How to Make the Most Out of Your Pencils

How to Make the Most Out of Your Pencils

Posted Apr 06, 2016
Tags: Pencil Care

Ever wondered why your pencils are breaking when you sharpen them, how you can’t get a nice sharp point without the sharpener eating up your pencil or how you can sharpen your pencils when you don't have a sharpener?   If you want to avoid breakage and fracture, preserve the integrity and maximise the life of your pencils, practice the following tips:

Avoid breakage through use:

  • Don’t press too hard when using the pencil.
  • Keep pencil as vertical as possible when colouring.  The colour strip is more inclined to break when pencil is used at a very acute (small) angle.
  • When colouring a large surface area with the side of the colour strip, support the pencil with your hand in order to brace the pencil.

Avoid breakage when sharpening:

  • Ensure the sharpener is not blunt.  If the sharpener is blunt instead of the shavings being removed crisply, it is more likely that the colour strip will become fractured.
  • Be aware: sharpeners, like any blade, have a finite useful life span.  A helpful way to determine if your pencil sharpener is sharp or dull:

                         *Sharp blade - off cast is one continuous shaving

                         *Dull blade - comes off in little clumps

  • To sharpen your pencil it is best to twist the sharpener and to hold the pencil.  In this way, rather than the pencil being compressed into the blade the waste is removed cleanly.
  • To create a very acute (sharp pointed) tip it is not recommended to over sharpen a pencil as this can impact the tip and lead to fracture.  If a very fine tip is required use sand paper to file the colour strip down to a fine point by rubbing the side of the colour strip backwards and forwards (point facing forward, with the pencil held at 10-15 degrees from the surface).
  • Alternatively, a hobby knife is also a very good way to sharpen pencils as this shears away the pencil without traumatising and damaging the wood and colour strip.
  • In fact, hobby knives are the only way to sharpen pastel pencils due to the extra soft pigment rich strip.
  • Extreme caution should be exercised when using a hobby knife and hobby knives should never be used by children.
  • Another trick is to place your pencils in the sun for 10 minutes prior to sharpening them.  The heat from the sun reactivates and refuses the wax which is used in the colour strip manufacture, rebinding the pigment together.
  • Even with exercising care and following all of the guidelines sometimes the colour strip can still break when sharpening pencils.  The integrity of the colour strip could have been compromised if the box/tin of pencils has been dropped at some point.  The best course of action is to place the pencils in the sun, as previously outlined.

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