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How to Sharpen Pencils

Apr 1, 2012

by davidreespencils handmade and vintage goods

You might know David Rees as the political cartoonist behind the series Get Your War On, among others. Well, he has set all that aside to pursue his lofty dreams as a preeminent craftsman in the little known field of artisanal pencil sharpening. His new book is titled How To Sharpen Pencils: A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants. Read on for an illuminating excerpt from the book that will guide you through using a single-blade pocket sharpener. Time to sharpen up!

Of all pencil-sharpeners, the humble single-blade pocket model is perhaps the most ubiquitous. That doesn’t mean our little friend is easy to master. On the contrary, its unassuming appearance gives no hint of the potential frustrations, pitfalls, brambles, dead-ends, and heartbreaks that lie within.

I approach every use of a pocket sharpener with guarded optimism. As far as I’m concerned, it offers the most intimate encounter with a pencil. It’s my favorite sharpening technique precisely because, like all intimate encounters, its ideal outcome is so obvious yet its practical application is so fraught with peril.

Equipment Checklist:
Emery board
Magnifying lenses
Single-blade pocket sharpener
Pencil (not pictured)

Step One: Inspecting and Cleaning the Sharpener
Before beginning the sharpening process, do a quick visual inspection of the sharpener. The casing should be free of cracks and blemishes. The blade should be properly aligned relative to the body of the sharpener and free of rust, blood, or other elements that could compromise the blade’s motion across the surface of the pencil.

If wood shavings or graphite residue from previous use are lodged against the blade, remove them by gently inserting a wooden toothpick between the blade and the opposite plane. Pull the toothpick towards the sharpener’s entrance hole, collecting debris as you go.

Step Two: Placing the Tool in Hand

Hold the sharpener in your non-dominant hand so as to stabilize it during the sharpening process. The blade should be face-up and visible throughout the process, as you will be monitoring its contact with the pencil as well as the unfurling of shavings.

Hold the pencil in your dominant hand. You will be rotating the pencil, not the sharpener. The sharpener should remain stationary throughout the process, barring extreme circumstances.

Step Three: Engagement
Begin rotating the pencil inside the body of the sharpener so the blade is engaging with the shaft of the pencil. For left-handers, this means a clockwise rotation. Maintain steady, moderate pressure along the shaft as you guide it towards the forward end of the sharpener.

Step Four: Monitoring the Shavings’ Egress

Many of my clients request the use of a single-blade hand sharpener because of the iconic, scalloped ribbon of shavings it produces. (Sometimes called “the apple-peel effect” or “M’lady’s ruffled skirt abandoned on the floor  in the throes of our love-making.”) Although you may be tempted to focus exclusively on the pencil point, attention must be paid to the merry byproduct of your labor.

As pencil shavings begin to curl out of the sharpener, turn the sharpener away from you so the shavings fall to the side and don’t obscure the blade. Do not allow the shavings to collect in your palm. Shavings should unfurl completely, lest they jam the sharpener.

If shavings are reluctant to leave the sharpener’s planar orifice, a gentle tug will release them from its grasp. Place them on a flat surface and return to the task at hand.



Step Five: Checking In With Your Pencil

After some time you should notice the pencil point beginning to take shape and feel the sharpener engaging the newly exposed graphite, which will offer less resistance than the wood. (See Table 5.1.) This typically happens after thirteen to fifteen rotations. Now is the time to pay especially close attention to your pencil’s progress. You may be tempted to remove the pencil and test its point after one or two further rotations. Resist the temptation a bit longer — approximately two more rotations, if not one additional rotation, or even a further, final rotation.

Remove the pencil and look at it.

If the pencil is still not sharp enough, engage the sharpener in one or two additional rotations. Avoid a third rotation, a.k.a. “the Devil’s Dance.”

Step Six: “A Closer Look”

Use your magnifying spectacles to search the pencil point for irregularities. In this photograph, we see a ragged edge to the collar at the site where the sharpening process was concluded. This begs for correction.

Step 7: Correcting the Collar

You can further improve the pencil by removing the raised edge where the blade last encountered the collar. Smooth the collar with an emery board, taking care not to flatten its conical surface. A light touch is key.

After smoothing the collar, clean any graphite residue with a cotton handkerchief or rag. Make sure not to damage the graphite and the tip!

Step Eight: “Bagging the Big Game”

At the end of the sharpening process, you must attend to the shavings. They are part of the pencil and, as such, should be returned to their rightful owner.

A bag of clean shavings, besides looking delightful, should put to rest any concerns your clients may have about your technique: that you used an electric sharpener instead of a hand-sharpener; that you hoard shavings for your personal use; that the “pencil” is a plastic simulacrum; that you passed the shavings through your body before returning them, etc.

Using tweezers, carefully place the shavings in a bag. Label the shavings and pencil according to your preferred indexing system.

Step Nine: Reviewing Your Handiwork
This step can be emotionally wrenching, but it’s required if you hope to improve your practice. Taking a long look at your finished pencil is an opportunity for reflection and renewal. While reviewing your handiwork, ask yourself the following questions:

1. How closely does the pencil point correspond to your desired outcome?

Is it sharper or duller than you wanted? If the former is the case, review the rotations recorded for this job in your log book and try one or two fewer rotations on your next pencil; if the latter, add rotations — keeping in mind that most pocket sharpeners lack a physical bulwark against over-­sharpening, thereby risking the production of an irregular “pin-­tip” which may break at the slightest pressure and leave the point further compromised.

2. Is the collar-­top consistent around the point and flush with the graphite?

Are there dips or scoops in the wood you didn’t intend? (These issues may have more to do with the quality of your pencil than your abilities; lesser pencils may have a loose or otherwise imperfect bond between the graphite core and the wooden shaft.)

3. Does the exposed graphite show signs of irregularity?

Are there divots associated with inconsistent pressure applied during the sharpening process? Again, an inferior pencil may be the culprit, as pencil-­core production involves a delicate balance of graphite, clay, and wax — which may, in lesser models, be less than uniform throughout the core. Nevertheless, too much rotational torque during the sharpening process may gouge the graphite and leave a twisting “ghost image” of the sharpener blade.

The photo above exhibits several imperfections in a pencil point produced by a single-­blade pocket sharpener. See if you can identify them, and consider how they could be reduced or eliminated in future jobs.

This illustration shows an ideal pencil point produced by a single-­blade pocket sharpener. The collar’s height stands at 1/2 inch, roughly equal to the length of the blade less the exposed graphite. The collar-­bottom runs parallel to the ferrule and eraser, perpendicular to the edges of the shaft. The collar-­top is uniform and parallel to the collar bottom; there is no gap between the wood and the graphite. The point is consistent and smooth, showing no mark of the blade. The tip is solid yet sharp; there is no “pin tip” waiting to shatter.

This pencil point could be usefully employed by the general-­interest user. It offers hours of stable, uniform graphite exposure for writing, arithmetic, or doodling. Highly recommended for the layperson.

Thank you to David Rees and Melville House for sharing this thorough tutorial with us. For more sage pencil sharpening advice and techniques (including novelty techniques or how to sharpen a pencil in a waterfall), check out his book, How to Sharpen Pencils, available from Melville House, or catch him live on tour

More Tutorials | Pencil Sharpeners on Etsy


  • sparksoffire

    sparksoffire from sparksoffire said 7 years ago

    I'm surprised you didn't touch on the Myers-Dunningham approach to this. Is it *still* controversial in 2012 to dogmatically use the right hand to hold the sharpener and to twist only in half turns for the first ten rotations (twelve for longer pencils)? I know there can be collar-dampening effects from this on darker tones (what we in the rest of the world could call 'beating the B'). Anyway, I'd be interested in your views.

  • caseysharpe

    Casey Sharpe from caseysharpe said 7 years ago

    While I feel that this is an excellent article with a depth of knowledge on a single topic, I do wish Mr. Rees had attended to the differing methods (and sharpening times) for various hardnesses. One simply cannot be expected to sharpen a 4H in the same manner that one sharpens a 3B.

  • SamOssie

    Sam Osborne from SamOsborneStore said 7 years ago

    I would be very keen to know how David feels about sharpening with a knife or scalpel blade. I personally prefer the bevelled edges this technique creates, from a purely aesthetic point of view, but wonder if it reduces the quality of the finished sharpened pencil - which would naturally diminish it's drawing quality - and of course you don't end up with the 'apple-peel' shavings.

  • grimmlynn

    Jeni from grimmlynn said 7 years ago

    I imagine I am a huge disappointment to many pencil sharpening enthusiasts as I use a lead pencil with 0.9 lead. I bare down really hard when I write and if I had to stop and sharpen each time the lead broke, I would never get a thing accomplished. Kudos to those who have the time and patience for these types of hobbies, though.

  • TwinkleStarCrafts

    Judith and Raymond from AnnaOliveDesigns said 7 years ago

    I see that your tutorial is specifically designed for professionals such as flange turners, anglesmiths and writers. Tell me, would a layman, such as myself, be able to master your techniques or would I need to become said flange turner or anglesmith first? I frustrate and feel defeated quite easily so if you feel that even attempting your techniques would be an exercise in futility without first becoming the required prerequisite professional, please advise.

  • alyson2

    Alyson Button Stone from alyson2 said 7 years ago

    I must add a technique I have used in sharpening emergencies. Due to a miscommunication recently, my daughter absconded with my regular sharpener, leaving me in a quandary. I was able to continue with my project because of an eyeliner sharpener! It took a bit of adjustment (and some daring on my part), but I had a successful outcome. Just a thought for your readers. I don't remember the last time I enjoyed a post so much.

  • marmades

    Joanne Maher from marmades said 7 years ago

    A truly glorious read!

  • specialme

    heather snitch said 7 years ago

    An intriguing and insightful Article. I commend you, Mr Rees, on your attention to detail and eloquence. I must ask, Would you indulge us with an in-depth look at sharpening those pesky builder's pencils? I find the flat, rectangular shape easier to hold whilst marking wood for cutting or drilling. I fear I may not be paying proper attention to sharpening procedure, as I focus; perhaps mistakely; more on the use of the pencil once sharpened. Thank you for your time.

  • beaujangles

    Paul Townsend from beaujangles said 7 years ago

    I must admit, I prefer the self-propelling ones myself ..

  • kcnh

    Karen Crowe from MeadowsweetDesignsNH said 7 years ago

    LOVE this!! Happy April Fools Day!

  • Elyseeart

    Lavinia Voicu from Elyseeart said 7 years ago

    Interesting article and technique!

  • hmmills

    Helen Mills from 1820BagCo said 7 years ago

    I too use the 0.9 lead plastic pencil and grew tired of the constant breaking point, I have gone back to the old fashion no. 2'. Great post and photos.

  • CecilandCo

    Lisa from CecilandCo said 7 years ago

    Fabulous reading :)

  • kathyjohnson3

    Kathy Johnson from kathyjohnson3 said 7 years ago

    No wonder I always had short pencils in school

  • terrihvaught

    Terri H. Vaught from terrihvaught said 7 years ago

    A sharp mind, makes for beautiful writing!

  • guziks

    Stephanie from Phylogeny said 7 years ago

    I always thought myself quite a pencil smith, but I failed to hoard the shavings afterward. I guess I'm not as good as I thought.

  • LilyThings

    Elizabeth Lagasse from LillyThings said 7 years ago

    When your take pride in everything you do ,even sharpening a pencil it shows!

  • ChezMargot

    ChezMargot from ChezMargotVintage said 7 years ago

    Hilarious indeed.

  • popgear

    Christian from PopGearDesigns said 7 years ago

    I clicked on this and thought 'surely, they can't be serious...' I had a couple laughs, especially on the 'devil's dance' part. Etsy never fails to make my day.

  • laMarmotaCafe

    Marmota Café from laMarmotaCafe said 7 years ago

    Does this mean that one could sell professionally sharpened pencils on Etsy?

  • grimmlynn

    Jeni from grimmlynn said 7 years ago

    Marmota, people do that. Sharpened pencils have even been on the front page.

  • HandmadeIsAllAround

    HandmadeIsAllAround from iammieOWLshop said 7 years ago


  • stachebash

    Amanda Bowen from stachebash said 7 years ago


  • BeadingWithPassion

    Janee Dilbeck from BeadingWithPassion said 7 years ago

    I'm so relieved to see another person indulging in the pleasures of pencil sharpening. I really can't think of an act more intamate than this, guiding the shaft into the entrance hole, applying the right speed and pressure until the pencil spills its inner self onto the desk. Although I do find catching it in my hand to be easier clean up but I hae to agree that blade up is the best position! I am thoroughly satisfied after reading this and I hope everyone remembers to pull out before you prematurely break the tip off inside!

  • Ayshma

    Ayshma from ArtPieces said 7 years ago

    This is a beautiful article, great job Mr. Rees I had so many expressions while reading this article. At first I was like " Ok, let's check out" then i was like " Haahahaha" At about 3/4 I was " omg omg, so much on pencil sharpening" and at end I was " WOW" and more than that comments made me think that I know nothing about pencil sharpening, :) This is awesome, thanx for sharing :)

  • shopfancyfree

    Esther L from shopfancyfree said 7 years ago

    This is really interesting! This shows that we can find creativity and art in even the simplest of actions, like sharpening a pencil. Love it!

  • designedbyval

    Val Swanson from DesignedByVal said 7 years ago

    A true artist.

  • ThatSallie

    Sallie from ThatSallie said 7 years ago

    And this is why i will never be a true artist...the level of talent that he shows is so intimidating! **sobs**

  • drumchick99

    drumchick99 from DrumChickDesigns said 7 years ago


  • heartofwisdom

    Robin Sampson from DigiScrapDelights said 7 years ago

    LOL. Thanks.

  • blueanne8

    Blue Anne from blueanne8 said 7 years ago


  • salishseabeads

    linda from salishseabeads said 7 years ago

    Glad to find this important info here. I have been searching the web for it for days.

  • JDWolfePottery

    JD Wolfe from JDWolfePottery said 7 years ago

    Very informative! I have always wanted to try this!

  • ErikaPrice

    Erika from ErikaPrice said 7 years ago

    LOL - this is brilliant!!!!! And I actually have a (rather sad!) friend who is always complaining that she can't get a decent pencil sharpener, so I'm going to point her in this direction! Happy 1st April!

  • TheStitchAndFold

    Stitch from TheStitchAndFold said 7 years ago

    "I imagine I am a huge disappointment to many pencil sharpening enthusiasts" - that would be me, an enthusiast of the mechanical pencil! Pencils that stay sharp forever, no sharpening required!

  • misponko

    Liudmila Rosario Ponko from PonkoWorld said 7 years ago

    perfection!! :)

  • kh1467

    Kelly from KikuPaper said 7 years ago

    I am surprised to see the number of longer comments for this articles. Didn't know people had strong ideas and opinions on the subject.

  • MarciAnnDesigns

    Marcia from MarciAnnDesigns said 7 years ago

    I must admit that my favorite pencil sharpener is the old gray metal one that hung on the wall of each of my schoolrooms throughout elementary school. My pencil gave me infinite excuses to get up from my desk and look out the windows, or just move around a bit. Fascinating read, thank you Etsy for putting a smile on our faces this 1st day of April :)

  • Dalim

    Dalim from Dalim said 7 years ago

    Hahaha! Happy April 1st :)

  • Zafirah

    Zafirah from KnitsPasse said 7 years ago

    April Fools' Day or not, this is FASCINATING!!

  • SilverSmack

    Jean from SilverSmack said 7 years ago

    I'm glad you've gone back to hand turning and away from those electric ones that just make dust instead of gorgeous shavings. Jean- SilverSmack

  • NaturelMistik

    Naturel Mistik from NaturelMistik said 7 years ago

    A properly sharpened pencil is a thing of beauty. It begs to be used, much like a blank canvas. The act of sharpening is also quite enjoyable, from the satisfying feel of the wood being shaved to the lovely pile of shavings left behind. That said, I must make a confession right here and now: When I bought my current house there was (and still is) an old "Boston KS" hand crank sharpener mounted to the wall in the basement. It is slightly rusted and will put a 1/2 inch point on a #2. You could use them for blow darts. I love to use it - does that make me a bad person?

  • elizasteindesigns

    Eliza Stein from elizasteindesigns said 7 years ago

    What are your thoughts on Prismacolors? Are they like the third rail in the world of artisanal pencil sharpening? If anyone's brave enough to go there, it's you, Mr. Rees.

  • gothicrow

    gothicrow from gothicrow said 7 years ago

    I always wanted to know the proper procedures involved in sharpening a pencil, thank you!

  • tippleandsnack

    Tipple and Snack from tippleandsnack said 7 years ago

    Nicely done, Etsy!

  • calicodaisy

    Michele Chisholm from calicodaisy said 7 years ago

    Oh, you had me. I was actually interested though became a bit worried when he got to the point of returning the shavings and labeling the baggie to the pencil! Well written.

  • isewcute

    June from isewcute said 7 years ago

    Haha!!! Too awesome!

  • LuckyceesCloset

    annette from LuckyceesCloset said 7 years ago


  • MidwestAlchemy

    MidwestAlchemy from MidwestAlchemy said 7 years ago

    "One simply cannot be expected to sharpen a 4H in the same manner that one sharpens a 3B"...very similar to my first thought! Fantastic read!

  • StoneWearDesigns

    StoneWearDesigns from StoneWearDesigns said 7 years ago

    Perfect! I need those pencil shavings for this new ring idea!

  • Stephaniemakesall

    Steph from OneStitchDesigns said 7 years ago

    wonderful in depth article on pencil sharpening! I must confess to a love of the plastic ones with the pop out points though

  • khmetalwork

    khmetalwork from khmetalwork said 7 years ago

    I LOVE reading about an artist's process, so inspiring.

  • JessicaSharrah

    Jessica Sharrah from WearableCeramicArt said 7 years ago

    I need to go buy pencils and practice!

  • VIFmike

    michael white from Vintagesteelandwood said 7 years ago

    I use silver pencils at work for marking things to be cut on steel. I do not like to use a school type pencil sharpener because it make the "lead" too long and fragile. I use a makeup pencil sharpener because it makes a shorter more angled point. Works better for me. I am also certain that it would have worked well in school.

  • GNCcreations

    george clarke from GNCcreations said 7 years ago


  • IntheMoodforVintage

    Michele from IntheMoodforVintage said 7 years ago

    Hmmm ... a "point" well taken.

  • whyte

    Pat from whyte said 7 years ago

    Finally-----graphite respect----------thank you David! All H lovers applaud you! LOL!

  • rakubuttons

    rakubuttons from rakubuttons said 7 years ago

    A very Eco friendly approch

  • CatBlackGallery

    Nicky Scholnick said 7 years ago

    Nearly had me, lol - happy April 1st!!!

  • RebeccasRoomEngland

    Rebecca Symonds from RebeccasRoomEngland said 7 years ago

    I've been doing it wrong for years! I use a scalpel for sharpening. But it is not very convienent for sharpening 'on-the-go'. Particularly tricky to carry in ones pocket - the number of pairs of trousers I've ruined! Thank you for reminding me of the portable sharpener - most useful.

  • gspengel

    Gina Spengel said 7 years ago

    April Fools, Right?

  • girltuesdayjewelry

    Rachel Cecere from girltuesdayjewelry said 7 years ago


  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 7 years ago

    LOL This is brilliant, why confine it to April? Can't we have a Pencil Sharpening 101 course on the first of every month, there are so many more aspects to be considered. BTW, I use a carpenter's pencil & sharpen it with a knife!

  • paramountvintage

    kristin from blackmoonsky said 7 years ago

    i love that the commenters are experienced pencil sharpeners too!

  • honeyhurd

    HurdandHoney Hurd from HurdandHoney said 7 years ago

    Intriguing...I actually went through each step. I didn't ever realize how detailed this could be. Now if only I could get all 63 fourth graders to do this :)

  • minipotterybyanita from potterybyAnita said 7 years ago

    Wow, does this guy work for the GOVERNMENT!? LOL! So detailed, I can almost smell the lovely cedar odor coming from the shavings! Great article!...♥

  • kaleach

    kaleach from kaleach said 7 years ago

    April Fools?

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    Annette from TheLeveretsNest said 7 years ago

    heh heh :)

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 7 years ago

    Merci !

  • sleepyking

    Savannah May from sleepyking said 7 years ago

    Love this article! :)

  • estellelle

    Estelle from estellelle said 7 years ago

    LOL! Funny stuff!!!

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    AJ Marsden from OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 7 years ago

    Great article! It really made me smile :)

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame said 7 years ago

    =) too funny.

  • Waterrose

    Rose Waterrose from Waterrose said 7 years ago

    Can you discuss the other end of the pencil as well....the proper use and care of the eraser....if is often overlooked.

  • ReleafPaper

    Heather from ReleafPaper said 7 years ago

    Pencil shavings make me ridiculously happy so I get it. I get it.

  • VintageMarketPlace

    VintageMarketPlace from VintageMarketPlace said 7 years ago

    i needed a good laugh, thank you :)

  • JoyousCrafts

    Heather Salzman from JoyousCrafts said 7 years ago

    Lol! LOVE it! :P

  • k13probot

    Katie Probert from Jesuisunemonstre said 7 years ago

    April Fools? :) Very good! xxx

  • Aye4Art

    Robin West from Aye4Art said 7 years ago

    This is a freakin hoot!

  • floresflorestanis

    Carmen from florestanissupplies said 7 years ago

    Hysterical! And the erudite comments are brilliant too!

  • amberike

    Amber Ikemoto from FromtheHeartbyAmber said 7 years ago

    I just read this and thought...You gotta be Kidding Me. April Fools!

  • martelvonc

    Martha Fletcher from martelvonc said 7 years ago

    I would love to see an addendum on the technique of properly sharpening a "Carpenters Pencil". The challenges presented by this impliment, while not a popular as the Yellow #2, it is still a technilogical choice in the construction industry.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 7 years ago

    LOL!! Thanks!!

  • DharmaKarmaArts

    Indira Govindan from DharmaKarmaArts said 7 years ago

    April Fool or not, delightful reading. I kept smiling throughout even while wondering if I was being taken for a ride!

  • nettyofficerboulton

    Annette from NettysBitsandBobs said 7 years ago

    personally i favour the electric variety......... hand action is never quite as...?...... exciting or tinged with the unexpected?

  • BlackOrchardDesigns

    BlackOrchardDesigns from BlackOrchardDesigns said 7 years ago

    ..and a happy April Fools to you too!

  • woolnimals

    Abby Emerson from Woolnimals said 7 years ago

    I loved this!!!!!! Thanks for the laugh... And not to get TOO serious, but there is a fine art to sharpening a pencil well. I think it is a moment for meditation and quiet and skill. I don't know...maybe that's too much, but that's just me. There's beauty in the little acts. Happy April Fools' Day!

  • purposedesign

    Julie Pedersen from purposedesign said 7 years ago

    Happy April Fools! Still love the watchguynyc gag the best, but this one is definitely a contender. At the end of the sharpening process, you must attend to the shavings. They are part of the pencil and, as such, should be returned to their rightful owner. that's gold!

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 7 years ago

    Interesting post!

  • SoVeryCharming

    Kat from SoVeryCharming said 7 years ago

    Oh my...I feel so very enlightened now! :P

  • NikNakNook

    Susan M from NikNakNook said 7 years ago

    Next time - How to erase with a pink pearl! Thanks for the laugh!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mr. Sal Phan, Bichon Frise from Mclovebuddy said 7 years ago

    hmmm... what to do, i only use japanese-made mechanical pencils., .5, H.

  • bramleycards

    Bramley Cards from bramleycards said 7 years ago

    Yep.....Happy April Fools!!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 7 years ago

    AWESOME! Amazing post!

  • longwinterfarm

    Amanda from LongWinterSoapCo said 7 years ago god...I bow down to you, masters. Happy greatest holiday ever declared!!

  • amusebeads

    amusebeads from amusebeads said 7 years ago

    A true artist. Although I believe that the properly sharpened pencil will never have same legions of followers as the unused crayon. Ah, well, as there are cat people and dog people, so there are pencil people and crayon people.

  • gypsumrose

    Levi Emerson from gypsumrose said 7 years ago

    im getting frightened by the craziness of the bold comments!

  • gothicreations

    Joanna from RainGirlDesigns said 7 years ago

    I just want to post in bold. this was very enlightening. I think I might have flunked at pencil sharpening. Now can you sharpen a crayon using the crayon sharpener in the box without breaking it?

  • Starality

    Starality from Starality said 7 years ago

    Lovin the article! Made for great read at work today. Made me smile! More Happy Moments at Etsyville!

  • MySelvagedLife

    Heather Torre from MySelvagedLife said 7 years ago

    I like my bic.

  • trowelandpaintbrush

    Kathleen Maunder from trowelandpaintbrush said 7 years ago

    Good one!

  • ArtsyFlair

    Michaela Bowles from ArtsyFlair said 7 years ago

    Good read!

  • kahatchie

    Kim Hatchie from kimhatchiedesigns said 7 years ago

    Too Funny! My daughter actually went to Nationals with a Debate Oratory on sharpening pencils. She's very particular about her pencils.

  • myvintagecrush

    Kathleen from myvintagecrush said 7 years ago

    Sweet! ..and a chart!

  • MieleMelograno

    Liz Rishavy from HouseofRishavy said 7 years ago

    LOL April 1 rocks!

  • xxxRedStitcHxxx

    ioana weber from xxxRedStitcHxxx said 7 years ago

    Happy April Fools!!

  • WingedWorld

    Vickie Moore from WingedWorld said 7 years ago

    I have an X-ACTO pencil sharpener that seals via vacuum to my counter with the flip of a lever. It's a joy to use, and I could use my sharpened pencils to perform emergency surgery if necessary. Anyone who needs a tracheotomy or a burst appendix removal should come to my house. We can have tea afterwards.

  • indigonovember

    Indigo from IndigoNovember said 7 years ago

    First thought: Finally, someone who appreciates pencils like I do! Second thought: Damn! It's probably just an April fooler. Third though: Well, I'm going to enjoy reading it anyway. Hmph. I'm love pencils the same way some people love pens. And I refuse to use an electric sharpener! *shudder*

  • sandboxcastle

    H Wang from sandboxcastle said 7 years ago

    mmmm first thought- OCD!!?!!! Second thought : hmmm I've always thought pencil shavings are very festive looking...third thought: Indigo's is April fool's XD

  • MelissaKojima

    Melissa Kojima from ArtistInLALALand said 7 years ago

    Holy cow! He does make this seem like an art form. Even the beautiful pencil shavings! Partly funny. Partly lovely.

  • ArtyDidact

    Sharon Parker from ArtyDidact said 7 years ago

    Too funny! And so many brilliant commenters, I might add.

  • PatternsAndSuch

    PatternsAndSuch from PatternsAndSuch said 7 years ago

    I love pencils - real pencils, not the ones with replaceable blades. So I loved this article!!! LOL

  • shabbyvintagemom

    Kristen from ShabbyVintageMom said 7 years ago

    W O W. So glad this was an April Fools joke.

  • uniquefabricgifts

    Unique Fabric Gifts from uniquefabricgifts said 7 years ago

    This was great! Very funny to read and love all of the comments!!!

  • janicewd

    janicewd from janicewd said 7 years ago

    Lots of time and patience needed. Right?

  • janicewd

    janicewd from janicewd said 7 years ago

    Lots of time and patience needed. Right?

  • KaiceJoy

    Kirsti Joy from KaiceJoy said 7 years ago

    How Funny!!! I kep reading with a big,"HUH???!!!!!???" and FINALLY got the april 1st !!!!!!!

  • FunFancifulFlowers

    Kathy Othon from FancifulFlowersArt said 7 years ago

    i have been in the market for a good pencil sharpener, most helpful.

  • KaiceJoy

    Kirsti Joy from KaiceJoy said 7 years ago

    VERY FUNNY!!!!! You got me....

  • ginacrg

    ginacrg said 7 years ago

    This reminds me of when, as kids, my Dad sharpened all our pencils with his pocket knife. We even brought them home from school as we thought the sharpener at school, 'ate' our pencils up. Besides, each time we used our pencil, it was a reminder of our Dad who always worked hard & did this just for us. I enjoyed the article very much, I think my Dad would have found it a great read, too.

  • limestone

    Rocket Ship said 7 years ago

    I've always wanted to try sharpening pencils, but didn't know how to start. This article makes me feel like even I can do it! Thanks!

  • GuajolotePrints

    Mr. Guajolote Prints from GuajolotePrints said 7 years ago

    I knew this was an April Fool's joke the minute I saw the guy placing those precious shavings in a little plastic bag. LOL. Of course, if you're not using 18th century cardboard match boxes lined with sheep tripe to preserve them, you'll probably end up changing the delicate molecular structure binding the graphite granules to the wood shavings. I am sure that the intention of this article is all practical, and that the rush of having a sharpened pencil ready in 4 or 5 hours can trump any other interests. But what's the use of sharpening a pencil if you cannot be certain that in 80 or 90 years you will be rewarded with the rare treat of having wood pencil shavings from a tree most probably extinct by then? Etsy: Do you respect wood? Do you?

  • CandidaEtc

    candida pagan from CandidaEtc said 7 years ago

    Informative and Inspiring! : D

  • chrisndan0202

    Chris Contri from chrisndan0202 said 7 years ago

    LOVE this. I was sitting here reading it and giggling hysterically. Hubby finally looked over and asked what was so funny. He found it just as humorous. And some of the comments are even better!

  • Sunshineshelle

    Sunshineshelle from Sunshineshelle said 7 years ago

    AWESOME - I see this story being made into a movie by David Cronenberg - it's taken something like sharpening a pencil to a whole new world - surreal & spookingly insightful, attention to detail - friggin' classic, at first I thought OCD but then realized April 1 - LOVE IT :)

  • xZOUix

    Zoui from XZOUIX said 7 years ago

    cool that's what i needed ::::-)

  • debbyhillberg

    Debby from DebbysHandmadeGoods said 7 years ago

    I can't believe I read the whole thing!

  • AdrienneLojeck

    Adrienne Lojeck from WingsOfClay said 7 years ago

    my favorite line: "The sharpener should remain stationary throughout the process, barring extreme circumstances." a wonderful reminder that skillful, vivid writing makes reading about even the most mundane (or satirical) topic highly amusing! I need to get this book!

  • twentytwotwenty

    twentytwotwenty from twentytwotwenty said 7 years ago

    This has to be an April Fools joke. It's the only way to explain it.

  • twentytwotwenty

    twentytwotwenty from twentytwotwenty said 7 years ago

    ? This has to be an April Fools joke. It's the only way to explain it.

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 7 years ago

    Happy April Fool's Day yourself, Mr. Rees. Love figure 5.1, the table. Nothing says, "I am an expert," like a table. I hope we can look forward to more in this series, like "How to Make Toast," and "Hot and Cold Faucets - Studies in Contemporary Wrist Techniques."

  • IvyTurtle

    Rose Marion from HeroineDesigns said 7 years ago

    Great read, kept me guessing. #1 of the #2s! :)

  • rootedphoenix

    Windy Johansen from rootedphoenix said 7 years ago

    I love this. :D lol

  • GBSCreations

    Sandra Bruce from GBSCreations said 7 years ago

    HaHa! Love it!

  • sandragrafik

    Sandra Vargas from sandragrafik said 7 years ago

    So funny! Love Step 8 too! “Bagging the Big Game”... LOL! Happy April Fool's!!

  • patsimmons

    Pat Gaillard Simmons from patsimmons said 7 years ago

    I have a little red, plastic manual pencil sharpener that is more than 57 years old. I was five years old - just about the same age shown in my avatar. My father had just taught me how to read and my favorite crayon was blue-green. Written words, coloring books and crayons were my whole world. I've managed to keep it through moves, marriage, children, and now grandchildren - it just keeps showing up. Just wish it would sharpen pencils now though!

  • theswanlake

    leyda from theswanlake said 7 years ago

    Ha! Brilliant!

  • madamtartarsauce

    madamtartarsauce from FrostBrite said 7 years ago

    etsy, this was a big bowlful of hilari-os. so john hodgmanesque. :D

  • gifteddesigns

    gifteddesigns from GiftedDesigns said 7 years ago


  • claireandjanae

    Janae from claireandjanae said 7 years ago

    This is so funny! Love it and the comments!

  • BeachHouseLiving

    BeachHouseLiving from BeachHouseLiving said 7 years ago

    Thank you for the excellent tutorial. Would you care to take on the brave task of writing a tutorial on the sharpening of eye and lip pencils? Cosmetic pencils contain a mecca of waxes, pigments, and oils and possibly a synthetic shell. The remnants of which impede the sought slightly rounded point without breakage. There is also the tedious task of cleaning the sharpening blade.

  • davidreespencils

    David Rees said 7 years ago

    Hello, Etsy people! I wanted to thank you all for your kind comments re: my Artisanal Pecil Sharpening business, and to let you know that IT IS REAL. This is not an April Fool's joke -- if you have a dull pencil and $15, you should try my service! I hope you will be able to come to one of the live events on my pencil-sharpening tour; it promises to be very informative. Thanks again and have a great day. Sincerely, David Rees PS: Thanks to Meredith Heuer for the lovely photos that accompany the article. She is my official photographer and I think she did a great job. PPS: The key to sharpening eyeliner pencils is to freeze them first.

  • thedots

    Dorothy Aldridge from thedots said 7 years ago

    If you have a dull pencil and $15, go to a dollar store and buy a ten-pack of pencils for a dollar, and a three pack of sharpeners for a dollar, and a five pack of erasers for a dollar, then you'll have enough left over for coffee, a snack and you can give the rest to a homeless person.

  • BijouxOdalisque

    Bijoux d'Odalisque from BijouxOdalisque said 7 years ago

    LOL....The serious responses to this have me laughing tears. Thank you Etsy! Nice one.

  • EnterpriseAmericana

    Enterprise Americana from EnterpriseAmericana said 7 years ago

    The horror of it all is that I use a utility knife. Happy April 1st.

  • CrossExtreme

    Lindsay Niles from CrossExtreme said 7 years ago

    So glad this was an April Fools.

  • LaurelCanyonBeads

    LaurelCanyonBeads from LaurelCanyonBeads said 7 years ago

    when i was 16 I worked at a Newport Creamery as a very poorly paid particularly exhausting day, a party of four left me a metal single-blade pencil sharpener like the one my only tip. That sharpener is still in my's been indispensable... through 3 different art schools and 30 years! Thanks, unknown party of 4!

  • Flowerleaf

    Jocelyn Pryor from FlowerleafStudio said 7 years ago

    April Fool's jokes like these make me smile. I would like to know though... if this were real... what would the professional pencil-sharpener say about those who chew on pencils...

  • Flowerleaf

    Jocelyn Pryor from FlowerleafStudio said 7 years ago

    I have to add.. why did the font change from regular to bold? Perplexing...

  • becca1642

    Becca Bowie from DizzyDisasterDesigns said 7 years ago

    this is funny who goes to this much trouble for a pencil just sharpen it normally an dif it breaks toss it out and buy a new one

  • becca1642

    Becca Bowie from DizzyDisasterDesigns said 7 years ago

    Oh its a late april fools joke it says it was published today which is THE SECOND OF APRIL

  • VortexStudios

    Piro from NamakoStudios said 7 years ago

    It's refreshing to see pencils being properly sharpened by hand in a studio, rather than sharpened en masse in a factory by machine by underpaid, probably underage workers in dangerous and ill regulated sharpening factories. This is a perfect example of being the change you want to see in the world.

  • siriussilver

    Sara Johnson from siriussilver said 7 years ago

    I am reminded of an old SNL skit, with Phil Hartman...

  • NannyMadeandfound

    Melinda from sixtybeansVntg said 7 years ago

    all i have to say is, i love a good finely sharpened pencil. much preferred to mechanical ones. if the key to keeping it perfectly sharp is a simple single blade pocket sharpener, then i will be running out to buy one!

  • Earendil7

    Shiloh Lenz from EarendilCollectibles said 7 years ago

    Oh!!! It's a joke. At first I thought it was serious. My grandparents got married on April fools day. Isn't that weird?

  • magicalbee

    Jennifer Mosley from magicalbee said 7 years ago

    it's not a joke, I've read about him before. I love the passion he has for something that is a mindless task for most people. .

  • TheMillineryShop

    Marcia Lacher from TheMillineryShop said 7 years ago

    Finally! The instruction I have been waiting for but it was too hard to master at once. Can you possibly do a tutorial or maybe it can be a great craft night at Etsy.

  • slathered

    Sharon Moores from slathered said 7 years ago

    I, for one, am looking forward to Mr. Rees' op-ed column on the harmful effects of the Crayola built-in sharpener on Americans' psyche at an impressional age.

  • leslieholz

    Leslie Holz from leslieholz said 7 years ago

    Happy April Fool's!!

  • lifemeetsart

    Jolynn from lifemeetsart said 7 years ago

    My 11 year old will be thrilled with this informative article. While she has mastered writing beyond her years, sharpening a pencil is the scourge of her day. She can often be found flinging sharpened pencils with the grafite broken off when attempting to get homework done. Do you have a pencil preference? We prefer Ticonderoga.

  • slrose24

    Samantha Rosenkrans from HHMHolidays said 7 years ago

    o wonderful!!! caught me right when i had forgotten what day it was ;) though...personally i do like the old metal school room sharpeners that you mount on the wall....never had a finer point

  • 5gardenias

    kathi roussel from 5gardenias said 7 years ago

    I have been duly schooled-- thank you David! and I'm not sure which I have a greater appreciation for-- the carefully and deftly sharpened lead and wood-- or the fine shavings. beautiful photos too...

  • TheVeryCorner

    TheVeryCorner from TheVeryCorner said 7 years ago

    To put a fine point on it, your spectacular erudition on sharpening the lowly pencil, was blunted only by your neglecting to mention the exquisite perfume emitted when sharpening a fine cedar pencil !! experience equally as valued as the lovely ruffled ribbon by-product.


    LIAT kires from ATLIART said 7 years ago

    It makes me smail!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • LCooperDesigns

    LC Cooper from LeMaisonBelle said 7 years ago

    Now a couple of today's threads make SO much more sense...LOL! Great writing, BTW!

  • looking4lilly

    Kristina K. from looking4lilly said 7 years ago

    I'm enlightened and giggly. Nice work!

  • cherrytreelanecards

    Tina Ilsley from cherrytreelanecards said 7 years ago

    I hope some of the appreciative comments are as tongue in cheek as the post itself! Happy April Fool's Day! .....although I used to love the pencil sharpeners that were mounted on the corner of my teacher's desk....

  • charlotticus

    Charlotte Howarth from charlotticus said 7 years ago

    As someone who uses a very sharp pencil for my work, I find a pencil sharpener is just not good enough, it does not leave a long enough sharp point and the sharp point of the lead is always lacking. The sklled use of a scalpel however, gives a much longer, crisper point. Using a scapel to sharpen a pencil was an important part of my training during my apprenticeship. Perhaps David is now ready to move onto this more advance technique!

  • bylauragraves

    laura graves from bylauragraves said 7 years ago

    Thanks for the post, I had no idea...

  • bylauragraves

    laura graves from bylauragraves said 7 years ago

    Happy April fools everyone!

  • mutable

    Helen said 7 years ago

    Marvellous. Thank you.

  • houseofwhitney

    houseofwhitney from houseofwhitney said 7 years ago

    When my husband was a 10 year old schoolboy in the carribean, he sharpened his pencils by rubbing them on the sidewalk!

  • LouFrancis

    Lou Francis from LouFrancis said 7 years ago

    I love this article. My father used to sit me down as a child and would sharpen my colouring pencils with a knife - I recall the beautiful shavings he would create from the process. He was my hero and every time I see someone sharpening pencil with knife the memories come flooding back to me. Great article.

  • BlueMoonlighting

    Pam Pinault from BlueMoonlighting said 7 years ago

    Hello, Mr. Rees! As much as I appreciate your expertise, once again we lay- people are left having to muddle our way through a set of long-winded and sparsely covered instructions...and in the after-math, frustrated by the inevitable unanswered question that thwarted our attempts! What of the endless pile of broken leads, that result from the perfect tip suddenly breaking off at the collar upon removal from the sharpener, leaving me to repeat the attempts over and over again until I am left with pencils only useful at miniature golf facilities? Why did you not venture into that dark place? Afraid?

  • MissingHeirloom

    Elizabeth Pickett from MissingHeirloom said 7 years ago

    Lou Francis - my grandfather was the one - it would always blow my mind when he would pull out his pocket knife to sharpen my pencils. quite the dissertation on pencil sharpening - happy 4/1!!!

  • messinabella

    messinabella from BandBEstate said 7 years ago


  • GregsFineArt

    Greg Matchick from GregsFineArt said 7 years ago

    Great article! I thoroughly enjoyed it. - Greg

  • nonesuchgarden

    Megan Baehr from nonesuchgarden said 7 years ago

    Hehehe, this is wonderful. :-D

  • aussiebushnutbling

    Lesley George from aussiebushnutbling said 7 years ago

    A truly genuine pencil sharpener uses a scalpel blade to do the job . . . however, you seem to do a respectable job with your inferior method !!!

  • catbun

    Akiko Chii from catbun said 7 years ago

    Love the detailed instructions to a perfectly sharpened pencil!

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 7 years ago

    LOL...this really makes me smile!

  • nanouke

    nanouke from nanouke said 7 years ago

    Aha! Really cool :)

  • ArtMadeByTammy

    ArtMadeByTammy from ArtMadeByTammy said 7 years ago

    So Inspiring!

  • Popogirl

    Mary Dixon from Popogirl said 7 years ago

    LOLOL! Great April Fool's Day joke article! *Whew* for a minute I thought it was for reals and you would have Regretsy bagging on etsy for more than just treasuries arranged by color (the way insane people shop, so says their arduous research!), muted colors and mustaches.

  • talktothesun

    riyo kihara from talktothesun said 7 years ago

    wow! reminded me of my calligraphy teacher who was very specific about how to sharpen with his knife! mmm, interesting post.

  • VintageFrocksOfFancy

    Michaelann from VintageFrocksOfFancy said 7 years ago

    I have often lamented over pencil is an ongoing internal conflict that presents itself each time I attempt to write something on my calendar. This must be done in pencil just in case plans/schedule change. But to find a suitably sharpened pencil is quite a task. Once you are no longer school age and there are no close-by pencil sharpeners of any kind the dilemma comes from not only remembering to purchase one but then the task of, which one?! This has lead me to unfortunately not having a pencil sharpener. I don't remember when I'm at Target to buy one and if I did could I actually make one more decision when I'm there? So alas, I break down and use my daughters cheaply made, ill fitting, uneven pencil sharpening, plastic sharpener. It will do for the moment but in a few weeks the weight of a dull pencil will once again rest on my shoulders. Thank you for the inspiration and hope you have lent me through this beyond-thoroughly researched and passionately written book!

  • DifferrentTogether

    Pui Th.K from DifferrentTogether said 7 years ago

    woww you just care about a little thing and do it the best.....

  • xoxoblythe

    Linda from xoxoblythe said 7 years ago

    Happy April Fool's Day to you too, Etsy. Love it :)

  • peterharvey

    peterharvey said 7 years ago

    I am disappointed that Mr. Rees did not address the dangers inherent in pencil shavings flying hither and yon. While it may be all very well and good for the expert to ignore safety considerations, beginning pencil sharpeners should wear protective eyewear at all times! I believe this protection offered another Etsy seller should suffice:

  • wildshehorse

    Raven from RavensNestScarfJewel said 7 years ago

    Gmpfff ! I've been misled ! This was supposed to be an article on how to calculate and offer discount to those customers who insist on bargaining, also known, the world over, as "sharpening your pencil". Mr. Rees is CLEARLY not the sharpest pencil in the drawer. Ah well.

  • ethnocity

    Rachna from ethnocity said 7 years ago


  • prendasbyenid

    Enid from prendasbyenid said 7 years ago

    OMG! LOL!

  • shreyasi22sharma

    Shreyasi Sharma from ShreyasiSharma said 7 years ago

    pretty interesting!

  • Walkingquail

    Terry Blair from Walkingquail said 7 years ago

    thank you, I enjoy a good laugh before bed

  • MaisJamais

    Jennifer from MaisJamais said 7 years ago

    I have to admit, maybe because I didn't realize it was April 1st, I was thinking, "wow, so many folks are really geeky and quirky!" I still think that and personally love quirky geeks ;) but am relieved to finally 'get it'! That was hillarious. Thanks!

  • myneedlehabit

    Carla Hansen from myneedlehabit said 7 years ago

    The Devil's Dance. HA!

  • pixeldustnyc

    Jenn Burland from pixeldustnyc said 7 years ago

    Too bad this was posted on April 1 because as Mr. Rees states in the comments above, THIS IS REAL. I have a pencil that was sharpened in front of me, by David himself, along with all the accoutrements provided with it. Art at it's finest.

  • pixeldustnyc

    Jenn Burland from pixeldustnyc said 7 years ago

    Too bad this was posted on April 1 because as Mr. Rees states in the comments above, THIS IS REAL. I have a pencil that was sharpened in front of me, by David himself, and all the accoutrements. Wonderful art. Good pairing with my photo notebooks for sale here on etsy!

  • thcreator

    John Spisak said 7 years ago

    I rember when I was a kid I yous to take a file and file my pencils with a really long point about quarter of the way down all the kids thought that was really cool so I sold them for $2 each. I am still a kid . hehehe

  • SusiesBoutiqueTLC

    SusiesBoutiqueTLC from SusiesBoutiqueTLC said 7 years ago

    Nice post. Great work. :)

  • thcreator

    John Spisak said 7 years ago

    This is not accurate" you left out the part where you break the point a billion times and curse like hell .. also the pencil is way to long at the finsh it should be about the size of your little finger... lol

  • yqsl66

    Ada Ada from idajewelry66 said 7 years ago

    This is really interesting! like sharpening a pencil. Love it!

  • PinkNeedleDesign

    Janet Martin from PinkNeedleDesign said 7 years ago

    personally, i love the sound of sharpening a pencil. The little squeak, that let's you know your done.

  • aussiebushnutbling

    Lesley George from aussiebushnutbling said 7 years ago

    I saw this a few days ago and posted on YouTube but my conscience has made me feel that I must post again for all those out there who believe what they see or read to be Gospel . . . As a retired Graphic Designer from the Old School, a pencil is not sharpened correctly unless it is done with a scalpel blade. Now, there, I've said it again and my conscience is clear. I hope you younger ones ou there . . . get the point !!!

  • thcreator

    John Spisak said 7 years ago

    Thank god for mechanical pencils!

  • loretta9243

    Loretta Maines from BobbinAround4U said 7 years ago

    Oh my word, I have been sharpening pencils incorrectly for years! Thank you, thank you, thank you! It will take some practise, but I will work hard ot master all of your wonderful and helpful techniques. What a relief to have a complete nad consise guide to follow.

  • karenunderwood1

    Karen Underwood from KarenUnderwoodArt said 7 years ago

    Good read, and like many I also had a giggle!!

  • calvertcottage

    calvertcottage from calvertcottage said 7 years ago

    Have you sold the film rights?

  • Pistoni

    Catherine Budincich from APRONLADIES said 7 years ago

    I have lamented for years over the disgraceful job my electric pencil sharpener has tragically destroyed pencil after pencil. It truly is a pencil eater and not a pencil sharpener... however, with this expert blog I feel confident that within a few months I will have this technique mastered. Now, if only I can get my kids to use REAL PENCILS instead of those mechanical imposters. As a side note... real pencils are YELLOW!!!

  • EggMoneyQuilts

    Vivian from EggMoneyQuilts said 7 years ago

    Brings back fond memories!

  • TheWritingWriter

    TheWritingWriter said 7 years ago

    Uhh...happy April Fool's? XD

  • WaxBeachArtist

    WaxBeachArtist from BeachAngelCharms said 7 years ago

    He didn't really go over the sharpen, sharpen, sharpen, break lead inside the sharpener repeat technique which I often employ. Maybe that's a Wax Beach Artist original?

  • RenataUniqueGifts

    Renata Lader from RenataUniqueGifts said 7 years ago


  • brainfart

    brainfart from brainfart said 7 years ago

    Etsys staff so cool !!!!!! Funny !!! I think I will keep the name brainfart after all ! It took me a couple of minutes ...........

  • Wunof

    Charlene Heard from Wunof said 7 years ago

    Now...I get the "POINT"....Ty for a wonderful article....

  • gerrysminis

    Gerry De Cave from gerrysminis said 7 years ago

    Brilliant tutorial, it instantly grabs you, you can't put it down, and are sorry when it is over!

  • ByBunni

    Bunni Russell from ByBunni said 7 years ago

    I am switching to pens :0)

  • terribea

    Terry B from terribea said 7 years ago

    snicker!! too much time on my hands" as the song says.

  • fattybird

    Coco Berkman from StageFortPress said 7 years ago

    Great Tutorial! I am constantly looking to refine my sharpening skills...the emery board finish is seriously intriguing and I will try it. Brilliant writing.

  • joegalantinoart

    Joseph Galantino from joegalantinoart said 7 years ago

    That was great. I just use an electric sharpener. Who knew I was doing it wrong all my life. Thanks again it was a great read

  • DancingForestFox

    Judith Daley from DancingFoxStudios said 7 years ago

    Thank you David... I am a luddite who believes that ideas flow more clearly from the point of a #2 Ticonderoga! As an ex-teacher, I also appreciate the gift of the #2 -- when a student needs a break from long addition, a broken lead is an automatic trip to the sharpener.

  • tpanderson

    Tiffiney Anderson said 7 years ago

    After my classroom electric pencil sharpener "went to a new home on the farm" and students kept breaking the cheapo plastic sharpeners, I finally found my soul mate....A sturdy, Boston Vacuumette from the 60s (purchased right here on Etsy!) Funny thing is, I have to teach them INDIVIDUALLY how to properly use an old-school, hand crank sharpener. A well-sharpened pencil is truly a thing a beauty and a joy forever. Well, for a few days, anyway.

  • GoldenSpiralDesigns

    Lola Ocian from GoldenSpiralDesigns said 7 years ago

    I second the query for advice on sharpening builder's pencils. As well, I agree that pencils of differing hardness require different technique. I've been amply frustrated with my pencil sharpening lately - namely the process of sharpening Prismacolor colored pencils, by hand. It may be the softness of the lead, in contrast to the hardness and irregularity of the wood (not often of the best quality). I find that my pencils perpetually break throughout the sharpening process, so that it takes me about 3/4 of the pencil (I kid you not!) to obtain a useful point. A friend of mine said this could be remedied by heating the pencil in a microwave for about 5 seconds. According to him, it's just enough to melt the wax in the lead and restore strength to the core of the pencil. This article is insane.

  • CustomSculpture

    Rebekah Connors from FeltSculpture said 7 years ago

    Terribly funny!!

  • tphippen

    terry from TerrysThings said 6 years ago

    I loved reading about how many steps there are to sharpening a pencil the "right" way. I love #2 pencils that are sharp at the point. I do feel that besides having an excellent sharpener, a person needs to have a quality pencil to sharpen. I have found that the ones made in China are as bad as they come. I am going to make sure I notice the next "perfect" pencil I sharpen and I might even enclose it in a display case for my ancestors to later appreciate!

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