Time to share another purchase that has turned into an unexpectedly important addition to my art toolbox: Derwent pencil extenders.
I used to glue pencil stubs to the unsharpened ends of other pencils, so that I could get the most use possible out of every pencil.
That worked great with Prismacolor pencils, which I could buy unsharpened as open stock.
But the better pencils like Faber-Castell Polychromos and Caran d’Ache Pablo come sharpened, even as open stock. The ends are also capped with paint, so it’s impossible to glue stubs to them without considerable effort.
Now I don’t have to, because I’ve found a better option.
Derwent Pencil Extenders
Pencil extenders are just what they sound like; they extend the useful life of pencils. When your pencil gets too short to work with, stick it into an extender and keep drawing.
When I first started looking for pencil extenders, I wasn’t sure which ones to choose. There are so many, and they all had advantages and disadvantages. In the end, I choose the Derwent pencil extenders shown here because they were a good price (about $16) and they came in a set of two. One fits smaller pencils and one fits larger pencils. Since I had some of both, that seemed like a good buy.
It turned out to be an even better buy than I expected.
All of the pencils I currently have in stock from Prismacolor and Polychromos to Derwent Drawing and Caran d’Ache Luminance fit into one extender or the other. I’m getting the most use from the smaller extender right now, because I’m using Polychromos on one project and Pablo on another.
The extenders hold the pencils securely, and it’s possible to use all but a very small stub.
You can even continue sharpening pencils with your regular sharpener for a little bit. More on that below.
How to Insert the Pencils
Since I had some difficulty figuring this out, I thought I’d save you some time and explain it step by step.
Step 1: Remove the top part of the barrel
The extender barrel is in two parts. The longer part is the “handle” portion. This is the part you hold when you draw with the pencil extender.
The wider “collar” is the part that helps hold the pencil. It screws off the handle, as shown here.
Step 2: Insert the pencil
Once you have the collar off the extender, put the pencil into the brass-colored fitting as shown below.
The first time you do this, you may try to gently slide the pencil into place. That’s what I did.
The fact of the matter is that it takes a bit of pressure to get the pencil into the fitting on the end of the extender. That’s part of what holds the pencil securely. Don’t be afraid to use that force.
(I found that twisting the pencil slightly as I pushed it into place helped.)
Step 3: Screw the collar back into place
Next, replace the collar by sliding it over the pencil, and then screwing it into place. You don’t need a tool to tighten it, but you should tighten it securely. Just be careful not to strip threads.
Now you’re ready to draw!
A Few Tips for Using Derwent Drawing Pencil Extenders
- You will be able to sharpen your pencils with your usual sharpener for a little bit. As the stub gets shorter, however, the extender may keep it from going far enough into your sharpener to be sharpened. That’s when a simple sharpener like the KUM sharpener comes in very handy.
- When the pencil stub gets too short even for the KUM sharpener, you can remove the collar by following the steps above, slide the pencil out a little bit, then replace the collar and get a little bit more use out of the pencil.
- Get extras of these very handy tools. I bought one pack to try the first time I bought them. The next time I ordered, I bought two or three more packs.
- BONUS TIP: If you order two or more, the price per pack drops by almost 50% if you buy through Dick Blick.
If you’re looking for an easy and inexpensive way to get the most out of every pencil, these handy extenders from Derwent are ideal. They fit every known size of professional colored pencil.
They also work just as well on any other type of pencil, so they really are an invaluable addition to any artist’s toolbox.
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