Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Manual Pencil Sharpener

Tips on finding a pencil sharpener that will deliver a perfect point every time.

pencil sharpener
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to write with a dull pencil, so keep a sharpener nearby.Staedtler

Whether you choose small, handheld pencil sharpeners for shaving perfect points on the run or beefier hand-cranked designs for the office or classroom, manual pencil sharpeners are a great choice, and they never need a power source. But with dozens of models and styles to choose from, how do you find a sharpener that’s just right for you? Fear not. We’ve taken the hassle out of sharpener shopping by providing you with a few key points to make finding the perfect point-maker easy.


commercial-grade pencil sharpener
This commercial-grade pencil sharpener is ideal for high volume environments.X-Acto

The first point to consider is just how much sharpening you need to do. If you’re shopping for a manual sharpener to accommodate a classroom full of kids, a crank-style sharpener is what you want. They’re safe and built to accommodate all shapes and thicknesses of pencil designs with a rotating face that allows you to choose the diameter that matches your pencil for a perfect alignment with the internal cutting blades. You can even find “microbial” models that fight germs. If you just need something to toss in your handbag or pack for quick touch-ups in class, a quality, compact sharpener will fill the bill for very little money.

Bullet Vs. Pocket Sharpeners

pencil sharpener
These sharpeners are just 2.2 inches tall, making them perfect to carry with you anywhere.STAEDTLER

Small, pocket sharpeners are ultra-lightweight and can fit anywhere. Some expensive models, made of aluminum or brass, even have replaceable blades. Problem is, there is no receptacle for shavings, which can be messy unless you can sharpen over a trash can. Bullet sharpeners, however, have a built-in receptacle, so you never need to worry about shavings flying everywhere in the middle of an exam. They are bigger, but only slightly so and they still weigh almost nothing, so they are easy to stash in an outer backpack pocket or purse.

Pick Your Pencil

Pencil Sharpener
This double-holed design features two sharpeners—one for colored pencils and one for graphite—to handle all of your sharpening chores with ease and precision.STAEDTLER

The kind of pencils you use most will also have a bearing on the sharpener you choose. Depending on the type of lead you use--graphite, charcoal, wax, or oil—and the thickness of the lead, certain styles of manual sharpeners will be better suited to the task. If you still can’t decide, choose a model that offers dual sharpeners. These are built to accommodate a wider range of lead types to deliver perfect points with just the right taper, every time you sharpen.