Pencils produced for commercial purposes are usually made through a long process and using various special machines. You can make your own pencils at home in an easy way, but you will need to buy pencil charcoal at the store while some other ingredients may be readily available at home.
Method 1 of 3: Paper Pencil
Step 1. Cut the paper as needed
Start with origami paper, inside facing up, and a stick of pencil lead (lead). You can get both at a stationery store. Place the pencil charcoal on the paper and measure the length. Use scissors to cut off the excess paper at the end of the charcoal.
- When measuring the length of a pencil, make sure that the tip of one of the charcoals is flush against the edge of the paper. Measure the length of the charcoal using the other end.
- Origami paper works best for this project because it's beautiful and easy to manipulate. Newsprint or other waste paper is more difficult to wrap around pencil charcoal, but is more environmentally friendly.
- Pay attention to the hardness of the pencil. Make sure you choose the HB pencil charcoal. Pencil charcoal with a thickness of 2B or higher may be too soft and may break as you work.
- You can use standard graphite charcoal or colored graphite charcoal.
Step 2. Coat the paper with Mod Podge
Use a wide, flat brush to apply an even coat of Mod Podge to the inner side of the paper. Feel free to apply a lot of it, covering the entire surface of the paper.
- Put the pencil charcoal somewhere else for a while while you apply the glue.
- You can use glossy or matte Mod Podge; whatever your choice doesn't matter.
- If you can't find a Mod Podge, you can make your own or look for a glue/sealer combination at a craft store.
- The glue will make sure the pencil charcoal sticks to the paper as you work on it. Glue also makes the paper more flexible and as a result, the paper is easier to roll.
Step 3. Place the charcoal pencil on the paper
Align one end of the charcoal with a perfectly straight edge of the paper. The pencil charcoal should be placed about 13 mm from the bottom of the paper.
If the charcoal has a blunt end and a sharp end, align the blunt end with the straight edge of the paper
Step 4. Fold the paper over the charcoal
Lift the bottom of the paper so that it covers the charcoal. Tuck the flap of paper covering the charcoal into the paper above, locking the charcoal so it doesn't slide.
- The charcoal should be wrapped tightly and tightly. Using your thumb, gently press along the wrapped charcoal body from the top, pushing it further and further into the fold of paper and this process flattens out the flap of paper at the same time.
- Use a paint brush to coat the side of the patterned paper flap with Mod Podge or white glue once it's firmly in place.
Step 5. Roll the charcoal in the paper
Use your fingers to gently roll the charcoal up and into the paper. Keep rolling until you reach the opposite end of the paper.
- When rolling the charcoal, do so with a bit of steady pressure. You have to make sure there are no gaps between each layer of paper.
- However, be careful because if you press too hard the charcoal can break.
- Try to keep the charcoal as straight as possible when you roll it in the paper.
- Allow the wrapped pencil charcoal to dry before continuing with the next step. The drying process can take an hour or more, but you can speed up this process by drying the pencil in the sun.
Step 6. Sharpen the pencil
Once the pencil is completely dry, use a sharp craft knife/cutter to scrape off some of the paper layer on the sharp end. Slice the paper little by little, until it becomes tapered.
You may be able to use a standard hand sharpener instead of a craft knife/cutter as long as the sharpener has a sharp blade and the pencil has a sturdy, gap-free paper finish. Just apply light pressure to prevent the charcoal from breaking as you grind it
Step 7. Use your new pencil
Your new pencil is now ready to use and should work just as well as the standard pencils you buy at the store.
Method 2 of 3: Pencil Twigs
Step 1. Choose a good branch
Look for twigs that are straight and feel comfortable to hold like a pencil. The diameter of the twig should be at least three or four times thicker than the 2 mm pencil charcoal you will use for this project, but no more than 13 mm.
Use your creativity by looking for twigs that have a pattern of color or texture. Avoid choosing twigs that can cause you to get stabbed by wood chips
Step 2. Cut the twigs to size
Use small to medium-sized pruning shears to trim the twigs to about 13 cm long. You'll also need to trim away any areas that could get in the way of your writing.
Now is a good time to examine the inside of the twig. If you see bugs or holes caused by pests, remove the twig and find a new branch
Step 3. Pinch the branches
Use clamps to clamp the twig to the edge of the workbench or to a piece of plywood. Press the twig firmly enough to keep it from sliding, but not too hard. Too much pressure can break branches.
Position the twig so that the cut end hangs slightly from the edge of the workbench. This tip will be the part of the pencil that will be used for writing
Step 4. Make an indentation at the end of the branch
Find the center of the cut end of the twig (the end you will use for writing). Firmly but carefully press this center point with a scratch awl. You should use just enough pressure to make indentations in the wood at this point.
- You can use a sharp nail tip if you don't have a scratch start.
- This indentation will be the starting point for guiding the drill bit to be used.
Step 5. Drill the branches
Install a 2.4 mm drill bit. Drill directly into the twig using the indent you just made as a starting point. Continue drilling until you reach a depth of between 2.5-3.2 cm.
Don't forget to pull the drill bit occasionally as you work, to remove debris from the hole or groove. If wood chips appear to be stuck in the drill bit, stop drilling and quickly scrub the sides of the drill bit with an old toothbrush or similar tool
Step 6. Coat the pencil charcoal with glue
Try it first to make sure the charcoal can fit into the hole, you can drill a wider hole if necessary. Once you're sure the charcoal fits in the groove, spray a small glob of white glue onto a piece of cardboard. Roll the bottom of the charcoal about 2.5-3.2 cm long into this lump of glue.
- Make sure the glue covers the entire body of the charcoal to the limit specified above.
- The glue will help hold the pencil charcoal in place as you slide it into the twig. You just need to apply glue to the charcoal along the depth of the hole.
Step 7. Insert the charcoal into the twig
Carefully insert the glue-coated end of the charcoal into the hole in the twig. You may need to shake the charcoal back and forth to spread the glue on the walls of the hole.
- Work carefully so that the charcoal doesn't break.
- Continue working until you have pushed all the charcoal into the groove. Do not let any part of the hole is empty.
Step 8. Trim the ends of the charcoal
A significant portion of the charcoal will still be sticking out of the hole in the twig. Cut off the excess charcoal by pressing it against the side of the twig, this will help you break it.
Allow the glue to dry for a few hours or overnight before continuing with your work
Step 9. Sharpen the pencil
Use a utility knife (medium-sized knife) to sharpen the wood at the end of the twig, revealing the small end of the charcoal while simultaneously sharpening the pencil.
- For your safety, make short shavings and do them some distance from your body.
- Slowly shave the wood into thin strips until your pencil is sharp enough to use for writing.
Step 10. Enjoy your new pencil
At this point, your pencil is finished and should be ready to write.
Method 3 of 3: Factory Made Pencils
Step 1. Grind the graphite into a powder
Here's a curious fact: “pencil charcoal” is made of graphite, not lead. This soft black carbon has a long history since the British first used it to mark sheep five hundred years ago. Because graphite sticks to ordinary milling tools, pencil manufacturers crush it deep in a rotating drum, or make it collide with each other with jets of air.
Colored pencils are made from wax, pigment, and clay, without the use of graphite at all
Step 2. Add clay and water
Mix china clay (kaolin) and water into the graphite, and you will get a vat of gray mud. This sounds simple, but the process of mixing and drying the mud to the right consistency can take an entire week!
China clay gets its name from the first people to use it for pottery. For centuries, only Chinese craftsmen knew which clay to use, and how to turn it into porcelain. It's not so mysterious anymore because it's now used for doodling while doing math homework
Step 3. Heat the mixture until it becomes hard sticks
The machines now push the dough through a small metal tube. The long small stick that comes out of the tube is cut into pencil-sized pieces. In the final stage, these pieces enter the kiln and are heated to 1100ºC, to make them hard and slippery.
Step 4. Cut the wood into thin slabs
Meanwhile, at the lumber mill, the durable wood is cut into slabs half a pencil's width apart. In North America, pencil manufacturers typically use aromatic cedar wood from the west coast.
- If you see short, thin pencils for sale, the wood used to make them may have flaws. The lumber mill cuts off poor quality or damaged parts and tries to use the rest to make these “weird” pencils or for other purposes.
- The wood may also be waxed and stained to give it a uniform color, and make the pencil easier to sharpen.
Step 5. Clamp the graphite with the wooden slab
Pencil charcoal and wood finally meet. After making grooves in the wood slabs, the machine will insert a graphite rod into each groove. The second layer of wood is clamped over the graphite and glued tightly.
Step 6. Complete the pencil making process
The factory is now sawing wood into individual pencils. The machines at the end of the process cut the pencils to the same size, paint them, and stamp them with the company logo or other writing. If the pencil is going to have an eraser on the end, the manufacturer will crimp the end of the wood to make the metal band (ferrule) securely snap into place.