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As age-old art accessories go, pencil sharpeners are a must, whether you’re a writer, draftsperson, or colored pencil aficionado. Sure, you can use a knife to create that perfect point, but why not just stick that dull writing implement in a snugly housed blade that will do the same—with much less effort and less risk of slicing yourself? Motorized options provide speed and ease, but a manual sharpener gives you far more control over your cut and length. Ahead, find the best of the best pencil sharpeners—all ARTnews-recommended.
Blick x KUM Long Point Sharpener
German company KUM is renowned for its sharpeners, which are all equipped with blades with a 65 rating on the Rockwell hardness scale (for comparison, this is the rating of many pro-grade Japanese knives). In this sharpener, those tough carbon steel edges are fitted in a metal casing housed inside a plastic case to catch shavings. The sharpener shaves points down to a long point—ideal if you love to use the side of the lead for shading. The important thing to know about this sharpener is that it requires a two-step process: One hole cuts at the wood casing, and a second works away at the core. The design prevents over-sharpening and breakage. We love that this sharpener is compatible with colored pencils, charcoal pencils, and of course, regular pencils. Plus, you can replace the blades!
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Staedtler Metal Double Hole Sharpener
Offering the more traditional one-step sharpening method, this manual pencil sharpener is just the thing to throw in your bag and go. Though made of plastic, it is sturdy and reliable. It features a metal double hole for two different-size pencils, along with a relatively roomy tub to catch the shavings (the larger hole works well with crayons too). The blade doesn’t bite the pencil but trims it down to a crisp point. There is a hinged cover with a safety lock to keep everything contained when not in use.
ANOTHER GOOD OPTION
This straightforward sharpener from KUM delivers the brand’s tough blades in a design that doesn’t require double sharpening. Sure, you’ll have to use it over a wastebasket (or be game to clean up the shavings), but it allows you to have a clear view of the sharpening process for ultimate control. The magnesium alloy casing is tough so you can toss it in your toolbox or pencil case without worry. Choose from a single-hole model that fits standard-size 8-mm pencils or a double-hole model that can also take 10.5-mm pencils.
Bostitch Office Twist-N-Sharp Manual Pencil Sharpener
Bostitch’s little sharpeners get pencils sharp without requiring too much force, making it an excellent pick for classrooms with little ones or young artists who are just learning about these magic tools. Plus, you can twist a knob to choose your desired point: choose from sharp or blunt, which is great if you are wary of handing small children a pointed pencil. The sharpener prevents over-sharpening, and the design is sturdy and comfortable to hold; a hinge tray empties waste in a second. Finally, they come in economical packs of three, each one in bright and fun colors!
ANOTHER GOOD OPTION
Prismacolor Pencil Sharpener
If you mostly need to sharpen colored pencils, or want a designated sharpener for your colored pencils, there’s no better option than this vertically oriented model from Prismacolor. The high-quality blades shave away at wood without eating at the core and wasting color. The sharpener is equipped with two blades that deliver two different sharpening angles so you can custom cut your pencils for shading or detail work. The receptacle for shavings features a cover that slides on and off but stays secure when you need it to.