Did you ever wonder how pencils are made?

Traditional wooden pencils are still manufactured in a process first introduced in the 1600s.  Basically, pencils are the result of a sandwiching process involving graphite and slabs of cedar wood.

The first step is the preparation of the graphite center, or “lead” as it is commonly called (although there is no lead in it).  Graphite is a dark, soft mineral which is ground and added to clay and water in a mixing chamber.  By varying the ratio of graphite to clay, pencil makers adjust the “hardness” of the writing core.  The hardness is denoted by a number (such as “2” or “3”).  After the water is squeezed out, the remaining graphite/clay compound is allowed to air dry until it becomes a powder again.  This graphite powder is mixed once again with water to form a soft paste which is extruded through thin metal tubes to form the pencil-sized rods.  These rods are then super-heated to create hard and smooth pencil leads.

The next step is for woodworking machines to slice blocks of wood (traditionally cedar) into thinner slats.  Another machine cuts eight grooves across the length of these slats.  Pencils are not carved from a single blank, but actually start out as two half-blanks that are glued together.  The graphite rods are placed in each of the eight grooves on the bottom slat and the top part of the “sandwich” is glued on.  The entire slab of uncut pencils is allowed to dry.  Afterwards, a special cutting machine slices the slab into eight individual pencils while trimming down the sides of the pencils forming the traditional hexagonal or round shape that we are accustomed to using.  Sanding machines smooth down the surfaces and prepare them to receive several coats of paint or to be wrapped with foil.

Afterwards the pencils are fitted with a metal collar (ferrule) at one end and an eraser made from soft rubber or vinyl is inserted. 

Fun Facts

  • The first pencil manufacturing factory was opened in 1861 by Eberhard Faber in New York City.  U.S. School Supply offers a wide variety of pencils manufactured both in the U.S.A. and overseas in order to meet every school’s budget.
  • More than 14 billion pencils are produced in the world every year. 
  • One pencil will draw a line 35 miles long.  Imagine how many miles you could write on just one tub of our pencil assortments.
  • Pencils didn’t have erasers on them until 100 years ago because teachers felt they would encourage children to make mistakes.  Wow, times sure have changed!  We sell loads of handheld erasers, stick erasers and pencil toppers.  Why we even sell pencil grips that can be used as erasers.
  • The average pencil can be sharpened 17 times and write 45,000 words. At U.S. School Supply, we carry over 30 different types of pencil sharpenersto keep those pencil sharpened!
  • One good sized tree will make about 300,000 pencils which can then be transformed into Birthday pencils, Motivational pencils, Designer pencils, and much, much more!

Source: www.wisegeek.com/how-are -pencil-made.htm