Carpenters Pencils why oblong not round?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Hand Tools forum

Forum topic by anthm27 posted 08-23-2018 09:46 AM 1915 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View anthm27's profile


1600 posts in 1721 days

08-23-2018 09:46 AM

I had a friend ask “is there anything in the fact that carpenters pencils are elongated oblong as opposed to conventional round?”
I’ve used them for years and never really thought about it.
I know personally I tend to use a small conventional round pencil for finer work
Anybody have any ideas? Oblong as opposed to conventional round pencils?
Thanks in advance.

-- Hand Skills provide freedom.

23 replies so far

View RobbieB's profile


11 posts in 835 days

#1 posted 08-23-2018 10:27 AM

So they don’t roll off the bench and bounce off your boot to the very back where you never see them again.
Also easier to create a flat side to run against work for accurate lines.

View JCamp's profile


1040 posts in 1161 days

#2 posted 08-23-2018 10:47 AM

Probably so they don’t roll around in your hand while ur using it. I’d personally prefer they make the lead a little harder to break. I use a pen anymore because I can’t hardly sharpen the pencils with breaking the lead a few times

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View AESamuel's profile


100 posts in 1833 days

#3 posted 08-23-2018 12:13 PM

You can sharpen them easily with a chisel for one thing, but you can also shape the point to produce a thin line that will last longer than a round point.

View AAL's profile


82 posts in 2037 days

#4 posted 08-23-2018 12:43 PM

So they don t roll off the bench and bounce off your boot to the very back where you never see them again.
Also easier to create a flat side to run against work for accurate lines.

- RobbieB

Humorous 1st sentence & I agree with the 2nd.

-- "Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery." Winston Churchill

View CampD's profile


1807 posts in 4097 days

#5 posted 08-23-2018 12:58 PM

They’re made to stand-up to the riggers and abuse of a “Framing Carpenter”.

-- Doug...

View bondogaposis's profile


5610 posts in 2962 days

#6 posted 08-23-2018 01:18 PM

The graphite on a carpenters pencil is shaped into a “blade” rather than a point which lasts longer, between sharpenings. The blade shaped graphite is also stronger in the direction it is used so it is less likely to break when being drawn over rough wood.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View recycle1943's profile


3604 posts in 2233 days

#7 posted 08-23-2018 01:21 PM

If I were to make an uneducated guess, I would say that the size and shape are designed to withstand a lot more abuse than a regular round pencil – not to mention they are much easier to sharpen with a razor knife than a round pencil.

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View GR8HUNTER's profile


6836 posts in 1323 days

#8 posted 08-23-2018 03:12 PM

reason #1- so they dont roll #2 – lead does not break (if sharpened correctly) #3- can be any color beside yellow LOL :<))

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN

View Gaffneylumber's profile


103 posts in 1439 days

#9 posted 08-23-2018 07:47 PM

I’ve always heard that if you are scribing something to a wall, you can put the flat side to the wall and you will take off an 1/8”. Put the thin side to the wall and you will take off a 1/4”. I’ve used it plenty of times scribing a countertop to a wall.

-- Grayson - South Carolina

View anthm27's profile


1600 posts in 1721 days

#10 posted 08-24-2018 08:39 AM

Thanks for all the replies , very interesting.

-- Hand Skills provide freedom.

View robscastle's profile


6675 posts in 2815 days

#11 posted 12-12-2018 08:38 PM

Amazing what you find digging around,

So What the correct answer, all have practical purposes.
A question I would ask is how they drill the rectangular hole to get the lead in!!
Maybe a very small Hollow Chisel Morticer!
And finally why cant you have yellow?

-- Regards Rob

View Johnny7's profile


478 posts in 1701 days

#12 posted 12-12-2018 08:59 PM

And finally why cant you have yellow?

- robscastle

What makes you say that?

View RobHannon's profile


330 posts in 1141 days

#13 posted 12-12-2018 09:11 PM

Doesn’t answer how they are made, but does go over why and I think one of her pencils is yellow.

View AlaskaGuy's profile


5523 posts in 2920 days

#14 posted 12-12-2018 10:06 PM

For inquiring minds

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View sepeck's profile


408 posts in 2752 days

#15 posted 12-12-2018 10:24 PM

So I was kind of curious and went down the search rat hole and mostly duplicated the previous answers but had to share.

Purports to be the oldest known pencil in existence.

Carpenter pencils are also used by builders, because they are suitable for marking on rough surfaces, such as concrete or stone. This shape and lead density aid in marking legible lines with a straight edge that are clear and easy to follow with a saw blade.

I have a vague memory of a Roy Underhill show where he showed some machines and how these were made 150ish years ago…. Can’t find the episode.

This weird post

This site has the most I’ve found
The flat pencil is one of the oldest pencil types. The first versions were made by hollowing out sticks of juniper wood. A superior technique was discovered: two wooden halves were carved with a groove running down them, a plumbago stick placed in one of the grooves, and the two halves then glued together—essentially the same method in use to this day.

-- -Steven Peck,

showing 1 through 15 of 23 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics