How to Sharpen a Charcoal Pencil


A charcoal pencil is a special type of drawing tool that contains carbon and not graphite. Charcoal pencils do not have hard or soft leads like most conventional pencils, made from different ingredients. Artists primarily use them for sketching, but you can use them to write or draw just like any other regular pencil if you ever run out of lead. In this article, I will discuss how to sharpen a charcoal pencil.

how to sharpen a charcoal pencil

Stepwise Guide on How to Sharpen a Charcoal Pencil:

Step One:

Using an electric pencil sharpener, remove a small piece of wood from the front end of your pencil. This gives you more room to insert your paper, and it also puts less pressure on your hand when writing or sketching.

Step Two:

Grasp the pencil with one hand and let the other rest on either your lap or table (whichever is most comfortable for you). The natural reaction for people who have never used a sharpened charcoal pencil before is to press down hard while making marks;

usually, this results in unwanted lines since they are not pointed enough. Instead, apply only light pressure as you move across the paper. To feel how much pressure to use, try using just half of your fingers instead of all five.

Step Three:

Next, find the side of the charcoal stick that is wider than the other. This will help you create a point on your pencil when sharpening it in Step Four. To keep track of which side is which during this step, place a piece of tape around it so that you can see it easily and not get confused while taking notes or sketching.

You’ll want to sharpen only this side for now; when writing or sketching, do not touch the narrow edge like you would with a normal pencil. It’s better to focus on getting an even point before trying to draw with it.

Try Use Sandpaper

Step Four:

Various art stores offer several easy ways to sharpen your charcoal pencil. First, place your charcoal pencil in a clamp-like device so that its tip is coming out of the bottom, and then use another sharpener to enlarge its point.

You may also want to use sandpaper to sharpen your charcoal pencil, and you can even use a scrub brush with dried soap on it to help you get an edge on your stick. The only thing to remember when using these methods is not to press too hard; if you’re having trouble getting the point, try flattening the tip more by increasing the speed of your motor or making lighter strokes across the paper.

Step Five:

After creating an edge on one side of the stick, it’s time to add some length back into your charcoal piece. To do this, you’ll need your tape again. First, fold one end of the tape over itself to stick to the charcoal and then wrap it around a few times.

Make sure there are no gaps in your wrapping, especially at the end. Continue wrapping until you have about ¾” left of the stick still uncovered on the other end; this will be used for sharpening in later steps.

Step Six:

With both hands back on it, push down lightly with your thumb while using your index finger as a guide to help keep an edge straight across the pencil’s tip. It may take some time to get accustomed to this technique, but once you do, you can really get into sketching quicker than before since you won’t have to keep stopping to sharpen.

Step Seven:

Repeat Steps Four and Five once again, this time making sure your tape is placed exactly how you want it so that it doesn’t add extra material back into the pencil’s tip. If you’re not completely satisfied with your charcoal point yet, try using sandpaper or a few more soap/sand scrub brushes across your stick until it meets your specifications.

Once completed, wipe off any excess materials from the charcoal pencil to clean out its tip and then move on to writing or drawing with it!

Note: Make sure not to use too much pressure while sharpening as this has been known to break the tips of these sticks; also, avoid touching the narrow edge in between strokes like you would a normal pencil.

Precautions While Sharpening a Charcoal Pencil:

Pull Out the Pencils

Using an electric knife sharpener can be tricky. I’ve seen some hefty injuries because people didn’t know how to use them, so here are some tips and precautions to help you get the results you want without hurting yourself (or your wallet).

1) Using a pencil that is too hard or soft will yield poor results. It would help if you only sharpened charcoal pencils since they are produced for artists and contain more binders than regular wood-cased varieties. Also, if there is no brand name on the package, the chances are that they’re not suitable for your sharpener.

2) Make sure that you insert the charcoal pencil far enough into the tube to allow contact with all of the blades of your sharpener. Some sharpeners have wider openings than others. Be careful to avoid any excess pressure while sharpening to don’t accidentally shave off too much of the charcoal.

3) Keep a close eye on your work as it gets finer and finer. Once you reach the desired point (there’s really no way to know for sure), stop before you hit the lead core or break the tip-off in the tube.

4) DO NOT use your fingers to pull out the pencils! Instead, use tweezers or tongs if possible. Anything less will probably result in injuries!

5) If you still have problems using an electric knife sharpener, try using one designed specifically for craft knives/scissors.

6) Do NOT use an electric knife sharpener on anything other than charcoal pencils! If you do so, you will almost certainly break your blade(s)!

7) If possible, store the pencils in a horizontal position to slow down the production of dust. Also, if there are any broken or split graphite “leaves” inside of it, try removing them with tweezers (or something similar).


By using these steps and techniques, you should create a fine point on your charcoal pencils. I’ve found that this method really sped up my sketching time since I no longer had to worry about sharpening in the middle of a work session or while doing an assignment. I hope this article has been beneficial for learning how to sharpen a charcoal pencil. Thank you and have a nice day!

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