Two Cherries Carpenter Pencils

two cherries pencil IMG_3303

This will end up in the 2019 Anarchist’s Gift Guide, so consider this Christmas in August.

I’m no carpenter, but I use carpenter pencils all the time for rough layout and (after planing them in half) for leveling the legs of chairs. Most of the carpenter pencils from the home center are miserable physical specimens. The lead is crumbly or comes pre-fratcured. The wood is spongy and offers no support. These examples get tossed.

During the last two weeks someone stuck an extra-long carpenter pencil in our shop’s communal pencil cup. My best guess is a student left it behind (finally, our first profit from offering classes). The pencil stuck up above all the others. It was red. A few days ago I grabbed it and have now claimed if for my own.

It’s a Two Cherries carpenter pencil, and it’s the best one I’ve ever used. It’s 9-1/2” long, which makes it feel more like a magic wand. Its wide faces are gently rounded. The wood carves beautifully. The lead is soft but can be knifed to a fine point.

I realized how fond I was of it when Megan tried to take it from me today in the machine shop. I resisted.

I know it costs more than the free crap they give you at the hardware store. Most good things do.

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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29 Responses to Two Cherries Carpenter Pencils

  1. pfollansbee says:

    Watch out – you write about pencils & you’ll hear from the pencil culture. One mention on my blog of the Sanford NoBlot 705 and I was inundated. They’re not like our people, they think having 10 axes is weird…

  2. Curtis Lee Zeitelhack says:

    I always say, you don’t get what you don’t pay for = )

  3. leeboyz86 says:

    I always say, you don’t get what you don’t pay for. = )

  4. Steve Voigt says:

    This post was not sponsored by Home Depot.

  5. ROBERT YOUNG says:

    I’ve been reasonably happy with the fat Kindergardener (not the child, the pencil) round pencil from HD. Sort of a “My First Pencil”. Cheap and cheerful. But now I need to find these…

  6. Pascal Teste says:

    Here, north of the 49th parallel, home centres carpenter pencils are crap too, but most serious lumber yards will have much better quality pencils, and they give them away if you buy something. (here anyway) Just a thought.

  7. Mike T says:

    They also make very good chisels, too…..

    • This is patently false!

      I tried using my Two Cherries Carpenter Pencil to mortise out a lock opening just this morning and it did nothing aside from slightly digging into the wood and leaving a line of graphite. And that was after a fresh sharpening on my 8000 grit King stone, even! Not only did it not chisel out the mortise, I now have two 4″ long Two Cherries Carpenter Pencils…

  8. Neverfinished2005 says:

    I used a pencil pointer when I need a fine line. It isn’t a sharpener; it is a pointer. I explain, because 4 years ago, I didn’t know pencil pointers existed. I do understand the Two Cherries pencils are not perfectly round, but what is the diameter of the pencil?

  9. Joe says:

    There is a book I read that came out in the early 1990s called “The History of the Pencil.” I read it about 15 years. I enjoyed it.

  10. Vince says:

    Made is Germany. You know the Germans always make good stuff.

  11. Tony Zaffuto says:

    Search Amazon for other great makes-my current favorite maker is Tombow, a Japanese brand (only issue is, no eraser, so you can’t make mistakes-or just go with ’em!).

  12. I’ve taken to using a flat 6B artist’s pencil; it has the same shape as a carpenter’s pencil, is also sharpened with a knife, but is better made and makes a nice dark mark. They’re available at any arts and crafts store (so it saves the mail-order but requires braving aislesful of plastic flowers). But I’m enough of a pencil nerd that I am sure I will pick one of the Two Cherries up at some point if I can tack it onto another order.

    What I’d really like to find is a white-“lead” equivalent for marking dark woods. Sidewalk chalk is great but imprecise, and white charcoal pencils tend to get hard and skim over like an old eraser. I feel like there’s a business opportunity here, but a really, really small one.

    • rwyoung says:

      I’ve tried a few different dress-maker’s / tailor’s white pencils. Most seem to work pretty well. You can also get 0.9mm and I think 0.7mm white lead for mechanical pencils too but haven’t tried it.

      • Well, I have a tailor’s white pencil already around the house and didn’t think of that. Also blue, which may show up even better. Thank you!

      • Earlier today I’d just made my way to a hobby store and picked up some white fabric pencils and a pair of black tracing pencils. Figured I’d give them a try for lighter woods and the fabric pencils on my walnut. I have a whole lot of walnut…

    • tsstahl says:

      I generally use a marking knife. Changes in light reflection used to be enough to show the line clearly. Now that my eyes are getting older, the candlepower has to go way up, or the contrast does.

      Anyway, last Summer I knifed a line in, I believe, Wenge and could hardly see the difference. I ran chalk over the line and wiped it with my fingers. Enough found it’s way into the knifed line that it stuck out like a neon billboard in the desert.

      I also have a standard issue green colored pencil that is easy for me to see on many dark surfaces. I bought a couple boxes of them several years ago when I realized they worked well. I suspect this green pencil thing is a ‘just me’ tip as I’ve not read/heard/seen anyone else tout their benefits.

      Bonus tip, it’s school supply season! Time to pick up some Ticonderoga pencils for the year. Also those composition books of graph paper. And index cards. Yep, all sorts of useful shop stuff in them thar skool suplites. 🙂

      • For precise marks I use a knife and/or a mechanical pencil… I will have to try rubbing in the chalk. Makes good preindustrial sense. Mainly I’m thinking of leveling chair legs, where the flat carpenter’s pencil is really handy.

        As for green, is this a brighter yellow-green, like tennis balls? If optic yellow is easier to see than white against a tennis court I imagine it would be on wood, too.

    • Dave B says:

      > “… What I’d really like to find is a white-“lead” equivalent for marking dark woods.”

      So would I. I have noticed RevMark has a carpenter’s pencil with red lead and a white ink marker. Also TFWW lists a FastCap Fatboy Pencil (lead & holder) which comes with regular lead and red & white crayons. Anyone with experience with any of these?

    • William Duffield says:

      I use a flat white soapstone welders’ marker. I sharpen it on sandpaper, with the same double bevel as my marking knives. Look in any hardware store that carries welding tools and supplies.

  13. Devin Shea says:

    I am curious. I don’t remember in ADB if you describe why you cut the pencil in half before attaching it to the block.

  14. Pounce bag. Strap that to your elephant.

  15. Eric R says:

    I actually bought one of these Graphgear 1000 pencils you mentioned recently and really like it.
    I have been using it more and more, and it hasn’t let me down yet.
    Thanks Chris.

  16. laterthanuthink says:

    Just what do you mean by “after planing them in half”?

  17. Frank Hicks says:

    Cool beans. I recently switched out my 45sec sketching pencil for a glass dip pen. More maintenance but results in one of a kind sketches that have a comic book look and leaves an awsome texture.

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