Introduction: 10 Unusual Uses for Pencils

As we type more and write less, pencils are slowly losing their place of importance in our lives. I'm here to give you 10 good reasons, via some unusual uses, to keep these classic (and in my opinion, good looking) tools around and at the ready.

Step 1: Erase Crayon From Walls

The little pink eraser at the end of the common pencil is a champion at removing stray crayon 'art' that has found it way onto any satin or gloss painted wall.

NOTE: Do a tiny test area first to make sure the friction won't remove or dull your paint.

Step 2: Tame Those Cuticles

Use the eraser at the end of a pencil as a cuticle stick. Do this by gently pushing back the cuticle, following the natural shape of your nail bed.

Step 3: Offer Plant Support

Use any sharpened pencil (green of course is the least noticeable) as a stake to support any small plant that needs a friend to lean on.

(These are plants from my Terrarium Table instructable.)

Step 4: Make Rubbings

Place a piece of paper over interesting textures like leaves, city surfaces, or recently used note pads (read: criminal investigation).Then use the flat edge of a sharpened pencil and gently rub a layer of graphite over the object/texture.

Step 5: Have Emergency Drum Practice

Use the eraser ends of two unsharpened pencils to practice your fat beats and precise rhythms, on say, some strategically placed plastic food containers.

WARNING: May become a rockstar if used daily.

Step 6: Roll Your Toothpaste Tube

Use an old, shortened pencil to roll/squeeze your toothpaste tube and make sure that you don't waste a drop.

Step 7: Keep Sewing Supplies Handy

A pencil eraser is the perfect sized pin cushion for the casual tailor or occasional sewist.

Step 8: Remove Sticker Gunk

The classic pink pencil eraser is incredibly good at removing sticker gunk. Just rub it back and forth over the stubborn goo as if erasing pencil marks. You will be surprised at how effective it is!

Step 9: Make a 10 Second Hair Bun

Pencils are great make-shift hair sticks! For those with long hair, here's how to use one to create a really quick and attractive hair bun:

  1. Sharpen a pencil until it's about 1/2 - 1" shorter than it's original size.
  2. Draw enough squiggles on a scrap piece of paper to soften/dull the tip of the graphite so it won't hurt your scalp.
  3. Put the pencil in your mouth to keep it handy.
  4. Gather your hair at the back of your head as if you're going to put it in a pony tail and hold it in place with your non-dominant hand.
  5. Use your dominant hand to twist the rest of your hair all the way to the ends. (counter clockwise for right handers, and clockwise for South paws)
  6. Then start to twist your hair around into a bun shape following the same direction as above depending on which hand is dominant.
  7. Once you have it twisted into a bun, hold the shape in place with your non-dominat hand and with your dominant hand, take the pencil and do the following:
    • With the tip of the pencil, grab a bit of hair from halfway in the to the center of the bun on the side of your dominant hand.
    • Pull the pencil to the edge of the bun and push the tip gently towards your scalp and then run it under the bun along your scalp.
    • Poke it back up through the other side of the bun.
  8. That should hold it comfortably in place with very little pressure on your scalp.

NOTE: If it doesn't work the first time, don't get discouraged! It may take a couple of tries to get the hang of it. Once you do, and establish good muscle memory, this is the quickest way I've found of getting my hair up and looking great in a non-ponytail style.

Step 10: Make Wrapping Paper

Erasers make really great stamps! You can use single pencils to make dots or rubber band seven (or more) together to make a mod flower shape! Have fun trying different patterns and colors.

Step 11: BONUS USE: As Legs for a 3D Printed Robot!

My co-worker Randofo did a great and super fun instructable on how to make a simple 3D printed robot. And it just happens to use pencils as legs! If you have access to a 3D printer and want to get tricky, give it a try!

And as always, if you have other uses to share or try any of the above uses and want to show off your results, please add your thoughts and photos to the comment section!

Let's keep these great tools around working hard for us!


For more unusual uses of another common household item, check out my instructable on 10 Unusual Uses for Baking Soda.


Bassfisher made it! (author)2017-07-26

Two pencils held tightly together with rubber bands will make an emergency capo for a guitar.

dave.vaness.79 made it! (author)2017-07-23

You can use a pencil to tell time. Just go to someone with a watch and say

"Sir or Lady, I will give you this lovely pencil if you will tell me the time"

Delfin42 made it! (author)Delfin422017-07-25

By the way do you know you could get the time just keeping it vertical? (Well as a far as the sun is up )

MrPiggyPooh made it! (author)2017-07-25

You can also use them as a stylus al you need is tinfoil and then just wrap the tinfoil around the eraser side of the pencil then tada!

Nancy JG made it! (author)2017-07-23

Use the eraser to clean corrosion off battery terminals.

Sharpen pencil(s), coat graphite w/clear nail polish. Use as emergency knitting needle(s).

fmason made it! (author)fmason2017-07-24

Boiling water in the best solution.. Just pour it over the terminals and it will clean them straight away... Job Done....

Nancy JG made it! (author)Nancy JG2017-07-24

I think you may be referring to car batteries - I meant AA, AAA, C, and the like.

fmason made it! (author)fmason2017-07-25

Ah I must have read it wrong.. Thanks for the tip..Cheers

shannaciano made it! (author)shannaciano2017-07-24

You can use Coca Cola, much safer1

fmason made it! (author)fmason2017-07-25

I've never hear of that solution, Thank you. You know the old saying " If you learn something new every day then It was worth getting out of bed"... Cheers

papagun made it! (author)papagun2017-07-23

Emergency knitting needles? Really?

Nancy JG made it! (author)Nancy JG2017-07-23

Sure - depending on the gauge and yarn. People knit with screwdrivers, too.

Mihsin made it! (author)2017-07-25

My ex boss was a dedicated golfer. Because I used to teach Mechanical Drafting and my classes used pencils a lot, he asked me to save the pencil stubs for him, which will find their way to the waste basket, to use as Tees.

bob_the_mallett made it! (author)2017-07-24

Pencil graphite is also good for lubricating stiff zips just rub along the teeth of the zip.

robosensei made it! (author)2017-07-24

My grandfather use to be a locksmith and gave me a very valuable tip. he used to use graphite shavings from the pencil to lubricate the keyhole on any door handle, deadbolt, or padlock. You just have to make sure that you don't include the wood shavings, and that the graphite in the pencil is at least a 2B or lower grade. pure graphite in powdered form is best, but pencils will work just as well.

larrymroy made it! (author)2017-07-23

Use the lead to lubricate guitar nuts.

luthier64 made it! (author)luthier642017-07-23

Graphite, helps the string glide and stops those tuning-jumps that occur when the string bites and then suddenly releases.

Amazing stuff graphite.

fred_ made it! (author)fred_2017-07-24

Have you ever tried molybdenum disulfide paste (not moly grease)? It's messy stuff but you'd only need a little. It should be a little more slippery than graphite.

bunnydeath made it! (author)2017-07-24

Call me crazy, but I still love using pencils to write and draw with. Nothing better for brainstorming. I guess the younger generation might think these are unusual, however, I think the comments have more unusual uses for pencils than the instructable. But without the instructable, we'd have no comments. Therefore, good job! =)

diducmeb4 made it! (author)2017-07-24

OLD SCHOOL - Use it for writing letters!!!

mthomp1 made it! (author)2016-06-28

Use it to lubricate door latches to make door closing easier. The lead in the pencil is made of graphite. Also use it to lubricate the base of light bulbs before screwing into the lamp socket, makes it easier to remove the bulb from the socket when it's burned out.

caramello1 made it! (author)caramello12017-07-23

Pencils work for lubricating but chapstick works better

mthomp1 made it! (author)mthomp12017-07-24

Chapstick will gum up and harden in cold weather. Graphite in pencils never affected by cold weather.

caramello1 made it! (author)caramello12017-07-24

Oh. Had no idea. I live in a warm climate, so it works for me, though, and I also use chapstick to lubricate my instruments and practically anything else.

amcgamcg made it! (author)amcgamcg2017-07-23

Use a soft pencil (more than 2B) to scratch graphite along the outside and inside of metal zip fasteners. It makes them open and close smoothly. It might work on nylon zips but I've never yet tried it.

mthomp1 made it! (author)mthomp12017-07-24

Remember, the higher the number on the pencil is harder and contains more clay than graphite. If you're lucky to find No. 1 pencils as they have more graphite than No.2.

SzilviaB made it! (author)SzilviaB2017-07-23

Good one!

delsur made it! (author)delsur2017-02-03

Thanks for the light bulb suggestion! Have had quite a few hard to remove lately.

makermike made it! (author)2017-07-23

Don't forget rewinding casette tapes!

Anne46 made it! (author)Anne462017-07-24

Nice one ☺ I remember doing that.

AnnamarieD made it! (author)AnnamarieD2017-07-23

do they even make those anymore?

holly-g made it! (author)2017-07-23

Sticking pins and needles in an eraser DULLS them. A bain to seamstresses.

JohnG634 made it! (author)JohnG6342017-07-24

I have read that you can sharpen points by sticking (repeatedly?) in bar soap.

anngr made it! (author)2017-07-24

Fix a sticky zipper - especially a metal one - by running a pencil (the softer the better) up and down the teeth a couple of times to deposit graphite. Works every time.

DarrylM13 made it! (author)2017-07-24

I will always use pencils. I have more pencils in my home than our big stationer has in its shops.

WarrenW19 made it! (author)2017-07-24

Oh yeah, MINOR not MINER,

WarrenW19 made it! (author)2017-07-23

And, believe it or not, you can write and draw with it!

PrincessPug10 made it! (author)PrincessPug102017-07-23

True point. ??

WarrenW19 made it! (author)WarrenW192017-07-24

Good point!

tothlisa made it! (author)tothlisa2017-07-23


Blackanga made it! (author)2017-07-23

If you are ever camping overnight and use an inflatable mattress, make sure that you take with you a round pencil. In case you loose the mattress plug, unless you have a spare, a pencil is an ideal size to replace it.

Janiedella made it! (author)2017-07-23

wonderful imagination !

Cliffystones made it! (author)2017-07-23

While I love your ideas, I can't remember the last time I found a pencil in our home that had an intact eraser!

cyrusdh made it! (author)2017-07-23

If you chuck up a pencil in a drill press and use a polishing compound you can "jewel" the surface of metal. It works well on the bolts of bolt action rifles. I would say it is new but I was taught this about 50 years ago.


CPUDOCTHE1. made it! (author)2017-07-23

The only non-pencil uses I have used a pencil for are:

1. Replaced the primers in spent shells to dry fire my .357 Mag revolver.

2. Cut one to length and used it as a plug for a shotgun.

3. Plug fuel and vacuum lines on vehicles.

RobertG374 made it! (author)2017-07-13

They work well in zero gravity too!

KriegC made it! (author)KriegC2017-07-23

The Russians knew that too, but we had to take a million dollar pen into space. Just couldn't go without it.

TKing made it! (author)TKing2017-07-23

The reason I heard for the pen was the graphite is an electrical conductor.

Floating around in you space capsule capable of shorting out your computers is not a good thing.

fwincek made it! (author)fwincek2017-07-23

nope...the 0G pen was necessary...tiny bits of graphite floating around the space station are just looking for places to make trouble. The pencil v pen canard has been around just too long!!

kkmmccoy made it! (author)kkmmccoy2017-07-23

go big or go home

About This Instructable




Bio: Made in Canada, I grew up crafting, making, and baking. Out of this love for designing and creating, I pursued a BFA in product design ... More »
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