Charcoal Pencil Keeps Breaking

Charcoal pencil is delicate and will easily break if too much pressure is applied. Traditional Charcoal pencils have just a little bit of charcoal and a little bit of the woods.
To draw or sketch with charcoal, you need to control your hand and grip pressure. If we hold our sketch pencil near the tip, we are most likely to put extra pressure into our strokes. It can cause the lead to break.
The proper grip for sketching and especially shading is to hold the pencil away from the tip. It not only results in smoother strokes but also prevents your lead from breaking under added pressure.

You have to sharpen your pencil to get amazing results like a paintbrush. We have simple techniques that you can use to sharpen your pencil. It includes cutting the wood with a cutter, sanding the pencil, and cleaning it.

How To Sharpen Charcoal Pencil Without Breaking?

SSharpened pencils work better as compared to unsharpened pencils. There is an easy and simple way to point your charcoal pencil, there are only four things you will need to sharpen your pencil. These things are easily available every in every household.

  • A box cutter, an Exacto knife, or a razor blade
  • Sandpaper or Sanding pedal.
  • A rag to clean the excessive charcoal.
  • Protective hand gloves for cutting.

Using Cutter

The first step is taking a regular pencil and a box cutter. You can also use an Exacto knife or even a razor blade, anything that has a blade. Take your pencil, hold it pretty firm in your left hand or right hand depending on which one you prefer, and take your knife. Start cutting the wood away from the pencil. Hold your arms firm and use the other hand to gently cut the wood of the pencil. When doing so, make sure you are not adding too much pressure as this could easily break your pencil. Always make sure to gently cut the wood.

Sand The Pencil

The second step is using sanding paper or a sanding pedal. It is cool because it has a lot of surface area. Sometimes in the stores, you will see smaller sanding pads. They are also known as lead pointers. But if you have just a piece of sandpaper, then that is okay too, you can use that as well. Take the pencil that you took the wood down from, take a sanding paddle, whether it is sanding paper or paddle, and start to rock it back and forth. Keep doing this until you get rid of the edge towards the tip of the pencil. Do not forget that this is not a race, so take as much time as needed. Your sanding block might build up a lot of excess charcoal. You can use the extra charcoal later for blending.

Clean The Pencil

Your pointed charcoal pencil is almost ready, the last step is cleaning your pencil. After you finish sanding the pencil, you will notice that there are a lot of residues all over it. Before you do any drawing with your pencil, it is a good idea to take your pencil and a paper or a paper towel. Wipe your pencil a little bit because it is going to have some of that desktop on that charcoal dust. So, wipe that down a little bit, get some of that charcoal off.

Safety Tips That You Should Keep In Mind 

When doing something, you often forget to keep yourself safe. You get lost in the moment, and you might not even realize how dangerous it can be to sharpen a charcoal pencil.

  • Protect yourself: When you begin cutting the wood using the cutter, there is a slight chance that some wood could get in your eye. So, to prevent that from happening, wear your safety glasses before you do anything. Even though this might seem like an easy task, you still have to be careful. You must wear glasses to protect your eyes from wood.
  • Pressure: Do not apply too much pressure as you could break the pen. And if you apply too much strength, the knife could end up hitting your fingers.
  • Distance: Keep your fingers away from the knife when sharpening the pencil. Holding your fingers too close to the knife could lead to severe injuries. So, be careful.
  • Time: Do not try to speed up this process as you could hurt yourself. As you do it more often, you will eventually find yourself having an easier time doing this, so you can do it faster. Take your time.

Why Do My Pencils Keep Breaking?

It can be irritating when you have to get up and sharpen your pencils several times because it keeps breaking. There can be a few causes for the breaking of a pencil.

Common Causes For Broken Lead In Pencil

  1. Pencil quality and pencil type.
  2. Being heavy-handed and pushing too hard.
  3. Being dropped or banged around.
  4. Aggressively sharpening a pencil with bad technique.

Pencil Type And Quality

The most important factor is the type of pencil and quality. Pencil quality will determine the density of charcoal lead. Depending on the brand and the blend of charcoal you can have a range from a very soft pencil to a hard pencil. Make sure that you are using good-quality charcoal pencils. We recommend Derwent Charcoal Pencils. They are easier to sharpen than traditional charcoal pencils, smooth lay down, and blend easily. 

Being Dropped

Taking care of your pencil is really helpful. Dropping a pencil or shaking them around in a case with other pens or pencils can cause fractures to the charcoal core that arent going to be apparent until you have sharpened the pencil down to that point. So don’t drop them if you can help it. This will be one of the best steps to help prevent your pencil lead from continuous breakage issues. Sometimes you can’t know if a pencil has been dropped, they may have been dropped in the store, in transit, or even in the factory where they were made. After a pencil has been dropped there is very little you can do about it. So be careful to not drop them. Here are some suggested solutions for preventing broken pencils, Order your pencils direct from the manufacturer, lay them flat when not in use. When carrying them try to keep them from rolling around and banging against anything too hard.

Poor Pencil Sharpening 

There isn’t really a proper way to sharpen a pencil perse, but there are techniques to help with preventing unnecessary damage to the pencil lead, tip, and core.

There are plenty of different ways to sharpen pencils that I will briefly cover. Before I do that I want to call out a few bad habits that I consider to be fairly universal and should be avoided if possible.


The charcoal is fragile and will break if too much pressure is applied. Once you have enough wood removed and the charcoal is brought to a sharp point the pencil is ready to use. Remember to keep it sharp as you draw and enjoy drawing!