Drawing Charcoal




Introduction: Drawing Charcoal

If you are and artist(maybe your friends are)... But any way I will show you how to make Drawing Charcoal Cheaply.

Step 1: Materials

For the materials they are here:
1. An 8 inch steel pipe with threads so end caps could be placed on.
2. 2 Screw-on end caps for the pipe.
3. For the Charcoal I used Willow branches. I found them at the Charles river in Boston, any willow branches would work.( most wood should work)
4. A pair of wrenches may be a vice.
5. A knife.
6. A fire pit/fire place that works.

Step 2: Preperation

Now that you have the materials here are the steps:
1. wash the pipe inside and out. there is oil which will burn and won't be good.
2. Place the pipe in the vice and tightly screw one end caps on to the pipe.
3. Cut the willow branches in to 6-8 inch sections.
4. Skin the Willow branches so that the wood is slippery.
5. Place the skinned and cut willow branches in the tube.
6. Screw the other end cap on but not as tight as the first one.

Step 3: MAKING and Finishing

Once the Wilow branches are in the tube, place the tube in a fire place/ pit for roughly 2 hours. (try to keep the temp the same).
After about 2 hours take out the tube and let it cool on paper or any other nonflammable surface.
Hint: Don't smolder in water because there will be condensation on the inside which will destroy the Charcoal.

Now unscrew the looser end cap and take the Charcoal out.

You have successfully made Drawing Charcoal!(if you completed the steps)



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    20 Discussions

    Take an empty paint can, burn it out over a fire, punch a small hole in the lid to let the gasses escape but little to no oxygen in (very important to vent it or pressure can build up the pipe is strong but paint cans are not). Then put the sticks as described in the paint can, seal lid, and place on fire with the hole up and let er cook till the smoke stops. Oh any closed metal container will work as in the woodcraft/bushcraft community we use Altoids tin to make char for flint and steel fires LOL.

    Have any of you tried doing this using a gass grill/barbecue? I live in a block of flats, and no chimneys here, hence no wood burning possibilities. Can't fire up wood outside either, it is forbidden because of danger of forest fires, pollution etc. But I do have a BBQ... Would love to try this! There is a willow tree outside too, which I'm sure I can "borrow" a few branches from... ;)

    My art teacher is going to make some charcoal for our drawing class in Jr. College (our students are poor). I think your instructions are wonderful! I want to make the pipe and put it into my wood burning fireplace to make some at home. Should I drill a tiny hole in one end of the pipe so the pressure won't build up inside? Sounds dangerous.

    and let it cool on paper or any other nonflammable surface. Since when is paper an nonflammable surface ?lol and is it possible you place a picture of the finished product . Cause I don't get it fully , is there a hole somewhere , how does it work ..:s

    3 replies

    There is a finished product picture (maybe there wasn't when you posted?) There's no hole, the heat that diffuses into the pipe makes it into charcoal.

    You can also use charcoal for black powder. Sorry, random moment. Anyway, nice job! That's going to save me some money!

    2 replies

    First off, thank you for posting this. As an art student, i find it difficult to shell out 3 bucks for 3 sticks of charcoal. This will help keep the wallet at least a little fatter. and just one note: "After about 2 hours take out the tube and let it cool on paper or any other nonflammable surface." I wouldn't put anything you just got out of a fire onto paper. Other than that though, great job!

    Holy Crap...THANK YOU SO MUCH! You just saved a hundreds of struggling student artists (like me) into a much a better place....*sob* *sob* thanks again
    *bookmarked it*...good man!

    i did a similar thing once with a large 70mm film tin. i put willow chunks in the tin, punched a small hole in the lid ,then tossed the can in the fireplace overnight,in the morning i had beutiful charcoal to make gunpowder from. good instructable.

    Wow, thanks! this stuff costs and arm and a leg from art shops (well, for what it is at least)

    Nice. That sounds relatively easy to do. Lots of questions: Do you know what the target temperature should be for making charcoal? Could I stick the pipe in my oven, or do you need really high temperatures? How much does temperature variation matter, and does the time/temperature change much when you use different types of wood?

    2 replies

    Does your oven have a self-cleaning cycle? Those tend to run up to 900F, and can do quite a few things with that that you can't do with normal cycles (including a sort of partial-firing of some clays...) Also, a barbecue or fireplace will do a fine job. I'm used to making charcoal for pyrotechnics comps, where the volume of wood is big enough that you usually DO use a hole to let out the volatile components, and the stopping point is supposed to be about when the gases coming out the hole stop burning... The properties of the charcoal vary LOTS depending on the type of wood (for pyrotechnics, anyway; I imagine it would be the same for drawing.)

    Thanks for this. I have strange fascination with drawing charcoal. I will definitely try this.

    I believe this requires a vent in the pipe. I expect that the waste gas will leave the pipe in the loose-fitting pipe ends. When I first did this experiment, I used a text tube, used wooden matches, a one-hole stopper and a glass tube to conduct the flammable gases away. I cooked the matches in the flame of a alcohol lamp. Worked good.