Introduction: Colored Pencil End Grain Art for ALL!

About: DIY and Making-Wood, Glass and More!

Have you ever seen those colored pencil end grain projects? They look AMAZING!

Here's the problem...I don't think everyone has a table saw and band saw and CNC machine and gallons of epoxy just hanging around. Being a woodworker I can already tell there are huge challenges and a significant investment in a project like this. I don't think you can readily go back and sand this if you mess it up...

I have wanted to experiment with this technique for some time now, and this contest- along with 120 colored pencils on sale for $7 sealed the deal.

I learned a lot from this project and I'm excited to show that anyone can do this with basic tools and a realistic budget.


For this project you will need:

Colored Pencils

Glue...lots and lots of superglue...accelerator is helpful...

A handsaw (use the kind with really fine teeth)

A Xacto Knife

Foam board ( I chose a blue background, but the white looks really good too.

Dryer vent clamp (I used this to make my circles.

Patience...all you can muster if you are working toward a deadline!!

Step 1: Lessons Learned From Cutting Colored Pencils

This is the first step, and I was so excited to go! I thought I was being so clever taping them together to cut 12 pencils at a time (The pack I chose had 12 colors...)

What I learned was something I was afraid of...when cutting a lot together all the colors smear together and create an ugly gray color on the end of the pencils!! Look at that second photo!! We can't have that...we need beautiful wood with crisp the third and fourth photos!

So guess what? I cut them Each color, 120 pencils- cut into 15 sections each pencil.

If my late night math is correct...that's 1,800 pieces. Beware, you have been warned.

Step 2: MORE Lessons Learned From Cutting Colored Pencils!

Hang on...let's dig into this a little more, as my numb fingers DEMAND I give you some basic numbers for this type of project.

ONE- Seven dollar clearance pack of colored pencils.

12 colors, 10 packs of pencils= 120 pencils

120 pencils cut into 15 pieces each between 3/8" -1/2" tall.

120 pencils cut into 15 pieces each gives 1,800 pencil chunks.

Each saw cut averaged 2-4 strokes of the handsaw- so 5,400 cuts

It would take me between 8-10 minutes to cut all the pencils of one color, but WAIT! There's more:

Do you see the first photo? do you see how one point is crooked (ignore the fact they are upside down...humor me) Many pieces had jagged edges, and those edges needed to be trimmed with a Xacto Knife so they would all sit flat.

Last but not least- The most crucial data point: Each color had about140 pieces (ignore the 10 pieces from the sharpened pencil point, we'll use those later)

IF you line them up in a single row, it is 40 inches long. Each successive row takes up this much space:

2 rows: 20 1/4" long

3 rows: 13.5" long

4 rows: 10" long

5 rows: 8" long

6 rows: 6 3/4" long

7 rows: 5 3/4" long

I know you just want me to skip to where it's a square...I did too...a square is 3 1/4" X 3 1/4". That's right...140 pieces would take up about a 3 inch square....So 1,800 pencil pieces would occupy a 12 inch by 15 inch space...

Now you know. You're Welcome.

Step 3: How to Manage Hundreds of Tiny Colored Pencil Pieces

This part was a lot of fun. I had a hard time nailing down my design as I just wanted to arrange and re-arrange pencil pieces.

I decided on an abstract idea of a bubble wand blowing colored pencil bubbles for my daughters room.

So! How do you manage so many pieces? You need a FORM of some kind. This is the secret. They all need to be standing up and they need to be corralled into a space where you can SQUEEZE them together. I found that for my circular shapes a dryer vent clamp worked great. The project I found was that my clamp would not close enough to squeeze them all I played with the design and created a block out that would mimic another bubble in the negative space created by the plywood block out.

When you glue them together, be careful not to glue them to the clamp. Do not try to use gel superglue, it won't fill in the crevices properly. A little goes a long way, and super glue accelerator can be your BEST friend here.

Step 4: Why I Think Colored Pencils Make GREAT ART!

In the end, this was a really fun project. My fingers are only numb because I decided to RUSH to get this in... the clock is still ticking!

Here is why I think Colored Pencils are compelling when creating:

  • COLOR. The colors are just fantastic. You can stay basic or get the 50 pack that has an unnatural amount of variations on the color green.
  • CONTRAST. The sharp, clean lines produced by the hexagons (or circles if you go that rout) combined with the contrast between the wood and the colored lead is hard to ignore.
  • SYMMETRY. You could get lost looking into pencil end grains.

There is a return to childhood with colored pencils. It makes you want to go colors something.

Unless you just chopped them into 1,800 pieces and decided last minute you don't want to include the brown and black colors...just sayin'. Then you may not want to look at colored pencils for a while...

You don't need huge machines and a freakishly large amount of epoxy to make colored pencil art- so go do it now!

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