A Dictionary of Arts: Pencil manufacture.

A Dictionary of Arts, Manufactures, and Mines; containing A Clear Exposition of Their Principles and Practice

by Andrew Ure, M. D.;
F. R. S. M. G. S. Lond.: M. Acad. M. S. Philad.; S. PH. DOC. N. GERM. Ranow.; Mulh. Etc. Etc.

Illustrated with nearly fifteen hundred engravings on wood
Eleventh American, From The Last London Edition.
To which is appended, a Supplement of Recent Improvements to The Present Time.

New York: D Appleton & company, 200 Broadway. Philadelphia: George S. Appleton, 148 Chestnut St.


PENCIL MANUFACTURE. (Crayons, fabrique de, Fr.; Bleistifte, verfertigung, Germ.) The word pencil is used in two senses. It signifies either a small hair brush employed by painters in oil and water colours, or a slender cylinder, of black lead or plumbago, either naked or enclosed in a wooden case, for drawing black lines upon paper. The last sort, which is the one to be considered here, corresponds nearly to the French term crayon, though this includes also pencils made of differently coloured earthy compositions. See CRAYON.

The best black-lead pencils of this country are formed of slender parallelopipeds, cut out by a saw from sound pieces of plumbago, which have been previously calcined in close vessels at a bright red heat. These parallelopipeds are generally enclosed in cases made of cedar wood, though of late years they are also used alone, in peculiar pencil-cases, under the name of ever-pointed pencils, provided with an iron wire and screw, to protrude a minute portion of the plumbago beyond the tubular metallic case, in proportion as it is wanted.

In the year 1795, M. Conté, a French gentleman, well acquainted with the mechanical arts, invented an ingenious process for making artificial black-lead pencils of superior quality, by which he and his successor and son-in-law, M. Humblot, have realized large fortunes.

Pure clay, or clay containing the smallest proportion of calcareous or silicious matter, is the substance which he employed to give aggregation and solidity, not only to plumbago dust, but to all sorts of coloured powders. That earth has the property of diminishing in bulk, and increasing in hardness, in exact proportion to the degree of heat it is exposed to, and hence may be made to give every degree of solidity to crayons. The clay is prepared by diffusing it in large tubs through clear river water, and letting the thin mixture settle for two minutes. The supernatant milky liquor is drawn off by a syphon from near the surface, so that only the finest particles of clay are transferred into the second tub, upon a lower level. The sediment, which falls very slowly in this tub, is extremely soft and plastic. The clear water being run off, the deposite is placed upon a linen filter, and allowed to dry. It is now ready for use.

The plumbago must be reduced to a fine powder in an iron mortar, then put into a crucible, and calcined at a heat approaching to whiteness. The action of the fire gives it a brilliancy and softness which it would not otherwise possess, and prevents it from being affected by the clay, which it is apt to be in its natural state. The less clay is mixed with the plumbago, and the less the mixture is calcined, the softer are the pencils made of it; the more clay is used the harder are the pencils. Some of the best pencils made by M. Conté, were formed of two parts of plumbago and three parts of clay; others of equal parts. This composition admits of indefinite variations, both as to the shade and hardness; advantages not possessed by the native mineral. While the traces may be made as black as those of pure plumbago, they have not that glistening aspect which often impairs the beauty of black-lead drawings. The same lustre may, however, be obtained by increasing the proportion of powdered plumbago relatively to the clay.

The materials having been carefully sifted, a little of the clay is to be mixed with the plumbago, and the mixture is to be triturated with water into a perfectly uniform paste. A portion of this paste may be tested by calcination. If on cutting the indurated mass, particles of plumbago appear, the whole must be further levigated. The remainder of the clay is now to be introduced, and the paste is to be ground with a muller upon a porphyry slab, till it be quite homogeneous, and of the consistence of thin dough. It is not to be made into a ball, put upon a support and placed under a bell glass inverted in a basin of water, so as to be exposed merely to the moist air.

Small grooves are to be made in a smooth board, similar to the pencil parallelopipeds, but a little longer and wider, to allow for the contraction of volume. The wood must be boiled in grease, to prevent the paste from sticking to it. The above described paste being pressed with a spatula into these grooves, another board, also boiled in grease, is to be laid over them very closely, and secured by means of screw-clamps. As the atmospheric air can get access only to the ends of the grooves, the ends of the pencil-pieces become dry first, and by their contraction in volume get loose in the grooves, allowing the air to insinuate further, and to dry the remainder of the paste in succession. When the whole piece is dried, it becomes loose, and might be turned out of the grooves. But before this is done, the mould must be put into an oven moderately heated, in order to render the pencil pieces still drier. The mould should now be taken out, and emptied upon a table covered with cloth. The greater part of the pieces will be entire, and only a few will have been broken, if the above presentations have been duly observed. They are all, however, perfectly straight, which is a matter of the first importance.

In order to give solidity to these pencils, they must be set upright in a crucible till it is filled with them, and then surrounded with charcoal powder, fine sand, or sifted wood ashes. The crucible, after having a luted cover applied, is to be put into a furnace, and exposed to a degree of heat regulated by the pyrometer of Wedgewood; which degree is proportional to the intended hardness of the pencils. When they have been thus baked, the crucible is to be removed from the fire, and allowed to cool with the pencils in it.

Should the pencils be intended for drawing architectural plans, or for very fine lines, they must be immersed in melted wax or suet nearly boiling hot, before they are put into the cedar cases. This immersion is best done by heating the pencils first upon a grid-iron, and then plunging them into the melted wax or tallow. They acquire by this means a certain degree of softness, are less apt to be abraded by use, and preserve their points much better.

When these pencils are intended to draw ornamental subjects with much shading, they should not be dipped as above.

Second process for making artificial pencils, somewhat different from the preceding. - All the operations are the same, except that some lamp-black is introduced along with the plumbago powder and the clay. In calcining these pencils in the crucible, the contact of air must be carefully excluded, to prevent the lamp-black from being burned away on the surface. An indefinite variety of pencils, of every possible black tint, may thus be produced, admirably adapted to draw from nature.

Another ingenious form of mould is the following:

Models of the pencil-pieces must be made in iron, and stuck upright upon an iron tray, having edges raised as high as the intended length of the pencils. A metallic alloy is made of tin, lead, bismuth, and antimony, which melts at a moderate heat. This is poured into the sheet-iron tray, and after it is cooled and concreted, it is inverted, and shaken off from the model bars, so as to form a mass of metal perforated throughout with tubular cavities, corresponding to the intended pencil-pieces. The paste is introduced by pressure into these cavities, and set aside to dry slowly. When nearly dry, the pieces get so much shrunk that they may be readily turned out of the moulds upon a cloth table. They are then to be completely desiccated in the shade, afterwards in a stove-room, next in the oven, and lastly ignited in the crucible, with the precautions above prescribed.

M. Conté recommends the hardest pencils of the architect to be made of lead melted with some antimony and a little quicksilver.

In their further researches upon this subject, M. Conté and M. Humblot found that the different degrees of hardness of crayons could not be obtained in a uniform manner by the mere mixture of plumbago and clay in determinate doses. But they discovered a remedy for this defect in the use of saline solutions, more or less concentrated, into which they plunged the pencils, in order to modify their hardness, and increase the uniformity of their texture. The non-deliquescent sulphates were preferred for this purpose; such as sulphate of soda, &c. Even sirup was found useful in this way.

Ei kommentteja :