Over 50 years ago, I saw a pencil leaning against the front porch of a house near my grandmother's. I was enthralled with the scale of the pencil. It was almost as tall as the porch posts! Wow! What fun that would be. Does it write? Does it erase? What is it made of? Why did they make it? Dad, can I have it? The only question that was answered was the last one and that answer was "no" but I took it home with me in my mind.
Now, as a teacher who spent 30 years in public schools and another 11 years after I "retired," operating a tutoring business, I have gone through a lot of pencils with a lot of students. A few weeks ago, as I was explaining some geometry to a student, I used a standard pencil as an example of a hexagon and we walked through the geometry displayed in it. "How many degrees are each angle?" I've also used a pencil to apply ratios and algebra. "What is the ratio of length to width on this pencil?" What percentage of the length is the ferrule?"
I have several things in my tutoring center that play with the mind by using strange proportions. I look for ways to get students to think with a different part of their brain.
I know a man who has a saw mill. He repurposes old power poles. Around here, that means cedar. I asked him to mill some 1/2" boards that were 12' long and 12" wide. Those boards are all bright yellow now.
Step 1: Building the Body
My first task was to figure out how to build a hexagon with 12" wide sides. Knowing that there are 360 degrees in a circle, I recognized that if I wanted my "circle" to have 6 corners and even sides, I needed to make each angle at 60 degrees. Since 2 boards would meet at each corner, I beveled each edge at 30 degrees. I cut five (5) pieces of 1/2" plywood to the proper size to use as part of the framework for the body, giving me something to fasten the boards to and adding strength to the pencil body.
Next, I ripped 2"x6" boards into strips measuring about 2" on a side with 2 opposing angles being 60 degrees. The resulting parallelograms were cut into 3" blocks to serve as bumpers for the plywood panels. I spaced the first and last panels 2" from the end of the side boards and the middle panels about 4' from each end.
I used good quality wood glue on all edges and nailed the pencil body together with a pneumatic brad nailer.