Introduction: How to Make a Spiral Pencil

Picture of How to Make a Spiral Pencil

Just recently I went on a long car ride and happened to have a few pencils and an x-acto knife. I did what any maker would do, I started whittling at one of the pencils til I had a cool-looking spiraled pencil. In this instructable I will show you how to make a spiral pencil!

Step 1: Picking the Right Pencil

Picture of Picking the Right Pencil

To make a spiraled pencil you will first need the right pencil. Shown here are three different types of pencils. The first is a six sided pencil. Sounds simple enough, but could prove itself to be difficult for the beginner. The second one is a Ticonderoga pencil, also six sided. Appaently the world's best. The wood on these are sometimes a little bit harder thus being tougher to whittle, if you have a sharp enough knife then go for it. The last is a colored pencil. It is completely round. Its shape will make it easier for beginners to practice on, although the hardness of the wood differs.
After you pick your pencil, you should decide whether or not you want it sharpened. If so, do it before whittling.

With that said, you're ready to start whittling!

Step 2: Whittling

Picture of Whittling

Start by cutting 2 lines that go all the way around the pencil in a spiral shape.
Now you can start cutting out the shape. Cut all of the wood from the surface of the pencil that lies between the two spiral lines. After that, start cleaning up the spiraled area. Simply scrape with the x-acto knife or sand with a file.

Step 3: Finished!

Picture of Finished!

You are now finished with your spiral pencil! Here's a few suggestions of what to do with it!

Go brag to friends about how awesome your skills are and show them your pencil!

Roll the pencil on a table and see the awesome endless squiggle!

Post a picture of your awesome pencil!

the possibilities are endless!

Perhaps you could vote for me in the toy contest?! Sweet, Thanks!!


DDUDE15 (author)2016-08-04

Wow i am going to make this im going to try and make a dual spiral with more shallow cuts for better wrighting in my lifetime i have drawn so much i worked 5 pencils to a nub :D its fun drawing with a 1/2 inch pencil

Suchir made it! (author)2014-12-12


Minmin4225 (author)2014-01-06

I would do this but I have a tendency to lose pencils… :)

whittler123 (author)2013-09-02

Awesome! I just showed my sister mine compared to yours and mine is horrible compared to yours!!!!

Hippymike96 (author)2011-12-04

So going to make it, wonder how well it writes?

Robot Lover (author)Hippymike962011-12-04

Well, I wouldn't use it that much for writing because it could snap easily. You should post some pics!

Hippymike96 (author)Robot Lover2011-12-05

once made i will

domestic_engineer (author)2011-06-26

very cool, but the thought of you playing with an exacto knife in the car makes me nervous. :)

Don't worry, I've pricked myself enough with exactos in my day, I'm basically immune to pain! The bleeding though, I still bleed.

astroboy907 (author)Robot Lover2011-09-21

I think im gonna try one and impress apon the electronics class :)

Robot Lover (author)astroboy9072011-09-22

Yeah! they're easy to make but very impressive looking!

Ditto. 'Nuff said.

I concur! I'm a majorly talented klutz. Such a pursuit in a moving vehicle would just about guarantee a subsequent trip to the nearest ER. He's a better man than I am, Gunga Din!

ernie666 (author)2011-09-11

Wouldn't it be really cool if you carved a totem pole design into the pencil?

astrong0 (author)2011-06-28

What if you could dovetail a couple of pencils together and... well that's it really...

crjeea (author)astrong02011-07-02

really hard to do, but not impossible (:
would be great for 3D lettering or if you put several together putting lines on blank paper (removing the graphite from every other pencil could be good for makeing multiple copies of the same line maybe for cutting up later) a lot more stable than just a couple of rubber bands)

astrong0 (author)crjeea2011-07-03


dpaspārne (author)2011-07-02

You could have used a thin strip of sandpaper at the end to make it nice and smooth (well smoother :P)
So far I've only done that with a candle :D Got to try with a pencil, when I have too much spare time :D

jnichols4 (author)2011-07-01

i've made a couple of these before but I used a table belt sanders rounded end, and just pulled down and twised the pencil. I made about a dozen in an hour, they were pretty awsome but they were very easy to break.

Verga (author)2011-06-28

Very nice job, but please don't things like this in a moving car again, we don't want to have to call you lefty.
Keep them coming this is cool

yamon (author)2011-06-27

I don't know why, but this is the coolest thing ever.

Robot Lover (author)yamon2011-06-28

Really?! If you think so, vote for it in the toy contest! Thanks!

parker65 (author)2011-06-28

that's cool

directx1222 (author)2011-06-27

i wrapped elwire in the groove and hollowed out the top so i could put those small cell batteries in and power the elwire - looks cool - pencils kinda big though

shashi prakash (author)2011-06-27

it's cool

hahahippo=) (author)2011-06-26

That is so cool!!!!!!!!! :~D

dacker (author)2011-06-26

To get an consistent spiral with parallel grooves, try wrapping the pencil with say, 1/4-inch tape or a strip of paper 1/4-inch wide, wrapping the pencil candy cane or barber pole style. You can either leave the tape/paper in place during carving or just use it as a guide to "score" the pencil before carving without the tape/paper guide.

This should give you perfect spirals every time.

dlafuente1 (author)2011-06-26

Good job, great idea. Congratulations!!!

Robot Lover (author)dlafuente12011-06-26


voetspore (author)2011-06-26

Nice one. Also have a look at my Instructable:

splazem (author)2011-06-25

Great job! It looks like a drill bit!

Robot Lover (author)splazem2011-06-25

Enough to fool my dad!

bonnie13 (author)2011-06-24

Nicely done with found object. More instructions would be nice. Great creativity. Interesting amusement. Are you able to use the pencil later? Can this be played with?

stan4 (author)2011-06-23

LOL buddy, I also liked to unassemble my toys as a child, but I put them together after quenching my curiosity.

Wanna share this with you, I think this particular show on History channel called "SLICED" is an offense to all engineers, showing the behavior of a spoiled child on a grown man, destroying valuable machinery and equipment.

PS: Nice instructable, very creative.

nachosyumm (author)2011-06-23

Wow, I've never seen anyone else do this to a pencil besides me before this. Instead of doing it by hand, I made a little jig with my drill press to cut a perfect spiral. Don't have any pics, it was mostly out of boredom and I have since tossed the jig and used up the pencils. I found that sometimes the spiral doesn't want to work well with automatic pencil sharpeners, a couple of times they got stuck and i had to "unscrew" them to get them out.

techy-man (author)2011-06-22

OMD; I actually made one(well actually a few) of these in classes when I was bored a few years ago, btw you can also just do it with a small round needle file.

ironsmiter (author)2011-06-22

a small trick, to keep your spiral "perfect".
Wrap the pencil with masking tape, in a spiral pattern.
One edge of the tape JUST touching the opposite edge, on the next row.
Then, scribe in the line between the edges using your hobby knife.

Now, when you whittle away the groove, your edges remain "perfect".

ironsmiter (author)ironsmiter2011-06-22


Forgot to mention, using ONE piece of tape for the spiral layout will change the spiral a bit. It will leave you with no land (technobabble for the flat piece of the pencil left un-cut). Instead it will give you more of a screw shaped finished piece.
TO get this trick top produce the original results, bifurcate the tape and remove half. The part not covered by tape then is where you carve. It may be easier to mark the tape's centre BEFORE applying to the pencil.

SWV1787 (author)2011-06-22

go to any craft show or ren fest and you will see walking staffs that resemble these but they are done on a lathe

Robot Lover (author)SWV17872011-06-22

Yeah it's much easier to do curves and spirals on a lathe, it's just probably not a good idea to turn a pencil!

ironsmiter (author)Robot Lover2011-06-22

actually, a lot of them are NOT done on a lathe...

On the larger scale, a hand saw and a mitre box are the easiest way to make them.

To do this sort of spiral work on a lathe, you need a VERY specialized setup, with a router on the tool post, gear driven feeds, and head rotation. In fact, the lather isn't used as a lathe at all, but instead uses the head and tail stock as mounting points..

As you can see it is actually quite complex, as fast as wood turning goes.

About This Instructable




Bio: I love making things. I always found electronics and stuff like that fun. When I was little I always took apart my toys and put ... More »
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