31 – How To Make Wooden Pencil Holders

Marc: Well the holiday
season is once again upon us and you know what that means. That’s right. It means it’s time to start
making gifts in our shop because we’re too cheap to
buy people real presents. (upbeat music) Woodworking just isn’t much fun if there isn’t someone
on the receiving end who will appreciate and
adore your workmanship. Holidays are an awesome time because they give us an excuse to go above and beyond by giving someone a handcrafted one of a kind gift. Most people will appreciate the fact that you toil
for hours in your workshop turning a lifeless board of wood into a functional and
beautiful work of art. Now today we’ll be taking
these lifeless boards and turning them into cool
pencil holders like this. They can also be used to hold pens. Here we are at the woodpile. Basically all of my big stuff
is in the shop on the rack and all of the smaller and
a lot of the exotic pieces, they kind of stay around for a long time. They stay out here on the patio. I’ve got some really cool stuff here. We’ve got a lot of Wenge, I’ve got cherry, here’s some Jatoba, some yellow heart, here’s some zebra wood and what is this? That’s more Jatoba. This is going to be really nice. I’ve got some lacewood,
that’s going to be fantastic. A lot of little tiny pieces that I probably would
have no other use for. They’re going to find a home in some of these pencil holders. That’s what I recommend doing. Check out the woodpile and make use of some of that little scrap. Now here’s just some of the
woods that I’ve selected to make a bunch of these pencil holders. Take a look at what we’ve got here. We’ve got some figured maple, this stuff is going to be gorgeous. Jatoba, purple heart, this I can’t even remember
exactly what it is. It looks like some kind of a rose wood. Not a 100% sure. Walnut, we’ve got lacewood, Padauk, that’s going to turn
really dark red overtime. This piece was actually
shaded for the last few months so that’s why it’s so bright. We’ve got yellow heart
and we’ve got Wenge. The thing to keep in
mind with these colors, to me it looks better
to have a darker color at the base and a lighter
color on the sides. It seems to be weighted better if the heavier color is toward the bottom. The bottom line is lots of
different color combinations you could do here. Have fun with it and just remember, one man’s [guddy] is
another man’s gorgeous. Now for today’s project we’re going to use the
figured maple for the sides and this Jatoba for the base. This pencil holder has three main parts. The base, the glue block and the four sided miter top. The base itself will be cut
from four-quarter Jatoba to 4 1/2 inches square. I should be able to get three
bases out of this piece. Yellow chalk gives me a
highly visible rough cut line. This piece of maple should
give me enough material for two pencil holders. Each side piece should
be 4 3/4 inches long by 3 1/4 inches wide. Since they only need to
be a quarter inch thick, I can slice this board
in half on the bandsaw and get my second set of four sides. In order to make the
piece more manageable, I rip the maple board into two halves. Next, I head over to the bandsaw. I use a combination square
to draw a centerline down the board and then
use that centerline as a guide while I slice
the board into two pieces. This is a great way to get the most out of your expensive hardwoods. Next, I joint one phase
and one edge of each board and I repeat the process
for the base piece. Because the maple is highly figured, I prefer to use my drum sander to bring the pieces
down to final thickness, a quarter of an inch. The Jatoba base however
goes through the planer and is milled to three
quarters of an inch thick. Now if you don’t have these tools, you can always use hand planes, scrapers, and sanders to bring your wood to the desired thickness or
simply by pre-milled lumber. Next, I [revolve] our boards to width. 3 1/4 inches for the top pieces and 4 1/2 inches for the base. Now if all of our pieces cut to width, it’s time to cut them to length. Before you do that though, just like the jointing
and planing operations that are easier when these pieces are in this longer form. It’s probably not a bad idea to go ahead and sand this at this time too rather than dealing with
the tiny or small pieces. This way you could run
a random orbit sander across here really easily. (upbeat music) I was actually just about
to cut the bottom pieces and I realized my Jatoba
board, you can see that, has a little crack in it and sometimes these things
don’t show themselves until you start milling through the pieces and exposing what floss
might lay underneath. There’s a couple of ways
I’m going to deal with it. I’m not throwing the board away, it’s meant to consume scrap so I want to make sure I do that. I typically do one of two things. I either use CA glue if it’s a really tiny hairline crack. Okay this dries, it’s very brittle. I don’t really like it
for filling large cracks. It’s a little bit too brittle and it tends to not look very natural. Option number two is epoxy. I’ve got some five minute epoxy here and I actually prefer
the longer cure epoxies but in this case I’m in
a little bit of a rush and I want this to dry so that I could start
working with the piece again. Just a dabble there, a little bit in there. Since the crack is near the edge, I’m going to apply some
tape just in case I’m messy, I don’t want it to go over
my freshly sanded face just to secure the measure here. Then I’m going to carefully
start applying the epoxy. I’m actually pushing it with this little piece of scrap wood, pushing it in to that crack. Let it sip down. Now you can add color to the
epoxy if you feel the need. In this case, the clear epoxy is going to make it
look like a black streak and this Jatoba actually has
a few of this black streak so that works out in our favor this time. After about 15 minutes you could see the epoxy has hardened up. At least enough for us to work with it. You could scrape it off, you could use a chisel or a hand plane. For me my table saw is set
at the same setting it was when I cut this initially so I’m just going to run
it through for another pass and clean it up that way. Now you could see we’ve cleaned it up and what was a eyesore in the crack and could potentially
been unstable overtime. Now just looks like
it’s part of the grain. All of our pieces are cut
to the appropriate length using the following
technique on the miter saw. I start by trimming one side square and then measure and mark
the appropriate length. In this case, 4 1/2 inches. Now since I plan on
cutting multiples here, I set up a stop block. I flip the workpiece around so that the square end
is against the stop. Using the pencil line for reference, I lined everything up perfectly and secure the stop with a clamp. Now keep in mind that this would be a pretty dangerous cut without the use of a hold down. It’s never a good idea
to have a loose piece of material wedge between
a stop and the blade. For the sides, we have to
cut a nice 45 degree miter on every edge of the piece. Okay, so we get a nice
joint all the way around. To do that, I’m going to
do it on the table saw. You’ll notice here I’ve
got a zero clearance insert for just the standard
blade in my splitter. Now in order to do this, if we start tilting that
blade left or right, it’s not going to fit in
my zero clearance insert so I have to go back to
the original stock insert that came with the saw. Before I tilt the blade to 45, I like to raise it up nice and high then start to tilt. The reason I had you put
the blade all the way up is because I want to get some
sort of a gauge under there, some kind of a right
angle like a speed square. You have these little
guide blocks like that. I don’t even know where I got that from but it’s dead on 45 degrees. You can even use this part
of your adjustable square to make sure that it’s a 45 degree angle. The gauge it gets it close on your saw but I usually don’t trust it, I have to double check
it with something else. I’m going to use this little guy and use this to dial it
in dead on 45 degrees. Now just a quick safety note, running these little pieces
over a 45 degree blade that close to the blade
is very, very dangerous. You have to make sure you
take the right precautions. Obviously you’re not going to
use your bare hands for this. You’ve got one of these, you can use that. If you have even one of these fancy deals, you could use that. For me personally, the best thing is my little foam padded grip that I use for my jointer all the time. You could use them on the router table. This is going to give me the
most surface area coverage and the most control over this piece. My fingers are going
to come a little closer to the blade than I normally
would like them to be but I feel pretty secure because I’m holding this piece of plastic and there’s really no
chance of me slipping off and hitting the blade. That’s what I’m going to use but you got to make sure
you think about this before you make that cut, what is the safest way to do it. Simply line up your cut by eye and then cut the bevel. Now, I don’t know if you guys can see this but I was a little bit short. I have this little tiny strip here, about a 16th of an inch so I need to move the fence
over a little bit more and cut again but you
absolutely want to dial that in so that we don’t remove any more material than necessary to get
our 45 degree angle cuts. Now that our pieces are cut, you take a look at these
and you start to realize “Wow, we’ve got these little
baby miters to deal with.” It doesn’t really need reinforcement because it’s not a really
heavy duty use item. It just needs a really
good strong glue button. I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve for how we’re going to handle that. Check it out. Lay the side pieces on the table with the insides facing down. Grab your trusted roll
of clear packing tape and place little strips across each joint. Take extra care to make sure that everything is aligned properly and the joint is tight. Once all four pieces are connected, I place a long strip of
tape over all four pieces with about two to three inches
of overhang to the left. Press the tape securely over the joints. Then I place a second strip
with a two to three inch overhang to the right. Now flip the pieces over and brush some glue onto the miters. Now comes the fun part. Lift both sides up and
bring the two ends together. The four pieces will automatically line up and the tape will act as a clamp. Use the overhanging tape to lock everything in place and you’re done. It’s that easy. Now you’re about to get a
little bit of squeeze out on the inside of your joints here. Give it about 20 minutes to dry and then just take an old chisel or some sort of a scraper and run it along that inside edge and that material will peel right out. You might want to get a little
piece of sandpaper afterwards if you can get your fingers in there and clean it up a little bit more but that would be more than adequate for a project like this. Now we need to route the
decorative profile on our base. I like to use a half inch
round over bit for this and I set the bit height so that it creates a
small eighth inch lip. This minor detail makes a big difference in the final product. Two things to note here. Number one, start by
routing the end-grain first. Just make sure that any tear out is cleaned up by the subsequent cuts. Number two, I’m only removing
a little material at a time. Jatoba is a very dense wood
and can chip out easily. Making small cuts and moving
the fence closer each time stacks the cards in our
favor for a nice crisp edge. Now, it’s inevitable in certain woods when you make this type of cut you are going to have some
problems with chip out no matter how many passes you take. I believe I did this
one in about five passes on each side and I still got a little
bit of chip out right there. Okay, so it’s not a major problem. Some people might just
be okay leaving it alone. I’d like to actually fix that. Let me show you how I would do it. I start by using a sharp chisel
to clean up the chip out. Believe it or not the
first step in fixing this is to do more damage. You see, we need a nice flat smooth area to glue our repair too. The only time that I wouldn’t do this is if we actually were able to recover the chipped out piece. Just a quick safety note, clamp your work piece
down when you do this. It’s much easier and much safer. Next, I cut a small sliver of Jatoba from a piece of scrap. This is going to serve as our patch. I then sand one side of the patch to make sure it’s flat and smooth. I place some CA glue on the base and some accelerator on the patch. When I bring these together, I’ll have about two seconds before the glue starts to cure. Don’t glue your fingers to the board. After a minute or two I begin paring away the excess material on the top of the patch then I lightly sand the top flush. Next, I remove excess material
from the side of the patch. Be very careful here. One slip and you’ll have a
nice gouge in your round over. Just a little more sanding and then finally I saw off
the little overhanging piece. No matter how hard you try, you will probably end up with burning when you do your routing and it’s on the end-grain
which is never any fun to sand. Grab some sandpaper and grab whatever little
implements you have around to get into that little tiny
corner and start sanding. (upbeat music) Now with both of our
main components complete, we have to start thinking about how we’re going to attach this to this. You can’t really just glue it like this because we’ve got end-grain here. We know that end-grain
doesn’t really glue very well to anything. We need to have some extra reinforcement. What I like to do is cut a little block out of a half inch birch plywood that fits perfectly on the inside of our little pencil box here and mine is about 2 5/8 by 2 5/8. I’ve already got that cut ready to go. What I’d like to do is actually glue this to the surface ahead of time and then drop this on top with glue all around that surface and make sure we got
a nice good glue bond. For a pencil holder, it’s good enough. Now before the final glue up, you want to make sure you
sand all of your edges nice and smooth. You want to make sure that
there’s no really sharp areas where you might cut yourself especially on the inside lip where people’s hands
are going to be going. You also want to make sure that this guy sits nice and level and
doesn’t have a wobble to it. Just in case one of these
pieces wasn’t cut perfectly, you want to make sure
that it sits nice and flat and that way the glue bond
is going to be really good. If it’s not, the easiest thing to do, get yourself a full sheet
of let’s say about a 100 or 120 grit sandpaper, lay
that down on a flat surface something that you know is flat and then put this down
right on the surface and push down and twist. Think of opening a can of tomato sauce and after a few twist you
should be left with something that is relatively flat and will increase the
strength of our glue bond. To glue up our pencil holder, I spread the glue on both
the glue block and the base. Now the glue block is
going to slide around quite a bit and once you have it centered which you can usually do by eye, clamp it into position. Or if you have them shoot two brad nails through the block and into the base. After an hour or two, I spread epoxy all around the glue block then I slide the top on and clamp it down. These pencil holders will look great on anybody’s desk and for that matter in anybody’s workshop. Now when you do decide to make them, let me give you a bit of advice, make a bunch of them. It takes almost as long
to make five of these as it would to make one of them. Once everything is setup, you just batch them through and trust me you’re going to thank me when you start getting all the questions “Hey that’s cool, can you build me one?” It’s nice to have a few
of them in stock at home so you could just quickly hand them out when you need to. If you have any questions or comments, you can e-mail me at
[email protected] All of this woodworking
has got me pretty thirsty. In fact I’m parched. Where’s my serving wench? Serving wench? There she is. Nicole: I thought you’re
supposed to dress up. Marc: I am dressed up. I’m Mario or Luigi. Nicole: Sure.
Marc: I’m a guy with a mustache. Nicole: All right, well, anyway. Marc: Happy Halloween!
Nicole: Happy Halloween! (blissful music) Marc: One man’s [guddy]
is another man’s gorgeous. (laughs) (Nicole laughs) Does that look good? At the woodwhisperer.com. I forgot my line. Let’s go. It must be Halloween
because you’re wearing a [unintelligible]. You look sexy. Nicole: You like it? (Nicole laughs)


  • hammerofharpel

    Pau Amarello or Yellowheart, is a yellow exotic wood used predominately as a craftwood ….. cabinets, furniture, flooring and decorative turnings, particularly in inlays when a colour contrast is desired. Its bright yellow colour, gives it great appeal, for specialty woodworkers that are looking for an exotic wood to highlight their woodcraft project.

  • hammerofharpel

    Very neat project. Way to go! Thank you. You put a huge amount of time into this! Videos look professional.

  • Rugergirl79

    i want a serving wench!!!

  • oudam

    I wish I had all them wood tools so that I could make something cool like this. That would be pretty fun.

  • The Wood Whisperer

    I'm just going to save us all the trouble and start pronouncing it Hymenaea courbaril

  • hue janus

    i m going to make some but i was thinking that i could put one of those neo. magnets on the inside. so they could stick paper clips to it

  • Big Mike is talking

    17:25 – Push down and twist. Think about opening a can of tomato sauce.
    I use a can opener to open a can of tomato sauce. Furthermore, I open a jar of tomato sauce by turning counter-clockwise unlike you were doing. Just busting your chops. Nice little project, just save the spaghetti cooking for Nicole.

  • Northlander88

    Thanks for the video! Btw: you look like Ron Swanson with that mustasch. Kickass.

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @lasse88 lol Ron Swanson! That guy is awesome!

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @toolinmaine lol thanks on both accounts. 🙂

  • DuMb666SkUlL

    the walnut and paduk would make a good holder i think

  • Panayiotis Kyriakou

    12:00 no glue at the sides?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @pkiriakou look closely and you'll see the glue.


    Un saludo

    Amigo veo que eres todo un profesional,

    Tengo una duda,
    Si tienes una madera rectangular, pero sus lados son irregulares ,,,como haces para hacer un corte recto, y que quede perfecto,

    Me pregunto esto,por que al pasar la madera por la guia de la sierra, el corte sera igual al de el lado que esta pegando a la guia no?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @freddyyfanny1 No hablo español.


    i´ll use a traductor

    first congratulations for yours vids,

    i begin to interesting me for de carpenter
    i like do woofers boxes,and is very important make perfect cuts,,

    My question is ,how can i do perfect straight cut?,,if the sides of the wood is not perfect.. at moment when i do the cut,, the side that slid along the guide side is imperfect,,so then the new cut is imperfect ..

    how i resolve these problem?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @freddyyfanny1 Well, you have to get a straight edge somehow. Most woodworkers will use a jointer or a jointer plane to do this. You can also use a saw with a straight guide. Once you have a nice straight edge to work with, you can then use that edge up against the fence to create a perfectly parallel edge.

  • harlekijn007

    I don't know why but 3 people can't make this

  • PJ Woolley

    where do you get all your exotic woods from?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 My local hardwood dealer carries them. There are several in my area but you can also find good stuff online at places like Bell Forest and Horizon.

  • PJ Woolley

    @TheWoodWhisperer ok thanks

  • PJ Woolley

    how would you cut the the wood length ways without a bandsaw? could yuo use a jigsaw?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 Are you talking about the resawing cut? That would be very tricky with a jigsaw and I wouldn't recommend it. You are probably better off using the tablesaw with a tall fence.

  • PJ Woolley

    @TheWoodWhisperer yes for the side pieces is there no other way because i don't have a table saw either? or can you buy hard wood that isn't as thick a yours was to start with?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 you sure can. Look for project packs and just ask your local dealer if you can get it pre-milled to thickness.

  • PJ Woolley

    @TheWoodWhisperer okay thanks for the help!! your videos are awesome!!

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Strykercom1 make sure your blades are sharp and take light passes. If tearout is excessive, you might need to surface the material using a drum sander instead of a planer.

  • PJ Woolley

    How else could you cut the 45 degree mitres if you don't have a table saw?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 miter saw would be a good choice, but you'd have to come up with a safe way to do it. The pieces are a little small. You can also use the bandsaw but you'd have some cleanup to do. Lastly, a good old handsaw. But on small parts like this, in my hands the handsaw cut would be a little messy, lol.

  • PJ Woolley

    @TheWoodWhisperer Okay thanks. I made a practice MDF version of this and used a jigsaw and that wasn't too bad. But I thnik i'm going to try hardwood next and i want the best possible result:)

  • PJ Woolley

    On the sides, could you use a router and a 45 degree chamfering bit to make the mitres instead of cutting them?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 Sure.

  • PJ Woolley

    @TheWoodWhisperer okay thanks alot and great project 🙂

  • PJ Woolley

    How else could you resaw hardwood if you don't have a bandsaw?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    @Pedrofreestyle97 With a hand saw and a lot of sweat. 🙂

  • Greg


  • Greg

    When it comes to gluing the block to the base if you take 2 pieces of 80 or 100 grit sandpaper and rub the sand sides together a couple times it'll drop some onto the surface and then when you go to clamp them one wont float and move on you. Cant remember the vid i learned it from

  • The Wood Whisperer

    Honestly I can't recall. That was about 4 years ago.

  • Greg

    if you have a piece 3-4 inches wide could you use a table saw to cut 1/2 way thru then flip over to cut all thew way through? i know its not the way to get the most out of your lumber but…


    Hey Mark,
    what do you think about the Incra Fence? I've been looking into getting one for quite a while.

  • The Wood Whisperer

    I am one of the few folks who doesn't really like it. I did a review on my site if you want to take a look. Just search my site for Incra. Or just google incra ls32

  • Sam Maskery

    That opening statement is not true, well … that true OK its true 🙂

  • Matt Ohren

    Lol, DONT GLUE YOUR FINGERS TO THE BOARD!, this made me laugh, I've glued my fingers to the board with this stuff : (

  • hbeezey

    I never see you use any 'standard' C-Clamps, what are the clamps you always use?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    Typically F-style clamps and Parallel clamps

  • hbeezey

    Ah damn. they look so much more convenient than c-clamps.. and holy hell that was a quick response. Well while I have you, an issue I'm having atm is I cut a 2×4 (by hand) from a walnut branch and have been working to get it smooth. One of the ends is starting to get cracky, sort of a star shape.. would epoxy be the better choice? Maybe a dye in the epoxy, sand it down afterwords so it sort of looks by design?

  • The Wood Whisperer

    Epoxy is a great option for something like a crack. A dye can make it look like sap or a knot, which is nice. But keep in mind that the wood might be inherently unstable since it is a branch. So that might not be the only cracking you'll see. Also, be sure it is fully air dried before you start working with it too much. Otherwise the quick loss of moisture will result in checking and cracks.

  • hbeezey

    Alright cool.. and yeah I'm not sure if it's fully dry or not, although the piece of branch was in my house for at least a year and then sitting outside for probably a year, just don't want to rip another piece by hand.
    Thanks again

  • Ed Waggoner Sr.

    I used tape this afternoon to connect eight sides of a very small holy water font. I was amazed at the results. Thanks for the tip. So simple. I used masking tape, it worked great. Ed, Veneta, Oregon

  • samuils

    Love the tape trick

  • Greg

    where did you get the 45 degree triangle for setting up your blade

  • The Wood Whisperer

    Actually, that was a hand me down from Grandpa. Have NO idea where he got it from.

  • cynthia designs sewing studio ~ designer/seamstress

    The tape trick(@ 19:00) was pretty fancy and executed flawlessly!

  • Psychonaut

    im gonna stick to my origami pencil box.

  • Carlos Pérsico

    I usually get a tube of pringles but this works too

  • Jason Becker

    You sound a bit like Nick Offerman and that's not a bad thing

  • Regor Snitram

    Cool! A box for my pencil!

  • Louis Whitney

    I am wondering when the chip out happened… I was curious if you could have made a cut before hand on the table saw so that the final square on top was already cut and if that would have prevented that split out. Just had to ask…

  • Hey I'm a Maker

    OG Wood Whisperer 🙂

  • Jacalyn Hill

    I LOVE your packing tape "clamp"!

  • grbroussard

    Any video I watch of yours I learn something! I’m new to woodworking and you are beyond awesome!

  • Shoey rocks

    When I make my pencil holders I put a small piece of felt in the bottom.u pick the color. I use spray adhesive. Just a thought.


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