Thursday, April 03, 2014

Silly Little Pencil Question: Sharpener Profiles

You all know by now that I have a wee tendency to overanalyze, right? Like...a LOT?

At this point, I kinda have several pencil sharpeners. The Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpeners get the most use at work and at home, because the seriously long-but-sturdy point they produce is my favorite. However, sometimes it's convenient to jam a pencil one-handed into the electric sharpener I keep in the living room. (What, keeping a pencil sharpener in the living room's not normal?) And when I'm out and about, I sometimes use the little brass Kum (which, incidentally, seems to have gone walk-about, which makes me sad, and which is completely out of the scope of this post). Also, in a ridiculous fit of spendthriftiness awhile back, I acquired a Carl, because I sincerely hoped it would function just like the CFPS except without leaving flea bites all over my pencils. (I should review it one of these days, but the short version is that while it is a great sharpener, it doesn't create quite the same terrifically long point.)

So...basically, all of these are a little different, which means any time you switch from one to another, you end up shaving a bit of extra pencil in order to reshape it for that sharpener.

For those of you who use lots of pencils and multiple sharpeners, do you even think about this? Do you actually stick with one or another sharpener for given pencils? Does it worry you that you might lose .002 cents worth of graphite if you switch from one to another?  Please, tell me.


Bill M said...

I thought I was the only person who worried about one pencil sharpener over the other (drives wifey batty).
I tend to get upset if I start a wooden pencil with one sharpener and need to switch to another. Yes, I have several.
My favorite is the old school Dixon Enduro 20 like we had all over school from first grade thru 12 th. I really like the long point rather than the shorter of our Ansco or Boston or the elecric one. Then there is the little pocket ones. Work fine, but too short of a point. So if I start a pencil on one sharpener I generally will not sharpen it on a different one.

Little Flower Petals said...

Phew, glad I'm not the only one! :-) I still switch between sharpeners now and again, does bother me. This is one of the reason I started carrying a whole BOX of them with me: because I could sharpen at home and not use the on-the-go sharpener except for specifically designated pencils.

Johnny said...

I think about this, too. I have a semi-solution.

I have this guy, but the Deli version:
It's similar to the CFPS, but the point is pretty short, somewhere between a 2-step KUM Longpoint and a standard KUM block. No bite marks, and it takes fat pencils.

Where it comes in, for solving this problem, is the adjustable auto-stop. If you tinker with it in your brain enough, this is often a good go-between, if you want to switch, say, a Mono 100 from a longer to a shorter point, without losing that expensive lead. The curved shape of this sharpener's point prepares the pencil for the short block sharpening next. I do this:

1) Take the long-pointed pencil, and sharpen it with the Deli, with the adjustor backed off a little (so that the point's not super sharp).
2) Next time it needs sharpening, I'll use the short point sharpener (usually a KUM), and I don't lose length of the graphite.
3) If the point is very dull, and if you back off the adjustor on the Deli, you can often skip the intermediate step of using up the point. Then you can shape the pencil with the Deli and go right to the KUM block.

You can also use this Deli to prepare a shorter point for a longer treatment, but this doens't usually result in the loss of lenght, in my experience anyway. It does make the point easier to achieve and puts less stress on the pencil (since Longpoints often wreck points).

In another circle, I'd totally sound like I'm being sarcastic. :)

Sorry to hear about your KUM brass loss! I have one that's my favorite sharpener in the world. KUM stopped making them because of international standards on the lead in brass. M&R makes a brass wedge, but I've never used it. I do have M&R's "granate" (marketed often as the Alvin Bullet), and it's a great sharpener. Doesn't fit into the "change" pocket in jeans as easily though. And it comes with a warning about the lead.

So there can actually be lead involved in pencils after all? :)

Hope this is helpful.

Little Flower Petals said...

I love that you've analyzed this to the point of having a method laid out. Sounds like the Deli produces a point similar to the Carl (though it actually has a number of options I've not fully played with), which could be a starting point for implementing a similar system....

I'm not giving up on the Kum yet. It's not in its usual spot in my pencil box, but I can't think of any way it could have fallen out on its own, so I presume I put it somewhere and will eventually remember where. I hope so! I wasn't aware the brass sharpeners were no longer made, but that makes me all the more eager to find it. There's something about brass.

Little Flower Petals said...

Ah, found it! As I was typing that, it occurred to me where it might be: tucked away in the cedar pencil box on my desk. Duh. I've been using the to-go kit lately, so....

Adair said...

I have Classroom Friendly Sharpeners all over the house and at the office. And then, just in case, a mini-Carl that fits into my bag when on the road...I've given up completely on hand-held sharpeners, even the brass "Granate" from KUM. Nothing beats the nice sharp points of the CFS. I do not even mind the flea bites, which I see as signs of real use and hard work, battle scars from the struggle with words.

Little Flower Petals said...

Mini-Carl? If you happen to stop back by, do tell!