Make 2.0mm Leads for 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil or Leadholder


Introduction: Make 2.0mm Leads for 2.0mm Mechanical Pencil or Leadholder

Here you'll learn how to give new life to old pencils through the guts of a 2.0mm mechanical pencil or leadholder.

Step 1: Easy As 1,2,3

Materials needed:

1) lead pencils (any hardness, any maker), best if free, like gift pencils, old small pencils.

2) fire source and fire fuel (bic lighter pictured, best add old newspaper, twigs, etc)

3) mechanical pencils (mine pictured. buy your favorite at your office supply store.)

4) knife or any other cutting tool (not pictured)

5) place to keep finished leads (I made a 3/4" x ~6" plastic tube, inserting a piece of dowel in each side)

6) place to make a small fire (may be a soup can or the like -- not pictured)

Ok, this is my first instructable, let's KISS (ops, not you and me), but KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID.


1) get old pencils and fire fuel, put everything together where you can make a fire

2) set it on fire and wait until the pencils are nothing more than lead and charcoal. Add fire fuel if necessary (pencils burn quite well)

3) wait things cool and scrape chacoal from burnt pencils with the knife

4) load your 2.0mm leadholder or save the leads for future.


Well, as you know, pencils get shorter as you sharpen them and a lot of good lead goes to the trash everyday. Why not use them until very small? With my leadholders, I can use the lead up to about 10mm long, as pictured. Also, I have a heavy hand, so I start to get comfortable writing with the 0.9mm pencil. So why not go big?


I have 4 2.0mm leadholders. 2 are made by Koh-I-Noor (, 1 from German Staedtler and one Brazilian Compactor. I like the all-metal Koh-I-Noor's best.

Hope it was useful.


Step 2: Additional Pencil Info, for Those Who Care.

Pencil hardness (graphite grading) scale:

Good news for hardcore green activists (pencil lead from industrial/electrical waste):

Koh-I-Noor, traditional pencil and mechanical pencil maker:



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5 Discussions

alas and alack, i threw out a bucket load of small pencils a year ago when i switched completely to mechanical.

Nice! I just use a pair of snips (end nips) to crack the wood. Does the fire effect writing performance? -Staedtler -Faber-Castell

3 replies

At least until now, I couldn't notice any difference from the original pencil. I usually go for the #2 and #1, or the softer ones. The best material I got was #2 Faber-Castell scrap pencils (too short to resharp and write). I learnt somewhere that the writing performance was better studied by Henry Thoreau (the philosopher) and the change in hardness was achieved adding amounts of clay to the raw lead and cooking. Since this cooking was done at much higher temps, I'd say you can't change this with a so "cold" fire, used only to reduce the wooden pieces and glue out of it... HTH :-) Thanks for commenting.

Ok, that makes sense. I remeber reading something about burning carpenter's pencils to use as electrodes and that the fire did something to them, but that might have been in a kiln or with a much hotter torch. I'll definitely try this sometime.

Hehe.. Wow, I'm not that authority in pencils, but since carpenter's are quite soft, looks like they have much less clay and more carbon. Probably what happens is a kind of changing in the molecular structure (God, how did I go this far??), like what quenching and tempering does to steel...