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Best Pencil Sharpener

The pencil sharpener. What's there to know? You'd be surprised. The most obvious distinction between sharpeners is whether you want manual or automatic. You probably remember the manual versions from your childhood days of grade school. Stick one end in, start cranking, and out comes a finely sharpened writing instrument. Not much has changed since, though they have gotten stronger boasting sharper more resilient blades and many of them can accommodate various pencil thickness sizes.

Electric sharpeners offer a little more variation in their designs. They're all run by electric motors and operate in much the same manner; just stick your pencil in and the machine does the rest. But here you have more options, like units that prevent from oversharpening, become inoperable when anything else but a pencil is inserted into the device, and come with heavy-duty helical blades that can cut through multiple sizes and diameters of pencil. Some of these units are designed for heavy volume use, incorporating fans and coolers to keep them from overheating while remaining sharp and ready for use time after time. 

Bostitch All Metal Antimicrobial 8-hole Manual Pencil Sharpener

Bostitch adds hygienic safety to their multi-functional pencil sharpener with an ergonomic, anti-microbial crank handle. It's been coated with a germ killing disinfectant to cut down on passing harmful germs between users who come to sharpen pencils. Obviously, this would be something that fits in perfectly in a school classroom setting but it's suitable for any environment where colds can be caught easily. The all-metal construction and die-cast base make it sturdy and it will last for years to come. HHC dual cutting blades are replaceable and designed to keep you from over-sharpening your pencils. When we say pencils, we mean it; with an eight hole adjustable dial, you can sharpen up to eight different sizes.

X-Acto KS 1030 Table or Wall Mount Pencil Sharpener

The KS 1030 looks and feels just like the manual sharpener you used to use in class. Silver metal design with a firm grip crank and adjustable eight hole pencil dial to accommodate all sizes of hardwood, composite, and charcoal pencils. You can even sharpen crayons with it. X-Acto's exclusive hardened steel helical dual cutters give you a fresh point each and every time you turn the crank. It's also quiet so you won't bother those around you when you use it.

CARL Angel-5 Pencil Sharpener

Available in eleven different colors, the CARL Angel-5 requires two hands to use it. The first is needed to squeeze the clamp tabs to latch your pencil tightly in place while you use the second hand to crank the steel rotary cutter and sharpen a point on any standard-size pencil. The unit draws the pencil in until it has a precise fine point. When you're done, just squeeze the tabs again to release it. This one won't accept multiple sizes like our previous picks but it can handle multiple shaped pencils with ease. ABS plastic parts make the sharpener resilient and long-lasting while the cutters and handle assembly are both removable and replaceable.

Kikkerland Camera Pencil Sharpener

This novelty pencil sharpener from Kikkerland is perfect for the professional photographer or photography buff who uses pencils on a routine basis. Designed to look like an old Rollieflex dual lens camera, this sharpener from Kikkerland has a hole where the top lens would be to stick your pencil in. Beneath that is the other lens, where the shavings drawer is located, and has a clever little clear window that not only completes the picture of a photography camera but also lets you see inside the drawer to determine when it's time to empty it. Not only does this sharpener set itself apart aesthetically, but functionally as well; with a sharpener tip adjustment that lets you change the cone shape of your point. Make it as fine or as blunt as you'd like with just a simple twist on the mechanism.

Staedtler Mars Tub Style Double-Hole Pencil Sharpener

This tub style dual pencil sharpener offers two size entries to sharpen standard or oversized pencils and crayons. Just stick the point of your pencil into one of the holes and start twisting it. A flat metal blade shaves away material until you have a nice sharp point. The flip top lid keeps the blades safe and prevents shavings from spilling out. Detach the clear bottom case to empty the shavings when the sharpener is full and you're ready to start sharpening all over again.

Bostitch QuietSharp6 Classroom Pencil Sharpener

Though it's marketed for classroom use, the QuietSharp6 is suitable for anywhere you need to sharpen a lot of pencils. It comes equipped with a six hole pencil selector dial that twists easily to accommodate the exact size pencil you need to sharpen. Electric internal motors use XHC cutter technology to sharpen your pencils quickly but without oversharpening. Once the perfect tip has been achieved, the motors shut down so you know you're ready to pull it from the unit. Suction cup feet keep the QuietSharp6 firmly secured to your table or desk, ready to get to work when you are. Emptying the shavings is easy, the drawer is translucent enough to see when it's time to clean it out and Bostitch's MagnaSafe technology keeps the motors from running while the blades are exposed. Once the drawer is returned, the sharpener is active again.

X-Acto 1818 Electric Pencil Sharpener

With a price tag of around $20, X-ACTO has made a pencil sharpener that offers forward thinking technology for total convenience and peak performance. Using carbon-steel sharpened blades, the 1818 keeps you from over-sharpening your pencil with the XLR Pencil Saver technology. Basically grinding the tip to a precision sharp point without needlessly chewing up the rest of your pencil and creating more waste. Non-skid rubber feet keep it from moving around while in use so you're sure to have a safe and effective result every time you sharpen with it. When it's not in use, the 1818 shuts itself off to prevent from overheating and it won't draw electricity from the outlet while plugged in. The unit only uses power when it's needed.

School Smart Vertical Electric 6x4 inch Pencil Sharpener

Sporting a sleek, contemporary design; this School Smart unit is a vertical entry sharpener that uses steel helical blades to grind any blunt tip into a sharp point. One of the fastest workers on our list, the unit is not all that quiet; but it does help you from oversharpening your pencil. The machine has an auto-stop feature to do just that, when you hear the sound of the motor change from a high-pitched whine to a low groan you know it's time to remove your pencil. Like all of our previous sharpeners, this one comes with no-skid feet to keep it planted firmly in place and an easy to clean transparent shavings collection tray that prevents the motor from running when it's been removed.

Swingline Optima Electric Pencil Sharpener

The Optima is Swingline's top of the line pencil sharpener. Take a look and you'll notice just one opening at the front, but if you look closer, you'll notice the thumb-dial nestled right behind there in the unit cabinet. Just turn it to the desired diameter and you're ready to insert your pencil. When you do, the helical steel cutters spin to life and chew the tip down to a precision point in a quick two to three seconds. An oversized shavings drawer underneath collects the waste, and a lot of it, so you won't be cleaning it out as often. Auto-stop features prevent from over-sharpening and overheating when not in use. Best of all, it's funky design also makes it sturdy to use; with a wide bottom to keep it from tipping over or sliding across your desk while in use.

Royal P10 Electric Pencil Sharpener

The Royal P10 is a vertical sharpener that has a smooth, curved aesthetic and is small enough to take with you on the go. Just plug it in anywhere and stick your pencil in. Strong helical steel blades sharpen your point to a fine tip, perhaps too sharp sometimes as the point would break on some pencils occasionally. The clear shavings collector makes it easy to see when it's time to dump it out and the internal motors won't allow you to over-sharpen the pencil as the working sound changes when your pencil is ready for action. This is merely the amount of grinding material being finished off entirely so that there's little to no wood and graphite left to sharpen. So pull out and you're safe. Just be careful when you put it to paper, the tip may be too fragile and you'll need to try it again. Don't leave it in so long next time, and you should be good to go.

Marc Gottlieb
I'm a rabid sports-aholic who's been to Super Bowl XXI, the Indy 500 and witnessed Doug Flutie's hail mary pass to Gerard Phelan live in Miami. Sundays are sacred in my household and I'm a two-time back to back champion of my fantasy football league. I played a lot of sports in high school; football, soccer, tennis, lacrosse and I was on the school ski team. I even tried my hand at racquetball in college. I've jumped out of two perfectly good airplanes and bungee jumped off a construction crane. Since then I've worked for one of the top product placement companies in Hollywood, coordinating with most of the major sports apparel labels to get their products featured in films and TV. But it's a life-long obsession with music and film that has given me years of experience with the latest technologies and innovations in electronics. If they've built it, I've tried it and likely bought it. Laserdisc, DVD, Bluray players; I own multiple units that cater to all of these formats and more. A misspent youth immersing myself in pop culture meant I craved the hottest devices through which to enjoy it all, and at the highest possible quality. What I learned over time though, is that the most expensive items aren't always the best.
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