Learn how to make a vase using only colored pencils

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Follow this simple guide to turn your old colored pencils into an amazing vase.

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If you have a pile of spare colored pencils, why not put them to use? Collect them all and create a work of art: a stunning vase.

Follow this simple guide to find out how.

DIY pencil vase completed
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

But before you get started, there are a few things you’ll need first.

Tools and Equipment Required

Once you have all the basic materials and tools, you can begin assembly.

Step 1: Prepare your colored pencil block

The first step is to take your colored pencils and remove them all from their packaging. You will need a total of 144 pencils for this build, but this will vary depending on the size of the vase you want to build yourself.

Adjust the scale accordingly.

DIY Pencil Vase Pencils
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Next, put all your pencils into a plastic measuring cup and arrange them in a mosaic pattern by adding more pencils until the pencils break if you add any more.

Alternatively, you can make your own pencil bundles.

DIY pencil vase in a pitcher
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Secure the pencil stack with a rubber band and remove it from the measuring cup.Then, gently rotate the stack so that the pencils are perfectly mosaicked.

DIY Pencil Vase Bundle
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Next, measure out about 0.15 lbs (69 g) of epoxy resin, although the amount you need will vary depending on how many pencils you plan to use.

DIY Pencil Vase Clear Epoxy
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Wrap the bunch of pencils in a plastic tube and completely submerge the pencils in water. You can use an old tube or make one using a sheet of plastic and a scrap wooden base.

If it’s the latter, secure the entire pencil epoxy cylinder with a rubber band or other material and leave it to harden.

DIY pencil vase cylinder
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 2: Start engraving the cylinder

Once the epoxy has cured, clamp the pencil block inside the lathe, making sure both the headstock and mandrel stock are holding the block securely.

DIY pencil vase clamped on a lathe
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

I turn on the lathe and begin to carve the vase. My first objective is to remove the outer plastic container to expose the resin and pencil (pencil lead) underneath.

As always, be sure to wear hand, eye and respiratory protection when doing this.

DIY Pencil Vase Start Carving
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Remove any remaining pieces, such as rubber bands, as you work your way through. Once that’s done, you can start cutting off the tip of the pencil as well.

You want the top of the vase to be as flat as possible.

DIY Pencil Vase Cut-out Pen Tips
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

As with the sides, cut away material until you expose the top of the pencil barrel. Continue cutting away material until you create a step.

At this point your pencil vase block should look like this:

DIY Pencil Vase with Tiered Base
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Remove the block from the lathe and reinstall it using the stepped base of the headstock chuck. Now you’re ready to get to work on the actual woodworking of the vase.

Secure it again with the tailstock.

Step 3: Start creating the vase shape

Then, shape the block however you want — in this case, the top of the vase will have a curved neck and sharp edges — or you can mold it into any shape you like.

DIY Pencil Vase with Curved Neck
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Continue removing material until you are happy with the top, then continue cutting away excess material from the abdomen and base of the vase.

Add details such as concentric circles or ridges if desired.

DIY pencil vase body and base
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

If you plan to turn the rim of the vase on the wood lathe, you can also shape it at this point, until you have a rough outline of the rim, which will later be cut out as one piece.

If you find any loose pencil leads, you can either file them down and replace them with a piece of wood or glue the loose pieces back together. You can also fill any gaps with wood filler.

DIY Pencil Vase Stain Repair
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 4: Core and open up the inside of the vase

Next, attach the core bit to the core stock. Use this to remove material from the center of the pencil block. Hollow out the center to the desired depth within the pencil block.

DIY Pencil Vase Core Center
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Use corers of different diameters until you’re happy with it, but for obvious reasons, make sure the corer bit is no wider than (or even as wide as) the narrowest part of the neck of the vase.

DIY Pencil Vase Core Center
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Then, I continue to work on the inside of the vase using different wood lathe tools. If necessary, I enlarge the holes or shape the edges from the inside. From time to time, I also use sandpaper to remove the wood dust.

DIY pencil vase internal work
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once done, use water and a sponge or cloth to remove any dust or other debris.

Finished the rim of the DIY pencil vase
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Next, you’ll add a light source to the tailstock of the lathe to shine light onto the tube of the vase so you can see what’s happening as you continue to carve out the vase.

With this set up, continue working on the inside of the vase, finishing as before using the various wood lathe tools and sandpaper, trying to follow the shape of the outside of the vase if possible (or if you wish).

DIY Pencil Vase - Carving the Inside
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Take your time at this stage, being careful not to drill holes in the exterior walls. Periodically turn the lathe off and use compressed air to push out sawdust and other debris.

DIY Pencil Vase Remove the dust
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once that is done, wash the entire vase once with clean water to remove any dust or debris as well.

DIY pencil vase cleaning
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Step 5: Complete the base

Now, move your attention back to the outside of the vase. Start working and shaping the base of the vase. Add grooves and curves to suit your own design and taste.

DIY pencil vase base work
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once you’re happy with it, start sanding the entire outside of the vase with the sandpaper, making the surface as smooth as possible.

DIY Pencil Vase Sand
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Use a variety of grades if necessary.Once again, use water and a sponge or clean cloth to clean all parts of the vase, working into all recesses as best you can to remove any debris.

Clean your DIY pencil vase again
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once complete, carefully begin removing material from the very bottom of the vase until there is no trace of pencil epoxy block left in the vase.

DIY Pencil Vase Cut Out
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Once separated, clean and sand the bottom of the vase using a hand or orbital sander.

DIY Vase Polishing Base
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Clean the bottom as well as the rest of the vase. Leave the whole vase to dry.

Step 7: Varnish the vase

Once the main wood turning is complete, move on to treating the vase: take some clear varnish and, using a clean rag or paintbrush, apply it to all exposed surfaces of the vase, inside and out.

DIY Pencil Vase Varnish
sauce: Interesting Engineering/YouTube

Work the varnish into all recesses, especially the inside of the vase, taking your time to varnish all exposed surfaces evenly and completely.

This will help preserve and protect the fruits of your labor. Once you’ve finished, give the vase a thorough visual check and varnish any areas that you may have missed.

Your DIY pencil vase is now complete. Find a prominent place to display your true masterpiece.

If this project has piqued your interest in further wood turning, then perhaps you are looking for a new project. May I suggest a bathroom vanity?

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