Why Are Carpenter Pencils Flat?

By Wade Shaddy

Carpenter pencils are rectangular and flat; it's not happenstance they're shaped that way. Carpenters draw the line when it comes to pencils. They crawl around on the roof, climb on ladders and get into precarious positions where normal pencils just won't cut it.

carpenter's pencil at a jobsite
credit: Chris Kryzanek/iStock/Getty Images
Carpenter pencils have distinct advantages.

Getting to the Point

Carpenter pencils won't roll away when placed on a slanted surface, such as a roof. Carpenters don't always have time to put the pencil back in their pocket and instead set the pencil down. It lies flat, and when they're ready to use it again, it's right where they left it. The pencils are also heavier and larger than a normal pencil. They're easier to get out of a pocket stuffed full of nails, screws or when fingers are cold and stiff. Another feature includes a larger lead that makes larger marks for cutting and trimming. Normal pencil sharpeners won't work for a carpenter pencil, and most carpenters don't have them around anyway. When properly sharpened with a utility knife, carpenter pencils have a point that's hard to break and stays sharp longer.