How to Clear a Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam Easily

Mechanical pencil has been my buddy for the past two years. It seemed pretty hassle to use it until I learned how to clear a mechanical pencil lead jam from my fellow pal Sam.

Sam is a great pencil user, and I made a habit of him. He saw me struggling with my mechanical pencil and changing them frequently when I met him.

He took the pencil and cleared it out with a piece of a pin right in front of me. I was shocked at not knowing it before. 

This resulted in me knowing the complete process of clearing the pencil up. And not only did it increase my productivity, but it also saved a lot of bucks throughout the year.

Later on, I tried with an eraser insertion and other sticks to clear them out. Most of them resulted in my favor, while some didn’t.

Here is a complete guide that’ll show you everything regarding cleaning the inside of your mechanical pencil from the jammed lead you have been storing for a while.

How to Clear a Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam


Mechanical pencil lead jam is typical when you are using the pencil frequently. From the students at school to the people at work, all of them have good access to the device.

As you use it, you’ll find the broken lead getting stuck inside. Also, there will be other components like dust that’ll block your regular usage of the pencil.

Rather than pondering upon any issue on it and throwing the pen out, it is essential to take measures to resolve them. The device is meant for, which is to use for a long time.

Why Does Pencil Jam Happen?

Lack of proper attention. Yes, this is the clear-cut answer to the most asked question.

You cannot expect your mechanical pencil to be 100% accurate and conscious. It won’t exert out the broken lid it gets from inside. That’s why you should be careful in maintaining the cleanliness of the inside of the mechanical pencil.

While using the mechanical pencil, you must have seen a lot of leads breaking and remaining inside. The same happened to me a lot of times. Without paying any heed to it, I used the pencil with a new lead inserted in it.

And one day, it turned out to be a curse for me. I couldn’t get any more lead coming out from the head of the pencil. This went on till I found the massacre I did to myself. Saw a bunch of broken small leads hampering the insertion. I couldn’t see it fully; otherwise, I could’ve got them out by my finger. It was felt, and I had to find a plan to resolve the issue.

Things You Can Use to Clear the Mechanical Pencil

Before you jump on to clear the mechanical pencil, keep certain things on the journey. You’ll need them.

It’s not essential to have all of them, but a few things like a pin or rod are necessary.

1. Cleaning Rod/Pin

This is a must. Without it, you won’t be able to take out the lead from inside the pencil. It works as the grabber and exercises to get them out.

Moreover, the pin is the easiest to get inside the pen. It’s slim, easy to work with, and creates less hassle.

2. Eraser Refill

An eraser refill might help you get the jammed leads out from your pencil. They are available separately in the market and work correctly when you implement them.

The way it works is simple. Replace the finished eraser and insert the new one inside. Once it goes inside, the leads or other components from inside go out of the pencil.

But the process is not applicable during urgency. You have to buy one eraser refill and then perform it. Just raises the cost and gives more hassle in buying it. But the outcome is satisfactory.

3. Twist Tile

This is an alternative to the pin or rod you’ll be using. Most of the time, you won’t get the expected result, but it works. The twist tile is reasonably available at home.

While choosing the tile, keep in mind that it has to be thinner than the diameter of the pencil. Otherwise, it won’t go inside and might break the head of the pencil.

How to Clear a Mechanical Pencil Lead Jam

You need to clear your jammed mechanical pencil; it’s time to work on it. And that should be done sequentially. The way I have cleaned my mechanical pencil, in fact doing it, will be discussed in this section of the article. So, let’s jump on it.

Step 1: Inspecting the Jam

It is not evident that you’ll know the jam by default. Also, the way the lead is jammed inside your pen remains unknown until you work on it.

Like any mere fixation, it is your sole duty to inspect the lead jam. As a normal eye cannot inspect it, spare some time and shake the pencil well.

You’ll see some leads coming out of it. At times, the whole lead gets out; that’s when the amount is too low. But here, we are talking about severe cleaning. After shaking the pencil well, you are done loosening or warming the device up for the next steps.

Step 2: Open up the Nose

A nose covers the place of lead jam. It covers the lead and the whole lead stand from external impact.

The jam mainly happens when on the nose inside. They keep on filling up until they are cleared. The longer they keep on jamming, the more difficult it is to clear them up.

Watch out for the durability of the nose. At times, your finger pressure might break the small thing. So, you have to open the nose of the pencil carefully.

Step 3: Insert the Cleaning Pin or Rod

After you open up the nose of the pencil, it is time to generate the main clearing component inside, i.e., the pin or rod. Pin or rod, because you can use any of them at best available to you.

So, by now, you already know where the problem is. The only way of exerting an internal push inside the pencil can be possible by the clutch of the pencil. While you are pressing and holding it, the inside part of the rod creates a possible open path inside for the flow of the lead.

As the force is created inside, you are getting an extra privilege to get the device’s lead out.

Holding the button, insert the rod or pin inside the clutch hole. Keep inserting the rod in and out until you feel like the inside part is cleared wholly.

Step 4: Inspecting the After Cleaning

As you have performed the exercise with the sharp thing inside the clutch, you must get a lot of lead coming out from it. As said, hardly you’ll get the inside part 100% cleared.

There’ll still be some impurities lying inside, causing you discomfort. You have to re-perform the action again and clear the rest of the lead inside.

Repeat the process until you are entirely done with clearing the pencil. It might take you 2-3 times to perform the work, but it is worth it.

Step 5: Fixing the Nose Back to the Pen

After cleaning the pencil, put the nose back to its usual place. This shouldn’t take much time. Screw it back to its position and use the pencil usually.

Keep in mind that the lid position is assured perfectly. Any barrier or hampering should be observed immediately, and action should be taken accordingly. If needed, re-clear the inside part again.


It is a must to maintain proper caution for any work. Be it clearing the lead from inside the mechanical pencil to fixing the nose back to it; obviously, you should be careful to open it up. Below are some points I resulted in clearing my mechanical pencils all over the year.

  • Be careful while you are opening the nose of the pencil. It is sometimes made up of plastic and can break with a small force implemented on it.
  • The same goes while inserting the nose on the pencil. Observe the alignment so that you don’t mess things up.
  • Don’t push the rod or pin you insert inside the pencil too much. If it penetrates from the other side, you are the one that’ll lose the whole mechanical pencil.
  • Don’t over-press the clutch too much. If you break it, you won’t be getting a separate one in the market to replace and use.


Q: Can you sharpen mechanical pencil lead?

You can never sharpen a mechanical pencil lead. It comes sharp by default, and they are made to be honed. Even when you break the lead, you’ll find them in the same state as before but less in size.

Q: How long do mechanical pencils last?

It depends. There is no fixed period for the pencil to last. If you can use it properly and care for it all the time, it will last for 2-3 years.

But for a regular user like me, it hardly lasts for a year. I don’t get time to care about it properly, which results in the outcome. But with its serving, I am way more satisfied.

Q: How do you dissolve pencil lead?

It is easy to dissolve pencil lead. Let’s learn it with some simple steps:

Step 1: Erase the excessive of the pencil lead. Use a good eraser to do so.

Step 2: Make a solution to the soap and handwash. Use cold water in it.

Step 3: Take a cleaning cloth and soak it in the solution.

Step 4: Wipe it down on the stain. Repeat it until you remove the whole of it.

Step 5: After the liquid is absorbed, blot the spot with ammonia.

Q: Why does my mechanical pencil lead keeps breaking?

Your mechanical lead keeps on breaking because of the following reasons:

  1. The excess pressure from the clutch to the lead.
  2. Using more lead than necessary (oversize lead).
  3. Using thin and cheap lead.
  4. Applying more pressure to the pencil while writing with it.

Q: How do you fix a mechanical pencil lead jam?

It simple. All you have to do is to clean the inside of the pencil. You have to open up the nose where the broken leads are stored. A thin stick-like thing will assist you in reaching inside and getting the leads out.

Twist tile, thin rod, even pin can satisfy the work. Even pushing the other end with a new eraser sometimes brings the jammed lead out.

Q: Can I use a piece of lead to unjam a pencil?

You can use a piece of lead to unjam a pencil. But for that, you must ensure that the lead is strong enough to sustain a little more pressure than most others.

The rest should be done like a pin or rod. Insert the long lead through the head and convincingly get other small broken pieces out.

Final Words

All these discussions, just to see you throwing your jammed mechanical pen away? Not. I am sure you are fully aware and know how to clear a mechanical pencil lead jam by now.

These steps are implemented not only by me but also by my cohorts and co-workers. We have been dealing with the pencil every day in the same manner, and the result speaks for itself.

So, stay with us and nail your work with the mechanical pencil till we bring more exciting topics relating to it.

Related Content:

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

Recent Posts