Carpenter Pencils: Why professional carpenters use flat pencils

Measure twice and cut once, they say, but do you need to use a carpenter’s pencil when marking your measurements?

Could you use a standard #2 or mechanical pencil to mark your woodworking projects? In most cases, you can. But there are a few key features of a carpenter pencil that will make you look like a pro in the shop. 

A standard carpenter’s pencil includes unique but straightforward features that make them user-friendly in a shop setting.

What surfaces do carpenter pencils work on?

The pencil’s lead is robust enough to write upon numerous surfaces like wood, concrete, and stone without breaking, unlike the thin lead used in mechanical pencils.

Difference Between Carpenter Pencil and Regular Pencil?

Carpenters pencils are different from the regular round pencil because it is used to write upon surfaces like concrete and wood rather than paper. Features include a flat design, a large surface area, and ruler markings incorporated on the pencil. 

Why are carpenter pencils flat?

Carpenter pencils are designed with a flat shape so they do not roll off a table and allows for additional leverage when pressing down on unique surfaces to make your markings.

flat carpenter pencil

The construction industry requires rigorous work from the workers, who do not possess the time to use their carpenter pencils once and put them back into their pockets.

Instead, these carpenters place the flat pencil on the surface they are working on and use it again when needed. For the pencil to stay where it is put, the need for a flat surface arises.

The standard round shape pencils easily roll off the surface and tend to act as a nuisance for the worker. Therefore, a flat design is much more convenient. 

Imagine trying to concentrate on making a precise cut with a bandsaw as you see your pencil start to roll off the table. It’s distracting and annoying. Throwing the flat carpenter pencil into your toolbox or tool belt is just as important as any other tool in your arsenal.  

Large Surface Area

A standard carpenter pencil has thicker lead compared to a regular round pencil, and therefore, has a larger surface area. A larger surface area is necessary to make sure that they are easier to grip. 

The need for better grip is relatively high, as writing on surfaces like wood and concrete requires more pressure, and better grip enables a carpenter to apply more pressure on the surface for the markings to be clear. 

Ruler Markings

Many carpenter pencils come with ruler markings etched on their flat surfaces. The extra ruler is useful for double-checking the measurements made on the wooden or concrete surfaces.

Saving you time would have elapsed while checking the measurements using a separate ruler or a measuring tape. 


A good carpenter pencil’s trademark is the sort of a design that makes it stand out when placed in a toolbox.

For that to happen, it should come in an obvious color, and in a unique design, preferably with ruler markings etched upon it. If this is not the case, you will have to go through the frustrating experience that many carpenters go through to search for the pencil when it is most needed.

Can you mark steel with a carpenter pencil?

Depending on the color and accuracy of markings required, a carpenter pencil will work on steel in certain environments. For the best markings on steel or aluminum, you should use a soapstone pen to make markings easily visible.  

How are carpenter pencils different from mechanical pencils?

A Mechanical pencil is a type of pencil that used lead inserts, so you never have to sharpen. This type of pencil is typically used for technical drawing and sometimes fine art. 

The lead used in mechanical pencils is too fine and would not work well on surfaces such as wood or concrete without breaking. 

Moreover, the manufacturing process of mechanical pencils results in chemical byproducts that are not environment friendly. Therefore, if you come across the option of choosing either one of them for carpentry work, you must always go for a carpenter pencil. 

How much do Carpenter Pencils Cost?

Purchasing a traditional carpenter pencil will set you back less than $1 apiece.

For example, you can pick up a pack of 24 from Ally tools for less than $20. The set is great for both quantity and quality.

It includes 24 pencils, an eraser, and a carpenter pencil sharpener which rids you of the headache of sharpening this type of pencil using a utility knife keeping the pencil tip sharp at all times.

What are carpenter HB pencils for?

The HB designation in the carpenter pencil stands for “Hard Black”. When making measurement markings on darker lumber or in a job site with poor lighting, you will want to be sure you have a HB pencil to easily see your markings.

Carpenter pencils with HB#2 lead are most often quality carpenter pencils that do not smear off a rough surface like wood and concrete. Instead, the imprint remains dark, clear, and very easy to identify.HB is the most suitable form of graphite, which is used for carpentry purposes.

Carpenter Pencils Review

Our favorite carpentry pencils are from Ally Tools. These pencils are simple and easy to use. When up against a Staedtler brand or mechanical carpenter pencil I’ll take the Ally brand carpenter’s pencil any day.

Hexagonal Design

The respective carpenter pencil comes in a sleek, flat, hexagonal design. Rolling off surfaces will be nearly impossible, unlike the round, standard pencils. 

Large Surface Area

The Ally Tools pencil set provides enough surface area you can push down and get a good marking.

The flat, hexagonal design gives the pencil a large surface area, which results in ease in gripping. Enabling you to put the needed pressure on concrete or wooden surface to make sure that the marking is visible. 


Apart from having a large surface area, the pencil is coated in a bright, yellow-green color, making it highly visible.

It helps the user easily spot and identify the carpenter pencil between a set of different tools in his or her toolbox, ridding him of the frustrating task of searching vigorously among the heavy tools.

Ruler Markings

A handy feature of the carpenter pencil is the presence of ruler markings etched upon its flat sides. You can double-check the measurements without using any separate rulers or measuring tapes.

The pencil’s marking thereby helps save the precious time and effort of the user for a rigorous and demanding task. 

Key Specifications

Item weight: 6.7 ounces

Regardless of the different features, this product is, after all, a pencil. You do not want a pencil to weigh or be larger than it needs to be.

Carpenter Pencil Dimensions: 7.2 x 5.1 x 0.7 inches

Just like the weight of the pencil, it should be of the optimum size as well. The pencil is considerably larger than a regular pencil and weighs more, but that is necessary to accommodate all the features it is equipped with.

The pencil’s lead is thicker than that in a regular pencil and requires more amount of wood, which inevitably results in a larger, but suitable size.

Material: Wood and Lead

Ally products don’t go into any complications when it comes to the material it is made of. The use of the two necessary materials, wood and pencil lead, is sufficient to manufacture an extremely good carpenter pencil.

Unlike a mechanical pencil, the Ally pencils don’t undergo manufacturing processes that result in chemical byproducts that may cause harm to the environment.


  • Ruler marking etched upon the flat surface for quick reference and double-checking the measurements made beforehand.
  • The bright, yellow-green-colored coating makes it easier to spot and identify the many tools present in a toolbox.
  • A premium quality lead allows the markings to be clear and identifiable without the risk of them smearing off. 
  • A hexagonal design to make sure the pencil does not roll off the surface like the regular, round pencils.
  • March 6, 2021
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