Make Your Own Twig Pencils

I've seen twig pencils for sale, so why not make some of my own. I needed to prune some shrubs, so I decided to use some of the smaller branches for a fun, simple, and inexpensive project.

All that's needed:

some thicker mechanical pencil refills, a matching drill bit and drill, super glue, twigs of your choice, and a short amount of time.

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Step 1: Gathering the Twigs

I had some 3mm mechanical pencil refills already, so I needed pencil sized twigs. Twigs with a couple little branches sticking out on the non-graphite (soon to be) end is what I went for, just to make them more interesting.

Step 2: Drilling the Hole

First I tried to clamp the branch in my vice and drill into it using a hand drill with a 3mm bit. I had trouble keeping the bit from wandering off center though, and ruined a couple twigs doing so. So I figured I'd try the opposite approach, and took the loose twig to a secure and stable drill bit. Using my drill press, set on low speed, I turned it on and carefully pushed the twigs onto the bit. That worked much better for some reason.

In the video, it looks like I'm about to drill through my fingers, but the video is at high speed. I was very slow and deliberate. It didn't take much pressure.

Step 3: Building the Pencils

Once the holes were drilled, it was just a matter of applying some super glue to the graphite and then inserting it into the twig. I used a belt sander to sharpen them.

Step 4:

Once the pencils were made, I needed a pencil holder, so I mounted a small maple burl to my lathe and made one.

I gave this one to my daughter for her desk. It's a nice unique conversation piece :)

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    3 years ago

    Two questions: This can be done with a thicker lead? Say 0.5 or even 0.7? And would it be possible to put a mechanical pencil apparatus in a 'twig' so it would function indefinitely with refills? (I know the innards of pepper grinders are available, and I think I've seen pen insides for putting in a piece of wood, but I don't know about pencils....)