Last updated: 16/10/2022

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If you want to draw precise and fine circles, you can hardly get around a compass. Nowadays, it is hard to imagine any schoolchild’s inventory without it. But even in ancient times it was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a tool for constructing geometric objects.

Compasses are now available in a wide variety of colours, sizes and designs. We have compared our favourites so that you can find the right one for you. We have also collected the most important information and explained which aspects you really need to pay attention to when buying.


  • The compass is a drawing tool that can be used to draw circles. It is also suitable for measuring or transferring distances.
  • Compasses are made of two sticks that end in a common handle. Each has a pencil or metal tip on the underside. They often have a locking wheel so that they can be easily fixed in place.
  • Drawing compasses are particularly useful in mathematics lessons. The dividers, on the other hand, are used more for measuring in woodworking and metalworking.

The Best Compasses: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for compasses

There are many things to consider when choosing the best compass. To make your decision easier, we have summarised the most important criteria for you below:

These criteria will help you find the right compass. So that you know exactly what these aspects are, we explain them in more detail here.


There are compasses made of many different materials on the market, but the most common are metal and plastic. More rarely, however, you will also find versions made of wood.

Compasses made of metal are often very robust, whereas plastic compasses are usually somewhat lighter. As a rule, however, both are suitable stable substances. Which material you choose therefore depends mainly on personal preference.

Maximum diameter

The diameter of a compass can be adjusted individually during use. However, it is important to find out in advance about the maximum possible diameter. For everyday use, a diameter of at least 340 mm is recommended. This is sufficient for most geometry exercises at school.


To ensure easy handling, the compass should be light in the hand. Models with a lower weight are particularly suitable for schoolchildren, as they hardly add any extra weight to their backpacks. Compasses made of metal usually weigh a few grams more.

Scope of delivery

Many suppliers include not only a compass but also accessories. This can often save you money, as the price already includes spare leads, a lead sharpener or a spare needle. A case or a storage box are also useful and often included in the scope of delivery.


Even if the choice of colour does not influence the functionality of your pencil, it is a purchase criterion for many people. For children, they come in many colourful designs, but there are also plenty of plain versions. If you want to enjoy your compass in the long term, you should choose a colour that appeals to you.

Shopping Guide

When buying a compass and deciding which one is right for you, many questions come up. In order to provide clarity, we have answered the most frequently asked questions here.

What is a compass?

A compass is a tool that is used in geometry primarily for drawing circles. It is also often used to measure or transfer distances. In mathematics lessons, it is one of the most commonly used tools, along with calculators, set squares and rulers.

What types of compasses are there?

The classic drawing compass has a pencil lead on one side, which can be used for drawing. The other side has a metal tip to hold the compass in place.


Compasses are drawing instruments that are often used to construct geometric objects. (Image source: Quasee/ Pixabay)

A compass, on the other hand, contains metal points on both sides and is mainly used to measure distances. However, very large compasses are also used in school lessons, in which chalk pens are clamped to draw on the blackboard.

How do I sharpen a compass?

It is important that your compass always has a sharp lead. To do this, you need a lead sharpener, which is often included in the delivery. The easiest way to sharpen the lead is to hold the compass in one hand and rotate the sharpener around the lead with the other hand. Ideally, the tip of the lead should be about as thick as the end of a paper clip after sharpening.

How do I use a compass?

To draw circles with a compass, you have to move its legs apart with the help of the adjusting wheel until the desired radius is reached. Then carefully insert the metal tip into the desired centre point.

Now turn the compass once in a circle at a slight angle using the handle, while the metal needle always remains at the same point. If you work with a tablet at school or at work, you will find a compass function in many apps.


Compasses are usually the best option for drawing circular shapes and geometric figures at school, at work and during leisure time. That is why, even years after their invention, they are a useful tool that should not be missing from any desk.

On the market, compasses come in a wide variety of performances and design options. Which one is best for you, however, depends primarily on your personal preference and willingness to pay. We hope that this guide has helped you to make your decision.

Image source: 422737/ Pixabay