Hand Tools Archive
..after some light reading (really guesstimating detective work based on what little information is available), my bowing pencils led to finding out that commercial high end pencils are made with wood infused with wax.
I have plenty of paraffin wax, but haven't made any pencils lately. Yesterday, I put paraffin in mineral spirits (only about half an ounce of wax to 8 ounces of mineral spirits) to dissolve, and it dissolved faster than I would've expected. I soaked a pencil and let it dry overnight (and it feels like it did).
The outside of the pencil doesn't look any different, but the feel on the surface is drastically different. This is a bare wood pencil that I had laying around that I hadn't yet applied finish to. My objectives are two:
1) improve the stability and the sharpenability of the pencil
2) avoid getting enough wax in the pencil to prevent gluing
The commercial process doesn't appear to apply the wax after the pencils are milled, but it's probably in the wood to start, so it must be fine to glue the waxy wood. we'll see.
I think more wax will be needed to get the same feel as some of the nicer commerical pencils (even though they're stringy incense cedar, they sharpen with the texture of a fruitwood like apple - super smooth). Shellac has no trouble sticking to the slick feeling barrel of the first pencil I infused, but one wouldn't expect that it would given that it naturally has wax in it (my current jar is buttonlac, wax and all).