Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Pencil Tool

in this tutorial I will show you how to make a sculpting tool by using a mechanical pencil.
The idea behind that is, that you use the mechanical pencil as a holder and instead of the lead, you place sculpting tool tips made of 1mm strong spring steel wire into the pencil.

So first you need a mechanical pencil. There are lots of those pencils around. some of those you can see on pic. 1).

- You should get one which holds leads of an diameter of 0,9 mm (pic. 2).
If you find one for 1mm leads it would be even better, but I can´t find that size.

- Inside the pencil is a clamp, that holds the lead. Sometime this clamp is made of plastic and sometimes it is made of metal (brass). You should take one with a clamp made of metal (pic. 3).

- The lead-storage inside the pen should be large and the opening under the pushbuttun should have a large diameter (pic. 4). That´s because later the tooltips, that are not actually in use will be stored here.

- If the pencil has a clip (and most have) the clip should be removable of at least rotatable (pic. 5). Otherwise it might become disruptive when you rotate the tool in the hand.

- The pencil you take should have a strong spring. The harder to push it down, the better it holds the sculpting tip later.

When you found your mechanical pencil, in most cases you have to cut of the tiny little tube at the point of the pencil. Then you have to widen the hole at the point with a 1mm drill. Be carefull, not to damage the pencil (Pic. 6).You have to do that because later you have to place tool tips here that have a diameter of 1mm.

After that, your "sculpting-tool-handle" is complete.

What´s left now are the tool-tips to place inside this holder like those you see on pic. 7).

Next time I tell you how to do those tooltips.


  1. Nice tutorial! The idea is great, since I like to have several different tools simultaneously and would make more than one pencil. ^_^


  2. Hi Yarooze,

    maybe you should wait a little while before making several pencil tools. After explaining how to make the tool-tips, I will post a tutorial about another tool in which you can use two tips at the same time. This tool also has other advantages in relation to the pencil-tool. If you are curious, you can find a picture here:


  3. hello
    great post !
    when do you intendto explain how to make tools ?
    thanks a lot !

  4. Here is a suggestion to consider for the pencil itself. Try tracking down a Drafting Lead Holder. I've used these a little in drafting and love them for drawing. Basically its everything you have mentioned modifying on a pencil, premade. The one exception is the storage space - but that may or maynot be a big issue.

    A Lead holder is the gripper piece you mention scaled up to approximately 1.2 to 1.2 mm lead, so it will hold needles and other similar sized pieces of metal. They are a good bit more expensive, but they are designed to do what you aim to do, hold a piece securely and still be easily removable, and they are much more sturdy and less prone to breakage.

    Just a thought