Review of Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.


A few months ago, Troy contacted us about reviewing the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener, a burr-type sharpener that boasts smooth and quiet sharpening and quality construction. We took delivery of this heavy-duty green sharpener this fall and have put it through lots of tests with lots of pencils. And, golly, we have not reviewed a sharpener in ages! This is a very worthy harbinger of further sharpener reviews.  This machine is great.

Vitals:
Type: Single burr, 8mm hole.
Material: Metal body, mechanics and handle, with plastic tray and small parts.
Shavings Receptacle: Large, clear plastic tray.
Point Type: Very long.
Markings: “Pencil Sharpener”.
Place of Manufacture: ???
Availability: Official website and Ebay store..

This is, frankly, a big and heavy sharpener. I’ve heard tell of devoted Comrades carrying burr sharpeners around with them for their daily writing needs. I never do that myself. What I look for in a crank/burr sharpener is metal construction and heft, frankly. I like that this sharpener is burly and solid. It comes with mounting hardware, but I’ve never used it. Since the clips hold your pencil in place, you only need one hand to hold the body still while you crank out a nice, long (LONG) point.  You can even hold the machine in your hand (or on your lap) with one hand, while the other cranks the handle.

Watch a video of the sharpener in action.

One of the best features of this sharpener is its auto-stop. The teeth/clamp feed the pencil into the burr mechanism. You turn the crank. The pencil gets sharpened. If you are my age and remember the old sharpeners we had in school that would just eat your pencil if you didn’t stop turning the crank, you might be relieved with this sharpener. When the point is achieved, the feeder stops, and turning the crank doesn’t engage the blade any longer. I put this to the test with some completely new pencils. The auto-stop kept the pencils from getting shorter at all. On very close inspection, the graphite at the point still retains the flatness of its unsharpened state just enough to see with very good eyes. It’s sharp like a pencil, not like a pin — there are no minuscule points that will crumble immediately.  This sharpener does not eat pencils.

Speaking of the point, it makes a KUM Longpoint look…stubby.  If you like a really, really long point but are not particularly adept at whittling your pencils with a blade/knife, this might be just the sharpener for you.  Below, from left to right, are unfinished “sample” pencils with points from: Classroom Friendly Sharpener; KUM 2-step Longpoint; KUM brass wedge.  (Note the pin points on the KUMs which are ready to break off.

The smooth cranking action and sharp burrs really place this in the realm of very quiet sharpeners. When I think of the wall-mounted, decades-old behemoths that used to eat my pencils in grade school, I wish heartily that the good sisters of St. Thomas had one of these green beauties around.  The wall-mounted monstrosities were loud enough to silence even very loud math lessons from Sr. Teresa Mary.

This machine is not flawless. If there’s one thing that bothers me, it’s the teeth that grip your pencil for sharpening. This sharpener might not eat pencils the way that some burr machines do, but it does bite them a bit. This varied from indentations in thickly lacquered pencils to mini-holes in old Mirados. However, since a pencil is a tool that, by its very design, gets sharpened away anyway, these bite marks are overshadowed by what a great point you can get and how nicely this sharpener is built. I showed this to my good pal, and he said the same thing as me: So what?  It’s a pencil for writing/drawing.  And, for the record, he sharpened his pocket pencil with it and immediately wanted to know where to get one.

As it stands, it’s my favorite crank/burr sharpener to date.  I really like the vaguely retro looks of the chrome and green paint, and the metal body and heavy construction leave me thinking that my 8 1/2-month old daughter will wind up using this for school at some point.  I keep mine out in the open because it’s a handsome piece, and I definitely intend to pick up a second unit for my office.

57 Responses to “Review of Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.”

  1. yuki says:

    i had the exact same one when i was a kid. i dont remember the brand but mine was made in japan =)

  2. Grace says:

    Now, that is a cool looking pencil sharpener!

  3. hen says:

    I love the design of the sharpener – I especially love the color. Kinda reminds me of a green chalk board from elementary school. It also reminds me of a handheld flashlight or something similar. And since I’ve never seen one in person, I love that it looks solid and reliable. I’m gonna have to buy one!

  4. Loren Whan says:

    I have 2 of these and volunteer at a elementary school. I brought one in and the teachers want them. So, I got a couple more and I got an idea of how to mount them I used 3/16th inch steel round and went through the bottom two hole a piece about 7 inches long and used fence U nails and hammered one side down on a 2 X 8
    board and the hammered down the other side that thing was not going anywhere the board was about 10 inches long I painted one RED a little hard to hide…….
    The teachers Love it……. Thanks Mr. Decoff

  5. adair says:

    But does it sharpen both regular and large-diameter (jumbo) pencils?

  6. Joyce says:

    I wonder if this is good for color pencils, as well?

    • John says:

      I have mixed results myself. Some broke mercilessly; some not — even from the same manufacturer. I generally don’t use anything “longer” than the KUM wedge for those, though. This sharpener might be great for Verithins, but I haven’t tried yet.

  7. Joyce says:

    Thanks, John, for your feedback about the colored pencils. I have young kids and we’re about to graduate from the bits and pieces of old pencils I had around the house to something nicer, but our current crank sharpener will eat them up, and handheld sharpeners take a little more finesse (and patience). I guess I’ll give this sharpener a try, and if it doesn’t work we’ll just have to work on our pencil-sharpening skills. :)

    • John says:

      My pleasure! : )
      You can’t go wrong with a KUM wedge for colored pencils, unless you like a really sharp point. In my experience, they’re second only to a knife in avoiding breakages.

  8. [...] What a cool looking pencil sharpener, review on Pencil Revolution [...]

  9. adair says:

    Well, thanks to your review, I purchased one of these, and I have to say, it is as good as the legendary Carl Decade, except that instead of plastic, it is cased in metal. The similarities otherwise are close enough to make me wonder if this sharpener isn’t manufactured by Carl or at least in Japan. (There is no country of origin or manufacturing name that I could find, but the plastic box in which it comes is very similar to some of the Carls sold at Kinokuniya.) Clean sharp points, perfect in every way—you will not find a better sharpener.

    • John says:

      Great to hear, Adair!

      • Koralatov says:

        I think that this is, indeed, a Carl sharpener. I’ve been trying to find a good desktop sharpener (since Bundoki are sold out of the Carls) and today on eBay I found a Carl Angel A-5 that looks identical to this one. It’s available in both the green shown above and quite a nice blue (both links are to eBay; no affiliation to the sellers, just for illustrative purposes).

        Since it’s so cheap, even with shipping included, and I’m almost certain it’s the same sharpener as the one reviewed above, I’m going to buy one. I’ll report back when I receive it.

        • John says:

          Please do! I really like that blue, too.

          • Koralatov says:

            The sharpener I linked to previously is definitely the same as the one you reviewed. The points it produces, and the sharpener itself, are the same as those in the photos above. As I said in reply to Adair, below, it looks like these are produced in China by the same company, then rebadged by various manufacturers; so far, I’ve seen the Classroom Friendly version, several Carl Angel version (red, black, green, and blue), and also a Helix version in red.

            As Adair says, at the price these are selling for, it’s definitely worth picking up a couple of them — one for each place you have a desk to attach it to, basically. And with the various colours available, there’s no shortage of colour-coördination options open to you.

  10. It shall be mine!

    I don’t currently own a burr sharpener. This looks like a dandy place to start! Great review.

  11. Gunther says:

    Very interesting – thank you for the review. Although I have more sharpeners than really necessary (including two DE-100, my favourite) I couldn’t resist to order a blue A-5 because of its metal case and retro look. In this case, I am also willing to accept bite marks when using it.

    Speaking of the DE-100: A comparison of the DE-100′s mechanism with the one of the reviewed sharpener shows an important difference. In the DE-100, the toothing that drives the burr unit is made of plastic while the other seems to be made of metal – a clear sign that the latter is built for heavier use.

  12. adair says:

    Koralatov,thanks for the proof that these are indeed Carls. I suspected as much. In light of this, the price that Troy is asking for these sharpeners is especially reasonable, a real bargain. Carls are usually $30 plus postage from Japan. And these are metal versions, not plastic! It is worth getting more than one.

    • Koralatov says:

      Despite the Royal Mail’s best efforts at not delivering my sharpener (long story), I finally got it. It’s wonderful, and definitely the same one as the Classroom Friendly Sharpener. Having used it for a couple of days now, it’s hard to believe I ever got by without it — the points it produces are just wonderful, and a real joy to write with. Now that I’ve tested this firsthand, I’m going to buy another couple of them — one for my desk at work, another for my bag.

      A little more investigation — searching eBay for “a5 sharpener”, basically — leads me to believe that this isn’t actually manufactured by Carl. I think it’s manufactured in China by… someone, then rebadged by various manufacturers; I saw a Helix version on eBay as well, for about the same price.

      If you search eBay for “carl angel sharpener”, you can find the sharpener in red, green, blue, and black, so there are plenty of colour options available. I’ll probably get a couple of different colours myself, though the blue is quite nice.

      • Koralatov says:

        I should have clarified in my previous comment that the seller I bought my sharpener from — joannelau81 on eBay — shipped this incredibly quickly, and it was in the UK about four days after I ordered it; unfortunately, I wasn’t in to receive the delivery the day it arrived, and the Royal Mail managed to botch the redelivery on four separate occasions. I had to go and collect it in person in the end.

  13. Loren Whan says:

    I contact Mr. Decoff of Classroom Friendly Supplies to ask if the Blue sharpeners were from him and he said no. He at this time only sells the Green one. He is not sure if the blue one is the same as his has the longer lasting metal gears as opposed to the plastic gears. He told me he has had his for almost 7 years.
    I asked as some of the teachers wanted to know if there were different colors.
    He did say he had a cute Blue “Beetle Car” one but it was not as durable as the green. (very good though) and works in the same fashion.

    • Koralatov says:

      The blue Carl version I bought has the same metal gear inside it as the green version reviewed here. As I said in my other comments on this review, I’m totally certain that this is manufactured by the same company as Mr. Decoff’s Classroom Friendly Sharpener. I’m not sure who exactly manufacturers it, but the Carl, CRF, and Helix models are all identical; the auction for the Helix model said it was made in China.

      • Anne says:

        We have the red Carl one (in the Philippines) and it looks identical to the one being reviewed. It lasted two years with three people using it in a homeschool setting. The first thing to go was the clamp that attached it to the table. It just lost it’s ability to grip over time, but as the reviewer said, since the sharpener holds the pencil for you, that’s not a big deal. Other issues, though, is that it won’t grip pencils made of recycled newspaper, which I’ve recently switched to to make it clear which pencils are mine and which are the kids’. I can still get it to sharpen them, I just have to hold the sharpener with my left hand so that I can use my last two fingers to push the plate that holds the pencil in toward the sharpener. But now it has started to sharpen the pencils crookedly. Two years is the longest we’ve had a sharpener last for us so far, including expensive electric models, so I’m not too broken up about it, but I think I’m going to pick up a vintage Boston KS from eBay to replace it.

  14. Whoa…mine is here already! Arrived yesterday, in fact. Holy smokes, that was fast!

    First impressions are highly favorable. I’ll likely post a few short thoughts on my blog over the weekend, though not a full out review. That’s been done very nicely already. ;)

    Definitely yet another pencil accessory I wish I’d had growing up!

  15. Joy says:

    I want one, but mostly because it resembles a wee robot.

  16. Gunther says:

    If that sharpener is really made by Carl I wonder if the inner parts of the clamping are compatible to the ones in the DE-100 and BR-05. In other words: If the soft clamping jaws of these two plastic models fit into the metal one shown here we could get the best of both units in one.

  17. [...] Pencil Revolution review says it so much better than I do. [...]

  18. Applie says:

    I just received one and love it. Great product.

  19. Hojo says:

    I love the sharpener but I wish someone could tell me how to permanently mount it.

    • Dana says:

      Did yours arrive with the little clamp which can be used to mount the Sharpener quite securely to a table top? Or is that not what you meant by a permanent mounting?

      • Editor says:

        It sure did, but it’s been a while, and I can’t remember what I meant — probably a mount strong enough to hold a child up who wanted to hang on. :)

  20. [...] Friendly Pencil Sharpener” this way. I’ve previously read reports on the sharpener at Pencil Revolution and Lung Sketching Scrolls. (Alberto really put it through the paces!) Some searching reveals [...]

  21. Michael R. says:

    Just received this is the mail and after using it on about 10 pencils – It stopped working. It did a great job and then I emptied the bottom tray and tried again – and it does not grind anymore. really disappointing. I took the handle out and re-attached…but no luck. any suggestions? thanks!

    • Michael R. says:

      never mind! I found a small broken piece of pencil tip inside and now it’s working! sorry to bother…took me awhile to trouble shoot. Now I know :)

  22. Krysiulek says:

    I just got a Helix desktop pencil sharpener that is very similar to the one reviewed here. The same method of putting pencil in (extractable pencil holder), same auto-stop mechanism, and five point settings (though the differences in these do not seem to be as great as in the illustrated guide on the sharpener).

    The Helix doesn’t make the pencils needle-sharp, either. It seems to work very well, and is also a sturdy metal construction, as is the one in this review. It has the same large recepticle for shavings, too, and clamp so that it can be mounted on a table, though it can be simple held on the desktop, as this model is (see video).

    All these similarities make me wonder about the originality of the ideas behind the Classroom Friendly model, since the English Helix company has been in existence since the 19th century.

    Although I bought mine through Amazon.co.uk a couple of weeks ago for about 10 GBP, I see today that there are no more in stock. I would recommend the Helix, based on my extensive testing today. It does mark the pencils with its gripping mechanism, as this one does, but that isn’t a major problem.

  23. David Ross says:

    I have one that was left to me by my Grandfather who had it in his home office. He passed away in the early ’70s and he had it for a while before that. The “retro” look is not an accident, it has not changed at all for at least the last 50 years.
    I’d guess Japanese design, and perhaps early years are Japanese made. It has that nice robustness and simplicity of truly good engineering.
    I use my 50+ year old unit often, it will keep going for another 50 I reckon.

    • David Ross says:

      Ooops! Just checked the bottom of mine and it clearly says “JAPAN” in stamped letters. “CARL ANGEL-5″ is the name of it embossed on the plastic waste tray. Wonder what ANGEL-1 to -4 were?

  24. Jeanna says:

    I ordered 3 of these for my teachers. We loved them at first, but after a few months started getting real dull and caused the leads to break off. I don’t want to spend that musch to replace the insdes, only if they are going to last 2 months.

  25. Jeanna says:

    *much

  26. Editor says:

    Sorry to hear, Jeanna. I’d suggest contacting the seller Troy via his site.
    I see they have replacement blades these days, too. :)

  27. [...] points onto them. Personally, I am Okay with this outlook (and a toothbrush works great the clean The Machine on my bookshelf). Again, for myself, I learned a better way to approach sharpening a pencil with a [...]

  28. Kim says:

    I have ordered five of these over the last few years and used them in my classrooms (first in middle school with 7th graders and lately in 3rd grade), always buying them from Troy. They always work great at first but after a while (a few months or so), they start having problems. While the blades tend to remain sharp and are able to produce a very nice point, what always seems to happen is the tension on the pencil that pulls it into the blades seems to relax, causing the pencil to not sharpen entirely. I have found if I put my left hand on top of the sharpener with my pinky or ring finger pulling the pencil guide towards the blades, it will continue to sharpen. Of course, using the sharpener fifty or more times a day, over the course of a school year, would probably cause most anything to wear out.

    Oh, and I don’t let my students sharpen colored pencils with these, as that almost always causes the points to break off and jam the machine.

  29. T. says:

    Best sharpener I’ve ever used for No. 2 pencils!

    Do not, however, attempt to sharpen any colored pencils in this as the sharpener will surely clog with the broken off points. Colored pencils must be sharpened by a KUM, Staedtler, or Alvin Bullet hand sharpener if you care about them!

  30. [...] gear. They had both flavors of Blackwing in a pot at the counter, for sale as singles. They had the green sharpener we love so much. And they had a steel and glass pencil dispenser full of General’s [...]

  31. [...] has graciously offered to let us host a give-way for a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener for the Comrade who wins a contest . There are only a few [...]

  32. Martha says:

    “Lying in bed would be an altogether perfect and supreme experience if only one had a colored pencil long enough to draw on the ceiling.”
    G.K. Chesterton

  33. Sherran Davis says:

    I would like to buy one or two of these. How can I get them????

  34. […] This is Jack, Comrade Dan’s son, sharpening a USA Gold pencil with their house’s Classroom Friendly Sharpener. […]

  35. Mary Sun says:

    We have a new style pencil sharpener (item ELM 148) which also produced and sold in Japan market for many years, and we are now planning to sell this pencil sharpener to the whole world.

    Our sharpener has the same good quality as Carl pencil sharpener, but a little smaller in size.

    below is the website for this item.

    http://dgyizhimei.en.alibaba.com/product/277876880-209648251/ELM_148_Metal_Pencil_Sharpener_hand_pencil_sharpener_hand_crank_pencil_sharpener_hand_held_pencil_sharpener.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: