A good pencil sharpener is key to keeping your wooden pencil in tiptop condition. Not only does it shave the wood away to reveal the lead underneath, it gives you the perfect sharp point to bring your thoughts to paper. Whether you prefer a small portable sharpener or an old-school hand crank, here are some recommendations.
This portable pencil sharpener is a great all-around sharpener that handles any shape of pencil with ease. What sets it apart is actually not its sharpening ability, but how easy it is to clean. Your fingers don’t get dirty at all with the sharpener’s “pinch-point” mechanism. Simply unlock the “mouth” of the sharpener and on the opposite side, pinch the two tabs together. The mouth will open, dumping out all the pencil shavings.
The Ratchetta has an innovative technology built into it that allows you to twist the pencil back and forth instead of having to re-grip the pencil as you twist and sharpen. The One is the most basic version and demonstrates the back and forth action the best. It also has an automatic open and closing mechanism that keeps pencil shavings from falling out. The Notification model has a push in button that pops out when your pencil has finished sharpening. The Capsule version features a cap that is perfect for gripping short, stubby pencils, and also has two different settings depending on if you want a blunt or sharp tip.
This basic pencil sharpener works remarkably well with both triangular and hexagonal pencils. It conveniently comes with two holes to accommodate larger pencil sizes (up to 10 mm). Its simple circular design is not the best at keeping your desk clean–we found that pencil shavings had a tendency to fall through the cracks. Be sure to empty it each time you use it to keep your desk in spit spot shape!
This 2-step sharpener is one of our favorite sharpeners. You use one of the holes to sharpen the wood, then poke it through the next hole to sharpen the lead. We’re huge fans of the two step sharpener, because we can get a clean, even, and super sharp point every time. There are those who might find the extra step an unnecessary hassle, but we promise you, the result is well worth it. If you like a shorter pencil tip, this may not be for you, since the sharpening angle is quite long. The blue sharpener also comes with two extra holes to sharpen your 2.0 or 3.2 mm lead.
If the Automatic Brake Long Point didn’t produce a long enough point for you, the Kum Masterpiece certainly will. This sleek, hand-crafted sharpener features the same two-step sharpening system as the Automatic Brake Long Point, but creates an even longer, sharper, and more precise point. The blue plastic stopper can even be removed from the sharpener, which allows you to expose more lead for shading or other techniques. We recommend this sharpener to those who love a long point and want a truly customizable pencil tip.
The K’Zool features a dial that you can use to adjust the length of your pencil tip. The more bars it shows, the longer your pencil tip will be. It’s a nice concept; however, we’re not sure if anyone would find the shortest length (1 bar) useful. However, it sharpens very well, and if you like the different options, this sharpener is perfect. It also comes in a color pencil version called the WK’Zool that features a similar dial mechanism using numbers instead of bars.
The T’Gaal has a similar mechanism as the K’Zool, but instead of sharpening the length of the tip, you can adjust the sharpening angle. It is slightly bulkier, but the dial is much easier to use and more intuitive with numbers rather than bars. It’s cool to see the pencil tip change with the different angle settings. It goes from a very short angle to a longer angle with just a turn of the dial.
This sharpener reminds us of the old-school crank sharpeners we used to use in grade school–except a lot sleeker and more efficient. To use it, pull out the top front portion of the sharpener to stick the pencil in. The clutch grips the pencil firmly and pushes the pencil in as you turn the crank. The result is an extremely long cone with a rounded tip, so if you’re more used to shorter shapes and sharper tips, this is a skip! However, its ease of use and ergonomic design makes it a win.
Color pencil lead is made of mostly wax and colorant, making it more delicate than the graphite and clay mixture you find in regular pencil lead. Some pencil sharpeners may even shred the colored lead into an indistinguishable mess. Made specifically for color pencils, this Uni Color Pencil Sharpener is gentle on the color pencil lead even while sharpening it to a fine point.
A good sharpener is an invaluable companion to your pencil. You should always have one handy in your pen case or on your desk, so that you will never be without a nice, sharp pencil. What kind of sharpener do you like? Let us know in the comments below!