For centuries, wooden lead pencils have been the writing utensil of choice for everyone from composers to students. Although the pencils themselves have remained mostly unchanged, the ways to sharpen them have progressed and improved drastically, leading to the electric pencil sharpeners we have today.
Despite the advent and increased of use of items such as pens, pencils remain the king. Each year, anywhere from 15-20 billion are produced, making them just as widely-used as ever. Because of this, the constant need for pencil sharpeners remains as well.
Most of us are very familiar with some of the most basic and time-tested pencil sharpeners found during our childhood, but the truth is that there are far better options available now. Before examining some of the better sharpeners out there, it’s best to look at how far we’ve come from the earliest pencil sharpeners to where we are today.
Before any kind of conventional sharpener was invented, people relied on whittling and a sharp knife to get the pencil to a fine point. This method worked okay, but was reliant upon the skill of the person doing it, and always provided inconsistent results.
The person sharpening the pencil would usually hold it facing downward, and use the knife to make short, downward strokes near the tip. After a few minutes, the graphite and wood were sharpened to an extent.
While some pencils such as the ones used by carpenters can still be sharpened with a knife, it’s rare to see someone else preferring this primitive and outdated method.
The first patented pencil sharpener can be traced back to a Parisian man named Bernard Lassimone in France. He applied for a patent in 1828, and appropriately dubbed his invention “pencil sharpener” (or “taille crayon” in French.)
This pencil sharpener was still very primitive in form. It utilized two small metal files that were installed at a ninety degree angle inside a wood block. The pencil was inserted, and the block worked back and forth to roughly trim the end of the pencil.
Although this was a little bit better and perhaps safer than a knife, the result was still rather undesirable, and didn’t do much to make anything easier.
Still, the pencil sharpener was advertised in the widely-read newspaper Le Constitutionnel in Paris as the new hip way to sharpen your pencil. The advertisements worked, making Lassimone’s invention quite the popular item for awhile.
Drawbacks: The actual sharpening provided by this product wasn’t very even, and required just as much work as using a knife. The result wasn’t much better than a knife either. Was it a bit fancier than a knife? Yes. But still, there was much room for improvement,
In 1837, a British duo by the name of Cooper and Eckstein decided to capitalize on this growing sharpener fad, debuting a sharpener dubbed the “Styloxynon” in The Mechanic’s Weekly. This pencil sharpener was actually very similar to the one that Lassimone created nearly a decade earlier.
Still, the publisher of the magazine wrote up a complimentary piece of content about, and offered up his own endorsement. He did take time to note that the pencil did in fact need to be sharpened with a knife first before being placed inside the Styloxynon.”
Like the French counterpart, the Styloxynon became a popular tool for pencil owners in Britain for the next several years, although it was very similar to its predecessor.
Drawbacks: Again, this sharpener wasn’t anywhere near as efficient to the models that came later. It might’ve had an intriguing name and good advertising, but it was still inconsistent with results and largely depended on the skill of the user.
Roughly a decade after the Styloynon began making the rounds, a different Frenchman by the name of Therry des Estwaux came up with a style of pencil sharpener that is still used today.
Estwaux’s version consisted of a conical-shaped sharpener that had a flat-angled blade that was reminiscent of a razor blade. The pencil was to be inserted into sharpener and then twisted, which caused the blade to shave off the pencil at an angle.
This provided a clean and even sharpening, in a much shorter amount of time than the sharpeners that came before it. The simple rotating of the pencil was a vast improvement as well. Estwaux’s sharpener was and still is known as the prism sharpener.
Prism sharpeners use a combined point-shaping cone lined up to a guide hole, where the pencil is inserted. The blade is mounted in a careful way so its edge barely enters the shaping cone. The pencil is then placed into the sharpener and twisted while the sharpener remains in place. The body of the sharpener itself is usually designed to be held in a comfortable way.
The blade in the sharpener carefully shaves both the wood and lead tip of the pencil, and the shavings exit through a slot during the sharpening. There is some care needed to keep the tip from breaking during sharpening.
The prism sharpener became an instant hit, and went on to be sold all throughout Europe and eventually the world. There are actually documents showing that New York City’s own government regularly bought these sharpeners, some of which as early as 1853 for the today’s equivalent of $42 per sharpener.
Sometime later around the year 1855 an American named Walter K. Foster patented his own version of the prism pencil sharpener, along with the methods for mass producing it. By 1857, Foster’s outfit was producing thousands of sharpeners per day to ship out worldwide.
By 1860, his sharpeners were more popular in Europe than the ones that actually originated from there.
Over the next few decades, prism sharpeners would be mass-produced and used as the world’s most popular pencil sharpeners. Although they came in different shapes, colors, and sizes, the heart of the sharpener was the same.
While prism sharpeners offered an improved way to sharpen pencil at the time, they all suffered from the same drawback, which was the need to constantly twist the sharpener by hand until the desired point was achieved. These sharpeners still relied heavily on the user to accomplish this.
Prism sharpeners remained the main option for sharpening for years until 1896, when a new type revolutionized the world of pencil sharpeners.
Drawbacks: Prism sharpeners were indeed superior at the time, but they still weren’t quite there. The blades could go dull rather quickly, and the twisting of the pencil could prove tedious at times. It was very common to break the tip of the pencil as well, and there was nothing on the sharpener to catch the shavings.
If you have multiple pencils to sharpen, the constant twisting action required to operate the prism sharpener could eventually cause significant soreness.
In 1896, a man named A.B. Dick came up with a mechanized version of a pencil sharpener, naming it the A.B. Dick Planetary Pencil Pointer.
This sharpener utilized two milling disks that evolved around the pencil’s tip, sharpening it to a perfect point. The cutting head itself was cylindrical, which resulted in a finer and more consistent point. The mills were operated by turning a hand crank that was connected to them.
The entire unit was mounted onto a wooden holder, making it mobile. This sharpener offered an improvement over other crank-operated sharpeners at the time, as they other models relied on sanding surfaces to sharpen the pencil.
Drawbacks: Planetary sharpeners became the main style you’d find in most schools, but they still had some negative aspects. First off, human force was needed to crank the sharpener to trim the pencil. Like the prism sharpener, if you had multiple pencils to sharpen, you get get worn out quickly.
These sharpeners were also heavy when first created, and were expensive to own. As time has gone on, planetary sharpeners became cheaper and more mass produced, but the negatives have remained. They are also highly immobile, and are often required to be affixed to a wall or desk.
Around the same time the Planetary Sharpener made its debut, a man named John Lee Love created a smaller and more efficient version of the prism sharpener and named it the “Love Sharpener.”
This sharpener used the same design as previous prism sharpeners, but was able to catch the shavings as well. The single blade provided a more acute point, and required less twists from the user.
Love also created his sharpener to be used as a paperweight or desk ornament. Much smaller versions of the Love Sharpener are still used today as an easy way to carry a small, mobile sharpener.
Like other prism-type sharpeners, the twisting action can get old very fast, and it’s also quite easy to break the tip if you’re not careful.
The Planetary Sharpener’s design made it one of the more appealing sharpeners available, but the need for human power remained, leaving plenty of room for improvement. As electrical devices became more commonplace in the early 1900’s, innovation increased, and soon reach pencil sharpeners.
There is some dispute as to when the first electric sharpeners was actually invented, but commercial production of these sharpeners didn’t occur until 1917 by a company called Farnham Printing and Stationery Co.
Farnham’s sharpener was attached to a base, and was basically a slightly more complex planetary sharpener that was powered by a small electric motor. The machine had an on/off switch, and could make short work out of a flat pencil tip.
The sharpener was also very heavy and quite expensive, as most electrical gadgets were back then. As time went on, electric sharpeners became smaller and lighter, while also becoming more widely available. Many of these sharpeners evolved to have several added features as well.
The most common electric sharpeners in the 1980’s and ‘90s were usually around six inches long, box-like in appearance, and had automatic sensors inside that started the sharpeners when the pencil was inserted. Many of them were designed to prevent the pencil from continually being sharpened too.
While you are definitely likely to find plenty of wall and desk-mounted planetary sharpeners in many schools and libraries today, electric sharpeners are by far the most preferred sharpeners available. They still come with plenty of negatives that prevent them from being flawless, however. Here are some of them.
Since electric sharpeners are, well, electric, you are most likely going to need some sort of outlet to plug them into.This can be a big hassle depending on where you are. Like most things that require a plug-in, the location of your outlet determines where you can put the sharpener in the first place.
The need for an outlet also makes most electric sharpeners immobile. Good luck trying to use one on the go. If you do want a portable pencil sharpener, your choices are almost always a hand-operated prism sharpener, which won’t produce anywhere near the results of a good electric sharpener.
Remember sitting in a quiet classroom in the middle of a thought when one of your classmates would suddenly get up and place their pencil into the electric sharpener? The resulting grinding sounds were more than enough to throw you off and distract you.
Some of us even avoided using the sharpener, opting for a dull rounded tip instead. Anything to avoid throwing off the quiet atmosphere of the room.
Most electric sharpeners today still suffer from this. When you use one, everyone is going to hear it. Whether you are the one using it, or someone else, the situation is the same: loud, obnoxious grinding.
The blades inside electric sharpeners spin around at a high rate of speed. Over time, the blades are going to get dull, resulting in decreased effectiveness. If you are someone that needs to sharpen frequently, expect your sharpener to eventually become close to useless.
When the blades do wear down, how do you even go about replacing them? The vast majority have no idea where to start, or where to even get new blades. For many, once the blades are dull, the sharpener is done.
Most electric sharpeners tend to be on the larger side. While a prism sharpener will fit in your bag, throwing in a 10 lb, 6” long electric sharpener inside is the very opposite of ideal. Electric sharpeners are generally bulky, and will weigh your bag down more than most anything else you have inside.
Besides, who really wants to be seen lugging around some giant electric sharpener in their bag anyway? Everything about this is a hassle. Standard electric sharpeners are the very opposite of portable.
We took all of the issues commonly faced by electric pencil sharpeners and tackled them head-on when creating ours. The result is what we believe to be the best electric pencil sharpener ever. We are sure you’ll agree.
Unlike big, bulky electric sharpeners of the past, ours is incredibly lightweight and easy to haul around. Keeping our sharpener in your bag isn’t going to be a burden — you’ll barely even know it’s there.
Sick of only being able to use your electric sharpener with wall outlets? We’ve got you covered. Our electric sharpener can be power by 4AA batteries, or even a USB cord, giving you plenty of power options. Oh, and it can be plugged into the wall too if you’re into that.
Have you ever had an electric pencil sharpener get dull? It’s more than annoying, and good luck trying to change the blades out.
We went to great lengths to ensure that our blade is incredibly durable and able to provide countless sharpened pencils. However, when the day comes that you need to get a new blade, we’ve got you covered there too.
We’ve included a hidden compartment near the batteries that contains an easy-to-remove spare blade. Simply open the compartment, take the blade out, and install into the sharpener to get right back to fast, accurate sharpening, even on the go.
Like we mentioned earlier, electric pencil sharpeners tend to be loud and annoying. It’s perfectly understandable why someone would avoid using one in a quiet setting.
Well, we don’t like loud sharpeners either, so we made sure this one isn’t. Our sharpener has both a quiet motor operation and the blades themselves. You are free to use our sharpener without the worry of bothering anyone around you, or even just yourself.
The blade in our sharpener is completely enclosed, making it virtually impossible to cause accidental injury. Yes, our sharpener is safe for any age.
The advantages of our electric pencil sharpener makes it appropriate for a variety of uses and settings.
Tired of disrupting the quiet atmosphere of your classroom by suddenly grinding your pencil tip down in a loud manner, or just want to avoid having to get up in the first place? Our sharpener can help with both these things.
Its portability makes is easy to carry with you to each class, and the lack of a need for a wall outlet means you can use it right at your own desk — and when you do use it, people will barely notice.
Teachers can certainly benefit from keeping one of our sharpeners on hand as well, for all the same reasons.
For many artists, particularly sketch artists, the need for a constantly-sharpened pencil is real. Dull pencils can diminish the quality of the art, taking away the artist’s’ ability to provide acute detail.
This can be solved by keeping one of our pencil sharpeners right there on your desk. The sharpener is always ready for you, and its battery-powered capabilities can provide a high level of convenience when you are sitting at your desk or table.
We know that you’ll be using the sharpener more than most would as well, which makes the extra blade even more handy.
If you spend a lot of time in libraries, you’ll have a big appreciation for our product. Finding a sharpener in a library can be rather difficult, so having our sharpener on hand can save you a lot of hassle. The quiet operation is an added bonus. With our sharpener by your side, you can remain right where you are, with perfectly-sharpened pencils whenever you need them.
Hey, not everyone in the office uses pens for their work. In fact, millions opt for a pencil every single day. Pencils can get quite the workout in office settings, so having a good electric pencil sharpener is a must, unless you’d rather work your hand out all day with a manual one.
The multiple power options provide you with versatility in where you can use your sharpener, and you can also be sure that you won’t be bothering anyone when you do use it. That’s a win-win
We’ve worked hard to create an electric pencil sharpener that is both convenient and superior in its performance. If you are tired of using flimsy and inconsistent hand sharpeners, or have an outdated, loud, bulky electric sharpener that requires a wall outlet no matter what, we can help.
Our electric sharpener is affordable, durable, and incredibly efficient. With our sharpener, you’ll never have to worry about a heavy backpack, loud grinding, or having to find an outlet to plug into. Simply drop the sharpener in your bag, or place it in your drawer, and you’re good to go.
Our product provides you with the means for having a perfectly-sharpened pencil at a moment’s notice, no matter where you are. The extra blade doubles the sharpener’s lifespan as well, so you know you’ll have this sharpener for the long haul.
Order today to experience our superior sharpener for yourself!