After more than two year years of writing this blog about office supplies, I just recently realized that I have never written a review of any mechanical pencil leads. With that in mind, I set out to JetPens to find a lead that I thought would be worth testing out, and naturally I gravitated towards the Uniball line of leads that comes with the Uniball Kuru Toga mechanical pencil.
The specific lead that I picked up from JetPens was the Uniball .5mm 2H NanoDia lead. What makes this lead unique is that it is infused with nano-diamond pieces that according to Uniball create an “unusually strong and high quality lead.” As a side note, the container is pretty nice, the plastic is solid and the sliding cap makes it easy to store and retrieve the contents.
If you are unfamiliar with the classification system for lead, you might be wondering what the “2H” means in the name of this product. Simply put, each number higher before the “H” in the name of a pencil lead indicates an increasing level of hardness, which also results in a line on the paper that gets increasingly lighter. On the opposite end of the spectrum, there are also leads that use a “B” in their naming structure, and each increasing number in front of the “B” indicates the “blackness” of the line that will be left behind. Standard lead that you find in most pencils is classified as “HB” and leaves a fairly dark line, and is pretty much in the middle of the road when it comes to how hard it is. The range goes from the Hardest which is a 9H to the blackest which is a 9B, and again, in the middle of them all you have “HB” leads.
Uni-ball NanoDia 0.5 mm – 2H Low-Wear Pencil Lead Writing Experience.
In order to show the difference between a regular HB and this 2H lead, I did a quick writing sample that you can see in the scan above. On the left you see the .5mm 2H Uniball NanoDia lead, and on the right is the standard Uniball NanoDia HB lead in .5mm as well. Even without clicking on the scan to enlarge it, you can see that the HB lead writing is much darker than that of the 2H lead which most of the sample was written with. While writing with the 2H NanoDia lead, I did do some heavy handed writing to see if I could snap the lead (which I couldn’t) with what I considered hard, but reasonable pressure. Switching between the two leads really highlighted the difference in the hardness for me. In my scribble / shading test, you can see that regardless of how hard I pressed at the top darkest part of the shading with the 2H, it just wont quite get to that same darkness as the HB lead. As for the erasability of the lead, each of the pencil leads were fairly easy to cleanly remove without too much pressure.
In the past when I wrote with normal HB lead, I never noticed how hard or soft it was, but now in comparison, I could really feel the HB lead almost melting into the paper as I wrote. On the other hand, the 2H lead seemed like it was hardly wearing at all, and I almost felt like I was writing with an actual metal needle point because it was so firm.
After having used both the HB and the 2H, I can confidently say that although I do prefer the darker line produced by the HB leads, I really do like the feel of writing with the 2H leads better because of the more firm feeling of feedback when pressing down with it. Overall though both of these leads are supposed to be “low-wear” because of the nano-diamond particles infused in them, but the lead will naturally wear differently based on the type that it is graded as. I’ve used the HB lead for a while now, but my short time with the 2H I’ve become a big fan, and I will probably be swapping out the lead in my other Kuru Toga. I may even order up some of the other Uniball NanoDia leads from JetPens to see how much different they are from these two versions.