How Are Pencils Made? The Ultimate Guide

Pencils are a common tool in life. Have you ever been interested in how are pencils made? Let’s take a look.

How Are Pencils Made
How Are Pencils Made

1. Structure of pencil

How are pencils made? Pencils are made up of a shell and a refill, and some pencils have an eraser on the top end.

1.1 Shell

Regarding the selection of wood pencils, most manufacturers will choose basswood. Basswood wood is fine-grained, tough, and easy to work with. It is widely used in the production of wooden crafts. There are a few factories that use willow wood. This wood is used to make high-grade pencils.

A common type of plastic pencil is the bendable pencil. In addition to its writing function, this pencil can be twisted and bent into many shapes, and you can even tie it into a knot. Don’t worry about your bendable pencil being broken or snapped.

Paper pencils, also known as eco-friendly pencils, use waste paper as raw material. This practice saves wood, protects forests, and enables environmental reuse. However, there is no obvious advantage of paper pencils over traditional wooden pencil sticks in terms of production cost. There is no significant difference in the user experience, so it is not widely promoted at present.

There are many kinds of pencil shapes. If you want to know more, please click here: shape of pencil.

1.2 Pencil lead

How are pencils made? Let’s take a look at pencil cores. Pencil cores are made of graphite and clay in a certain ratio. Graphite is solid with a metallic luster composed of carbon, which has a very stable structure and cannot be easily destroyed. The main function of clay is to increase the hardness of the refill. We usually use H to indicate the content of clay and B to indicate the content of graphite.

In the national standard, pencil cores can be divided into 18 types according to the different concentrations of graphite. the larger the value in front of H, the harder the pencil is. That is, the greater the proportion of clay, the lighter the color. b represents the graphite content, which is used to indicate the softness of the pencil core and the shade of the writing. The higher the value, the softer the texture and the darker the color.

Pencil Lead Of Different Shapes
Pencil Lead Of Different Shapes

1.3 Eraser

The raw eraser materials are rubber or plastic, sulfur, plant oil, and gravel.

Pencils with erasers are also very common nowadays, mainly for the convenience of people who don’t use pencils very often. However, most pencils come with erasers that are relatively ineffective. Because plastic erasers are soft, if they are made into small cylindrical shapes, they can easily break off in the middle when they are used. So people prefer to use the harder rubber eraser than the pencil that comes with the eraser.

The Yellow Pencil With Eraser
The Yellow Pencil With Eraser

Now you know how are pencils made?

2. Wood is commonly used for pencils

How are pencils made?The most important part of a pencil is the pencil lead, followed by the wood it is made of. The difference in the wood affects the performance of the whole pencil. When making pencils, the choice of wood is very important. The basic requirements are straight grain, detailed and uniform structure, slightly soft texture, slightly brittle, no deformation, etc. At present, the main woods chosen for pencils are incense cedar, cedar, poplar, basswood, red cedar, etc.

2.1 Incense cedar

Incense-cedar is one of the most common types of wood used in pencils. It is a softwood and comes from western North America and Asia. Incense-cedar has several advantages over other woods. First, because of its soft nature, the wood can be easily cut without forming any splinters. Second, it is very light, so it does not add unnecessary weight to the pencil. Third, it feels comfortable in the hand when sharpening pencils. Fourth, it has a pleasant scent that is pleasant to the senses.

2.2 Poplar

Poplar is a softwood commonly used for pencils. It has the obvious advantages of no strong odor, light color, straight grain, ease of use, and relative cheapness. However, because of the low density of the wood, pencils made from it are not as durable as those made from hardwood.

2.3 Basswood

Basswood is found in large quantities in Europe, North America, and Asia. Basswood is a wood commonly used by Chinese pencil makers. Basswood is an excellent material for making pencils. It is wear and corrosion resistant and does not crack easily. It has a fine grain, is easy to work with, is tough, and has a relatively wide range of applications.

2.4 Red cedar

Red cedar is a wood that grows in the eastern and southern United States. It is typically chosen for the production of traditional pencils. It is reddish-brown, has a low shrinkage rate, is light in weight, and is hard. It is a durable hardwood and is the material of choice for traditional American pencils. It has a strong odor, however, which can be unpleasant. However, red cedar was gradually replaced by California incense cedar when the market was dominated by cheap pencils.

3. The process of making pencils

Next is the focus of this article, how are pencils made?

The Process Of Assembling Pencils
The Process Of Assembling Pencils

3.1 How the pencil lead is made

Mix graphite and clay in a certain ratio. It is pressed by machine into long strips in the form of thin ropes and then cut precisely to a fixed length. The cut graphite cores are divided into breathable buckets and dried by machine. Then it is put into the oven to be fired. Finally soaked in wax to fill the air pores and make the pencil core smooth.

3.2 How the shell is made

Select a suitable piece of wood cut to a fixed length. The average length of a pencil is about 19 cm. Then use the machine to carve a semi-circular groove in each board and fill it with glue. The graphite lead core is then placed and covered with another board with the semicircular grooves already carved. The two are tightly joined and squeezed by the machine until the glue is completely dry. Then it can be cut into the desired shape, which is usually hexagonal. Six to nine pencils can be cut out of a single board.

How The Shell Is Made
How The Shell Is Made

3.3 Lacquering

After the pencils are cut and polished, the paints are selected, and each one is painted in turn and left to dry. The white pencils are painted and decorated with prints, as well as printed with logos or rubber tips. The finished pencils are made with certain specifications, colors, and patterns.

3.4 Eraser

If an eraser needs to be installed, cut a notch in the top end of each pencil. Attach the ferrule (round metal housing) to the top end of the pencil with glue and insert the eraser. A pencil with an eraser is complete.

3.5 Sharpen

When you buy pencils, some of them are already sharpened. This is because the manufacturing process uses a special machine to sharpen the pencil using rollers and abrasive belts.

Use Machine To Sharpen Pencil
Use Machine To Sharpen Pencil

3.6 How to make colored pencils?

How are colored pencils made? The production process of colored pencils is more or less the same as how are pencils made, except that the raw materials used to produce pencil cores are different. Color pencils are made by mixing pigments, clay, talcum powder, and wax adhesives (grease, wax, adhesive). The higher the content of the wax adhesive in the refill, the harder the refill will be, and vice versa, the softer it will be. After cutting and molding, the refill needs to be soaked in wax for a period of time.

This is because the wax is a pigment carrier. When writing and drawing, it is rubbed off with the pigment and left on the drawing paper. After making it into colored pencils, you can paint the pencil shaft with the same color according to the color of the pencil core.

3.7 Quality control

The pencils need to be randomly inspected after they are made. The inspection items are hardness check and durability check.

The hardness check, also called the Wolff-Wilborn test, uses graphite pencils with different hardness values to assess the hardness of the coating. Usually the harder the coating, the more complete the cure and the better the overall performance. The test consists of pushing the pencil through the layer at a fixed 45-degree angle under a constant force. The hardness of the coating is determined by the resulting marks.

For durability check, fix a pencil on the machine and then draw circles on the paper to test its durability.

Pencil Durability Check
Pencil Durability Check

3.8 Packaging

After a simple inspection by the staff, the product is packaged as required. Pencil packaging is important to prevent pencils from being damaged during transportation. Common packaging methods for pencils are cardboard boxes, blister cards, PVC folding boxes, sliding boxes with transparent shells inside cardboard, wooden sliding boxes, barrels, plastic bags, inserted cardboard, etc.

Carton packaging is low cost, has good strength, and is suitable for transportation. High production efficiency in machinery, can realize the operation of automatic box opening, filling, lid folding, sealing, etc. It has many structural changes and can be processed in many ways, such as interval, lid extension, window opening, etc.

Blister cards are light in weight, easy to transport, have good sealing performance, and can pack any typographic shape of the product set. The packaged products are visible, beautiful in appearance, and easy to sell.

PVC folding box is easy to make, easy to process, cheap, low cost, and suitable for displaying products.

4. Summary

The production of a pencil generally requires 20 to 50 processes. This places high demands on a manufacturer’s quality control management capabilities. Finding a supplier like Honeyoung can make your purchase more secure and easier.

How are pencils made?Making a pencil is not easy. Many objects around us that look ordinary have often undergone many hours of building and refining. Please do not throw them away when you use them. The pencil production process at Honeyoung is always concerned with environmental issues and reducing material waste and pollution during production. Honeyoung pencils are at the forefront of the industry.

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I'm Julia, the CEO of Honeyoung Bag. I run a company with over 300 people, we produce, sell and export bags. I spent over 30 years in bag manufacturing and business. We can provide you one-stop service of bag purchase, including design, produce, export bag products to your place. If any questions, freely to reach me,I'll try my best to give you advice and solution.

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