Popular Purple: The New Classroom Friendly Sharpener.

plate

Sometimes review samples come to HQ that make waves. The mountain books from Word. were such a package, as most of the books disappeared in a few days. Last week, we received a package from Classroom Friendly Supplies. This sharpener has brought out Comrade Charlotte’s Fight Face (a photo of which I will spare you because it’s frightening). You see, Charlotte has here own matte pink sharpener, and she wanted this one also. I mentioned that she’d have to fight another household member who would want it. She clenched her teeth and fists and said, “Grrrrrrrr!”

withpink

That’s the best way I can sum up the color of this sharpener. The color is closer to pink than to a violet, though it’s definitely very very purple. There’s something delightfully Halloweenish about this color.

withpumpkin
The many virtues of the Classroom Friendly Sharpener I did describe nearly five Pencil Years ago in this glowing review.

People ask we pencil bloggers and podcasters all of the time what a good crank sharpener should be. While the infamous bite marks can be somewhat problematic, any Comrade wielding a pencil mightily might resolutely remain unannoyed at an aesthetic hiccup, with the insanely long and concave points we can get from this sharpener.

If you like long points, and if you like purple, go buy this sharpener.

[This sharpener was sent to HQ for free, from review purposes. Opinions are still those of the Staff and Guard at Pencil Revolution.]

KUM Masterpiece Instructions.

kummp5
While the KUM Masterpiece is a fine piece of engineering and one of the pieces of Pencil Ephemera about which I have been the most excited lately, there is something missing that I hope we can add to the Pencil World. The instructions on KUM’s website are not great. The video is produced to a quality standard that does no justice to all of the research and work that went into this sharpener. I have practiced a bit, and I think I have figured out the best way to use this sharpener.

First, start with a quality pencil. This machine begs for at least a good Semi-Cheap, if not something premium. From there, follow these steps:

1) Use the hole marked 1 to sharpen away the wood. Do this until the graphite hits the auto-stop (the blue piece). You might notice that there is a piece of wood stuck to the long piece of exposed graphite on one side. What you want to do is push the pencil into the hole and gently against the blade again, and keep doing this until you encounter no resistance at all, i.e., there is no more wood being cut.

1A) Another option is to push the blue plastic out of the way before step 1. Then you can expose graphite to your Pencil Heart’s content. You can then proceed on to the shaping the graphite.

2) Use the hole marked 2 to sharpen the graphite. At the beginning, the exposed wood of the pencil will not fit against the cavity of the hole. You’ll have to do your best to center the burgeoning point. Turn the pencil, and watch fine pieces of graphite pile up on top of the sharpener. Here, you have a couple of options:

2A) Bring the graphite to a nice point, and then stop. You will have an odd-looking point that is not as sharp as the Masterpiece is capable of producing. But maybe you don’t want one that’s that sharp. Or maybe you are pressed for time. The advantage of this method is that you can sharpen the graphite again to a point without having the sharpen the wood again. You can skip Step 1 and just point the graphite at least one more time.

2B) Push the point into the second hole until you notice the blade cutting wood as well as graphite. It is this method which will get you the acute point that you see on the pencils at the top of this post, and this is the Insane Point for which this sharpener is made, I believe.

I hope this is helpful and not overly cheeky to KUM. If Comrades find better/alternate ways of using this sharpener, I’m sure we’d all be glad to read about them in the comments section. Also, check out Gunther‘s and Matthias‘s posts about the Masterpiece, with way better photos and more information about this fascinating sharpener.

A Halloween Sharpener.

IMG_3755
Let’s play “Find the Halloween pencil sharpener!”

IMG_3756
Jetpens sent over a package to HQ today which included this cool little ghost sharpener. To be honest, I’ve eyed this up for years, though I assumed it was smaller in person. It’s actually got a nice reservoir for shavings, and it’s easy to open.

IMG_3758
Inside is a KUM “Narrow Wedge” in black plastic. Both the wedge itself and the blade are replaceable, meaning this this spooky little fellow could grace your Halloween pencil adventures for years to come.

IMG_3759
The point is your standard KUM-Wedged (let’s make that a new verb for the lexicon) business end. The point is a little short, but not overly so.

IMG_3761
This is also the first pencil sharpener I own that glows in the dark. They must have improved this substance since I was a kid in the 80s because it definitely glows more brightly than the toys I had.*

*Or is it the CFL bulbs we didn’t have back then?

Review of Staedtler’s THE PENCIL, 1 of 2.

closeup
Now this is a piece of Pencil Beauty, and I hope I do it justice. A week after we received Primo Neon Wopexen at HQ, we received The Pencil. That is that name for Staedtler’s relatively new luxury pencil cap/extender/sharpener/eraser. Think of this as Staedtler’s answer to Faber-Castell’s Perfect Pencil, with an adage worthy of Don Draper’s best work.*

box

The Pencil is a set of three unique pencils made of Wopex material, with stylus tips where you might expect erasers — and a cap which houses a hidden (really) sharpener, an excellent eraser and also functions as an extender. We’ll look at the Cap Assemply first.

IMG_3643

disassembledThe cap is plastic. Stephen pointed this out in his great review last year, and I was among those disappointed that this was not made of metal. However, I think that knowing it was plastic before I held it prepared me enough that I appreciate that it does not weigh as much as the platinum-plated Faber-Castell version, which can be somewhat awkward to carry.

The far end has a cap which displays the Staedtler logo, in a tasteful fashion. The sharpener can be used with the Cap Assembly in one piece or with it exploded, as you can see. There is a slot in the side of the cap which allows the ejection of pencil shavings. This allows a better grip than the Perfect Pencil that I carry around daily, which only has the sharpener attached to the very tip of the top. The clip is metal and sturdy, sticking well to everything to which I have stuck it. I don’t own a digital scale, but the weight of the entire cap is what I would call pleasing. It has enough weight to feel sturdy, but it’s certainly no Pocket Anchor. There is some play while the pencil is inserted into the cap, largely because the pencil is held in some sort of Mechanism which allows it to rotate, making possible the In-Cap Sharpening. It never really bothered me, since I did not use it for long as an extender because my The Pencil was not short enough to require it. The Cap Assembly holds onto The Pencil, though there is no Death Grip to leave makes on your Luxury Wopex. I am not certain why the Cap Assembly comes apart, if it’s not just to make it possible to clean out shavings and graphite residue, which is something that plagues the best of us — and something which I am very glad to be able to get rid of, should it arise from what I’ve discovered are notoriously dusty pencils (Wopexen).

The shapener produces a nicely-angled point. Here is the factory sharpening, next to the result produced by the included sharpener.
pointcomp
Putting a point on a Wopex is something that puts strain on a sharpener, and this one performs well, shaving thin layers of extruded wood flour and graphite.
shavings

The eraser works very well, though I would only use it in a pinch. Staedtler tells us that they do not currently offer replacements, and this is an eraser whose existence and presence I’d like to count on when I find myself pushing a stroller with nothing on me but this device and a coffeeshop receipt on which to scroll that Brilliant Idea about Existence that I will keep to myself.

Perhaps best of all, the Cap Assembly fits normal pencils as well. My fancy Faber-Castell version does not, and the refills are expensive. Not only does this cap fit a regular Wopex; the silver looks great with the colors of Wopexen available to us here in North America.
wopexincap

We certainly don’t mean that we are not using the Luxury Wopexen that came with this set. And as this review is getting long, we’ll cut this in half and let WordPress self-publish a post dedicated to the pencils in this set tomorrow. (Stay tuned!)

*I am wondering (and I mean this without snark but with earnest excitement) if Faber-Castell is cooking up an “answer” to the Wopex.)

(This set was provided to us by Staedtler North America, free of charge. Opinions, impressions, analyses and images are my own.)

Review of KUM Special Diameter Sharpener.

spdiam_1

Our friends at Jet Pens sent this in the early summer, and it somehow got left in the “drafts” folder. Summer vacation is officially over as of this morning, and it’s time to finally finish this review of the KUM Special Diameter Sharpener.

I was confused, at first, by the graphics on this sharpener. They show two triangular and two octagonal pencils, each of two sizes. With the triangular being first and the word “special,” my Summer Brain thought it meant that this sharpener was for differently shaped pencils. But the name clearly denotes differently sized pencils, and the innards support this — as does Common Sense and basic reading comprehension. The innards are simply a double-holed KUM wedge. This is not at all disappointing to me, since this is generally one of my go-to sharpeners, especially for Fat Pencils.

This sharpener is a covered wedge, with a mechanism of sorts which can slide over the holes, to prevent shavings and graphite dust from escaping. Here it is, unassembled.

spdiam_3

What you get is a very portable container sharpener that can sharpen nearly everything you’re likely to have on your person or in your bag or on your desk. In theory, I love it. But I thought I’d throw two sizes of a pencil which is…not as easy to sharpen as, say, a Ticonderoga — the obvious choice for differently-sized pencils of the same type. This is the Faber-Castell Grip 2001 and the Jumbo Grip. The former is certainly not cedar, but the latter is. However, being Fat and Triangular, it is not an easy pencil to sharpen in a blade sharpener.

spdiam_4

The sharpener itself did a great job, producing a semi-short point. However, as you can see below, the black plastic body of the case marred the finish on my Jumbo Grip. This is likely at least partly User Error; I basically stuck the pencil in and twisted it violently (as you can see, perhaps). But I am pleased with the point that the KUM wedge puts on Fat Pencils, for a nice, Stubby point. I usually keep my Fat Pencils a little more…blunt, but I wanted to see what this sharpener could produce.

spdiam_6

For the price (a little over $3), this is a great container sharpener. You might be able to see that I have scratched the clear plastic up, carrying it around a lot in my Diaper Bag and pocket. There are a few similar sharpeners from KUM floating around HQ. But they are not mine and not as “grown-up” looking as this little guy. Of course, you might ask how grown-up a man can look, using Fat Pencils. Certainly.

 

 

Review of Sun-Star Safety Pencil Knife.

extended
We received one of these Pencil Knives free of charge from Jet Pens a few weeks ago at HQ for reviewing. I have used this little knife for a while and have probably taken it to inappropriate places in my pocket over these weeks. So believe me when I tell you that this is a cool little knife, one that has been tested.
closed
First, it is a safety knife, but it is still a knife. Don’t give one to a toddler or someone with tiny fingers. That said, it is difficult to cut yourself with it if you are careful and use it for what it is meant for — sharpening pencils. I am a man who brings accidents down upon himself, and I haven’t cut myself with it yet.* This is a very pocket-friendly knife. It takes up about as much Volume Real Estate as a pocketknife, but it is very light. I literally forgot it was in my cargo shorts pocket on several occasions, almost leading to a Washing Machine Test. The blade assembly slides out and locks into place with a satisfying click, and there is a thumb indentation for ease of use.
metal

I want to stress that using this knife is very unlike using a regular pocketknife to sharpen a pencil. The blade is thinner and is curved. Because of the safety guard, you cannot chop off large hunks of wood or graphite from your pencil. This knife works in a sort of semi-shaving action, taking off small pieces of the pencil with each cut. This means that it takes some time to bring an unsharpened pencil to Readiness for Action. But it also means that there is a lot of room for error. Because it is so unlike a pocketknife and because it takes off so little of the pencil at a time, this is an ideal sharpener for someone who is interested in taking up knife sharpening but perhaps is nervous about losing a digit or is intimidated by slight difficulty of sharpening a pencil with a knife.
pencil
After several weeks of use, my review unit is still working very well, without significant dullness or any rust. Certainly, replacement blades would be a boon to this system, but the $6 price tag is not so steep. I really like this knife for touching-up points while I am out, when the pencil just needs a little nudge back to sharpness. It is lighter than some brass pocket sharpeners, but the volume keeps it from falling out of my pocket.

Plus, did I mention that this knife is just cool?

* Knock on wood.

Cool, Blue Sun-Star Pencil Gear, Part II.

IMG_2776IMG_2778

Sun-Star Sect Cylindrical Multi Pencil Sharpener
The sharpener is a cool little device. A dial clicks into five positions, giving you, in effect, five point options, from needle-sharp to pretty blunt. I have never owned a blade sharpener like this, and it’s a cool little device. The dial moves the sharpener inside of the body toward or away from the pencil you are trying to sharpen. If it’s far enough away, you can’t feed enough of your pencil through to get a very sharp point, which is ideal for fragile pencils like charcoal and colored pencils.

This is the sharpest point, #1. This is a nice angle, and the shavings were easily removed from this pencil.

IMG_2789

This is the most blunt point, #5. I did find that numbers 3-5 were all pretty blunt, while #1 to #2 and #2 to #3 were pretty big jumps.

IMG_2788

The sharpener itself is a nice blue plastic pocket sharpener. The issue I had was that cleaning it is a chore, if you use it more than a few times without emptying it. We don’t usually carry around the shavings from a dozen pencils, certainly, but this one holds some touch-ups and one or two starts from an unsharpened point before it clogs. The blade came sharp, but it is not replaceable. If you’re looking for a long-term relationship full of new blades, this is not the sharpener for you. But if you want to try an adjustable sharpener that really does make different points and that looks nice to boot, this is the one for you. And, think about it; getting to that $25 free shipping mark never looked so…blue.

Harpers Ferry Sharpener.

1129131319
(Please excuse the bad phone picture.)
My Dad and I took a daytrip to Harpers Ferry the day after Thanksgiving (we always sort of go on a retreat). In the Harpers Ferry Historical Association‘s Bookstore, I looked for more of the “cedar pencils” I had bought there three years before. No reproduction pencils. But there was an oddly-placed wall-mounted sharpener on the shelf where the pencils were in 2010. I wanted to use it, but I was already drawing funny looks from the elderly lady running the register.

Review of Sonic Ratchetta Sharpener.


Apologies for the lapse in posts these past few days, and many thanks for those who sent well wishes. Today, we have the Ratchetta sharpener, sent to us for free from the fine folks at Jet Pens. Sonic makes an entire line of these sharpeners, including three colors that have an adjustable point dial, which would be fun to test as well. We are reviewing here the orange model with an auto-stop feature built in.

IMG_1375

This is a pretty…fancy pocket sharpener; so I’ll quote from Jet Pens:

“The innovative ratchet mechanism in Sonic’s Ratchetta pencil sharpener makes hand-sharpening your pencils quick and easy. You no longer need to repeatedly let go and re-grip the pencil while sharpening! Simply rotating the pencil back and forth does the job. The mechanism is similar to that of a ratcheting screwdriver. The Ratchetta also has a compartment for shavings, and a lid for covering the pencil hole when not in use.

This Notification sharpener has a button that you press down before sharpening. As you sharpen, when your pencil point is sharp and ready, the button pops up with a click sound, notifying you that you are done sharpening. Thus your pencils are saved from over-sharpening.”

Honestly, I forgot about the ratcheting action for the first few rounds with this sharpener, and I was already impressed. The points produced are of a nice angle (think KUM wedge), but they even resemble those excellent points produced by a brass bullet sharpener. The blade is sharp and stable. I’m not sure if it is replaceable, but it would surprise me if there is nowhere on earth to get them. The ratcheting mechanism is pretty neat, and it caught Pencil Revolution Contributor Dan‘s attention for a long while the last time we went for a night bike ride and chai tea on the stoop. It’s smooth and quiet, and I could definitely stand for it to be louder, just for kicks.

IMG_1390

The compartment door and the pencil-hole-cover close tightly and open smoothly. Honestly, this sharpener feels like it costs a lot more than $3.30. I’d venture to say that only a Seriously Sharpening Comrade without access to a trashcan, tinderbox or compost pile would need to store more shavings than this little guy can hold. Still, it remains very pocket-friendly.

Another interesting part of this sharpener is its “Notification.” There is a little button you press (the green one, pictured above) in. It stays in. When your pencil is sharp, it pops out with a nicely audible notification. It’s not often that a nice feature like this is included in a pocket sharpener, and less often that it actually works.

IMG_1385

The pin is pushed by the sharp pencil point until it nudges the button.

IMG_1384

It pops up, and you have a lovely, sharp point.

IMG_1379

(Faber-Castell Bonanza and Palomino Blackwing 602, auto-pointed with a ratcheting flavor.)

This is definitely a sharpener for The People. It’s inexpensive, unique, and it even has an auto-stop. My daughter might find that Santa picks up the pink one for Christmas. Above all, it sharpens well! And it holds enough shavings to smell wonderfully after a few days. We held off publishing this review for a week or two until they were back in stock, and I don’t expect them to be for long. The orange one is perfect for autumn, but there are a few other colors as well.

 

Review of KUM Tip-Top Pop Pencil Cap & Sharpener.

IMG_1233
That’s a mouthful, but this is a tool that, as my brother Tom might say, “gets ‘er done.” This is, in short, a very inexpensive version of The Perfect Pencil. This baby leaves your pencil Perfectly Portable, with an eraser cap, extender and sharpener all in one. Honestly, I use mine as a point protector/sharpener for pocket carrying. But the eraser is pretty good, as we’ll see.

This baby gives you a very short point. To give it a fair shake and a good test, I murdered the point of a Palomino with my trusty mid-90s Leatherman. I considered taking a shot of whiskey or getting my wife to hold my hand while I did this. But I didn’t want to catch my hand in those jaws. I have a chip on one of my front teeth from tightening the screw on this thing in 1999. The things a Pencil Blogger must do!

IMG_1219

This item used to show up as the Scribble sharpener (see review here). I like this design better. The colors are a bit…bright. But the blue matches my favorite style of Palomino pretty well. They also come in green, yellow (more like gold) and pink and are available on Amazon, but I got mine at Pencils.com for $2.95. Alberto already reviewed this version, and Comrades should check out his review, which features much better photos than I have here.

IMG_1227

The cap houses a pencil sharpener than pulls out of the top end. One could sharpener the pencil with the sharpener in place, in the cap. But I don’t think it would hold more than one sharpening’s worth of shavings. I remove the sharpener to use it, though it is a little difficult to find a place to grip it that way. The blade is screwed in, but I suspect this is a sharpener whose blade will prove difficult to find replacements for. I tell myself that this item will get smashed or lost before I dull the blade, so long as I only use it on the go. Since I usually sharpener my pocket pencil before leaving my house, this might be the case. Anyway, the sharpener fits nicely into the cap, and the plug hits home and stays there.

IMG_1238

In use, the cap fits very tightly onto most pencils. I have held the following pencils with success:

All current Blackwings
Palomino Blue
Faber-Castell Castell 9000
Staedtler Mars
Staedtler Wopex

Without success (pencil was too thin):

Dixon Ticonderoga (several versions) Edit: I fitted a Dixon Black by pushing it in pretty fare. There’s a little play, though, and the point hits the sharpener in the cap.
Faber-Castell Grip 2001

That is certainly not an exhaustive list, just the pencils I have tried, i.e., could reach on the table or in the box on the table. I should note that the pencil does not enter into the cap very far. This extends a very short pencil very well, but it does little to make a medium-length pencil fit into a pocket. For making stubs usable and for fitting a pencil into one’s pocket without the fear of a vampire-death by impaling, this cap is the ticket. The included pencil is even a little long.

Speaking of which, the pencil this set comes with is a nice one. It’s matte black, round, uncapped and has a nice lead that feels like a Castell 9000 2B to me. The eraser works better than the ones on the backs of the pencils I’ve tried it with, though it wears away quickly. I wouldn’t buy it for the eraser. To me, the pencil and eraser were free with the interesting cap/sharpener.

IMG_1250

As I mentioned above, this sharpener makes one short point. While I’m not generally a fan of such points, I can live with this. For one, a blunt point is the one I want in my shirt pocket or my hip pocket while on my bike. This is certainly just a “mental thing,” but I’m sure I’ve mentioned my abiding fear of Pencil Impalement before. Also, this cap’s utility makes whatever point it wants to give up more than good enough for me. If I will be away from home long enough to dull more than one pencil, I generally carry more than one pencil. But if I need more, forget one, or break that sum-gun, this cap will certainly help. Plus: it just looks way cooler than a small plastic point protector.

This little set is a winner, and at that price, definitely worth a spot in the pockets of Comrades everywhere.