Sola Pencils - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Good quality pencils for dry and wet marking on wood, metal, plastic, and glass


Sola Pencils

These Sola brand pencils are the cream of the pencil crop. The bodies are made from lime-wood, similar to linden - a soft, straight grain wood, making it easy to sharpen with a knife. The core (i.e. the lead) is made from a combination of high quality graphite and clay, and hardened at 2,192°. The density of a pencil core depends on the proportion of graphite and clay, with the typical HB (hard black) pencil having about 2/3 graphite and 1/3 clay. A lower proportion of graphite would result in a harden core, giving a lighter mark on a surface, while a higher proportion of graphite results in a softer core, resulting in a darker mark.

Pencil core grading chart (courtesy of Sola)

These pencils have the classic elliptical cross-section that prevents them from rolling around and are thick and wide (9/16" x 1/2"), making them easy to grip. Except for the Universal Pencil which is 11/64", the core is 7/74" x 13/64", making it robust enough to withstand use on rough surfaces and knocking about in a tool belt or bag. All are finished with a high quality water-soluble varnish, and colour coded for easier identification.

The pencils are longer than other similar purpose pencils I've used, which means they'll last somewhat longer.
Most carpenters sharpen pencils with a utility or pocket knife - the trick is to use a sharp blade and take a lot of shallow cuts rather than hog off too much at one time.
However, there are several styles of sharpeners specifically designed for carpenters pencils. One that several carpenters have recommended to me is made by Keson.

Carpenter's Pencil: ZB     

This is the standard, general purpose pencil, and is ideal for writing on lumber, plywood and drywall. It's done up in brilliant red and has a standard HB grade core. Available in 18cm/7", 24cm/9-1/2" and 30cm/11.8" lengths. Prices start at about .69¢.

Mason's Pencil: STB  
If you need to write on rough surfaces - brick, concrete, stone, OSB and the like, then this is the pencil to have in your kit. This super hard 10H grade core can handle the roughest surfaces. Varnished green comes in 24cm/9-1/2" and 30cm/11.8" lengths, from $1.09.

Wet/Dry Pencil: KB
Carpenters and plumbers will love this pencil. On dry surfaces it writes much like a carpenters pencil, but on wet surfaces it writes like a marker. Varnished blue it comes in a 24cm/9-1/2" length, and priced at $1.29. It has slightly more graphite than the carpenters pencil. Perfect when you're work outside in inclement weather and for plumbers and tilers.

Universal Pencil: UB  

This is one pencil that should be in every tradespersons tool kit - it writes on darn near everything - wood, metal, glass, ceramic, tile, stone, brick. Varnished black, it comes in a 24cm/9-1/2" length, and is priced at around $1.99. The core is graphite with a wax additive.
What ever kind of work you do there's bound to be a Sola pencil for you.


  • Lime-wood bodies
  • High quality graphite and clay core
  • Elliptical cross-section design
  • Varnish coated for easy identification
  • 18cm/7" to 30cm/11.8" lengths

RETAIL PRICE:$0.69 and up
MODEL #:ZB: Carpenter
STB: Mason's
KB: Wet/Dry
UB: Universal
MADE IN:Romania
Carl Duguay, April 2012
Discover more great woodworking reviews!
Subscribe Now and get instance online access to our library filled with exciting woodworking information.
Continue to stay connected to the latest tool reviews with our bi-monthly woodworking magazines!