Frightfully pointy pencils

curious to hear whether any of you peeps uses pencils sharpened to a very long point for drawing. the idea is to remove wood from the business end of the pencil, using a cutter, to expose a few cm of the graphite core. this exposed portion is then patiently sharpened to a needle-like point using sandpaper.
i’ve been going some value sphere exercises using H and 2H pencils sharpened thus. it does seem to afford a high degree of control over the pencil. has anyone else out there tried it and liked it?

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This is a great topic to explore Sigrid. Now are you talking about compressed charcoal/pastel pencils or graphite (or both?) I’d like to put together a write-up with some helpful graphics that details some of the advantages and disadvantages of hard (high-binder content) tools and the “needle-point.”

hi anthony!
my entire needlepoint experience to date (three whole days so far!) has been with graphite. first try with an old faber castell H (for whittling practice) and then on to the probably superior staedtler mars lumograph. been playing around with creating value spheres using just H and 2H, on a 180g/sqm paper with medium/fine tooth.

i’d like to try this technique with charcoal pencils and also with vine charcoal, which is probably very easy to sand into a point.

looking forward to your write-up - they’re always a fount of knowledge :+1:t3:


OK I added a article on these types of pencil points Sigrid. It grew into something more robust than I initially intended but the exploration was fun. Hope you like it!

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I love to do that with graphite pencils. I felt like it invested me in the pencils more and it certainly gives you a finer point. Plus they look super cool. :slight_smile:

I use charcoal pencils now and no longer bother, I don’t think it’s worth the extra time, especially given how easily charcoal breaks compared to graphite. Plus, the vertical “SchoolSmart” sharpeners do an excellent job with charcoal pencils (for the most part) and give a tip comparable to that of hand-sharpening, at least for the first few months of use.

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Hi Edward, I searched for School Smart pencil sharpeners on amazon and got this:

Would you be able to tell me the type or types you think are good at sharpening charcoal as I’ve personally always had problems with this. Thanks.

This is the model I use:

It can chew through bad charcoal pencils that already have breaks inside like candy, and might jam if you’re too rough with it (which is usually easily fixable). And cleaning it out sometimes requires a little more than just dumping the bin (the opening where the shavings come through is usually all stuffed up and needs to be cleared and shaken out a little bit manually). But overall, it’s still the best electric sharpener I’ve yet to encounter for most charcoal pencils of normal width.


Thanks very much! That’s very helpful. Am going to purchase one forthwith.