How to Clear a Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam
Not the tastiest type of jam, to be honest. This little guide is taken from our more complete and detailed Guide to Mechanical Pencils, as a quicker answer to this common question, without so much to scroll through!
If you use mechanical pencils, at some point you're likely to have a lead jam. It happens. A tiny bit of lead gets stuck somewhere in the mechanism, and stops it from working. Lead might not click forward, or it might click forward but slide back in when you try to use the pencil.
Most mechanical pencils can be dismantled to some extent to clear a jam. Usually, the part near the tip unscrews, which lets you see the mechanism. If you then push the button down against your desk, the clutch mechanism pushes up. There's a brass ring around the clutch jaws, holding them shut - push it down, and it will release the jaws. Once they've sprung open a bit of sideways tapping should dislodge any tiny bits of lead.
If the mechanism can't be opened up, blockages can usually be cleared by holding the pencil tip-up, with the button held down against your desk, and feeding a cleaning pin in through the tip to push any little bits of lead out from where they're stuck. Some pencils include a cleaning pin, usually attached to the eraser, but many don't. If you don't have one to hand, another piece of thin wire or a pin may fit, but don't force anything too wide into the tip. At a push, a spare piece of lead can do the job, but it takes a steady hand to feed it in without snapping it!
With all that done, you should be up and running again. If you're having trouble with leads snapping or jamming your pencil, and you're using cheap lead, you might find better quality lead is worth it for the extra strength then can bring. See our full range here. We'd especially recommend Pentel Ain Stein leads as being very strong and smooth.