The New York Times Magazine has an interesting article of one of the last extant pencil factories in the United States. The article includes a photo essay on on how pencils are made. Although the manufacturing involves many machines, it’s still amazingly low tech depending on workers to do much of the process by hand.
Pencils are one of those items that, although ubiquitous, we never think about. Every now and then we buy a box or get one from work. Most people use a pencil several times a day and would probably be lost without one (or a substitute such as a pen). It’s worth clicking through if only to look at the pictures. They’re amazing.