The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

For as many different kinds of wooden pencils I use, I’m not usually too adventurous with my pencil sharpener. I usually exclusively prefer hand-held sharpeners, like my left-handed sharpener, my Palomino KUM Long-point sharpener, and the KUM Ellipse I keep in my jacket pocket almost all the time.

I remember with disdain the giant Cold War-era Boston sharpener of yore that would hungrily eat my pencil with its two giant dull grinders. It left me with a long, dull tip and the wood surrounding it half-eaten and dirty. Sure, it didn’t take as long to sharpen with that monstrocity, but it was loud, messy, and ineffective.

This summer, I got an email from Troy Decoff, who developed what he calls the “Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener“. It seemed to combine the heavy-duty nature of the wall-mounted sharpener with a smaller footprint and sharper grinders.

It operates very similarly to the Dahle Fifty-50, which I’ve reviewed on this site just over a year ago. Pull out the front, pinch the holders together, put your pencil in, and start cranking.

The benefits of this sharpener over the Dahle? Well, first, the pencil holder locks into place when it’s fully extended, unlike the Dahle, and it’s sturdier, with an all-metal case. And, most importantly, the point is much much longer.

Look how sharp! Buffy the Vampire Slayer would appreciate this sharpener.

While the point is not quite as long with the Palomino KUM Long-point Sharpener, it’s still very long. And very sharp. If the two-step manual process of the Palomino sharpener is too hard, this will be much easier.

One disadvantage is that, much like the Dahle, the grippers will leave a mark on the barrel of the pencil. If you’re just using, say, a Ticonderoga, it’s no biggie, but I don’t want to ruin the nice sheen on my Blackwing or my Hi-Uni!

I’ve brought it to work and keep it at my desk. It’s perfect because it’s quiet enough to not disturb my office-mates, and it’s quick enough to re-sharpen a dull pencil in less than 10 seconds.

Thanks, Troy, for making such a great product! I like this much better than most of the desktop electric sharpeners you see at office supply stores nowadays.

The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener | $19.95 from Classroom Friendly Supplies.com

The Scrapl: one of my favorite things


Pepsi: Summer Mix. Perfect for my Scrapl

Back when I used to blog for PencilThings, the proprietor sent me a Scrapl (warning: website from 1998!), what was essentially a pencil sharpener built into a soda bottle cap. It was elegant in its simplicity, and I knew I had to have the right bottle to attach it to.

That summer, along came Pepsi: Summer Mix. Destined to go the way of Coke II and Crystal Pepsi, this version tasted exactly like someone dropped several Skittles into the soda and let them dissolve. It was gross. But it made for a timeless container for my little pencil sharpener.

I just drank (or poured out) the rest of the soda, washed the bottle, dried it, and screwed on the lid. And it can hold several years’ worth of pencil shavings.

It seems to be marketed toward teachers, which is brilliant. Sure enough, my mother, a teacher, asked where she could get a bunch for bulk prices. According to their website, you can get one on eBay. If you have no luck there, contact the proprietors at PencilThings. They might be able to help you track one down. The website just seems to be random gifs and links in (shudder) comic sans.

Meanwhile, scroll down for some additional photos.

Review: the Dahle 50 Fifty Rotary Pencil Sharpener

This is my first attempt at a video review! Apologized for the slightly crooked shot framing.

The Dahle 50 Fifty makes very little waste, so a newly sharpened pencil is almost as long as an unsharpened one.

The website I referred to was here, what seems to be a gallery of Dahle sharpeners, including some really cool midcentury modern cast iron models.

Summing up the video, here are some strengths:

  • Tray fits into the base well
  • Easily removeable blade for replacement
  • Grinder chews up very little wood, to prolong the life of your pencil (see image to the right)
  • Produces a short point, for easier control during writing
  • Unlike a lot of rotary sharpeners, the exposed wood on the point is very smooth. No splinters or rough edges
  • The adjustable barrel holder can hold oversized pencils, and guides them into the grinder, keeping the pencil straight

Some weaknesses:

  • It’s rather awkward to extend the guide, open the hole, and insert the pencil with just two hands
  • The shavings tray is loose, and rattles
  • The whole unit is plastic and feels cheap
  • Mounts to the wall or a table with a Command Strip, which might be knocked loose during sharpening a particularly hearty pencil

Overall, I give this pencil sharpener 4 stars out of 5 — I will enjoy using it because of the great point it creates, with a minimum of waste.

As I said in the video, leave a comment if you find somewhere that sells this model!