Introduction: 10 Unusual Uses for Pencils

Picture of 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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

Step 8: Remove Sticker Gunk

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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

Picture of 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

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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!

Picture of 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!

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

Comments

jaxboy (author)2017-09-23

I have saved many electric motors by using the eraser of a pencil. Over time, the carbon brushes will foul the commutator contacts so that the motor no longer works. I saved a man well over $200 for not having to replace his "dead" Porsche windshield wiper motor. I simply took the motor apart, wiped the commutator with a rag to get the loose graphite off it, then used a pencil eraser to scrub each contact clean, then used an old toothbrush to remove any graphite from between the contacts, reassembled the motor, and he had a motor that ran like new. By the way, in a pinch, new motor brushes can be made by removing the center graphite rod from a spent C or D cell and filing it to shape.

andrew.mead.1253 (author)2015-06-26

The eraser tipped pencil is a Canadian invention I believe and is seldom seen in Europe. The rubber is impregnated with an abrasive and it's best not to develop a habit of absent-mindedly gnawing it if you care about your teeth.

Enough of that--another practical use for the business-end of a pencil is to lubricate some materials that contact each other and are required to move. Wood is the most common material but just about any solid material that's porous is a candidate for graphite lubrication. I think of a pencil as both a writing instrument and a precise graphite applicator, eraser-tipped or not.

Finally, if you find an old pencil-hang onto it as the new pencils from overseas are usually made with the wrong type of wood, "leads" that break far too easily and eccentric or slightly offset leads, the result of which can be seen once it's sharpened in a pencil sharpener. The only way to sharpen them effectively is with a knife but while doing that, one discovers the problem of leads that break too easily.

I could write about pencils for another three hours--but can't and won't.

Kevanf1 (author)andrew.mead.12532015-06-27

I live (born and bred) in England and have seen eraser tipped pencils all my life. 52 years is a pretty good time to see lots of eraser tipped pencils. So I'm afraid you are bit wrong about them being seldom seen in Europe. Unless you are not classing Great Britain as Europe of course; which actually suits me just fine :)

andrew.mead.1253 (author)Kevanf12015-06-28

Ok. My source of information was read 20 years ago and was already 20 years old--so, I confess, I'm wrong about the eraser tip bit. I recall my Mother correcting me back in the 1970's: "England" (!) she said, "is NOT European". I think that was about the time the UK was preparing to jettison its exclusive favoured trading practices with nations of the Commonwealth to throw her lot in with the EEC-- and it was stirring up controversy in Canada. I wish we were part of Europe and the EEC--you should see who our trading partners are in the N.American Free Trade Agreement!! (embarrassing)

jaxboy (author)andrew.mead.12532017-09-23

For some reason this 'ible is just being shown here in the States. And speaking of the States, I can understand your revulsion if you are talking about our former president, but the NAFTA is a gift from heaven for Canada and Mexico. It favors both countries at the expense of the States, but that is about to change, thank goodness. You really should say a prayer of thanks every night that you have the US as your neighbor instead of any other country in the world. We make it so you do not have to worry about invasion, illegal immigrants, border fencing, a navy, air force, or a standing army. You don't have to have gigantic investment in industrial innovation, r&d, or investment capital like we do. You can just get all that from us. And these points are just slivers off the tip of the iceberg, so before you go getting embarrassed about your neighbor, you should think about what your neighbor does for you first.

mikeyc.2009 (author)Kevanf12015-06-27

Maybe he has only visited your golf courses. I can understand why there are not any erasers on golf scoring pencils. Temptation. :-)

Kevanf1 (author)mikeyc.20092015-06-28

Possible, though I'm not a golf fan so I'm not sure I fully understand your meaning there. No matter :) All of our pencils through my school life (which is now going back well over 30 years ago) had erasers on the end. It was very unusual to find one without unless you were going for drawing office type pencils (expensive ones).

You could but you can't? I don't get it.

Allyson04 made it! (author)2017-08-26

I saw your post, I then walked around my yard and found some leaves. I arranged the leaves on a paper. I then put another piece of paper on top and rubbed a pencil over it. After I got all of the leaves rubbed over, I wrote what leavs they were on the back. I loved it! Thank you!

Allyson04 (author)2017-08-26

So many ideas! I LOVE it!!

Bassfisher (author)2017-07-26

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

dave.vaness.79 (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 (author)dave.vaness.792017-07-25

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 (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 (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 (author)Nancy JG2017-07-24

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

Nancy JG (author)fmason2017-07-24

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

fmason (author)Nancy JG2017-07-25

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

shannaciano (author)fmason2017-07-24

You can use Coca Cola, much safer1

fmason (author)shannaciano2017-07-25

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 (author)Nancy JG2017-07-23

Emergency knitting needles? Really?

Nancy JG (author)papagun2017-07-23

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

Mihsin (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 (author)2017-07-24

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

robosensei (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 (author)2017-07-23

Use the lead to lubricate guitar nuts.

luthier64 (author)larrymroy2017-07-23

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

Amazing stuff graphite.

fred_ (author)luthier642017-07-24

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 (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 (author)2017-07-24

OLD SCHOOL - Use it for writing letters!!!

mthomp1 (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 (author)mthomp12017-07-23

Pencils work for lubricating but chapstick works better

mthomp1 (author)caramello12017-07-24

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

caramello1 (author)mthomp12017-07-24

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 (author)mthomp12017-07-23

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 (author)amcgamcg2017-07-24

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 (author)mthomp12017-07-23

Good one!

delsur (author)mthomp12017-02-03

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

makermike (author)2017-07-23

Don't forget rewinding casette tapes!

Anne46 (author)makermike2017-07-24

Nice one ☺ I remember doing that.

AnnamarieD (author)makermike2017-07-23

do they even make those anymore?

holly-g (author)2017-07-23

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

JohnG634 (author)holly-g2017-07-24

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

anngr (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 (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 (author)2017-07-24

Oh yeah, MINOR not MINER,

WarrenW19 (author)2017-07-23

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

PrincessPug10 (author)WarrenW192017-07-23

True point. ??

WarrenW19 (author)PrincessPug102017-07-24

Good point!

tothlisa (author)WarrenW192017-07-23

LOL

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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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