The right wood species, manufacturing knowledge and sustainable access to raw material are key factors of successful pencil slat manufacturing

Pencil slats are the wooden component used by pencil manufacturers to produce wood-cased pencils.  The image below illustrates the primary process steps in moving from a block of Incense-cedar wood through to a finished pencil (excluding the specific processes to produce other key pencil components such as graphite cores, erasers and ferrules, etc.).  Historically, in the 19th and and early 20th centuries, most pencil manufacturers were vertically integrated from acquistion of timber through to finished pencils as well as in other key components of pencil production.  Overtime there has been increasing specialization in various aspects of production.  So although there is still quite a range of vertical integration across the industry, generally most pencil manufacturers today purchase pencil slats (stage #3 below) from specialist suppliers such as California Cedar Products Company.


For a more complete description of the pencil manufacturing process illustrated here visit our Pencil Making Today page on

Given changing competition, industrial development and regulatory environments around the world there are more different species of wood being used today to produce wood-cased pencils than ever before.  Each different species has particular advantages and disadvantages and offers a variety of economic, ecological and technical performance benefits.  Generally end-consumers are not well informed on the various pencil woods, but may experience the particular advantages or disadvantages of a given species when using pencils and associate such performance with specific brands or products they may have used.

There are, of course, other very important determinants of the quality of pencils besides the wood.  However, wood is generally the most expensive raw material component of finished pencils and as such increasing substitution of lower cost, lower quality and often less ecologically sound species are being used that impact both quality and other important values.  Thus reliable wood supply, management of wood cost and technical performance throughout the manufacturing chain to the pencil’s final sharpening and end use is a critical component of competitiveness.  Ecological, consumer safety and other social values are also gaining increasing importance and have been key drivers in the introduction of third party certification processess and other regulatory compliance matters with respect to wood supply to the pencil industry.

Technical know how, variability in processes and expertise in production of pencil slats is quite varied across manufacturers around the world.  Thus it’s more than just the wood species selection that can have a dramatic impact on the performance of any given wood in both the manufacturing of and end use of pencils.  An extensive knowledge of the factors of production, access to supply, market knowledge and technical development is required to succeed and last as a pencil slat manufacturer in todays dynamic world.

As the world’s leading supplier of pencils slats, pencil manufacturers around the globe rely upon California Cedar Products Company to meet their wood supply needs in producing many of the world’s most important pencil brands.  For more specifics on CalCedar’s pencil slat industry capabilities read this page here and explore our specific slat product ranges and species programs including: