For Pencil Revolution's full review with morebetter pictures, click here...
So...I went through an entire NaNoWriMo-by-pencil with just my trusty little brass Kum wedge sharpener, but there is definitely something to be said for the speed and tidiness of the big guys. Every time I went to Staples or Office Depot, I eyed the big honkin' permanent mount metal sharpeners warily, and the electric sharpeners more warily still. I remember how many times the old crank type sharpeners ate the pencils of my youth, and while I'm sure the electric ones are efficient, using an electric sharpener for my good old-fashioned wooden pencils causes me mental pain. OK, not really, but I don't really have a place for one, and I like the idea of the manual crank.
I'd seen mention of these "Classroom Friendly" Pencil Sharpeners awhile back (the "classroom friendly" bit refers to their being very quiet as burr sharpeners go), and I'd sort of tucked the information away for future reference. When John of the Pencil Revolution blog recently did a very nice full review of them, I was reminded of them again and decided to spring for one. They're under $20 shipped, putting them in line with most of the basic electric sharpeners out there.
First off, it came *fast*. Unbelievably so. Troy, the seller, lives on the east coast, while I live in Western Washington. I still got it within four days of ordering, and that's factoring in my ordering it on a Sunday. Wow.
It's pretty plain, as you can see. The streamlined shape kind of reminds me of a retro toaster. It's cute. On the top, there's a sticker that says simply, "Pencil Sharpener." Gotta love that. It has a nice hefty feel to it: except for the shavings bin, most of the parts are metal.
How does it work? Pretty simply. Here is a strangely mesmerizing rather slow motion video demonstration.
I held off on sharpening most of my current arsenal, so I got to put it through its motions pretty thoroughly when it arrived.
I think this accidentally ended up becoming a "Some of these things are not like the others..." game.
So...my first thoughts:
- First off, it's nicely stable. It comes with a sort of vice mount (that's what the hole beneath the drawer is for, I think), but it's heavy enough that you don't really need that. It does just fine free standing.
- Secondly, whoaaa, it produces a long point. Yeah, I saw the comparison photo on Pencil Revolution that shows points made by different sharpeners, but it didn't really sink until I saw them in person. The points it makes are crazy long, yet--as is mentioned in that review--with a very slightly flattened end instead of the needle-point most hand-held sharpeners produce. It takes a little care to write with such a long, thin point, but I did find I could write for several pages without feeling like I needed to stop and resharpen, quantifiably longer than the usual point.
- It also does a pretty good job of only sharpening until the pencil has a point. I did have trouble with a few pencils, but it wasn't the sharpener's fault, I wouldn't say. The lead in some of the Mirado Black Warriors is off center, and it didn't automatically stop sharpening those as quickly as it should have...not really surprising.
Instead of the thick curls I get from the Kum, it makes little curly sawdust bits. Neat.
Oh, and speaking of neat, I do like how all the shavings just drop down into that tidy little acrylic bin for emptying. It sure beats the way I used to spill shavings all over the floor trying to empty the twist-on barrel of the old style metal sharpeners. And, I admit, a lot of the time it's a lot handier than sharpening with the Kum wedge and getting my fingers dirty.
All in all, it's likely to become my primary sharpener unless I need to sharpen something on the go, or for pencils I want to be particularly careful with. I know some homeschooling moms who might be interested as well. It's a nice piece of kit.