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How to make your own charcoal pencils

Charcoal art pencils can be very expensive. Normally between $3-20 depending on the brand. They’re relatively simple to make though and this tutorial will show you how.

What you need:

  • somewhere to make a fire
  • proper sized wood. Please note that in this guide I used a large piece so it’s easily visible, you’re going to want a smaller bit.
  • A container that’s heatable. Foil or a steel pipe work great. Make sure not to get galvanized pipe.
  • paper

Step 1, get your wood

Two sizes shown here, both rather large for a pencil, but a quick trip to the hardware store and you can find dowels or rectangles in just about any size, find whatever size you prefer.
Step 2, prepare your container.

I used a steel tube with foil on either side.
Fill the container with your wood. (More than one at a time is fine if it fits.) and seal it off.

Make sure there is a small hole for gasses to escape, this is very important!

Now build up some sticks and such around your container to burn.

Make sure the hole is facing a direction you can see and light the fire.
After a few minutes you should notice gases coming from the hole.

Once you no longer see any gases come out, the cooking is done, let it cool off and open the container when it’s no longer hot to get your charcoal out.

Mine came out a bit crooked. an easy solution is to use a smaller container, or to make more at a time so there is no room for it to bend.
Finally, wrap it in paper to keep your hands clean, and get to drawing!


Comments (2)

  1. 12:29 am, August 25, 2011Charleigh  / Reply

    Super jezazd about getting that know-how.

  2. 1:45 am, November 24, 2011Art  / Reply

    I make mine out of grape vine sections. I put them in a can with a lid, puncture a hole in the top, them put it on top of the BBQ lighter chimney. It’s fun to watch the different colors of steam-smoke come out as the different components of the twigs burn.

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