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Why are Pencils Hexagonal?

why are pencils hexagonal

If you are not a pencil connoisseur, then you are probably wondering why pencils are hexagonal. Why could they not have been made using another shape? Why would manufacturers use a rather complicated shape when they could just make them round or square?

The truth is that there are several valid reasons why pencils have this iconic shape. And in this article, you will be learning why pencils are made this way. By doing so, you might even have a better understanding and appreciation for everyone’s favorite writing tool.

Reasons Why Pencils Have a Hexagonal Shape

Pencils have their iconic shape not just because someone thought it looked better. The hexagonal shape has several purposes – among which are the following:
Promotes ease in holding the pencil

You can probably imagine how uncomfortable it would be to hold a square pencil. The sharp corners would dig into your hand, making it so that you will not be able to write for too long.

On the other hand, holding a circular pencil is not that better at all. You will not be able to keep the round pencil from twisting around and slipping out of your hand.

The hexagonal cross-section of the pencil is quite ergonomic. The multiple flat surfaces provide plenty of surfaces for your fingers to grip. This means you do not need to hold the pencil quite as tightly to keep it from twisting. This hexagonal shape also makes it a lot easier to control the pencil and make it move in whatever way you want.

Prevents the Pencil from Rolling off the Table

prevents pencil rolling off the table

The hexagonal shape of pencils allows you to place them on any flat surface without having to worry about them rolling off. There is still a chance for the pencil to roll but it won’t typically go very far.

If you are an artist or a draftsman, you are probably thankful that pencils are shaped the way they are, especially because you are usually working on a slanted drawing surface.

Saves on Wood

reasons why pencils have hexagonal shape

In the past, pencils were made by journeymen who would cut pencils out of wooden slats. This means that pencils are usually square or rectangular in shape. Unfortunately, this method of manufacturing pencils resulted in a lot of wasted wood.

Why are pencils shaped like hexagons then? After decades of trial and error, pencil manufacturers found out that they can squeeze a whole lot more pencils out of a slab of wood when they are cut into hexagons.

This makes pencil production much more efficient and less wasteful. In addition, hexagon-shaped pencils have a smaller volume compared to circular ones but you still relatively have the same thickness to hold onto.

Promotes Ease when it comes to Packaging them

packaging hexagonal pencils

Another reason why many pencil manufacturers like using the hexagon shape is that it makes them easier to package. Because of their shape, you can stack more hexagonal pencils in the same volume container compared to circular or square pencils.

This means that the manufacturers can also save on packaging materials when they produce hexagon-shaped pencils compared to other shapes.

Are There Other Pencil Shapes?

The answer is yes. Pencils do not only come in hexagons though this shape is the most popular. Here are some of the other shapes that pencils come in.

flat pencil shapes

triangular pencil shapes

  • Round: The old-school shape of pencils is still available today. Usually, colored pencils are round-shaped. You can also find some jumbo crayons designed for kids that also have round barrel shapes.
  • Triangular: Typically, triangular pencils are reserved for kids’ pencils, and usually the jumbo size. These are ideal for kids because the triangular shape forces their hands to grip the barrel correctly. Kids learn that they need to use three fingers to grip the pencil. The more they practice, the more they will remember.
  • Flat : Yes, there are pencils that have flat shapes. These are the ones often used by carpenters and roofers. Just like hexagonal pencils, the reason why carpenters’ pencils are flat is that it prevents the items from rolling even when placed on high inclines where hexagonal-shaped ones will fall off.


Why are pencils hexagonal? There are many reasons why pencils are shaped the way they are, including ergonomics and economics. However, it was not always like that as pencils had square sections. Since those were not that comfortable to use, the manufacturers have come up with the hexagonal shape that we now use today.

The hexagonal pencil may not be the only pencil shape available, but it is undoubtedly the most popular and the easiest to use among them all. Now that you know why pencils are shaped that way, you have also learned a bit more about everybody’s favorite writing implement.

Read more: Why are Pencils Yellow?

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