Edited: August 21, 2019, 10:20 PM · The only pencils I have are propelling, with 3B lead, and I use them for lubricating nut grooves and such, but I notice they are described as "high polymer" and wonder if that means they don't contain graphite.
I used to have a pure graphite artist's pencil, but I have no idea where it is nowadays, or if I still have it. You might like to try one if you like to use graphite but can't source it easily. It would probably be very good for pegs.

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Edited: August 21, 2019, 10:39 PM · I remember not liking high-polymer leads because they were hard and the tip would get polished by the page to a perfectly smooth surface, which made it difficult to write and draw with. However, that might be exactly what you want for "lubricating" the slots on a nut or bridge...
August 22, 2019, 3:14 AM · The "lead" in a wooden pencil is a mixture of powdered graphite and clay. The ratio graphite to clay determines the hardness - the more graphite the softer (and darker).
For mechanical pencils thinner than about 1 mm this mixture is too brittle so polymers are used instead of clay for mechanical strength. They still contain graphite.
Edited: August 22, 2019, 3:59 AM · Excellent answer, Bo, thanks!


Of course we can use any soft pencil, but I thought some people might be interested to know that pure graphite is available per se.

August 22, 2019, 7:15 AM · I use lead of a Dixon Ticonderoga B1 pencil to lube my bridge and nut grooves.
August 22, 2019, 7:24 AM · I use the same 6B wooden pencil I use for marking my music.
August 22, 2019, 7:46 AM · I remember those days of erasing from orchestral parts all that 6B pencilling that someone had made using as much pressure as they could!
August 22, 2019, 8:16 AM · I find 6B quite easy to erase and much easier to read than the default HB that a lot of people use.
August 22, 2019, 8:47 AM · HB is horrible. It cuts grooves into the paper.
August 22, 2019, 2:31 PM · I use an Ebony pencil for the bridge and nut grooves (it is a combo of graphite and carbon - the darkest it writes is a beautiful jet black); and I prefer a 2B or 3B pencil for marking the sheet music.

I prefer the Tombow brand for sheet music; they write smoothly and erase quite cleanly (as opposed to the trendy/fashionable Blackwing brand).

I generally don't like how softer pencils erase, and harder ones are hard to see unless the light is perfect and they leave marks on the paper. Who knows though; in a few months I may be on the 6B team!

Ah Gordon, what a blast from the past... you can get graphite crayons (and powder) from any art supply store.

I'm also a big fan of the architect/drafting leads:

Edited: August 23, 2019, 11:59 AM · @pamela, last night I bought a couple of 9B graphite crayons/sticks on Amazon, a Faber-Castell and a Lyra (never heard of the make, but it looks OK). One will be a present for my teacher, along with an apple, lol.

Good pencil erasers are getting harder to find. They tend to be plastic, not rubber, these days. The way they can smear soft pencil lead, you may as well use your fingers.

August 23, 2019, 9:05 AM · I've been a longtime fan of the Staedtler Mars plastic erasers. I also tend to like the Pentel stick-clic erasers, and Tombow makes good erasers to put on the end of pencils. None of them are rubber though. Pentel's hi-polymer eraser, I think?, is rubber... I like the plastic erasers because they do not damage paper.

9B is so dark! Anything that dark tends to be difficult to erase in terms of smearing.

I gave my violin teacher a few Ebony pencils not long ago.

Edited: August 23, 2019, 11:06 AM · There aren't a lot of polymers that are black on their own. The black color (think rubber tires here) comes from a filler (for example carbon black) that serves to reinforce the polymer mechanically, among other purposes as we see here. I am working on a research project to reinforce polyethylene with nanocellulose -- a difficult problem but we are making progress (our first paper is under review). I'm not sure what Pentel's hi-polymer eraser is specifically, but erasers have been made from styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) and plasticized vinyl (draftsmen prefer vinyl). The "hi-polymer" type of eraser does work very well in my experience -- it would not surprise me if they were plasticized PVC. If you have a habit of chewing on your eraser -- don't. Plasticizers can be endocrine disruptors.

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