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Pilot S20 drafting pencil

Pilot S20 drafting pencil

The Pilot S20 is a very special pencil. It could be classified in many ways – as a drafting pencil, a mechanical pencil, or as a luxury pencil.

The S20 has the shape and features of a drafting pencil, and it is a drafting pencil, but it’s also perfectly usable as a general purpose mechanical pencil. The construction and finish are also at a level where a few small changes would make this pencil quite at home at upscale fountain pen shops, selling for much more.

Pilot S20 drafting pencil

The distinguishing feature is the wood casing. A rich dark brown, the wood gives the pencil a very pleasing appearance, and makes it very comfortable to hold. The wood imbues the pencil with a pleasant, warm, humane aspect.

The balance and grip are superb, in my view. There is a slight concave dip in the traditional “grip” area. You just want to keep holding and using the pencil.

Pilot S20 drafting pencil

The cap is marked with the lead diameter, and has a lead grade indicator window on the side. These two features are the ones that, if removed, might cause the pencil to be mistaken for something much more expensive.

Pilot S20 drafting pencil

The lead advances by clicking the cap. The cap can be removed to access an eraser and the lead chamber.

Pilot S20 drafting pencil

If you want a drafting style pencil that doesn’t look like it might be a medical instrument, this is a great choice.

37 comments to Pilot S20 drafting pencil

  • Felipe

    That’s an awesome one, altough it looks more like a luxury thing that I’d prefer to have stored instead of a regular pencil that risks to be in contact with all types of substances and objects that I have lying around on my desk.

    How much did it cost?

  • Now this is Gorgeous

    It almost makes me want to go back to drafting on the board again.

    I want one!

    Adrian D.

  • The S20 ist absolutely great (by the way, it is also available stained in red). Does somebody know what kind of wood it is?

  • That is beautiful. How big is the eraser?

    I love the feel of a wood pencil, and that’s one of the only things I miss with my current preference for mechanical/drafting pencils, but it’d be hard for me to part with my Pentel Twist-Erase, simply because of the design of the eraser.

  • Hi Lee-Roy, the eraser is one of those very tiny models, for occasional use only:

  • Amir

    After reading this specific review and seeing the beautiful pictures I decided to buy this pencil. It is my first drafting pencil and I absolutely love it. It is very comfortable to write and doesn’t get all slippery if your hands get sweaty when you write with it for a long time like some other pencils do, it is also precise for doing math work and sketching.I originally was going to buy the Staedtler 925 95 but I didn’t like the look nor am I a fan of knurled grips I also realized I didn’t need that level of customization since I was just going to use mine to write, do math hw, sketch, etc. Anyways I’m glad I picked this one…I’d definitely recommend it to anyone from a student to an architect plus it looks really classy.

  • Hi Amir, glad the pencil is working out.

  • Amir

    To Answer Gunther: What Pilot had to say, “Pen body is made of Kabazai Cherry wood from Hokkaido, northern part of Japan. In Hokkaido, trees produce quality and beautiful woods due to temperature factor and better quality woods all come from Hokkaido. Pilot has chosen very rare Sakura tree wood for this pen. Same type wood has been used for Pilot’s popular LEGNO 89 model fountain pen.” And keep up the good work Penciladmin. Ever since I stumbled onto this blog from Fountain Pen forum…I’ve been a using my pencil’s with a new found interest plus the S20 makes it a joy to write and my Pilot foam eraser is awesome too.

  • Hi Amir, thanks for the feedback. Is that quotation from Pilot itself, or from a secondary source? Searching Google, those words appear to be lifted from an ebay ad. A review of a Pilot pen at Fountain Pen Network quotes the same phrase, and disputes the claim of this being solid wood, let alone Kabazai Cherry.

    At the price, I think it far more likely that the pencil surface is some type of compressed wood or plywood, even though rare Cherry trees from Hokkaido may be a nicer image.

  • Amir

    No I went from the ebay ad( It was late…lol) which I assumed to be fairly factual, but its probaby just a layer of compressed wood. I mean I have taken a look at it and I think that its wood of some sort although I think the top is made of wood while it gets fatter to the bottom part and then its wood on the outside and metal on the inside, but what your saying makes a lot more sense since I mean “rare” wood isn’t cheap especially Japaneses cherry wood from Hokkaido. Either way though its a lot nicer to hold than a solid metal tube.

  • Amir: Thank you for the information. – The Pilot Foam eraser is indeed an excellent eraser; definitely one of the best I have ever used.

  • Charlie


    I live in the uk where you can’t get hold of this gorgeous pencil i did however buy it from America! All arrived intact and with no customs charge either.

    Unfortunately the tip part has snapped and i am desperately tring to locate a replacement – they don’t sell the S20 here and i have spoken to pentel cust care who can’t help me, any ideas anyone? Perhaps i can buy a ‘cheapie’ and swap the nib but which models share the same nib?


  • Hi Charlie,

    The tip swap is a good idea – but I’m not sure what would fit. You mention Pentel customer care – but this is a Pilot pencil. Did you mean Pilot? Pentel has a good reputation, but repairing competitor’s pencils may be expecting too much.

    Maybe someone out there has some ideas?

  • adair

    Like Amir, I went ahead and bought this because of your review. And I am glad that I did. What a beautiful instrument. I put in AIN B-grade lead and it writes with dark, velvety smoothness. The balance of the pencil is perfect, and I love the warm tactile feel of the wood. Apparently, there is a 0.3 version of the S-20 in existence.

  • Matt

    Hey I was just wondering… what is the point of the window showing the grade of lead?

  • Hi Matt, thanks for the comment. Since the pencil can take different grades of lead – and some people do use a range of leads – the window allows for a visual designation or indicator of the lead hardness in current use.

  • aribus

    Can the lead be easily clicked out without the eraser cap on? This deficiency on my current pencil aggravates me. I like to have access to the eraser at all times.

  • An interesting criteria – yes, the lead advances with the cap off. The same with a recently acquired Pilot S10.

  • aribus

    Thank you so much for your reply penciladmin. I am now a proud owner of a beautiful S20. Keep up the good work!

  • mathi

    Dear friends,
    Im mathi from chennai india. want this particular model, not available in india, can any one ship to india. postage will be paid. If s, then plz contact Regards, Mathi.

  • ccw

    Absolutely love this pencil. Normally like thicker grip but this one somehow feels great. Since I use 0.9 and 0.7 only, I combined S20 body with S10 parts to come up with 0.9 version of S20 (other than added cost, very easy to do; made 3 of them). All parts (nib, inner mechanism, clip, and that cheesy cap) are the same and interchangeable. It would be great if the cap was made with the same wooden material as the body, and other thicknesses are available (should be very easy for Pilot). Thanks.

  • ccw, what a great idea!

    Thanks for sharing this idea. I wouldn’t mind doing that myself. And possibly, just might!

    (Plus you answered Charlie’s question, above.)

  • Nice to meet you.
    The blog is done in Japan.
    I was going to quote a part of content of your blog.
    Please inform me in the comment column when there is a problem.

  • Kimoon

    Hey are the tips interchangeable from the s20 to the s10? Mine broke off too! >_<

  • Kimoon

    I feel silly. I looked up nib in a dictionary and it said pencil tip. Thanks for the awesome info ccw!

  • Max

    Is this the same as the s10 just with a different casing?

  • I still love this one! Picked it up in Japan in ’04, it jumped out of the case at me. I have to say though, as much as I like the look of it, it’s just too thin for me. I wish they made a thick bodied version of this. I’m currently back to my far less attractive, but amazingly comfortable Papermate PhD.

  • Claire

    Hi Chris, if it’s the wooden look that attracted you then it might be good to know that Uni offers a similar (but simpler) product called Pure Malt. The 1025 model might be thin, but 1005 and 1015 do have thicker body. I have a 1015 and quite enjoy using it. However Pure Malt is not a drafting pencil, it doesn’t have a sleeve at the tip. This blog has a review on the 2mm version; the models mentioned above are 0.5mm and are quite modest in comparison.

  • Acre

    Wow ! a wooden drafting Pencil is quite a rare find and sight.Is the Pilot S20 Clip removable?

  • Jake Kolsky

    I use both S20 and S10 drafting pencils. Both are great but S20 got nice feel to it due to nice feel wood and it is bit lighter. The best one ever had :)

  • Travis

    If you’re looking for a new or replacement Pilot S20 tip, consider swapping it out with a Pilot S5 tip. I have both pencils and just successfully attempted the swap…the S20 tip fits on the S5 pencil and vice versa. Note, though, that the S5 has a shiny chrome tip and the S20 has a matte tip so there is a difference there (albeit it only a difference in look).

    Also, yes, the S20 clip is removable. I remove many clips (including from my S5) but I find that the S20 clip doesn’t get in my way at all.

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