The How a Pencil is Made Kit is something we wish every first grade teacher had in their classroom. As Iron mongers, our lively-hood is dependant upon more than the ready availability of tool steel. Without those brave folks who dare to say “I can do that!” we would be out of a job. Getting youngsters on board the DIY train is something we believe in very seriously, and although we are by no means a childrens store, we have always tried to encourage the pedagogical tradition that begins with that age old stumper: “Where do ____ come from??”
If you have ever wondered how a pencil is made, this kit will stoke your furious desire to visit the General Pencil Company in Jersey City. The “How A Pencil is made kit”, contains cedar slabs from each stage of production and the various parts and materials of the pencil manufacturers trade. The kit also includes a dozen finished pencils, a poster, and little sacks of graphite, belgian clay, and a mysterious white substance that we can’t identify!!
Although our first thought was, OH COOL! now we can make our own pencils!! A further inspection proves that while possible, the manufacture of ones own pencils from this kit would be an advanced project. Rather, we find its best to sit back, take in the smell of the incense cedar, and marvel at the mechanical ingenuity of the 1890’s, while scribbling “Make custom pencils” on our to-do list with the included 12 pack of Cedar Pointe #2 Pencils.
Like all the General Pencil Products we sell, the How a Pencil is made Kit is made in New Jersey, USA.
Today General Pencil Company is the only manufacturer currently producing all the components of their Pencils in the United States. What's more, they have remained a family owned business, since Oscar Weissenborn founded the company in a room of the family home in Jersey City, New Jersey.
Today, James Weissenborn, Oscar's grandson runs the family business, with his daughter Katie.
In the 1990's General was under intense competition from foreign pencil manufacturers; In 1997 the price of a Chinese made yellow school pencil dropped below General's cost of raw materials.
Rather than move production overseas, James Weissenborn reimagined his family company, and re-focused on producing high quality pencils for artists, and writers. James saw the value of the 100 year old machinery purchased by his grandfather. Every step of production, from mixing the graphite and extruding the lead, to shaping slabs of incense cedar, and crimping on metal end caps is done in house, giving General the ability to strictly control their process, and quality.
Today, General Pencil's factory is still pumping out top quality pencils, and artist supplies, from their New Jersey Factory, and have expanded their operation with an office in California, close to their sources for incense cedar.
Open a box of General's pencils and they smell just like the first day of school. That trip down memory lane is a quaint one - but somehow feels right - after all these are quite literally, your grandpa's pencils.