How to Make a Plywood Pencil Holder



About: My name is Mitch. I make videos about the things I make and what I learn along the way. I have a Youtube Channel called Made by Mitch. I also love the coffee and the outdoors.

We needed a way to organize some of the many colored pencils and crayons in our house. This pencil holder was a quick solution and it turned out much better than I thought it would. Enjoy!




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Step 1: Cut the Boards to Size

The first thing I had to do was cut all of the boards to size to be glued up. The boards can be whatever size you want them to be. I used a piece of scrap plywood for this so the size for each board was 12" long and I ripped the pieces on the table saw to about 5" wide. I used five boards for this.

Step 2: Glue the Boards Together

The next thing I had to do was glue the boards together. This was a fairly simple process because it just consisted of gluing a board, and stacking the next one on top of it, then repeat. I did this for all five boards. I made sure that the top board and the bottom board where the best looking boards since they would be showing. I made sure to spread the glue evenly using a scrap piece of wood before putting them together. Next I clamped the stack of boards together with several clamps. I used scrap pieces of plywood on both sides that the clamps were on so the clamps wouldn’t damage the work piece. I waited a few hours then took the clamps off.

Step 3: Cut to Final Size

Next I could cut the block to its final size. From the glue up, it is almost impossible to have the boards in a perfect block, so I needed to trim the sides a little bit. I decided to put a small angle on the sides of the block just to give it a little better of a look but this isn’t necessary. To do this, I used the bandsaw. I angle the top to 5 degrees and then I put a guide on the bandsaw top to keep the piece moving straight. This took some trial and error. If you check out the video, you will see what I did to get this right. After running each side through the bandsaw, I trimmed of the ends of the block with the miter saw. Now I had a block with neat edges.

Step 4: Drill the Holes

The next thing I did was drilled the holes for the pencils. The best way to go about this is to use a forstner bit for it. All you would need to do is mark and drill the holes. I did not have a forstner bit in the size I needed, so instead I used a 2 ⅛” hole saw. This took a few different steps but it wasn’t too hard, it just took a little more time. First I measured where the holes would go. The best way I found to do this was cut a circle using the hole saw with a scrap piece of plywood to help me visualize how they needed to be laid out. Then I could visualize it a little more and use a tape measure to space them out evenly. After I marked the center of all the holes, I used the hole saw and went as far down as I could go creating the outside of the hole. I made sure to clamp the work piece down to the bench so it wouldn't move while drilling. Then I used a 1 ½” forstner bit and drilled into the center of the hole saw mark I made. Then I used a chisel to get the rest of the material out of the hole until the bottom was flush with the hole saw mark. I repeated this several times until the hole was as deep as I wanted it to be, which was about 3” deep. I did this for all four holes making sure they were all the same depth. You can make this design whatever length you want and have as many holes as you want. Four holes was plenty for what I needed this for.

Step 5: Sand and Apply Finish

After all of the holes were drilled, I could start finishing the pencil holder. I first sanded everything up to 220 grit sandpaper. I used a sanding block to get in the holes and a random orbit sander to get the outside parts. Next I used spray shellac on the workpiece. I sprayed 3 thin coats on it letting it dry for about 20 minutes between each coat. This left a nice finish on it.

Step 6: Complete

After this, the project was complete! Check out the video to get more of a visual idea of what I did. Feel free to reach out to me if you need help or have any questions. You can send me a message or find me around the web. Thanks for reading!

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    15 Discussions


    4 weeks ago


    Simple and beautiful, nice job!

    Next time you build one of these, drill the holes in the plywood before you glue them together leaving the bottom piece without a hole. A hole saw is not the best tool for drilling in "deep" material. There is too much friction. After glue-up, you can always chase the hole with the hole saw to remove any misalignment issues. (EDIT: After thinking this through a bit, drill two smaller holes at the same place on each board. Then put a wire/rod/dowel through those alignment holes as you glue the boards in the stack. The large holes will always line up then. You can always fill the alignment holes with wood putty or just leave the dowel in place. Dowels of a different wood would stand out.)

    Also, find a piece of good birch plywood with more layers of wood that won't surprise you with a void area. Then try different wood stains on the edges. The different ply directions will show the stain in more pronounced ways. Practice stain on scrap material first.

    This is a great first woodworking project for a youngster like my grandson. Thank you!

    PS. NEVER make only one of any project!

    1 reply
    M.J2Consider My Solution

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    I've done something similar to what you said here:
    • Glue all but the bottom board together.
    • Drill through all layers with desired bit.
    • Glue on bottom piece.
    • Shape and finish as desired.

    No need to align the holes if all material to be drilled is already one block.


    4 weeks ago

    Nice.. Simple and Plain... the way i like it... inspired from this got an idea of making it with corrugated sheet..lets see how it turns out...

    DIY Academy

    5 weeks ago on Step 4

    Just a suggestion, but a Jig would be a great way to complete this task. Take some of the 1/4 ply you had as scrap and cut it the same size as the top of your holder. Then I would mark the centre of the board lengthwise with a pencil mark (because its scrap, you don't have to be as concerned of messing up). Then you can layout your circles where ever you want them on the scrap. Once you have them in place, cut them you have a template/jig to use to mark your actual holder.

    2 replies
    MadebymitchDIY Academy

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    That is a great idea. Then if you had to make multiple, they will be identical from the template. Thank you for sharing.

    BigAndRedDIY Academy

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    makes sense to use a template to guide the hole saw to cut holes into the 3/4 ply, then you can use the circles to make wheels for toy cars.


    5 weeks ago

    Brought back memory. I cut the basic outline of an elephant from a 2 x 4 with a jig saw. Drilled holes in the back of the elephant to hold 6 crayons.

    1 reply

    5 weeks ago

    I never thought of using the the hole saw this way, but I’ll try it. Thanks for sharing.

    1 reply

    5 weeks ago

    Might be a lot easier to glue 3" worth of plywood together and drill all the way through. Then glue a plywood block for the bottom. Then taper, sand etc ? :)

    1 reply

    Reply 4 weeks ago

    That is a great idea. I wish I would have thought of that. Thanks for the input.