5 alternative uses for pencils

5 alternative uses for pencils

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Here at The Pen Company we love pencils, as do many of our customers. However, did you know that a standard, cheap pencil can come in useful for many tasks other than just drawing or writing? Here are five handy tips for solving everyday issues with the humble pencil.

Loosen up sticky locks

The lead in pencils is a dry lubricant and is therefore remarkably good at loosening up sticky door locks! If you have a mechanical pencil to hand, you can simply remove the lead and use that. If you have a wooden pencil, you will need to whittle the wood down a little using a knife, so you have access to a length of the lead – around an inch would be perfect. Then, insert the lead into the keyway of the lock, wiggling it around. Don’t worry about it breaking up, or if the chunk of lead is too wide for the keyway – just keep wiggling it, as you’ll be wanting it to end up in a powder form anyway. Next, insert the key and remove it a few times, to break up the graphite further. Then test the key in the lock, by seeing if it will unlock the door. If it works, great! If not, keep on inserting and removing the key to break the lead down more. If it still doesn’t work, add a little more graphite into the keyway and start the process again.

Please note: The Pen Company doesn’t encourage this method, and would instead recommend you consult a locksmith if you are having problems with your door lock!

Fix a sticky zipper


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Using the dry lubricant benefits of pencil lead again, you can fix a sticky zipper by simply running the lead of a pencil up and down the teeth of each side of the zip, then gently moving the pull section along.

Look after your plants

A pencil can be the perfect solution if you need something to prop up a young plant and support it while it grows and gains strength. You can also use a pencil to check if a plant needs watering – just insert the pencil into the soil in the pot, until it is at the half way mark. When you pull the pencil back out, if there is soil stuck to the pencil, the plant has enough water; if the pencil is bare, then you should water your plant.

Repel moths

Pencil shavings

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It has been suggested by some that moths cannot stand pencil shavings, so try placing a small cloth bag full of shavings in your wardrobe to keep it moth-free.

Keep your cat amused

As anyone who has ever accidentally dropped their pencil on the floor knows, cats cannot resist a pencil in motion. Or even a still pencil – if it’s sat on your desk with a cat in the same room, it won’t be sat there for long. To you, this may seem like a cheap alternative to a toy. To your cat, this is the best toy you never bought them!

Lucy is our lead editor and has been passionate about stationery since childhood. She has a particular fondness for rollerball and calligraphy pens and is a keen advocate of snail mail.

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Justin Levitt at 8:17 am

    Thanks so much for this Lucy!

    I had absolutely no idea pencils could be used for such things.

    Always great to learn a new thing or two 🙂


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