It’s a new school year, and if you’re like most students, you’re kind of obsessed with your school supplies. Notebooks must be properly decorated, iPhone cases must be perfect, and pens must reflect your fantastic, unique personality.
When it comes to supplies, though, saving money is important—especially since you’ll want to spend it on weekends with friends and not on things like pencils. It’s the little things that count, right? Which is why we decided to offer up a lesson on how to carve your very own No. 2 pencils out of trees … with things that most of you will find around your house! (Well, sort of …)
What you'll need:
• 3 or 4 friends
• A 150 to 200-year-old cedar tree from Northern California. A 1000-year-old tree is even better.
• Large chainsaw
• A flatbed truck
• A kiln
• Coarse-grain sandpaper
• A drill with a tiny bit
• Craft glue
• Pocket knife
• Pencil sharpener
• Hi-gloss gold-colored paint
• Little erasers
• Moldable metal thingies to hold the erasers in place
1.) So—first things first. Scour the internet for cheap tickets to San Francisco (for you and your three or four friends.) (Once there, you’ll need to rent a car to drive to the woods in Norcal to get to the very old cedar trees, so save some cash for that expense.)
2.) Once you’re there, get thee to said woods. Muir Woods in Mill Valley, Calif., is the best place to go.
3.) Find the perfect tree. The 1000-year-old ones are the best. Finding just that right one is important—it should be one that speaks to you. It should also have lots of little branches and twigs on it.
4.) Chop it down using your chainsaw. (Don’t let anyone see you—this isn’t very environmentally cool behavior.) You’ll need your three or four friends to yell “TIMBER” when it falls. You can chime in, too.
5.) Cut the little branches and twigs off the tree and put them aside. Then, cut the tree in log-like sections and load them onto your flatbed truckwhich you will be using to make it back home with your newly-found tree.
6.) Borrow a friend’s woodshop.
7.) Once there, cut a solid block of wood into slats that are half the thickness of the pencils you want to make. (Cut them to 4- to 6-inches in length, that should work.)
8.) Sand the smooth burrs and sharp edges of the wood.
9.) Drill a hole in your twig, starting at one end and drilling into the core. Leave 1/2 to 1 inch of twig un-drilled to prevent the lead from slipping out of the end of the pencil. You’ll be using graphite and clay to make the leads. (Real lead has not been used since the late 1500s, so you’re kinda improvising here.)
10.) Mix the graphite and clay, shape into long, thin sticks, and fire them in your handy kiln.
11.) Stain the pencils (with your lacquer) and paint them schoolbus yellow.
12.) Stuff the “lead” into the wood and glue the pink eraser (which you’ve lovingly carved with your chisel) onto the end of the pencil. Use the moldable metal thingies to hold the eraser in place.
13.) Paint your name, your favorite quotes, or your favorite One Direction lyrics onto the side of the pencils.
PRESTO! Pretty easy, right!? Enjoy being the most envied handmade-personal-pencil owner on campus!
You will definitely do this easy DIY project, right?