Three Keys to Finding a Quality Pencil Sharpener

How to find a great sharpener for your home, office, or classroom.

Electric pencil sharpener on a desk
Keeping an electric pencil sharpener on your desk means you’ll never have to use a dull pencil.Bostitch Office

There is nothing more frustrating than pencil sharpeners that jam up, break off tips, and don’t leave pencils with nice, rounded points. Before you start your online search, however, you’ll need to consider how hard the sharpener will be used, whether a vertical or horizontal design is best, and whether you want to go cordless or even manual. What about sharpeners that are antimicrobial (yes, they do exist). Sound like a lot of hard questions for a simple purchase? Don’t worry. These tips get right to the point to help you find sharpener that’s just right for your home, office, or classroom.

How Much Sharpening Do You Do?

X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener
This heavy-duty electric pencil sharpener is designed specifically for classrooms.X-Acto

Believe it or not, there is a big difference between pencil sharpeners designed for the home and those built to serve larger groups of users in business offices or classrooms. If you only need to occasionally sharpen a pencil or two at home, smaller sharpeners with less shaving storage will do. But for large office or classroom environments, you’ll want to consider heavy-duty models, with beefier motors and lots of shaving storage, that will stand up to daily abuse.

Battery vs. Electric

Bostitch Personal Electric Pencil Sharpener
This high-capacity sharpener is easy to clean, and a built-in safety switch prevents operation when the shavings tray is removed.Bostitch Office

For home use, simple, battery-powered models are great because you can easily move them around the house, so those doing homework can take them into any room. However, plug-in models never need batteries and their motors deliver consistent sharpening rpm’s no matter what. For classrooms where children are involved, new designs on old-fashioned hand-cranked models are just the thing. They’re safe, reliable, and some are even microbial protected to prevent germs from spreading.

Vertical or Horizontal?

PowerMe Electric Pencil Sharpener
This sharpener has an auto-jam release system, so your pencils will never get stuck.PowerMe

Where you want to place your sharpener will drive your decision about whether to buy a vertical or horizontal model. If your desktop space is very limited or for use in the kitchen where countertop space may be at a premium, vertical models will take up less room. If space isn’t an issue, many horizontal models have larger shaving storage capacity, so you won’t need to empty them as frequently.