Experiments You Can Do at Home - But Probably Shouldn't

Chapter 2
Doomsday DIY » Getting the Lead In

Getting the Lead In

Unlock the mystery of the pencil by turning out a few of your own. Some things people make at home, like cupcakes, quilts and cabinets. But pencils? Surely making pencils-how do they get the lead in there, anyway?-ranks right up there with homemade transistors and lightbulbs on the list of difficult yet pointless projects. So of course I had to try it, particularly once I read engineer Henry Petroski's The Pencil, a 400-page history of the thing.

Long ago, writing instruments were made from many materials, including actual lead (the metal). One recipe called for a goose quill, a bullet, a melting ladle and a turnip. You figure it out.

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