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Picking The Best Pencil Sharpener

The pencil sharpener. What's there to know? You'd be surprised. The most obvious distinction between best pencil sharpener in 2021 is whether you want manual or automatic. You probably remember the manual versions from your childhood days of grade school. Stick one end in, start cranking, and out comes a finely sharpened writing instrument. Not much has changed since, though they have gotten stronger boasting sharper more resilient blades and many of them can accommodate various pencil thickness sizes.

Electric sharpeners offer a little more variation in their designs. They're all run by electric motors and operate in much the same manner; just stick your pencil in and the machine does the rest. But here you have more options, like units that prevent from oversharpening, become inoperable when anything else but a pencil is inserted into the device, and come with heavy-duty helical blades that can cut through multiple sizes and diameters of pencil. Some of these units are designed for heavy volume use, incorporating fans and coolers to keep them from overheating while remaining sharp and ready for use time after time. 

Best Pencil Sharpeners Worth Considering in 2021

X-Acto KS 1030 Table or Wall Mount Pencil Sharpener - Best Pencil Sharpener Overall

The KS 1030 looks and feels just like the manual sharpener you used to use in class. Silver metal design with a firm grip crank and adjustable eight hole pencil dial to accommodate all sizes of hardwood, composite, and charcoal pencils. You can even sharpen crayons with it. X-Acto's exclusive hardened steel helical dual cutters give you a fresh point each and every time you turn the crank. It's also quiet so you won't bother those around you when you use it.

CARL Angel-5 Pencil Sharpener - Most Quiet

Available in eleven different colors, the CARL Angel-5 requires two hands to use it. The first is needed to squeeze the clamp tabs to latch your pencil tightly in place while you use the second hand to crank the steel rotary cutter and sharpen a point on any standard-size pencil. The unit draws the pencil in until it has a precise fine point. When you're done, just squeeze the tabs again to release it. This one won't accept multiple sizes like our previous picks but it can handle multiple shaped pencils with ease. ABS plastic parts make the sharpener resilient and long-lasting while the cutters and handle assembly are both removable and replaceable.

Sorillo Brands 3 Metal Pencil Sharpeners - Honorable Mention

Sometimes, a simple, small hand sharpener is all you need. These sharpeners are easy to use for kids because they only need to take off the lid to clean out the pencil shavings, and the blade is fully unclosed for safety. Moreover, these sharpeners are made of high-quality plastic encasing that won't break easily.

Both girls and boys will love the attractive colors, and they can mix and match the top of the sharpeners for more color options. This set is ideal for graphite as well as coloring pencils, since the blade is sharp enough to shave off any type of pencil without issue. It is perfect for daily use and works well for students, teachers, and professionals alike.

Bostitch All Metal Antimicrobial 8-hole Manual Pencil Sharpener - Contender

Bostitch adds hygienic safety to their multi-functional pencil sharpener with an ergonomic, anti-microbial crank handle. It's been coated with a germ killing disinfectant to cut down on passing harmful germs between users who come to sharpen pencils. Obviously, this would be something that fits in perfectly in a school classroom setting but it's suitable for any environment where colds can be caught easily. The all-metal construction and die-cast base make it sturdy and it will last for years to come. HHC dual cutting blades are replaceable and designed to keep you from over-sharpening your pencils. When we say pencils, we mean it; with an eight hole adjustable dial, you can sharpen up to eight different sizes.

Kikkerland Camera Pencil Sharpener - Consider

This novelty pencil sharpener from Kikkerland is perfect for the professional photographer or photography buff who uses pencils on a routine basis. Designed to look like an old Rollieflex dual lens camera, this sharpener from Kikkerland has a hole where the top lens would be to stick your pencil in. Beneath that is the other lens, where the shavings drawer is located, and has a clever little clear window that not only completes the picture of a photography camera but also lets you see inside the drawer to determine when it's time to empty it. Not only does this sharpener set itself apart aesthetically, but functionally as well; with a sharpener tip adjustment that lets you change the cone shape of your point. Make it as fine or as blunt as you'd like with just a simple twist on the mechanism.

Staedtler Mars Tub Style Double-Hole Pencil Sharpener - Best Manual Pencil Sharpener

This tub style dual pencil sharpener offers two size entries to sharpen standard or oversized pencils and crayons. Just stick the point of your pencil into one of the holes and start twisting it. A flat metal blade shaves away material until you have a nice sharp point. The flip top lid keeps the blades safe and prevents shavings from spilling out. Detach the clear bottom case to empty the shavings when the sharpener is full and you're ready to start sharpening all over again.

POWERME Electric Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

This electric pencil sharpener is sturdy, durable, and completely safe for kids. It is made with high-quality stainless steel spiral blades that can sharpen your pencil in three seconds. On top of that, it contains an auto-stop feature that prevents the blades from working if the lid is not present. Due to this, you don’t have to worry about kids getting their fingers injured while using it. This sharpener is specifically designed for No. 2 and color pencils and provides over 3000 rounds of sharpening. As it doesn’t weigh much, you can easily carry it with you wherever needed. With the auto-jam feature, you can release any stuck pencils on this sharpener by simply pushing them downwards. Besides, you also get a money-back guarantee in case the product is not up to your expectations.

Bostitch QuietSharp6 Classroom Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

Though it's marketed for classroom use, the QuietSharp6 is suitable for anywhere you need to sharpen a lot of pencils. It comes equipped with a six hole pencil selector dial that twists easily to accommodate the exact size pencil you need to sharpen. Electric internal motors use XHC cutter technology to sharpen your pencils quickly but without oversharpening. Once the perfect tip has been achieved, the motors shut down so you know you're ready to pull it from the unit. Suction cup feet keep the QuietSharp6 firmly secured to your table or desk, ready to get to work when you are. Emptying the shavings is easy, the drawer is translucent enough to see when it's time to clean it out and Bostitch's MagnaSafe technology keeps the motors from running while the blades are exposed. Once the drawer is returned, the sharpener is active again.

X-Acto 1818 Electric Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

With a price tag of around $20, X-ACTO has made a pencil sharpener that offers forward thinking technology for total convenience and peak performance. Using carbon-steel sharpened blades, the 1818 keeps you from over-sharpening your pencil with the XLR Pencil Saver technology. Basically grinding the tip to a precision sharp point without needlessly chewing up the rest of your pencil and creating more waste. Non-skid rubber feet keep it from moving around while in use so you're sure to have a safe and effective result every time you sharpen with it. When it's not in use, the 1818 shuts itself off to prevent from overheating and it won't draw electricity from the outlet while plugged in. The unit only uses power when it's needed.

School Smart Vertical Electric 6x4 inch Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

Sporting a sleek, contemporary design; this School Smart unit is a vertical entry sharpener that uses steel helical blades to grind any blunt tip into a sharp point. One of the fastest workers on our list, the unit is not all that quiet; but it does help you from oversharpening your pencil. The machine has an auto-stop feature to do just that, when you hear the sound of the motor change from a high-pitched whine to a low groan you know it's time to remove your pencil. Like all of our previous sharpeners, this one comes with no-skid feet to keep it planted firmly in place and an easy to clean transparent shavings collection tray that prevents the motor from running when it's been removed.

Swingline Optima Electric Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

The Optima is Swingline's top of the line pencil sharpener. Take a look and you'll notice just one opening at the front, but if you look closer, you'll notice the thumb-dial nestled right behind there in the unit cabinet. Just turn it to the desired diameter and you're ready to insert your pencil. When you do, the helical steel cutters spin to life and chew the tip down to a precision point in a quick two to three seconds. An oversized shavings drawer underneath collects the waste, and a lot of it, so you won't be cleaning it out as often. Auto-stop features prevent from over-sharpening and overheating when not in use. Best of all, it's funky design also makes it sturdy to use; with a wide bottom to keep it from tipping over or sliding across your desk while in use.

Royal P10 Electric Pencil Sharpener - Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

The Royal P10 is a vertical sharpener that has a smooth, curved aesthetic and is small enough to take with you on the go. Just plug it in anywhere and stick your pencil in. Strong helical steel blades sharpen your point to a fine tip, perhaps too sharp sometimes as the point would break on some pencils occasionally. The clear shavings collector makes it easy to see when it's time to dump it out and the internal motors won't allow you to over-sharpen the pencil as the working sound changes when your pencil is ready for action. This is merely the amount of grinding material being finished off entirely so that there's little to no wood and graphite left to sharpen. So pull out and you're safe. Just be careful when you put it to paper, the tip may be too fragile and you'll need to try it again. Don't leave it in so long next time, and you should be good to go.

Buyer's Guide

If you ever have to use a pencil, you will need a pencil sharpener to sharpen it. Sure, you can always buy a new pencil or pack of pencils every time your pencil becomes blunt, but that can be costly. You could go old-school and sharpen your pencil with a knife. But why would you want to risk hurting yourself? Pencil sharpeners are a convenient way to keep your pencil in full working order.

But how do you know which one to buy? Check out the rest of our article to find out.

What is a pencil sharpener?

A pencil sharpener is any device or tool made with the intent to sharpen a pencil. A pencil sharpener can sharpen a variety of pencils. However, certain types of sharpeners work better with specific types of pencils.

Why do you need a pencil sharpener?

You may need a pencil sharpener for various reasons. Fundamentally, every person who buys a pencil sharpener buys one to sharpen a drawing pencil. You can also use pencil sharpeners for the following reasons.

Sharpen eyeliner pencils

Eyeliner pencils lose their precision when they become blunt. Sharpening an eyeliner pencil reduces smudging and allows for smaller lines.

Sharpen eyebrow pencils

A sharper eyebrow pencil gives you the ability to draw thinner lines, replicating the effect of real eyebrow hairs. A sharp eyebrow pencil also allows you to make good-looking eyebrow art.

Sharpen lip liner

Keeping your lip liner sharp means you can make precise lines and achieve a more natural look when applying your makeup.

Sharpen chalk

Did you know you can use a pencil sharpener to sharpen chalk? This handy tip will ensure your writing will always look neat on the blackboard.

arts and crafts

You can use pencil shavings to add texture to a piece of artwork. You can also use melted cray shavings created by a pencil sharpener to create awesome pieces of colorful artwork with your kids.

You are an artist

If you are working on a piece of art, it is important to have various pencils of varying bluntness. Sometimes, you will want to use a blunt edge through artistic choice.

Things to consider when buying a pencil sharpener

There are a massive number of sharpeners on the market today. So how do you choose one that is right for you? Some of the things you should consider include:

Left-handed sharpeners

If you are left-handed, you can buy a pencil sharpener specifically made for left-handed people. Save yourself wrist and hand ache by investing in one such pencil sharpener.


Most pencils are 8mm wide, but you can find some are larger. If you do not know what size pencil sharpener you need, you can buy one with two different sized holes.

Long point sharpeners

Artists and architects often use long point sharpeners because they help you shave the wood from the pencil without compromising the lead.

Long point sharpeners also create a tiny point allowing the artist to draw finer details. Long point sharpeners should only be used with good-quality pencils. Sturdy pencils, such as graphite pencils, will survive being used after being sharpened to such a thin elongated point.


If you want a long and pointed shave, you should use a pencil sharpener with an 84-degree angle. For a shorter shave, choose a pencil sharpener with a 72-degree angle. Basically, pencil sharpeners with larger angles show more lead in your pencil. Shorter angled pencil sharpeners show less lead and are more sturdy.


Choose a pencil sharpener that gives you your required pencil sharpness. Some sharpeners create crisp round points; others create blunt or rounded tips.


Harsh pencil sharpeners can ruin your pencil, which will splinter and look like it’s chipped. Some pencil sharpeners are made with good quality materials such as high carbon steel. If your sharpener becomes harsh and damages your pencils, it may be time to change the blade. Many sharpeners come with changeable blades.

Tub sharpener

To prevent unnecessary mess, buy a pencil sharpener with a tub and a lid. This will save you all those trips to the waste bin. Simply empty the tub when it is full.


There are several cute or professional designs available. This is purely an aesthetic choice but could be considered if you are buying a sharpener for a child’s pencil case.

Cosmetic pencil sharpener

If you want to sharpen a lip liner, eyeliner, or eyebrow pencil, a universal cosmetic pencil sharpener should do the trick.


If you have arthritis or simply enjoy a good gadget, consider buying a mechanical pencil sharpener. This prevents you from twisting your wrist or putting unnecessary strain on your hands.

Pencil sharpener price range

You can buy a pencil sharpener for as little as $4. However, you may want to invest some more money if you want a pencil sharpener that will last a long time and protect your pencils. The upper price range for a pencil sharpener is around $27.


How long do pencil sharpeners last?

The blade in a pencil sharpener should last 3-6 months with regular use. After this time, you can replace the blade or buy a whole new pencil sharpener. You will know when it is time to change the blade because the wood will start to chip.

How old should children be when they can use a pencil sharpener unsupervised?

It is recommended that a child uses a pencil sharpener under supervision until the age of about 12. However, some retailers have been known not to sell pencil sharpeners to children under the age of 14 because of the sharpness and removability of the blade.

Why does my pencil sharpener break the lead in my pencil?

The lead in your pencil was likely damaged before being sharpened. This can be caused by dropping the pencil. Although the outside of the pencil remains intact, the shock of the fall can cause the lead to a splinter.

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