What Wood Are Pencils Made Of?

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If you see a school kid chewing a pencil like it’s the last super nutritious snack bar on this planet, no wonder you may feel curious and end up with two questions: what wood are pencils made of and why is he finding it so tasty?

I don’t know why kids find pencils so tasty but I can say for sure that pencils are mostly made of Cedar wood. However, pencil industries use other types of woods as well, like White fur, Poplar, Basswood, and many more.

In this article, we are going to briefly discuss those woods that pencil manufacturers have been using for generations. So, let’s dive in to find out more about them.

Also Read: Sargent Art Pencils Review

What Wood Are Pencils Made Of?

There are many types of wood that pencil manufacturers use to make quality pencils, compete in the market, and cope with the continuous pressure from environmental organizations. Let’s take a look at those woods.

1. California Incense Cedar

Cedar has always been one of the most favorite choices by pencil manufacturers all over the globe. Manufacturers used the Aromatic Red Cedar to make pencils at the beginning. However, due to being a favorite material of the pencil industry soon, the number of the Aromatic Red Cedar tree started to decrease.

For this reason, manufacturers needed to look for an alternative and they ended up with California Incense Cedar. It is reddish-brown in color. Another easy way you can identify it is by its aroma. And being softwood, it makes comparatively less sharpener wear and it sharpens very well without splintering.

Though Cedar is widely used for making pencil slats, there are still many drawbacks including environmental concerns, costs, and so on. So, manufacturers started to look for even further alternatives and they ended up with the following.

2. Eastern White Pine Wood

This wood is associated with LYRA, a German pencil manufacturer under the parent company F.I.L.A. They are known to have produced pencils with Eastern White Pinewood. It is generally found in North America. To be more specific, the name is quite self-explanatory so you will find it in the eastern North American areas.

Eastern White Pine is softwood and it contains straight grain.  You can identify it by its color which ranges from creamy white to yellow.

3. Poplar Wood

Poplar is a straight-grained wood. You can identify this wood by a white or light creamy color. Though it is sometimes considered a hardwood, it’s not that strong compared to other hardwoods. However, it is harder than any softwood in general.  You can find yellow poplar or tulip poplar in North America.

The problem with yellow poplar is that it is a low-density wood. So, as you may have already guessed, it will not be ideal for sharpening. But it’s still on the list because Indian pencil manufacturers such as Hindustan Pencils use this type of wood to produce their pencils.

4. Basswood

This wood has little use in the pencil industry yet it’s worth mentioning. They are commonly used for making window blinds, plywood, or furniture.

However, some technical properties in the basswood are good for pencil production but this wood has a higher density and its grain characteristics are not suitable to machine smoothly compared to traditional Cedar wood.

5. Caribbean Pine Wood

Caribbean Pine is yellowish-white softwood and it grows fast. It comes from a tree called Pinus caribaea. The specialty of this wood is that it has a texture that is not very coarse nor mild, it is medium and the wood is straight-grained.

Faber-Castell owns their sustainable forestry project of this pine wood in Brazil.

6. Beech Wood

This wood is not very much connected to the pencil industry. However, some pencil manufacturers like Caran d’Ache use it to make pencils which are known as the Swiss wood pencils.

7. Some Other Woods

There are some other types of woods that are worth mentioning. Some pencil manufacturers use them but not all of them. Here is a list of those woods and the pencil companies:

  • Vatta Wood: Used by Hindustan Pencils.
  • Weymouth Pine Wood: It contains straight grains and the pencil manufacturer Derwent Pencil uses it for some of their products.
  • Jelutong Wood: Pencil manufacturer Dixon Ticonderoga uses it to make Dixon Oriole pencils.
  • Pulai wood: Used by French pencil manufacturer La Compagnie Française des Crayons and they claim it to be more economical compared to Cedarwood.

What Wood Are Pencils Made of in the UK?

The only pencil company you will find in the UK is Derwent Pencils. They own a pencil museum which is located in Keswick. Derwent Pencils use California Cedar or Weymouth Pine to make their pencils. They get these materials from the U.S.

Are All Pencils Made of Cedar Wood?

The straightforward answer is: no, not all pencils are made of Cedarwood. And probably you have already got some ideas from our previous discussion. Pencil manufacturers have been using different types of wood for their pencils, among them Cedar has always been the most favorable to them.

In the beginning, manufacturers used Aromatic Red Cedar to produce their pencils. However, due to the decreasing number of trees, costs, and environmental concerns, manufacturers nowadays use Incense Cedar to make their pencils.

Besides Incense Cedar, manufacturers use Linden wood, Basswood, Pinewood, Juniper wood, Poplar wood, and many other types of wood to produce pencils.

Why Are Pencils Made of Cedar?

Cedar is an amazing wood. It comes with many advantages that make it so special over other woods.

Firstly, Cedar is softwood which is one of the most important things that you need to consider while making a wood pencil. This is because pencils should not be durable rather they should be something that can be easily sharpened.

Being softwood, Cedar nicely fulfills this condition. It’s easy to evenly sharpen pencils made of Cedar wood. It doesn’t cause much sharpener wear. Another thing is that this wood is straight-grained and smooth. This wood machines well too, so you get a smooth finished result.

Where Do Pencil Companies Get Their Wood?

Many pencil companies have their own sustainable forestry projects. One good example would be Faber-Castell. They have their own sustainable wood supply projects in Brazil.

Other companies like Caran d’Ache use Beechwood to produce their pencils.  They get this wood from sustainable forests. They use Beechwood from Swiss forests and their pencils are known as Swiss wood pencils.

And Indian pencil manufacturer Hindustan Pencils uses Poplar wood for their pencils and these woods are grown in sustainable forests. 

Final Thoughts

Wood pencil is a great innovation that took both writing and drawing to a new level. They are safer for the environment unlike other materials like plastic, nylon, and the likes. However, there are some major problems with using woods for pencil production, among them the most common are damaging the natural balance by deforestation and impacting tribal lives.

As pencil manufacturers need tons of wood every day, they should be more concerned about the natural balance. In our article, we discussed the woods that manufacturers use. Pencil manufacturers generally don’t depend on single wood type. Though there is exception as well.

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