalley.com/US/wood/page.aspx?p=32538&cat=1,42936,43509