I sharpen my drawing pencils the "proper" way, with a knife. This leaves a large portion of exposed material (graphite, colored pencil, charcoal), usually 3/4 in. to 1.5 in. long.

My issue is finding a way to keep the leads from breaking while I'm taking them from place to place. When I'm just working from home, I keep them point-up in a cup, or laying flat in a tray.

Putting the pencils in a hard case hasn't helped exactly how I want, because I still feel the need to be overly gentle so that the tips don't get smashed into the side.

Is there a more reliable way to get my pencils from place to place without sweating about breaking the leads and needing to resharpen them?

If possible, I'd like to be able to transport them in a backpack, so long as I'm gentle about setting it down.

  • How many pencils would you typically be traveling with?
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 4:00
  • @Matt A decent selection from the full range of 9B - 9H, plus a couple woodless graphite pencils, if I have space. If space is limited, about 6.
    – user24
    May 18, 2016 at 4:03

2 Answers 2


A colleague of mine carries her 100+ colored pencil collection in a fabric pencil roll. The pencils slot into little rectangles or elastic along a rectangle of fabric, and then the rectangle is rolled up. It ends up about the size of a water bottle, and fits easily in purse, shoulder bag, or backpack.

While most of these I've seen are for colored pencils (due to the large number that are often transported at once), they should also work for graphite or charcoal pencils. For more delicate exposed tips, a layer of reinforcement or padding can be added to further reduce chance of breakage.

These are available commercially made:

enter image description here
Image from Blick

You can also find a number of tutorials online to make your own (or ask a crafty friend with a sewing machine to help you out):

enter image description here
Image from Love me Sew pencil roll tutorial

  • 1
    Why does the friend with the sewing machine have to be cunning? ;-) May 18, 2016 at 11:40
  • Ha! That adds a whole new layer of meaning to our site name, doesn't it?
    – Erica
    May 18, 2016 at 11:44
  • I still worry about the tips in this scenario. Is the material stiff enough to absorb impacts at the ends when rolled up?
    – user24
    May 18, 2016 at 21:40
  • @CreationEdge I can't speak for the commercial ones -- my friend's is homemade, and has a stiffer (interfacing maybe?) section at the tip side of the roll. That is sufficient for colored pencils, which are less breakable; for your "proper" tips which are more fragile, an even stiffer canvas sort of material may be better. Something that is bendable in only the direction that it'll be rolled, not the other. Or, combine this with Matt's tip covers :)
    – Erica
    May 19, 2016 at 1:07
  • Just realized -- you can also store the more delicate (graphite/charcoal) pencil tips toward the inside of the roll, and more robust colored pencils (or even some pens) toward the outside as a protective "wall"!
    – Erica
    May 19, 2016 at 13:02

You either need to immobilize the pencil in a separate container or put something on the end of the pencil to absorb the impact of being hit. Erica covers immobilizing the pencils well so I will focus on impact protections. Several products will be shown here. I am not endorsing any in particular but showcasing some different designs.

Pencil caps

You will see several commercial options in the form of caps. Many variations of materials e.g. metal, plastic and leather as well as more complete products like you would see in a normal pen cap (the enclosure plus the clip to give you an example). In theory, quality and longevity play a part in selection.

enter image description here
Image from choosingkeeping.com

The problem with most of those caps comes from the length of the point you are protecting. Also, some rely on pressure exerted on the shaft of the pencil. The end fans out as you push it on the pencil. Keep a good grip but you could argue that it mars the shaft if you push too hard or too far. This is more an issue with the metal varieties but you could still get some compression on the plastic ones.

Not all work like that though

enter image description here
Image from mochithings.com

Not sure what those look like on the inside.

Caps would be more beneficial if there was fewer pencils you were transporting / keeping at one time. This also allows you to keep the implements in the same case as other related tools like erasers and sharpeners if you don't already have a means of doing so.

There are DIY options like making your own from a small piece of leather or tape and paper in quick fix but those are less useful when it some to long exposed graphite and cores.

  • An answer to a different question reminded me of cutting off pieces of plastic tubing. Any experience or comments about that?
    – user24
    May 18, 2016 at 21:41
  • Experience some. Comments yes. I thought about suggesting straws but I didn't bother offering that, or a suggestion like surgical tubing, since your ends are long and those would not be as rigid.
    – Matt
    May 18, 2016 at 21:42

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