Pentel Multi8

Pentel Multi8

Mechanical pencils with multiple usable leads can be seen at online auction sites or at the uncomfortable chair, though I have never previously seen one in person.

I also remember school days, when those Bic four colour ballpoints became popular.

My opinion was that they were a gimmick – a solution to no particular problem.

So when I heard of a pencil that used eight leads, I was somewhat surprised. And when I learned that those leads were the 2mm diameter used by leadholders, the tide seemed to turn, and I decided to get one.

Pentel Multi8

I think I wanted to see just how far this idea could be taken. It is probably the oddest writing implement yet seen at pencil talk.

Pentel Multi8

The pencil exterior looks kind of cheap, like something one would find at those suburban big box office supply stores.

The mechanism is quite interesting – each lead has a small metal 4mm sleeve at the end, and eight anchors hold the leads by these sleeves. Rotating the clip to a colour relases that lead, which can then be held by the clutch mechanism.

Pentel Multi8

Eight leads are supplied. They are (clockwise, starting at the upper left): red, blue, brown, orange, yellow, green, Diazo non copy, and PPC non copy.

Pentel Multi8

The non-copy varieties are intriguing offerings. It’s strange that a regular graphite core didn’t make the cut.

I found the pencil very easy to use. The variety of colours makes it very useful for organizational tasks that depend on colour coding. Alternately, the Multi8 could be seen as a compact colour pencil set for light use.

Pentel Multi8

The pencil came with refills in each colour, an instruction leaflet (English/Japanese), and a small lead sharpener.

Pentel Multi8

It is a very nice, almost unique item. I gather Pentel also manufacture a few related versions, some of which have ballpoint offerings. This particular model is the “Multi8 PH802 for checking use.” My only problems were some lead breakage, and a rattling sound that the pencil makes.

19 Replies to “Pentel Multi8”

  1. There is nothing “luxurious” about the pencil, but maybe the non-copy leads cause it to be classified as a “professional” variety.

    A couple of additional points – according to the manual, “PPC” stands for “Plain Paper Copier”, and the sibling PH803 has three ballpoint pens (black, red, blue), pink and yellow fluorescent leads, a “non-repro” lead, a red lead, and a HB graphite lead – an office supply cabinet in a pencil!

  2. Hi scruss, there are a number of online retailers who sell this pencil (or the version shown in Gunther’s photo), plus a few brick and mortar places.

    kiwi-d, I understand the dilemma.

  3. Sounds convenient, especially since I like to sketch in color. Tell me though, are there any other colors available, say violet perhaps?

  4. I know this post was posted a couple of years ago but this blog seems to be the perfect place to ask my question.

    I have an autistic son and we are struggling quite hard to make him draw/write something that you would recognize. His problem is mainly the grip and we have successfully tried the “Twist ‘n Write” from PenAgain. Unfortunately this pen is only available in an ordinary (grey) lead. It’s a 2mm lead and I came across this post. Do you think this lead would work in that kind of pen? Can’t find either product in Sweden so have to order on the net. Would be nice to know if it could work. The leads for Pentel Multi8 are longer but that would be no problem.

    Any feedback to this question is highly appreciated. :)


  5. Dear Lena…

    Please Check on eBay or similar sites for “Koh-I-Noor” 2mm Leads, they are offered in Colour on Blue/Green/Brown/Red/Black/Yellow in Boxes of 12 of one colour for around 2 to 3 Euros, which will last a long time, or a “test Set” with One of each of the Six Colours, who will procide long fun in a “Twist’n’Write”, which are darn playful pens for collectors and extremely useful for autistic/disabled/handicapped/recovering people.
    The “Pentel Multi 8”, as the Series is called, will not fit into the “Twist’n’Write” as it is.
    You would loose around several millimeters, because you have to snip of the end with the metal sleeve. Plus, 2 of these leads, which are vibrant in colour but very soft, are almost the same prize as 12 leads from koh-I-Noor.

    Koh-I-Noor also offers 3.2mm coloured leads and fitting holders, or the wonderful “Pogresso” in Non-water-Soluble and Water-Soluble, which is basically a FULL Coloured lead of 8 mm in diameter, without any wood around it, just a thin coat of laquer to keep your hands clean.


    To all:
    Pentel offers FOUR Versions of the Pentel Multi 8.

    – Pentel PH801 – Seems out of Production, contained 2H, H, HB and B, plus Non-Photo-Blue, Diazo-Non-Copy, Blue and Red. Around 30 to 40USD
    – Pentel PH802 – The most easy to be found of the “upper class”, the one shown here. Blue, Red, Pink, Sky Blue, Brown, orange, Yellow, Dark Green are contained. 30 to 40 USD. Also avaiable as a Set with Spare leads.
    – Pentel PH803 – The Highest of them all, contains Ballpoint Pens in Black, Blue, Red, HB, Neon-Pink, Neon-Yellow, Diazo Non-Copy and Non-Photo-Bölue, around 38 to 50 USD, also avaiable as a Set with Spares.
    – Pentel PH158 – The “Cheap” Students/Childrens/WhomWhatever Version of the Pentel Multi PH802. Contains the exact same Colours, but is all Clear with a Colourful yellow Pushbutton. Has four Clips to choose, Black, Sky Blue, Orange or Light Orange/Deep Yellow The Cheapest, between 20 to 25 USD Very easy to be found on eBay, simply look for “Pentel Multi 8”

    Have Two Dozens of these, every one multiple times, since in 2002 they stopped production. Continued on later, but I panicked I would never be able to use one again. I simply refill these, without any problem, with different lead degrees or Koh-I-Noor Colour Leads. A daily compagnion in my pocket.

  6. Is it possible to make this an 8 color pen instead of pencil? What is the difference between the mechanisms between the 802 and 803?

  7. Aloha, Curious…

    There is absolutely no difference in the mechanism between all four different versions.
    The spring seems to be a different one, holding the clutch back in, because it is more difficult to sharpen pencil leads inside the PH158 without them starting to turn, if their degree is more to the harder side.
    All Four Models share the same innerts, have a small “plastic rod” int he middle, in whih there is a small metal plate, 2mm wide, like the door of an “old castle”, or fitting the clishée of the “trapdoor” opening from U.F.O’s with a ramp.
    (I hope this explains it, really)

    If you push down the button of the pen, the “metal-lid” inside the milky-white plastic rod attached to the pushbutton goes down, and let’s the lead slip in between the two, so that it comes out on the tip’s end, and the pen is useable.
    The milky-white rod in the middle and the metal plate/rod rotate together, so that the clip-button-part which is connected to the rod acts as an indicator which lead will be used and or fall out.
    If the pushbutton is rotated towards the metal door, you can push onto the rod “harder”, so the clutch gets our more and the proprietary leads can be exchanged, since their diameter is a little above 2mm due to the metal-ring around their end, which prevents them from falling out when the pushbutton is put to a “sealed”-posiion, so that the clutch can not be fully opened.

    You can put in any kind of 2mm lead or coloured lead, I never had any problems using any brand or degree, but really, I am totally unsure if there is any ballpoint lead fitting into these models. The only pens I truly never use are ballpoints or similar types, since they truly ruin handwriting and often are just smudgy, so I am really unexperienced in this field.

    Hope it helped at least somehow.

  8. TheHOINK, thank you for the detailed information about these unsual pencils! Quite a while ago I have purchased the PH158 and found it to be a very useful compagnion too; not so long ago I have added a PH802 set because I am afraid that they will go out of production.

  9. I know this is an old thread but I am looking for a very specific product and I have no idea where to find it. My searching has lead me here and I would be eternally grateful if anyone could lend advice.

    I use 2mm lead constantly, I am a professional illustrator. I sketch with them inside a lead holder. I have come to love wax based leads that are very common in red or blue. I am looking for black wax based lead at 2mm that isn’t your typical graphite lead. It seems this pencil has the only black wax based leads at that size and black that I can find but they seem to be very short in length and pretty expensive. Does anyone know where I can find a comparable product to this at a longer length? I can’t find it anywhere!

  10. Dear AJ…

    Take a look around for “Koh-I-Noor” Leads, they are sold, as mentioned before, only in the six colours of
    Black, Brown, Blue, Red, Green, Yellow.
    But at 12cm per lead, 12 leads per box, and for a price of around 3 Euros / 4 Dollars now per pack.
    They are only a third of the price of a lot of graphite leads and are certainly a lot cheaper then for example non-pgoto-blue leads.
    If you find them, around commonly known sites (like the “E-lectronic BAY” *cough*), check them out immediately, they are fantastic value, comparing Price-Quality-Ratio. Let me know what you think of them!

    Yes, as professionals, freelancers or alike who love to use “CLASSIC” working tools, like leadholders, Coloured Leads, Sable Brushes, pencils, isographs… the materials get more scarce AND more expensive the same time. Thanks, computers, you spoiled this, too.

  11. Hey TheHOINK,

    Thanks for the reply. I went to a local art store today and purchased a 3mm lead holder so I can try the Koh-I-Noor leads. Just my luck though, the aforementioned website doesnt have any black leads for sale there.

    If you know of any sources let me know!

    Otherwise I will try to post back here when I can and describe my experiences.

  12. Hello Commenters,

    I have 2 things i’d like to share:
    @ AJ
    I just started doing some research into the ‘Pentel arts 8 color’ and have found similar supliers of 2.0mm lead pencil refills. I found it in stores owned by Bezos an Jack Ma.
    one of the brands i found is ‘June Gold’ (bezos store) and from there I found an even cheaper one.
    Maybe you’ve found something else in al those years past, if not though and still longing for the old ways this might rekindle a flame.

  13. I had a second thing but while writing thought it wasn’t worth asking for myself. Then again maybe for others.

    is there a quality difference between the ph 158 and the ph 801, /2, /3 series? for example the grayish part of the latter pencils, is this just paint or something else? are different plastics used? you already mentioned the mechanism is the same but seems to be a bit better working in the ph801, /2, /3 versions.

  14. @Paul
    perhaps you should read

    you could even (re*)use the 2mm leads from normal wood pencils, as long as they aren’t water-soluble (e.g. crayola color pencils should work ), just cook them and remove the wood, or soak them into water for a few days ( )

    * seems to be a good recycling idea for normal wood pencils that have become to short to write with

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