As the last days of summer break dwindle away, students begin to mill through stores to stock up on back-to-school supplies and prepare for the upcoming academic year. But, one of our favorite writing utensils—the pencil—has a long journey before it is used in the classroom.

Pencils travel down a winding factory production line to be shaped from slabs of wood, painted, and sharpened. In the video above, Axus, a stationery factory in Shanghai, China, reveals the steps of the precise process of constructing the perfect color pencil.

The pencil production process actually begins outside the factory, where massive wooden logs are chopped into specifically proportioned “pencil blocks.” These are further reduced down to flat slats that are waxed and stained. At around 0:15 mark, you can see truckloads of the the rosé-colored slats make their way to the production line where thin grooves are curved. Lead cores fit snuggly inside the grooves before a second slat is glued on top. The lead-wood sandwiches are cut and shaped into the familiar slim, cylindrical shape of the pencil.    

At 1:34, you can watch rows of vibrantly colored pencils make their way to the end of the line. The final steps include stamping, painting, fastening erasers, sharpening, and packaging. These color pencils are ready to be used by students, artists, and office workers throughout Asia and Europe.

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