Pencil Holder With Anglo Saxon Runes





Introduction: Pencil Holder With Anglo Saxon Runes

About: Growing up in a rural area in the East of England I've always been interested in nature and trees and eventually found myself building things from the wood I could find. This has led me to follow my passion ...

I needed to make a birthday present for my Dad and seeing as he recently made himself a desk I thought I'd make a pencil/pen holder to go along with it. I used some Ash and Sapele that was saved from a carpenters dumpster and carved in some Anglo Saxon Runes that spells out his name (hopefully). It's a fairly simple build and a lot of it I did on the fly but I will include the measurements and techniques I used.

As always there's a YouTube video documenting the build but more detailed instruction will follow below!

Thanks for checking it out and I hope you enjoy it.

Step 1: Tools and Materials Needed


- Pencil and measure

- Mallet and various chisels (for carving and chamfering)

- Small tenon saw

- Large saw/ crosscut saw or table saw

- Hand plane (block or smoothing will do)

- 800 grit sandpaper

- 4 small clamps


- 4 pieces of wood at 11cm X 1.5cm X 1.5cm (4 5/16" X 9/16" X 9/16")

- 4 pieces of wood at 9cm X 5cm X 1cm (3 9/16" X 2" X 3/8")

- 1 piece of wood at 5cm X 5cm X 1cm (2" X 2" X 3/8")

- Wood glue/PVA

Step 2: Cutting the Pieces to Size

I cut the Sapele into 4 pieces of the measurement described in the picture above, these parts would make up the sides and main bulk of the holder. I then cut another piece of Sapele for the bottom and the 4 pieces of ash were cut to fit onto the corners.

I chose these 2 kinds of wood firstly because that's all I had! I deal with recycled or unwanted wood only and I have been lucky enough to gain some ash and sapele from a carpenters "rubbish" pile. Secondly I love the contrast of the two kinds of wood together, they complement each other so well.

Step 3: The First Glue Up

The first glue up is very simple; take the 4 corner pieces and lie them on a flat surface with two of the sides between them. It was important to get a nice flush fit along the back of the holder as I wanted the corner pieces to protrude a little. This was so I could plane and chamfer them down later to create an angular kind of look.

Step 4: Carving the Runes

First of all I checked out what letters I needed online, I cross referenced the sites I found with several other sites to try and make sure I was getting the right lettering. Eventually I ended up here, a site where you can type your name in and get the runes you desire. On second look it appears I may have gotten the runes wrong! But, there seems to be different schools of thought depending on which site you end up on. Guess I better call in a rune expert next time!

After I found the runes I wanted I figured out where I wanted them on the wood and pencilled them on. After that I took a couple of sharp chisels and just took some shallow angled cuts either side of the pencil line to make a nice thin, carved line. I thought that style suited the type face so I stuck with it.

Step 5: The Second Glue Up

After all the carving is done and the first glue up is dry you can go onto the second and final glue up. I felt it was easier to do this glue up in 2 stages to get increased accuracy as there's a few fiddly bits. I clamped the glue up with 4 small clamps and let it dry before heading to the next step.

Step 6: Chamfering the Edges

This step is entirely optional, I did this part completely on the fly with just a rough idea in my head what I wanted it to look like. I clamped the pencil holder in my vice and started to shave down the corner pieces. Rather than planing all the way down the sides I decided to leave them a little proud just to add to the angular look. Afterwards I used a small saw to cut angles along the top of the pencil holder. I finished them off with a sharp chisel and block plane.

To give it a nice finishing touch all over I took my chisel and chamfered all the edges including the bottom of the feet. If you've never chamfered wood with a sharp chisel I suggest you try it, I find it to be one of the most satisfying things about woodworking!

Step 7: Sanding and Finish

I already had a nice, smooth surface from the planing and chisel work but I still took a piece of 800 grit to the whole pencil holder. I applied a 50/50 mixture of Danish oil and mineral spirits, when it dried I gave the piece another light sanding with 800 grit sandpaper and applied another couple of finishes. The more layers you apply the glossier it becomes.

All in all I was rather pleased with it and though the bottom needed a bit of work it was unnoticeable when sitting on a desk and doing its job. The contrast of the 2 different woods was wonderful to see come to life especially when I applied the finish at the end.

I hope you enjoyed this instructable, if you'd like to keep up with my future projects then please give my Facebook page a like and check me out on YouTube. Thank you!

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Is there a tool that Small tenon saw? I want to try this with wood shop class but I'm not sure if we have a Small tenon saw..

3 replies

I'm sorry Jonas I'm not sure what you mean? I'm very happy to help though!

Sorry I meant is there a tool that you could use instead of the Small tenon saw?

No problem! Sure you could use any saw you like. The only reason I used a small tenon saw was for the accuracy of the cut. If you're careful enough and skilled enough you could use any saw you like. It was just a personal preference.

You spelled Denzil properly in "Elder Futhark" Runes. Runes however are phonetic,,, but you got it as close as possible I believe.

1 reply

Thanks for the help Anthony, I have to admit when I searched for his name online I got a couple of different translations. In the end I just went with the version that turned up more often than not. It's something I'd love to learn more about really.

The best thing about runes is that you can write whatever you want and no one knows! Mu-ahahaha

10 replies

Haha well that's true, I should've used that opportunity really!

Out of curiosity... What was the name you were trying to transliterate?

Denzil was the name I was going for, there seems to be different interpretations of runes on the internet so I may have got it slightly wrong.....but um...its the thought that counts right?

Dagaz, Ehwaz, Nauthiz, Algiz, Isa, Laguz. Your runes were correct for a direct translation. Nicely done.

Ah thanks a lot for taking the time to look at! I feel better now haha.

Haha yah.... what if you got it completely wrong and you wrote like 'potatoe' or something. I suppose there are not many people who speak fluent Anglo Saxon, who would correct you.

Not the point though. You did and awesome job and that's what counts (althoug for humor sake I hope it does say 'potatoe' or smething )

Well that's true, I don't think many people will complain about my lack of Anglo Saxon knowledge! I feel like giving someone a gift with "potato" written on it in Anglo Saxon now.

Haha I would have just given my friends pencil holders that said 'send nudes' in Anglo Saxon.

Spot the Imgur reader!

Sounds like a future project to me!

I like this a lot and will copy for my grandson called "Rune".


1 reply

Thanks Madts, you and your grandson have very cool names I must say!