What is a Carpenter's Pencil?

Article Details
  • Originally Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Revised By: A. Joseph
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
In 2019, some Chinese companies offered "dating leave" to unmarried women in the hopes they would find partners.  more...

November 22 ,  1963 :  US President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.  more...

A carpenter's pencil is a writing tool that typically differs from a normal pencil in four main ways: It is larger, it is somewhat flat, it has harder lead, and it does not have an eraser. Some variations of a carpenter's pencil might be a normal size, be round, have softer lead or have an eraser attached to one end, but a typical carpenter's pencil is different from a regular pencil in all four ways. Most of these differences give carpenter's pencils distinct advantages for use in carpentry.

Large Size

Carpenter's pencils usually are larger than regular pencils. This can make them easier to grip and more difficult to break during use or between uses, such as when they are in a toolbox or scattered among pieces of hardware. The larger size also allows them to be used more easily by a carpenter who is wearing work gloves, if necessary.

Flat Shape

The shape of a carpenter's pencil usually is a flat oval, octagon or rectangle. A flat shape prevents the pencil from rolling when the user sets it down, which can means that the user won't have to retrieve a pencil that has rolled away while he or she was working. The lead inside carpenter's pencils also is a flat oval or rectangle. This allows the user to draw either thick or thin lines, as necessary, simply by turning the pencil.


Hard Lead

Carpenter's pencils typically have harder lead than other pencils do. Most normal pencils have No. 2-strength lead. A carpenter's pencil usually has No. 3 lead, which means that the lead does not break as easily.

No Eraser

The final difference between carpenter's pencils and regular pencils is that a carpenter's pencil typically does not have an eraser on one end. The exact reason for this is not known, although it might be simply by tradition. The first carpenter's pencils were made centuries ago, before manufacturing techniques allowed for erasers to be easily attached to the ends of pencils. The flat shape of carpenter's pencils also might make manufacturing them with erasers more difficult than doing so with rounded pencils.

Some users might think that not having a built-in eraser it is a disadvantage, but it actually might be advantageous. One problem with built-in erasers is that they often wear away before the pencil lead is gone, which creates the need for a separate eraser or one that can be attached to one end of the pencil. A carpenter's pencil's size means that its lead should last a long time, virtually ensuring that a built-in eraser would wear away before the lead is gone. If the eraser wore away in the middle of a project, the user might not have a separate eraser. Not having a built-in eraser in the first place ensures that a conscientious user will make sure to have a separate eraser instead of being caught without one.


One disadvantage of a carpenter's pencil is that its flat shape makes it unable to be sharpened in a sharpener that is designed for rounded pencils. There are sharpeners specially designed for carpenter's pencils, however. Some users simply prefer to sharpen these pencils with a knife or other tool that has a sharp edge.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 2

Carpenter's pencils have always fascinated me, just because they were the opposite of everything I've ever known about pencils. My dad always said they were flat because that meant they were easier to keep in the carpenters' pockets. I guess that makes sense, too, though.

Post 1

I have never seen a pencil sharpener for a carpenter's pencil. I've seen many people use pocket knives to sharpen a carpenter's pencil, but never an actual sharpener meant for them. I have a hard time imagining what one would even look like.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?