Saturday, November 24, 2018

What lead size to use for general writing

Finally a "scientific" test for what is the best lead size to use in an everyday situation. I don't think anyone has asked the question, but I am here to find out the answer.
Science is hard, or at least my pseudoscience. The general norm for lead size is 0.5; 0.7; 0.9 or 1.0
0.9 and 1.0 is the same size but marketed as 0.9 or 1.0 by different producers. From now on I will refer to both this sizes as 1.0.
I guess you already have the answer, which one you like the most is the best, and I think 0.7 is the most usual of them all.
In the so-called test, I wanted to see how much lead is used for the same amount of text using each of the lead sizes mentioned above.
This is hard work, and I do not think I will be doing science anytime soon after all this experimenting.
I used Rotring HB lead size 0.5; 0.7; 1.0. Other brands might offer different results because of the lead hardness "... 2B B HB H 2H ..." is not standardized. So HB from other suppliers might be softer or harder.
I started the test by writing 1-page size A4. I used "math textbook grid" paper and wrote in every single cell of the paper using very little pressure. I did this instead of freehand writing because I tried to write as consistent in size and pressure as possible so the results will be as scientific as possible
After, I measured the lead used to write all this.
The results:
In theory, I could write with a single lead size 0.5 mm - 30 pages but I have to take into account that when the lead becomes too small you have to throw it away, so more realistic I would say 27 pages
Of course, this depends a lot on how small or big do you write, how condensed, how much pressure etc. But this value is not important. The difference between the test results says the story.
The 0.7 mm can write in theory 60 pages and the 1.0 mm over 120 pages. This means that the writing you are able to do with 1 lead doubles every time you bump up the lead size.
Because I could not measure the lead used up on a single page with size 1.0 (under half of mm) I cranked up the pace and applied extra pressure and made a bunch of lines and X.

So after the endurance test the 0.5 mm lost 3.5 mm; the 0.7 mm lost 1.5 mm, and the 1.0 lost 0.5 mm from its total length
It does not seem a lot but, if you could use the entire lead, for a normal 60 mm lead size 1.0 used to do as much writing you would need 3 pieces of 0.7 mm lead or 7 pieces of 0.5 lead.
Similarly, if you would take the 0.7 mm as a benchmark then you would need 2.33 pieces of 0.5 mm lead to do the same amount of writing.

In conclusion, you should choose the thicker lead, especially if you have a heavier hand for three reasons.
The first reason is the price. The price of lead is usually the same for all sizes.
You will pay 3 times more if you use 0.7 lead instead of  1.0
You will pay 7 times more if you use 0.5 lead instead of  1.0
You will pay 2.33 times more if you use 0.5 lead instead of  0.7

The second reason is the advancing of the lead. The less lead you use fewer clicks you will have to make. So in a long writing session, a thicker lead is bliss.
Third, the risk of breaking the lead is smaller with thicker lead.

Ok, you may ask "Won't the line be too thick if I use 1.0 mm?"
It will, but not by a lot. There is a small difference between the 0.7 mm and the 1.0 mm.
A downside is that you have to rotate the pen in your hand more often
1.0 mm vs 0.5 mm lead
1.0 mm vs 0.7 mm lead