Designers, artists, and developers are often so focused on working on their next project that they forget the little marvels which help them get to where they are.
Take the simple pencil, for example:
Sure, we all know it’s made of wood and lead, but a lot of time and effort goes into making these essential drawing materials. In one of their older YouTube videos, pencil manufacturer Faber-Castell goes into detail on their pencil-making process.
Four key chapters make up their pencil production, with the first chapter revolving around the lead making process. From the mixing of graphite and clay all the way to the cooling, pressing, heating, and eventually coloring of the individual leads, these thin strips go through a lot even before they are encased in wood.
Speaking of wood, the second chapter is all about the production of the wood casings and the insertion of the lead to make the final pencil.
It starts with the milling process, where grooves meant to hold the lead are cut into sheets of wood. After applying glue to the grooves, the leads are pressed into the slots via a machine before the whole thing is topped off with another wood casing to complete the pencil “wafer”.
These pencil wafers are put in a drying wheel where the glue can set in. Once everything is solid, the wafers are milled into a number of individual pencils.
The third chapter focuses on touches such as painting, stamping, and sharpening the pencils. Just like with the leads, there are specific mixtures made for each and every color of pencil. These colors are first applied to the outer wood shell and then to the “butt” of the pencil to seal it off. The pencils are also set with the iconic Faber-Castell stamp before being set to dry once again.
The fourth and final chapter caps everything off with a string of quality assurance tests. These involve visually checking each and every pencil to ensure all the colors are correct and the leads and labels are in place.
It is also in this chapter where the pencils are sharpened and tested to withstand more than 2.5 kg of hand pressure (for those deadline jitters, no doubt).
Once finished, the pencils are sorted, packaged, and sent off to stores around the world. So the next time you get your hands on a pencil (you might have on in your hand right now), take care to appreciate just how much time and effort it took to make.