While tracing a pattern today, I made numerous trips to the sharpener in the office. I know I need to get more exercise, but this was not the time. I found a carpenter's pencil and used it to trace the pattern. WOW! No more frequent trips to the sharpener. No more sharp points to poke through the tracing material. No more broken leads. Simply use a utility knife to remove the wood to expose the lead. Then a piece of sandpaper to refine the tip. I was able to trace fine and bold lines easily. It worked great. You will find these little gems at the local home improvement store while you are out looking for those handy "pattern weights".