“Drawing is hard enough. Let’s get our tools as ready as possible.” – Justin BUA
Even the best pencils are not good enough if they are not sharpened well; substandard sharpeners often leave pencils with frayed wood. But high-quality sharpeners will not let tiny pieces of wood shaving don’t poke into your fingers and ensure that the smooth graphite moves seamlessly on paper.
There are several different types of sharpeners like manual handheld sharpener, electrical, mechanical and so on; it is not easy to decide which is the best product in this sea of items. Thankfully, we have years of experience in the use of all kinds of sharpeners. We have reviewed seven of the best pencil sharpener dominants to make your job easier.
|1st||X-ACTO ProX||4.4||4508||$41||Classroom choice|
|2nd||X-ACTO KS||4.3||3237||$7||Amazon’s Choice|
|3rd||Staedtler STD51163||4.5||1610||$23||Pack of 4|
|4th||OfficeGoods Portable Mini||4.7||1434||$22||Office Choice|
|5th||Pentel Graph Gear 1000||4.6||2623||$7||Top Quality|
|6th||X-Acto Knife Z Series||4.3||1042||$8||FREE SHIPPING|
|7th||Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet||4.6||503||$6||36% OFF|
Understand a pencil sharpener
Knowledge is power; therefore, you must know everything around the best pencil sharpener to make a right choice. In fact, a whole class is dedicated to knowing the technique of pencil sharpening in art schools. This section will focus on:
- Types of pencils
- Types of pencil sharpeners
- What are the key features of a good pencil sharpener?
A. Types of Pencils
There are several different types of pencils but we will touch very briefly only the broad classification.
- Graphite pencils: Here the core is of clay and graphite in a wood casing and they are the most common types of pencils in vogue.
- Colored pencils: The core is wax-based with pigments and additives added; the casing is of wood.
- Mechanical pencils: These pencils work by pressing a button and the lead appears from a hole in front; the leads have a precise diameter and they are widely used for technical drawings.
B. Types of Pencil sharpeners
The most commonly used sharpeners are:
These are the very basic models that can be held in the hand and are extremely simple to use. They come in various shapes but the most common are cylindrical and rectangular. All you have to do is to:
- Insert the pencil
- Turn the pencil in an anticlockwise direction and keep shaving till you reach the desired sharpness. You can also hold the pencil stationary and turn the pencil.
- Dispose of the shaving in a bin or in trash container provided with certain manual handheld sharpeners; it is no doubt convenient when a sharpener comes with its own container.
b. Mounted mechanical pencil sharpener
These are the rotary sharpeners wherein you insert the pencil and crank the handle to sharpen the lead. These types can be screwed either to the desk or the wall; some models are vacuum mountable too.
c. Electric Pencil Sharpener
These sharpeners work on electricity, battery or when connected to a USB charger. They are very convenient as they allow you to sharpen several pencils at a time and also save a lot of time. They often come with their own trash container making disposal easy. They have additional features like auto stop etc. They can be placed on your desk at home, school or office.
d. Utility knife and sandpaper
Not all pencils are made equal and hence a pencil sharpener might not be the right choice to get a sharp lead especially if you are working with charcoal pencils. Using knife and sandpaper is age-old and requires patience, precision and runs the risk of cuts but finicky artists still swear by these tools.
e. Mechanical Pencils (No Sharpener needed)
Also called as automatic pencils these pencils work on a different principle wherein the lead incased in a metal or plastic barrel and it advances with the push of a button. These pencils do not need sharpeners.
2- Which Sharpener type do you need?
The type of sharpener best suited for you will depend on the following features:
- What is the budget
- Pencil type: Not all pencils are the same – colored ones have a weak core and require a gentle sharpener when compared to graphite pencils
- Based on the number of pencils you have and how frequently you sharpen them
- Do you use your pencils for drawing, makeup or writing
- What kind of sharp tips do you need or do you prefer blunt or medium tips
- How fast should the sharpening process be
- What is the size of the sharpener and do you want it to be fixed or portable
- Do you want one which requires batteries and power source or is mechanical in nature with simple usage
- What material must the sharpener be made of
- How frequently will you use the product
- How many people will be handling it
- Does it have a warranty?
Key features of the best pencil sharpener
- Quality of blades: A good pencil sharpener will have high-quality blades that retain their sharpness even after frequent use and do not rust. Steel is the ideal choice.
- Durability: The sharpener body must be sturdy and built to withstand the varying methods of handling by users.
- Size of pencil hole: Check the diameter of the hole of the sharpener; it must be suitable for the pencil sizes you use. A good model will provide you with the option to sharpen two or more sizes of pencils and of varying shapes and sizes.
- Trash collector: Though it is not essential it is very convenient to have a collector for wood shaving because this allows you to sharpen your pencils anywhere without fear of littering or wasting time searching for a bin.
- Safety: Whether it is a handheld sharpener or an electrical one, you must ensure that the blades are fixed tightly and there are no sharp edges that can cut or bruise your hands. In case of electrical sharpeners, there should be some sort of auto reset or auto stop to prevent heating up of the product.
Are automatic sharpeners better?
Automatic pencil sharpeners are built to sense when the lead is sharp and auto stop. These models extend the life of a pencil by almost 50%. While this is advantageous when using expensive pencils, it is not without its drawbacks; you might end up with pencils that have too pointy tips which might break on contact. On the brighter side, they are efficient and save time.
Review of the Seven Dominants best Pencil Sharpener
1st Dominants – X-ACTOProX Classroom
Probably one of the best electrical sharpeners for kids because it is safe, durable and provides options to sharpen to six different sized pencils. By just pushing the pencil naturally down you can sharpen it very unlike the other models where the opening is inconveniently on the side. The presence of antiskid feet prevents the sharpener from moving during use.This heavy-duty sharpener with a powerful electrical motor and helical blades ensure that the sharpening process is precise, clean and mess free. What makes this model absolutely safe for kids is:
- The Smartstop technology wherein the LED lights up automatically on completion of sharpening.
- The auto reset which stops the sharpener when there is a fear of overheating.
- The safe start that ensures that the product doesn’t power on unless the shaving receptacle is in place.
- Stays put in place
- Can sharpen multiple size pencils
- Large shaving collection receptacle
- Fast and quiet
- The LED lights up when the pencil is sharpened.
- Cannot be used for short pencils as it eats away a lot of the pencil before it auto stops
- The cutting edge is rough
- Shavings tend to leak out sometimes.
A very useful electrical sharpener that is safe and durable but a tad too heavy for small children and not really portable.
2nd Dominant – X-ACTO KS
If you are looking for a wall mountable sharpener the X-Acto KS is the ideal choice. It is very reasonably priced. This manual metallic sharpener comes with sturdy helical cutters for eight different sized pencils. It is built to function optimally in a high-frequency use classroom environment. It is safe for kids to use.
- Heavy duty sharpener
- Can be mounted on table or wall
- Cuts evenly
- Suitable for multiple pencil sizes
- Easy to use.
- No way to know when the pencil is sharp
- Sharpens off center
- Does not work effectively when left-handed people use and the blades are cranked in opposite direction.
A majority of the users are happy with the pricing and decent performance of the sharpener though there is concern about the lack of indication when a pencil is sharpened completely.
3rd Dominant – Staedtler STD51163
Staedtler is a German brand known for its quality and precision. The STD51163 is a simple straightforward no-nonsense kind of manual sharpener that does its job to perfection. It is a very basic model with no extra frills. It is economical to buy it in packs of 4 or more in assorted colors as the blades cannot be replaced. You must empty the shavings by opening the cap each time it is full.
- Sharpens pencils neatly and cleanly
- Cap doesn’t fit smoothly all times
- Blades can’t be replaced
- Meant only for standard size pencils
- Plastic body.
Customers like the price and think it is value for money with no unnecessary frills added. The common complaint though is that the cap doesn’t screw back smoothly in the first attempt after removing it for shaving disposal.
4th Dominant – OfficeGoods Portable Mini Battery Powered Sharpener
One of the best sharpeners on the list, this battery-powered sharpener has several safety features and is very versatile. It gives you three options on the kind of tip you want: blunt, medium or sharp. Another great feature is that it can be charged in three different ways. In terms of safety, versatility, quietness, and utility this item is definitely worth checking out.
- Option to sharpen three different types of points
- Lightweight and portable
- Three different ways to charge
- Easy for kids to use independently
- Fairly quiet
- Suitable for standard sized color pencils too.
- Not suitable to charge from laptops as it drains too much power
- Shaving receptacle is fairly small
- Doesn’t sharpen exactly in the center
- There is no auto stop.
A majority of users are pleased with the versatility and multifaceted charging options available with the sharpener along with the ability to choose the point settings.
5th Dominants – Pentel Graph Gear 1000 Mechanical Pencil Aass
In case you don’t need a sharpener you can always use the Pentel graph Gear 1000 mechanical pencil which uses a 4mm high polymer HB lead. It is convenient and easy to use. The tip is retractable. The pencil has a metallic grip with latex-free pads for comfort during use. It is used mainly for technical writing. The presence of an eraser at the end makes it complete in itself.
- Easy to use
- Good and comfortable grip
- Can hold up to ten leads at a time.
- Eraser is small and can get lost if removed from its position
- Damage to metal clip will damage the retractable tip also.
It is one of the most trusted mechanical pencil used by several customers. They like the comfortable grip and ease of use.
6th Dominants – X-Acto Knife Z Series Bbss
This Knife from X-Acto is a versatile tool that can be used for several other things other than shaving a wooden pencil. Made from the durable zirconium nitride coated blade, the knife is really sharp and cuts cleanly. The best feature of this product is the safety cap which keeps the dangerous sharp edge safely ensconced and allows easy portability.
- Versatile and can be used to cut paper, foam, cardboard etc besides sharpening pencils
- Very sharp
- Easy to use and comfortable grip
- The great metallic body that is durable.
- The blade loosens frequently
- The cap doesn’t fit all too well.
The users are immensely happy with the versatility of the knife and use it frequently for all their craft projects quite efficiently.
7th Dominants – Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet Sharpener Ccss
This German manufactured brass bullet-shaped sharpener is a simple handheld manual sharpener that works efficiently and smoothly. Designed with high-quality blades, it is a favorite with artists who are finicky about the tips of their pencils.
- Easy to use
- Produces clean and neat sharpened tips.
- Replacement blades are expensive
- Does not contain a shaving receptacle
- Chances of misplacing due to its small size.
The users are extremely happy with the price, the quality of sharpening and the feel of the product. They were unanimous about it being one of the finest handheld sharpeners for all their pencils.
How to choose Between the Seven Dominants
Now that you have seen the best pencil sharpeners that you can buy for your office, school or home, it is fairly easy to decide the right product. In case, you are still confused then here are a few tips on how to select:
Tips to buy the best pencil sharpener
Answer the following questions to narrow your choice.
- What is the cost of the sharpener? A sharpener can cost less than a dollar or run into several tens of dollars based on the type and feature.
- What is the type of pencil? Not all sharpeners are meant for all pencils; for example, colored pencils need a gentle sharpener when compared to regular graphite pencils.
- What is the Shape of your pencil? Pencils are no more just round; they come in hexagonal and triangular shapes also. Therefore, you must be aware of the shape of the sharpener hole when you plan to buy one.
- What is the frequency of usage? If you have a large number of pencils that need to be sharpened often you choose a model that will be fast and save time and is durable.
- How sharp must the pencil be? Not all pencils must have super sharp points.
- What size is suitable and can it be portable? While the simple manual handheld sharpener can be carried anywhere the same is not the case with the mounted models.
- What kind of charging for electrical sharpeners? Does it run on batteries if yes what kind of batteries or is it USB based or just plugged in?
- How many people will use it? Is it for one person or will others also use and if so how many will use it.
V. Sharpener Accessories
1. 220V to 110V Voltage Converter
A must-have accessory for all your electronic gadgets, the voltage converter allows you to use power from a wall socket to charge your device in a very cheap and efficient manner.
2. AA 4 Pack Rechargeable batteries
It is not economical to keep buying batteries for your electrical sharpener. AA rechargeable batteries can be recharged at your convenience and reused, again and again, making them the ideal choice for saving energy and additional costs.
3. AA Battery Charger
A battery charger makes life easy as it allows you to charge several batteries at a time, thereby ensuring that your work never stops and you are never caught unawares with a dead battery. Most of the charger is designed to auto shut off when the batteries are fully charged.
4. Mesh Wastebasket
Accumulate all clutter and pencil shavings neatly into a wastebasket by your desk.
A good sharpener is a reliable friend; it will ensure that your pencil is sharpened to your liking and has smooth edges with no unsightly marking that can mar your work. As is evident from our list the most popular brands in this field are X-Acto and School Pro – two companies that have years of experience in producing fine stationery.
Hopefully, this article has helped you reach a wise decision and buy your best pencil sharpener. In case you have any specific choice or have used brands not listed above we would be happy to hear from you in our comments section.