Homemade Charcoal Drawing Sticks

Learn how to make charcoal sticks for creating works of art using a new paint can, a campfire, and some small sticks. 

By Susan Verberg
June/July 2018


To make your own charcoal drawing sticks the old-fashioned way, all you’ll need are some sticks and a low-oxygen burn. By choosing an assortment of twigs from various species of trees, you can even make charcoal sticks of different densities. With the help of a homemade charcoal kiln and a nice bonfire, you’ll be well on your way to making your very own charcoal art supplies.

1) First, you’ll need to procure a charcoal kiln, which can be any kind of metal can with a tight-fitting lid. I prefer to use new, all-metal, 1-gallon paint cans because they have lots of room, a handle, and minimal chemical residue, and you can find them at most home improvement stores. Be aware that many places sell paint cans with an epoxy liner. If possible, try to find a paint can with bare metal on the inside instead. If you can only find one with the liner, you’ll want to dry burn both the can and the lid to remove the liner before you add your sticks. After your can is prepped, you’ll punch three small holes into the lid using a hammer and a nail. This will allow the steam and volatile gases released by the heated wood to escape.