Today I’m going to talk about sharpening pencils. Yes, I know it’s not as exciting as counting flowers on the wall or matching up socks, but it’s something that needs to be talked about because we go through a LOT of pencils around here, and I’m fed up with the little hand-held sharpeners! They love to get lost. They love to create messy little piles of shavings on our table. And they especially love to devour the ends of our pencils. Getting a pencil sharp really shouldn’t be such a headache.
Troy DeCoff sells what he calls the “Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener” over at Classroom Friendly Supplies. The sharpeners are $24.99 with free shipping. He generously sent us one of his Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpeners to try out in our homeschool. It’s a burr-style sharpener with an 8 mm hole.
Upon its arrival, I was quite taken with the “old school” look of this sharpener. The shiny chrome and cherry red paint give it a nice retro feel. But it’s not just pretty. This sharpener is quite heavy, and is composed of mostly metal parts. The exception to that is the see-through drawer at the bottom which collects pencil shavings. Our sharpener also came with a clamp which mounts it onto a table edge.
Up to this point, we’ve always used the little hand-held sharpeners. They are cheap and readily available. However, these dollar store offerings have many flaws: we tend to lose them constantly because they are just so small. Quite often, we lose just the top or the bottom half. If you get the kind with a compartment to hold the shavings, you must constantly dump it because the hold capacity is ridiculously tiny.
And did I mention that many sharpeners will often eat the tips off pencils? The main reason for this is that you don’t know exactly when sharpening is complete, so you just keep on grinding. All of a sudden, you hear that telltale crunching sound. Your pencil sharpener is having a snack!<
Because of all these headaches, I was very curious to see how the Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener performed. I was especially hoping it would work well on colored pencils because we use as many of those as we do regular pencils.
I let Joseph give it a test drive. He pulled out the feeder and inserted a pencil into the sharpening mechanism. Little teeth help to grip and hold the pencil in place, so you can just let go. Joseph used his left hand to steady the sharpener and his right hand to work the crank.
I sharpened up one pencil with our little dollar store sharpener, and another with the Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener. The results? It hones the edge of pencils to a finer point than our hand-held version. It also contains the mess in a nifty little compartment.
I also tried the sharpener on a broken-off pencil. It was a casualty of one of our cheaper sharpeners, and I’ve found they are almost impossible to sharpen back up without peeling back some of the broken tip and exposing the lead. I inserted the broken tip into our Classroom Friendly Supplies sharpener without doing any type of remedial work on it first.
The result? You’d never know it had been broken.
For review purposes, I did mount it on our table for a while. It was easy to install (no tools needed) but I found that after a lot of use, it loosened ever so slightly and wasn’t staying put as well. This wasn’t a big deal for us since we actually preferred to just use it unmounted. I like being able to quickly take it from place to place.
My thoughts about this sharpener overall?
- It’s quiet and makes a gentle grinding sound during operation.
- The auto-stop mechanism keeps your pencil from being sharpened too much. When it’s done, you’ll feel all the resistance in the crank handle disappear.
- The handle operates smoothly and quickly.
- My children can use it without any difficulties.
- It looks great!
- It sharpens pencils to a super fine point, yet without leaving a “point” at the tip that is so needle fine that it immediately breaks off when you start to write.
- The price, compared to other burr-style metal sharpeners, is very competitive.
- When leads do get stuck, it’s easy to remove the crank handle assembly and get the piece out.
- Like many other standard sharpeners, this one doesn’t work as well for colored pencils. The tips tend to break off more easily and clog the mechanism. Classroom Friendly Supplies shares this advice on their Facebook wall: “I have told my own students to only sharpen the colored pencils partially. This means only turning the crank 2-3 times. This allows for a sharpened tip and less jamming issues.”
- The teeth that hold your pencil in place are so sharp that they cut into the wood. For regular pencils, we really didn’t care too much, but the children didn’t like having their “pretty” and “fun” pencils getting marked up like that.
- The clamp mechanism performed well for a time, but eventually loosened up. After reading feedback from other users on the Facebook page, I found this is a common issue.
I’m quite happy with how this sharpener handles all our regular pencils, and I can highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for something sturdy, reliable and attractive.
At Classroom Friendly Supplies, you can find this same great sharpener in your choice of color: red, blue, black or green. There are also replacement blades for sharpeners that really take a beating (think daily classroom or office use). There are package deals with discount pricing to save you money when buying lots of sharpeners all at one time.
You can connect with Classroom Friendly Supplies on Facebook and Twitter. To purchase a sharpener for your home, office, or school for $24.99, visit the online store. And stick around, because very soon I’ll be giving away a FREE pencil sharpener on my blog!