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 of…

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!