How to Sharpen a Charcoal Pencil [Step by Step Guide]

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No matter if you are an artist or a student, a charcoal pencil must belong to you. You know how vital a charcoal pencil is when you are up to draw something versatile.

However, to make the better utility of the charcoal pencil, it requires precise sharpening. Hence, you need to know how to sharpen a charcoal pencil.

Sharpening a pencil may seem easier but unfortunately, it is not. In fact, sharpening a pencil is a quite tough job especially when you are holding a charcoal one. Nonetheless, everything is easy when you know the proper way.

Thus, let’s find out the proper ways of sharpening pencils so that you can represent your artwork more precisely.

Also Read: Top Mechanical Pencils for Doing Sketch

Why Would You Sharpen Your Charcoal Pencil?

To get the best result out of your charcoal pencil, its sharpening is a must. Also, charcoal pencil adds thick texture to the art process. Only a true artist knows its importance and usefulness.

While brushes are necessary tools for drawings, charcoal pencils can be used as an alternative as well. This use is only possible when you give the pencil a proper and pointy long shape after its sharpening.

This is surely a hassle and some may find it a stressful act as well. But do not worry as long as you have got our back regarding this matter. Stand by us till the end and you will know all techniques and other factors related to this content.

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The Requisite Supplies     

To make the most benefits out of the medium and use it more effectively, you need to sharpen the charcoal pencil in a different manner. The charcoal portion needs to be exposed more while sharpening it which is not everyone’s cup of tea. However, before you get started you will need some necessary supplies and they are given below.

1. Knife

You will need a knife first to remove the pencil wood while sharpening it. Always try with a sharp knife. A dull knife only can cause accidents. However, there are several types of knives you can use for this purpose. Have a look!

Utility Knife

Utility knives are suitable for this job especially because of their versatility and sharpness. These knives are easy to grip and also equipped with a retractable blade. Though the blade is short yet it is sturdy and very sharp.

Folding Blade Knife

This knife is not the razor-sharp one yet it comes with a large and wide cutting surface. Its handle is also ergonomic and places easily on the grip. However, because of its little dullness, only a bit of carelessness can touch the charcoal and break it.

Precision Knife

A precision knife is also recommendable for this purpose as it is intensively sharp. However, it doesn’t provide a good grip to the hand for sharpening the pencil. Also, it is tough to control a precision knife. Still, it can be a good choice for its sharpness.

Box Cutter Knife

Maximum box cutter knives come with a retractable blade and these knives are considered the best. A box cutter knife comes with all advantages including its sharpness, easy-grip, longer blade with confirmed durability, and all. You just need to be careful so that the blade does not extend too far from the knife.

2. Sanding Block

There is a special sanding block available for sharpening a pencil and it is important to sand the pencil after removing wood from it. Nonetheless, many also find it easier and cheaper to use 220-grit sandpaper. Even, using this sandpaper can be a go-to solution for sanding the charcoal pencil.

3. Safety Glasses

Working with knives and wood is never safe until you ensure protection. Hence, you will certainly need safety goggles or glasses while sharpening the pencil. You never know, a small piece of wood from the pencil may fly off right to your eye without giving you a chance to notice.

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How to Sharpen a Charcoal Pencil: Step by Step Guide

Properly follow the below mentioned steps to have an efficient charcoal pencil.

Step 1: The first and foremost thing to sharpen your charcoal pencil is to cut the wood so that the charcoal from a segment is exposed for further sharpening process.

In this very first step, you have to be careful about the charcoal tip. The tip should not be broken accidentally. Therefore, do the process slowly.

Step 2: Now, rotate the pencil likewise and remove the wood in the same way. Do the removing properly so that the wood is removed evenly around the pencil. Many drop the pencil and break the charcoal while turning around the pencil. So, carefulness is required.

Step 3: The third step requires removing sufficient wood from the pencil. Leave from half of an inch to an inch charcoal while taking off the wood with a knife. Do not expose charcoal more than an inch otherwise there will be a risk of its breaking while sanding and drawing.

Step 4: At this step, you need to do the most important task of this process. In this vital move, sanding of the charcoal is required.

Sanding the charcoal is important to give it a sharp and pointy tip. Sanding the charcoal requires a skilled hand. As we said before you can either use a sand block or sandpaper for this job.

Hold the pencil against the sandpaper and rub it precisely. Your only intention to give the charcoal a tapered shape on the side you are holding against the medium.

It is a gradual process, so, hurrying the task only ruins the process. However, it is always better if you hold the pencil at a smaller angle between the paper and the charcoal.

Step 5: This is the last step. Do the sanding lightly and slowly in a delicate way. Rotate the process around the charcoal edge to provide it round and sharp tip. In this moment when your charcoal pencil has been given a sharp point, the sharpening is done and ready to use.

Check this guide:

Safety Tips when Sharpening Charcoal Pencils

The sharpening process is a bit hazardous. For this reason, first, you need to ensure your safety.

  • You can wear safety glasses to protect your eyes from scattered small pieces of wood and hand gloves as well as to protect your hand from the knife blade.
  • Keep your fingers and hand behind the knife edge and force the blade on the pencil away from you.
  • For carving, many professionals do not suggest using a precision knife. They think this knife is not designed for carving and it is also dangerous.
  • When you are done with the knife and carving the wood, you are supposed to put it down after closing it.
  • Watch out for your fingers and hands while doing the sharpening. A bit of inattention may cause you great loss.
  • The process is a bit messy. So, sharpen your charcoal pencil on a hard surface or periphery that is easy to clean.

Final Words

Long story short, a charcoal pencil is a great medium for drawing and a fantastic addition to your drawing toolkit. But it will only be benefited to the fullest when you know how to sharpen charcoal pencils properly.

Unlike regular pencils, a charcoal pencil should be sharpened exceptionally to have the right flexibility and freedom while drawing.

However, it may seem that we have exaggerated the safety part in this simple case of sharpening a pencil. But to speak the truth, when you are dealing with a sharp object, you should not compromise even a bit to maintain the precautions. Now, the rest is all up to you. Happy drawing!

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