April 10, 2021

How to Carve a Pencil | A Detailed Guide

If you are interested in learning how to carve a pencil, read on! The following tutorial will give you step-by-step instructions, with some helpful tips to help you complete your project. Wood carving is one of the oldest forms of art, and it’s easy to get started. All you need is an artistic eye, a steady hand, and a sharp knife.

To begin carving, you’ll need to find a block of wood. (You can find this at most hobby stores.) You also need a pencil with a graphite core. (Note: For this lesson, we’re going to be using a #2 pencil because the graphite is soft and easy to carve. You can use a pen, but the graphite core will be harder to carve.)

Wood types to use

The best wood to use is cedar. It is soft and easy to carve, but it can be expensive. If you decide to use cedar, be sure to buy kiln-dried lumber since it is not easy to warp or crack. You can also use basswood, which is easy to find.

Tools you will need

A carving knife – if you have the right knife, you can carve a pencil without ever breaking the blade, even if you’re carving very hard. When it comes to carving, patience and skill are your best friends, and sharp knives are essential.

Materials Needed

A pencil with a graphite core – a #2 pencil will work great.

A sharp, quality-made knife (examples: Wüsthof and Mac)

A pencil sharpener for sharpening your knife. You can find these at most good hobby stores or online retailers.

Easy pencil carving

Once you have the knife and wood, all you need to do is follow these steps, and you’ll have a pencil that looks like this:
Step 1: remove the wood from the pencil. Try to keep the graphite intact.
Step 2: carve away some of the wood until your pencil looks like this:
Step 3: You can take it from here and finish your project. If you want to make your pencil into a keychain, add some washers or means of attaching a ring to secure it.
Step 4: If you’re going to make another pencil, try carving it to look like something else. For example, you could carve an owl, a bird, or an animal that appeals to you.

Hard pencil carving

If you want to learn how to carve a pencil, try doing a harder project. Something like this:
Step 1: Remove the wood from your pencil. Then use an awl or another tool that is needle-like to make some divots in the graphite core. Be sure not to poke through the graphite and into the wood.
Step 2: Using the awl, drill a hole into your pencil, as shown in the photo above. When drilling wood, keep it sharp. If you have a dull awl, try sharpening it before using it to drill through the pencil.
Step 3: Drill a second hole through the center of your first hole.
Step 4: Add washers to your pencil by gluing them on with glue or hot-melt glue. A washer can be any size you desire, as long as it’s not too large. Then glue on a ring or other means of securing your pencil to your keychain. When doing this part, pull out the graphite core until the wood is completely covered and secure.
Step 5: If you want to add a picture to your pencil, carve it in.

Getting all the pencil wood off

Sometimes, when you get all the wood off, you will have a little graphite left. If that happens, follow these steps:
Step 1: Use the knife to carve away the last of the pencil wood. Go all around it to make sure it’s smooth and round.
Step 2: drill a hole through the center of your pencil with an awl or other tool. Make sure you use a sharp awl if drilling hard material; otherwise, your awl might become dull and need sharpening.
Step 3: If you want, add a charm to your pencil by gluing one on with hot-melt glue.
Step 4: Your pencil is ready to use!

After care

After you have finished carving your pencil, the tip of it might break. If that happens, put some wax (or polish) on the wood and buff it with a soft cloth. This will make it look new.

Sanding down the edges

If you find it difficult to hold the pencil or want it to be cleaner and look smoother, sand the edges down with some fine sandpaper.

Wood carving, particularly relief carving, is a traditional form of decoration for furniture and wooden objects. The most common relief carved wood items are the wooden plaque or tablet and the wood engraving.

Video Tutorials



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You may also be interested in our post on How to Carve a Spear.

David D. Hughes

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