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Pencils - Easy long points


I have slaved over bins for too long with a blade paring back the wood until the lead breaks. After ten or fifteen minutes all you have left is a reasonable point on a short lead on a short pencil and a bin full of shavings.

Would you like to get a deadly point in about ninety seconds? Try this technique:

This is 180 grade sandpaper, but any grade will do fine. Use thumb and index finger atop the head of the pencil and stabilise the back of the pencil with the heel of your hand. The blue the blue pencil is a rest to maintain a constant grinding angle, also on the sandpaper to stop it skidding away. As shown in the finished points at top of the photo l like to grind three faces to give me nice flat edges for sketching and a great point for detailed work.
Tap the dust into the bin and your done. 

The same technique can be used with color pencils or pastel pencils, though go more gently with these.




  • That's a good tip. In Art Supply stores they have a neat little tool that looks like a short paint stir stick with a stack of sand paper stapled to it. Works great and you don't have to look around for a flat surface to lay your paper on. Super easy to make your own and save the $5. Sharpen your scissors cutting sanding sheets to size by turning the sand paper over between snips too. You can also use these like a file to clean stubborn paint off pallet knives.

  • Ah yes, a reminder of my old drafting classes!
  • Very interesting.. Thank you Denis
    I find the results of sharpening my pencil to be a reflection of the mood I am in.
    A sudden loss in patience and I'll snap the pencil in half.
    Long deep breaths do the trick for me. I was able to get a two inch long charcoal tip the other day

    However that moment of Glory didn't last long. I sat on it yesterday. Need I say what happened after that
  • Twitch away! @dencal the punster. Twitch to heart's content.
  • I also find the dust particals left behind to be useful for smudging, individual color and color mixing too! Easily seperates from the wood particles, can save it in jars. Just don't sneeze!!!
  • Folks

    I forgot to mention in my last post, the picture with the long pastel points - these points are done using a plastic ruler in place of the blue pencil shown in the graphite picture.

    However, if you find this to be too much of a grind, ( three minutes per pencil) there is an option called "wood less graphite". I can long point these in about a minute.

    The Koh-I-Noors are 3.5mm lead holders, bit of a restricted range available here 2B, 4B and 6B. Rarely, I find black, white and bister. 

    The Derwent and Mont Marte are the wood less graphite. With peel off paper labels. Again hard to find, but lasts for years.


  • Great tip!  Thanks!!

  • dencaldencal -
    edited April 2017

    Technology update:

    The above manual sand paper method takes about three minutes per pencil not fast but slow and steady.

    With about eighty CarbOthello pastel pencils and about six or eight graphite markers, the search was on for a faster method,

    Tried coarser sandpaper - a few more lead breaks but no more speed.

    Tried a Dremel grinding wheel - worked well for the first few, small surface area clogged and glazed. Time saved was then spent cleaning the grinding wheel. New wheel every fourth pencil. Too expensive.

    Tried my 18 volt random orbital sander - hand manipulated with the Inverted machine on my lap, takes about a minute per pencil, bags the waste and requires a pair of noise cancelling headphones and some great music. The things we do for art.


  • Brilliant @denis - reminds me I should be doing a lot more sketching. 
  • rstallrstall -
    edited February 2018
    I found a handheld sharpener that just removes the wood ill post more info and a picture when i locate it - the KUM masterpiece...can make the point as long as you want but isn't that bullet shaped taper I want. but figure its a good starting point....found these for like $15 on

    .here is a great sanding block to take around with you as well, the nitram one, cost me like $7 at my local art store. also have seen at
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