Picture of how to make charcoal pencils
Don't want to pay for expensive charcoal pencils?
Learn how to make your own with a cheap, easy way.
These pencils in my opinion are as good as the ones you buy.
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: Build a fire

Picture of Build a fire
Now you need to build a fire.
1. Take some tinder and light it,
2. Put small pieces of wood on the lit tinder.
3.Gradually add bigger pieces of wood.
4.Wait for the fire to build up.

Your fire is made =).

Step 2: Wrap and cook

Picture of Wrap and cook
1. Find some sticks that aren't too thin, they have to be thick enough.

2. Wrap the sticks in aluminium foil.

3. Place wrapped sticks in fire.

4. Wait about 20 minutes then find your wrapped sticks and just observe them...LEAVE IN FIRE.

5. You will notice gasses coming outof the foil..tere will be a lot of smoke coming out of the foil and some flames.

6. Observe the sticks until no more fllames and nearly no smoke is coming out of the foil.

7. Gently and carefully remove the foil from the fire and place on any surface.

8. Wait a couple of minutes for it to cool then remove carefully the "cooked" sticks (charcoal) from the foil.

9. (Optional) wrap the charcoal sticks in paper but leave some of the charcoal sticking out then tape the paper (if you don't want to get your hands all black when using the charcoal)

10. Use and enjoy your virtually free charcoal pencils.

(My pencil just looks like a black block wrapped in kleenek...but it goes really well and sorry for crappy image quality.)

(Have Fun!)
1-40 of 67Next »
you could probally use an old grill that has a lid with a vent, right
ElaLiser2 years ago
Are you serious? You would rather go through all of this trouble then simply buy a 4-pack of THIN charcoal pencils? First off, this would take forever, second, this is way to thick, I don't think even I can even sketch with a charcoal pencil like this. Just look at the way he writes the words, unless you want to spend your whole life carving it so it can get thinner, he can barely write with the pencil, for Christ's sakes. Bright Idea, though. I would have never thought of something like this.
GlueyMcGee (author)  ElaLiser2 years ago
Well, first off, with this method you can make as many charcoal pencils as you want, which could save money in the long run. Secondly,my pictures are just examples. You can make much thinner and more suitable pencils by finding thin branches and using that. Also, the wood I used for this instructable was maple, which is not ideal and is actually pretty hard to draw with. Oh, btw this takes very little time to make. You put some wood in tinfoil or an empty paint can, throw that in the fire, wait (you don't have to sit in front of the fire the whole time, too!), check once in a while. This way, you could make hundreds of pencils at a time.. which would probably be faster than going to buy hundreds of pencils at the store, not to mention cheaper.
Yes, I am serious.
Feaf2 years ago
Aluminium foil costs a lot nowadays and is not always reliable I would suggest a paint can with a few holes for venting as a better solution and the steps are a little different.
1.) clean out a paint can and poke 4-6 holes in the lid(More if you wish)
2.) place in preferred wood.
3.) place in a fire(The paint can is better for making more charcoal as the fire will need to be be bigger and hotter and might melt the aluminium).
4.) Take out of fire and cover the top securely and let it cool.
5.)Take out your charcoal and enjoy.
and great tutorial by the the way o3o
 do you have any suggestion on how to get darker or lighter charcoal.
This type of charcoalis what is referred to as "vine" charcoal. Darker charcoalis generally Compressed charcoal. Here's a Wikipedia article on both.

Basically, to get darker charcoal, you take the vine, grind it up, and compress it with a binder. Not sure what binder you would use for home use, but i'm interested in trying it.

Great instructable, btw!
could you use a little clay to bind it?
GlueyMcGee (author)  nightninja874 years ago
yes you could
As far as I know, the "color" of the charcoal depends on two factors: the first, is the type of wood (cedar, mahogany, oak, pine, etc), because of the inherent grade of natural compression the wood has, and the inherent chemical compounds content in the wood (alcohol, proteins, metals, etc), hence the hardness of the wood (just like graphite leads); the second factor is the "cooking time", proportional to the amount of material that has been subject to pyrolysis process.

I suppose you should do some previous tests to determine which one is darker or lighter.

Hope my answer helps you.
GlueyMcGee (author)  jilllindseyw5 years ago
 if by lighter or darker in color when you stroke then give a different pressure to the pencil but if you mean in general, i think experimenting with different kinds of woods would be best. I have only tried maple and that works great but i haven't tried any other kinds of wood.
 lol I understand how to get a different tone from pressure but im talking about the actual color of the charcoal I'll try different types of wood as well. Thanks for the thorough answer its much appreciated keep up with the awesome Instructables good sir. 
GlueyMcGee (author)  jilllindseyw5 years ago
 And if you rreally wanted to change the color, then you could maybe grind up the charcoal and mix it up with some pigment and add wax as a binder...That would make conté crayons though :P


I LOVE to draw with charcoal, but I'm always too broke to buy some. Thank you SO much.
The Jamalam6 years ago
take knex out of the keywords, it is irrelavent
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
well, put it this way, why is it under knex in the first place?and also, how is it relevant in any way??
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
i caan put any keywords i want, why would it have to be relevant
You're obviously doing it to get more attention. Instead of messing up the search engine, you should make an Instructable that will get attention for what it's worth.

also, this is very bad for the environment. the smoke, the fire, ugh.
lol, use pyrolisis
GlueyMcGee (author)  nutsandbolts_645 years ago

and lawizeg, don't you think that the millions of cars on the road and the millions of cows and the smoke created by factories is worst than what im doing? Thats what i thought.
Besides, the fuel is renewable!
that is the point of keywords! They are relavent to the instructable so that when you search for any of them, it comes up!
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
i know, but even iif its not relevant, it comes up while youre searching for it
i know, but this would clutter up the k'nex search menu, and we would not want that. Someone might think this is knex, only to find it's not, and have to go back, wasting maybe valuable time. Could you do that to someone?
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
(removed by author or community request)
You one of those people that doesn't care, and that noone likes because of that. that guy that takes the nacho with the most cheese because he "felt like it".
GlueyMcGee (author)  lawizeg6 years ago
umm i don't care and why? because who cares about knex?! i dont usuallly go on instructables and i only posted this to help others and people who find this in their knex search just have to ignore this unless they are interested and obviously people like you only came to see this because they have nothing to do and like wasting their time by posting USeLESS posts.
i care about knex
but, you're breaking site rules. I could always tell ewilhelm to ban you...
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
umm ok? but im still not removing it. now youre just wasting your time and mine.
you could have just removed it and saved me he bother
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
you could save yourself the bother buy stopping posting
or maybe you could have
GlueyMcGee (author)  The Jamalam6 years ago
im just goonna stop responding to these useless posts
okay, fine with me
because they are the laws of this site. And you still haven't answered my questions
pudicobar6 years ago
i was told that the best pencils come from grape vines... i guess if you wrap the charcoal with a pice of cloth and epoxy / polyester resin (fiberglass stuff) you can make a fairly hard and decent pencil, sharpenable too, with those big mouthed sharpeners.
GlueyMcGee (author)  pudicobar6 years ago
hmm...i didn't know would probably works (i didnt know that the best pencils came frome grape vines)
I'm not very sure of this too, but my guess is that any decent hardwood will make good pencils, like the stuff you guys have in America, like oak, osage, redwood, mulberry, apple, cherry etc etc etc... :D Hey, try the epoxy/resin thing and tell us if that works!
GlueyMcGee (author)  pudicobar6 years ago
hardwood does make the best pencils (maybe apart from grape vines)...i probably wont try the epoxy/resin thing cus...well, 1: i don't know where to fand these and 2: thats pretty much it. 3: its winter (wel...officially its winter on december 21st but theres already a foot of snow here so i say its winter :)) now so i can't go biking long distances to get some.
1-40 of 67Next »