The Husky pencil, that most carvers use, is a composite pencil manufactured by Empire Berol. There is a similar pencil made of wood, but that takes a different carving method, and not one that I ever got into.
Carving Santa Pencils was one of the first things that I learned to carve when I first started. For the beginning carver they had everything. They were easy to carve (like cutting butter), they were fast (under an hour per pencil) and they took very few tools.
Some time around 1999 or 2000 the rumor started going around that Empire Berol had been bought out by the Chinese. Actually they were bought out by Sanford Corp., a division of Newell Rubbermaid. They then decided that the composite Husky Pencil was not profitable enough for them to continue to mass produce and the machines were dismantled. They still hold the patent so no other company can now produce the pencil. Soon the remaining supplies of Husky pencils were used up and carvers either had to switch to wood pencils or more traditional carving woods, like basswood.
What follows is not really a tutorial, because these pencils are no longer available, it’s more of a record of how I used to carve the Santa Pencil, which was the most popular pencil that I carved.
This is one version of the tools that I used to carve the pencils. The tools varied over the years, especially the knives. With the composite pencil the knife is the least important of all tools. At one time or another I tried every knife that I owned and I didn’t really have a favorite.
However the shape of the V tool and the small U gouge were important
The U gouge is part of the original tool kit. The V tool is only the second one I’ve used.
The two holders at the top of the picture were intended to give support to the pencil being cut and to keep my holding hand from cramping from holding the pencil with just my fingers. The longer version, at top, was for support when carving the bottom of the Santa beard.
The first step is to make a stop cut around the pencil 1/2” down from the eraser collar.
Next, from about 1-5/8” down from the stop cut, shave the coating from the pencil.
Next, take a wedge cut, around the pencil, ending at the stop cut.
Put a pencil guide line 1/4” from the stop cut. Then use a V tool to cut this guide line.
With the V tool, cut between the stop cut and the V gouge line. This creates the two halves of the hat or crown.
With a small U gouge, take a small oval shaped cut around the two halves. The hat or crown is now complete.
Make a stop cut approximately 3/4” down from the bottom of the hat. Then cut up to the stop cut, taking a wedge out. This is the bottom of the nose. Measure up 5/16” from the bottom of the nose and take another wedge out. This is the top of the nose and locates the eyes.
Draw a center line and lines for the sides of the nose. With the V tool, cut the angle lines.
With a knife, open the area for the eye on each side of the nose.
With the small U gouge scoop out for the eyes.
Draw in the sides of the face, the shape of the mustache, the outline for the eyebrows and the corners of the nose.
Cut all the pencil lines with the V tool.
With a knife, thin the forehead and around the outside of the mustache.
Using the V tool indicate the eyes and the mouth opening. Then using a knife take the wedge out.
Using the small U gouge remove a chip beside the eye and the side of the eyebrow.
Draw guide lines for the face details. The wrinkle of the brow. The eyebrow, the mustache and the bags under the eyes. Now cut these lines with the V tool.
With the V tool indicate the hair on the back of the head.
Now we'll add the beard.
Working around the pencil in a spiral, remove the red coating. First working up.
Draw in a guide line down the spiral. Working from one side of the cleared area to the other.
Using the V tool, cut the spiral guide line.
Also using the V tool, cut the bottom of the beard from the red coating to the spiral gouge line.
To get more control when carving the bottom of the beard, I have switched to the longer holder. Now cut the upper edge of the beard.
The Santa Pencil is finished. All that’s left to do is to cut a flat spot on the back of the pencil for a signature and add some paint.