Review of the Pilot S20

As mechanical pencils become more commonplace, wood pencils are coming to be a rarity. This is partly because once acquainted with the forever-sharp mechanical, few ever return to a standard woodcase.

Until now. Sort of. The Pilot S20 is, technically, a woodcase pencil. It is, after all, cased in wood. It’s a mechanical pencil by every other measure, but a bit of lumber nods to its pencil forebears.


The Pilot S20 comes in two colors of wood, red and brown. Interestingly, the only lead size options are 0.3 and 0.5mm. The pencil featured here is red and 0.5mm.


Though I’m not sure what type of wood the S20 is made of, I can say for certain it’s exceptional. The color is deep and it’s got a nice sheen, even a sparkle, in sunlight. The wood is light and has a nice, grippy texture, developing a patina with time. The tip end of the grip has a bit of a flare, which means a nice niche for the fingers.


A steampunk mechanical pencil!?

Stylistically, the S20 really nailed it. The aluminum insets contrast sharply with the wood. Two concentric rings at the top and bottom, especially around the lead-hardness indicator on the cap, lend the S20 a steampunk look. On top of the cap is printed “.5”. My one main complaint with this pencil would be that the cap, although it does attempt to match the rest of the body, is instead made of red and silver-painted plastic. The silver is a pretty good match, but the red doesn’t impress me. I’d greatly prefer if the cap were made of the same material as the body, but so it goes.

Flow lines!

The S20, for the most part, is very durable. It does have decent weight to it, so the lead sleeve may bend if dropped. I have noticed some minor issues; for example, the “S20” and “JAPAN” on the aluminum wear off rather quickly. The pencil’s internal mechanism is excellent, a metal three-pronged ratchet. It produces a solid “click” and sturdy sensation when activated. The pencil’s clip can be removed, but it isn’t bothersome when writing and the S20 looks quite odd and unbalanced without it.

S20 Clincher

The S20 is definitely one of my favorite pencils. This one rarely leaves my pencil bag.


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