I was looking for something very specific when I stumbled upon the Afmat PS09 Electric Pencil Sharpener...I wanted an electric, long point, helical blade, top feeding sharpener. This sharpener hits all these points, and even more, so even though it was a bit expensive, I took a chance and have been happy with the results.Read More
Many of you already know this, but it bears repeating: there is a difference between a 2-hole sharpener and a 2-stage sharpener. A 2-hole sharpener sharpens 2 sizes of pencils, standard and jumbo. A 2-stage sharpener sharpens a standard size pencil in 2 stages: first it removes the wood, then sharpens the point. If you don't look closely, you could purchase a 2-stage and wonder why your jumbo pencils won't fit.Read More
The Castor from M+R has finally made it to the USA thanks to CW Pencils. The sibling to the Pollux takes the same blades, which are still in short supply, but word on the street is that they'll be more available than they have been in the past. If you haven't read it already, my 4th review ever on Lead Fast was about the Pollux. Read it here. It is still my favorite handheld sharpener, and the Castor came nowhere close to unseating it.
As you can see in the pictures, comparing the Castor to the Pollux and the Brass Bullet, although they use the same blades, the Castor's point is closer to the smaller Bullet than it is to the longer Pollux. The collar is longer, but the point isn't by much. You might say small, medium, large. The point isn't concave, which is what I prefer, and the point you DO get is similar to the KUM Automatic 2 Stage sharpener at about 4 times the price.
This is not to say the Castor doesn't have its advantages. It's just a solid chunk of machined brass, so there's no moving parts to break. Replacing the blade is easy, just a little screwdriver love and switcheroo, and you're back in business. It'd be a great idea for someone to sell extra screws, however, because I can see ruining a perfectly good sharpener by having the little thing roll off the table and into a carpet, never to be found again. The Castor also plays nice with the Pollux's mortal enemy, the Tombow 2558. Made of White Fir, it has shavings that are a little thicker than average and the wood is a little tougher than usual pencil wood. I suspect the tension put on the point as it's being shaped by the Pollux, to get that concave shape, just snaps the lead. It always seems to break at the same point of sharpening. Anyway, the Castor doesn't have this problem.
The other problem I have with the Castor is one I have with most handheld sharpeners that aren't 2 stage or the Pollux: there's no natural "stop". You could sharpen and sharpen until the cows come home. With the angle the Pollux produces, you get feedback on when it's somewhat done and you can scale back the "pushing in" pressure and just roll the pencil in the sharpener to fine the core point. But with the Castor, you can just push and push and it will keep sharpening. Obviously you're not going to do that, but the feedback that it's done just isn't there. No absent-minded sharpening!
Overall, there's no good reason to pay $28 for the Castor. It doesn't do anything a KUM Automatic won't do, and it you want to get spendy and don't have a Pollux, buy that instead when you can find one. In lieu of that, the KUM Masterpiece is a great higher priced sharpener that is still $10 less than the Castor.
Available at CW Pencils, $28.
It's final showdown time for each of these sharpeners to battle against each other for hand-cranked desk dominance! Today I'm going to compare each of the sharpeners reviewed this week. If you haven't read anything, check out the previous posts in the Sharpener Series. I'll be judging 5 different categories:
1. Design / Looks
2. Point / Collar Length
3. Pencil Protection
4. Amount Removed
Design / Looks
All of these sharpeners look wildly different (in relative terms). The Derwent and the KH-20 have the "alien antennae" design for retracting the grippers, and the Dahle 133 and CP-80 have a push button on the side. In the case of the "aliens", only the right antenna moves, and the left one is there to provide a counter-balance to be able to move the right one and retract the teeth without pushing it over. With the CP-80 and the D133, you must either use two hands or a one-handed overhand grip to counter-balance to push the button. Every one of these sharpeners is single burr and only works with a clockwise motion, so while not "unusable" for left handers, they are not intuitive. For a right hander, the forward cranking provides top-down leverage, but since a lefty must crank towards them, that leverage advantage goes away.
The KH-20 is the largest of the bunch, but its all plastic body makes it not nearly as heavy as the Derwent, which is slightly smaller but all-metal, save for a few bits. The smallest is the Dahle 133; it has a bigger footprint than the CP-80, but is shorter and lighter. The CP-80 takes up the least amount of real estate, but is slightly taller and heavier than the Dahle 133.
As far as the looks: my personal favorite is the CP-80. I like the all-black rectangle look, with everything flush except for the button. The Dahle comes in second place for me.
The design of the shavings drawers are wildly different. Being the biggest sharpener, you would expect the KH-20 to have the biggest shavings drawer, and it does. The Derwent isn't that much smaller of a sharpener, but its shaving drawer is considerably smaller than the KH-20. Coming in third on drawer size in the CP-80, which is only marginally smaller than the Derwent. The smallest and worst shaving drawer goes to the Dahle 133. It is very short but wide, and the shavings stack up near the back of the drawer. When you pull it out, shavings tend to catch above the drawer and spill out the back. It's not a huge deal when the sharpener isn't clamped to the desk, as you can kind of shake them forward, but when it is, you can run into a mess.
Winner: Carl CP-80
Loser: Dahle 133 (due to sharpener drawer and loose rattling of the crank)
Point / Collar Length
A pencil is only as good as its point. If you like a long point (if not, you probably wouldn't be reading this), every one of these sharpeners offers that. However, there are a few differences, and what you prefer may sway you towards a sharpener that I personally didn't care for. This section is totally subjective. The KH-20 has a really long collar but because it is not concave, it does not expose as much core as the Derwent, which has a similar collar length. The collar of the Dahle 133 is significantly smaller than the rest of the group, yet the amount of core exposed does not correlate to the smallness of the collar; in fact it exposes nearly the same amount of core that the KH-20 does. The Carl CP-80 sits in the middle between all of these: the core exposed is similar to the Derwent, but without that last little bit of needle point; also, its collar isn't as long by a slim margin. The amount of core exposed is also determined by how centered the core is in the pencil; wood creep onto the core could be a problem for some (it is for me). But we can't judge a sharpener based on the quality of a pencil. We can, however, judge it based on the symmetry of the collar itself. The KH-20 is consistently off-kilter. It will take centered-core pencils and make them look off-centered, and the collar length mirrors that. But sharpen that same pencil in the Derwent, and it will be centered looking (if it is truly centered). The most symmetrical collar comes from the CP-80, but it is a matter of degrees. There is no real stand out winner as far as collar, but the clear loser, for me, was the KH-20. Overall, between point and collar, I have to give it to the CP-80.
Winner: Carl CP-80*
Loser: Mitsubishi KH-20
*This is based on standard sized writing pencils. For someone who needs to sharpen oversized pencils and/or needs to adjust their point length for drawing or colored pencils, the Dahle 133 is the winner.
Those who are reading this are already nerdy enough to care about every aspect of their pencils, including how it looks. Some of these pencils we acquire have amazing finishes that we would like to see unblemished by something so simple as the act of sharpening. Of the four sharpeners reviewed in this series, only one has the distinction of being named a "hungry crocodile". The KH-20, Dahle 133, and CP-80 all have rubber tips on the teeth that grip the pencil in the automatic feed. The Derwent breaks the lacquer and on thinner-coated pencils can even get into the wood. This happens on 3 sides each time you sharpen, so you can imagine your pencil starting to look like you chew on it after a couple passes. Someone using a cheap pencil may not mind, but if they were using a Blackwing or some expensive vintage pencil, they may be upset. There is no real winner here, but there is definitely a loser.
Winner: Dahle 133, Carl CP-80, Mitsubishi KH-20
Loser: Derwent Long Point
Here is how much weight each sharpener takes off. The pencils started from completely unsharpened. Each was weighed before and after sharpening, on a digital pocket scale, advertised as accurate to 0.01 grams. In each instance, I weighed each pencil 3 times at every stage to insure accuracy. Because each pencil had a different starting weight, the more important number was the percentage of weight removed, not the actual weight itself. I did, however, include it here in case you were interested. It is also important to remember that the amount removed will drop significantly after the initial sharpening, provided that you continue to use the same sharpener throughout the use of the pencil. The shape of the collar also plays an important role: larger collar, more wood removed. The Dahle 133 has the shortest collar. The Derwent and the KH-20 have collars of similar lengths, but the Derwent is concave, therefore removing more wood.
Mitsubishi KH-20: 0.25 grams or 5.2% of the pencil weight.
Dahle 133: 0.21 grams or 4.1% of the pencil weight.
Carl CP-80: 0.25 grams or 5.5% of the pencil weight.
Derwent Long Point: 0.26 grams or 5.8% of the pencil weight.
For sharpening after the initial sharpen, I ground down the points by rubbing them on sandpaper all the way to the wood. This is not when you would normally re-sharpen a pencil, but it was the cleanest and most controlled way, I thought, to test the next, and subsequent, sharpenings. I weighed each pencil after grinding the lead and then after sharpening. I followed the same method as before, weighing three times.
Mitsubishi KH-20: 2.0% of the pencil weight.
Dahle 133: 1.8% of the pencil weight.
Carl CP-80: 2.6% of the pencil weight.
Derwent Long Point: 3.4% of the pencil weight.
The clear winner here is the Dahle 133. Its shorter collar allows for less wood to be removed overall, while still keeping the point itself relatively long. While not as long as the CP-80 or the Derwent, the Dahle 133 point is also not as prone to snapping during the initial touch to the page.
Winner: Dahle 133
Loser: Derwent Long Point
Each of these sharpeners have different shapes, different materials, and those differences affect the sound. What also affects it are the surfaces on which they sit. Some desks will resonate more than others. My desk top is a long piece of cherry wood from Boos Block sitting on 3 filing cabinets. I was lucky enough to live in the town where the Boos factory is and they have all kinds of throwaway slabs that don't quite make it through quality control, but are still good for certain uses and they sell them at a massive discount in their factory showroom. It's 1.5 inches thick. This is what the following sounds were recorded on. All in the same spot and same distance from my podcasting microphone, the Blue Yeti. Each pencil sharpened was an unsharpened USA Gold.
Each sound starts a little louder because it is navigating the hex shape at first. You'll then hear each sharpener quiet a little as it rounds out.
To my ears, the winner of this section is the Mitsubishi KH-20. The clear loser is the Dahle 133. It rattles around when the crank is being turned, which just adds to the noise.
Winner: Mitsubishi KH-20
Loser: Dahle 133
For me, the clear winner is the Carl CP-80. This pencil sharpener hits all the right buttons for me, and I can overlook some of its issues in the search for the perfect point. Now, the very knowledgable Charles Berolzheimer answered a question I posed to the Erasable Podcast Facebook group: Who is making all these sharpeners? Who is producing the Derwent / Classroom Friendly / Carl Angel-5 / Helix? It's the same sharpener with a different logo slapped on it. Well, it's a Chinese manufacturer called Sunwood. I won't link to them here because they have a malware warning from Google when you go to the site. I did however look at it on my phone first (which gave me no such warning, phone's probably f#¢ked now). I saw that they also seem to make all the Carl sharpeners, like the CP-80 and CP-90. There they were, bright as day, ready to be purchased in bulk. I did not find the Dahle 133 or the Mitsubishi KH-20 on there, but I know for certain the KH-20 is made in China somewhere: it is printed on the bottom. And the parts and construction of the Dahle are so similar to the others, that if Sunwood isn't making them, they are at least using a lot of their parts and putting them in a new wrapper. And as Matthias says, the M+R 0981 is the exact same as the Dahle 133. Does it matter? For me, not really. What matters is the final product: the point. And for me, the winner of this challenge is the Carl CP-80.
What are your thoughts? Put them in the comments below. Did you enjoy this series? Let me know and I'll look into doing more.
This is the fourth in a series about hand-crank, long point pencil sharpeners.
My most recent purchase has been the Carl CP-80. Someone on the Erasable Podcast Facebook group mentioned that they were on sale on Amazon at a certain point, and when I went over to check it out, I was floored...it looked like it had everything I had been searching for in a long point sharpener. I don't use jumbo pencils that often, and even more rare is the use of colored pencils. I am not a sketcher / drawer. A quick pencil doodle of a logo or layout idea is all I need to do when working. I play with color on the computer. I'm not into the Adult Coloring Book trend. So all I really needed was a sharpener that made a long point, was quiet, and didn't gnaw on pencils like the Derwent. The CP-80 seemed to be the one, and after a few months with it, I can say it is definitely the one for me, though nothing is so perfect as to be above criticism, to paraphrase John Siracusa.
The CP-80 is a small black (or red, or blue) rectangle, a little bit taller than the Dahle 133, but with a smaller footprint. Like all of these sharpeners, it attaches to the edge of the desk with an included bracket. The face sits flush with the front part of the shavings drawer. There are rubber tips on the teeth in the auto-pull mechanism, so no holes in the pencil surface. It sharpens to a concave point similar to the Derwent, but without the last bit of needle, which in my opinion is a good thing. That little needle part always breaks off in the first word or two I write anyway. With the CP-80, I don't have that problem.
The shavings drawer is a little small and a bit oddly shaped. It's square and flush on the outside, and anything but inside. It has a full front and a narrower middle and back, and a channel in the bottom to get around the desk attachment screw...this is all to say that it holds even less than it looks like it would, and they shavings can build up in the little crevices. The bottom feet are a problem as well. They are somewhat tacky black feet glued onto the bottom. They slide around easily and get black stains all over the desk if you're not careful. I just recommend not tightening the desk clamp too tight, and it shouldn't be a problem. Carl has fixed this design flaw in the CP-90, which has a piece of foam on the bottom that covers the whole base...but it is worse in other areas, unfortunately. I plan on reviewing it as well, just not for this series, because I haven't lived with it long enough.
1. Long concave point, sans-needle.
2. Rubber tipped teeth on the auto-pull mechanism.
3. Simple design, just a flush black rectangle with a crank and a button.
4. Small desk footprint.
1. Shavings drawer a little oddly shaped inside, shavings get trapped in crevices.
2. Feet on the bottom can get gooey and loose, leaving marks on the desk.
3. No point adjustment dial or switch.
4. Only accepts normal sized pencils.
Come by tomorrow for a Recap of this week's Sharpener Series where I pit these four against each other!
Available on Amazon, $13.95.
This is the third in a series about hand-crank, long point pencil sharpeners.
I moved to my current city last summer for work. While checking out the surrounding areas, I found an art supply shop in the next town over. I went digging around there for pencils, and it was the standard fare, mainly drawing pencils with a few General's things mixed in (they have subsequently started carrying Blackwings and Field Notes), but one thing that caught my eye was the Derwent Long Point sharpener. It is the Carl Angel 5 / Classroom Friendly-style, and as I didn't have one of either of those, I went ahead and bought it.
It is easily the biggest sharpener of the group I'm reviewing. Also the heaviest, due to being an all-metal sharpeners, except for the handle on the crank, the handles on the clamp, and the shavings tray. It is a single burr and does one thing: make really long points. There is no adjusting. If you want long, you got it. If not, too bad. And this beast will eat your lacquer for dinner, because the grips on the auto-feed are naked, not covered with anything to protect your pencil. If you don't care about the teeth marks and love needle-sharp long points, this one (or the Classroom Friendly / Carl Angel 5) is for you.
At a certain point, because of the multiple brands that this sharpener sells under, it all comes down to price. The Derwent is one of the more expensive of the CF / CA-5 variants, and where I bought it, it was even more marked up. And at $26 it is also the most expensive sharpener in my lineup this week.
1. Long, concave needle point.
2. Heavy, sturdy, all-metal construction.
3. Large shavings drawer.
1. Auto-feed clamps dig into the lacquer / wood.
2. Expensive compared to similar sharpeners.
3. Point too long and thin for softer cores (B and softer), prone to breaking upon first touch on the page.
Come by tomorrow for a review of the Carl CP-80 sharpener.
Available on Amazon, $26.
This is the second in a series about hand-crank, long point pencil sharpeners.
The next long point pencil sharpener I bought last year was the Dahle 133. Mark Tucker of Write Analog recommended it to me on the Erasable Podcast Facebook group. I was discussing how I was looking for something better than the Mitsubishi KH-20 and that I had a few specifications: it had to be rubber tipped where it grips the pencil and the point had to be somewhat concave. When Mark threw the Dahle 133 my way, I thought there was no chance this would be the one, but the looks were deceiving. This is a great tool and far exceeded my expectations.
The 133 is a single burr sharpener with an adjustable point dial on the back. You can go as sharp or as blunt as you'd like. It also fits odd-shaped pencils. It fits every jumbo and thick triangular pencil I've thrown at it. It does really well with thicker cores, like on the Black 2014 Staedtler Norica. This sharpener borders on not being considered "long point" by some since the collar is not as long on a pencil sharpened in it, but because of the concave point, the exposed core is as long as most long-point sharpeners, and it is a little thicker near the tip to avoid the initial snapping off of a needle point. I still occasionally do it, but I have a really heavy hand when it comes to writing. I've tried to remedy that, but I like a dark, ink-like line, and I like feedback, so I have yet to be able to. If you meet me in person, don't let me borrow your fountain pen. ;-)
In my wrap-up I will be diving deeper into this, but I will say that the Dahle 133 is probably the most economical sharpener of all the ones I reviewed. It doesn't take as much off the pencil, partly because of that smaller collar, but you're not sharpening as much because the concave nature of the cut exposes more core.
Where it differs from the Mitsubishi KH-20 is the infinite adjustability of the point length. The dial is basically a screw that moves the stopper in and out, and instead of having 2 choices like the KH-20, you can stop the dial at any time between the longest and the shortest point, so you can find what works best for you.
It has a plastic body and rubber tips on the pencil gripper. Unlike some, it only has a push button to retract and release the grips, as opposed to the "antennae" that sit atop the sharpener face. It is short, and probably the smallest of the group, which means it also has the smallest shavings holder of the bunch. And for a little guy, it is remarkably loud in comparison to the others tested. It only comes in one color, gray and black, but it is fairly inexpensive compared to others.
1. Short collar but long core exposure.
2. Adjustable point size, with many options.
3. Can sharpen jumbo and odd-size / shape pencils.
4. Rubber tipped pencil grippers.
5. Doesn't leave a needle point that just snaps the second it hits the page.
6. Comparatively inexpensive.
2. Small body means small shavings drawer.
3. It rattles when you sharpen as if the fitting is loose, but it isn't.
4. The included desk clamp isn't very long, so it may not fit a thicker desk top.
5. The shavings build up towards the back of the tray, so they sometimes get everywhere if it's only even half full when you empty it.
Available on Amazon for $13.
Come by tomorrow for a review of the Derwent Long Point sharpener.
Welcome to the first in a series about hand-crank, long point pencil sharpeners.
Today I'll be covering the first in my stash, the Mitsu-bishi KH-20. This sharpener was my first hand-crank long point sharpener...up until I bought it last year I sharpened all my pencils with an old metal Boston sharpener that was screwed to the wall in the warehouse where I worked. So, I would literally walk 10-20 pencils from the office, through the warehouse, into this old packing room that held the sharpener. Usually most of the pencils were from home. Imagine the looks I got, carting all my pencils through the warehouse. I nearly took that sharpener off the wall when I left that job, because no one else used it and it made a phenomenal long point. Not like the X-Acto ones they have now. So I started looking into one for my desk. Everyone was extolling the virtues of the Classroom Friendly point while shaking their fists in the air at the bite marks left to mar the lacquer surface. After digging around a little bit and doing some research, I found the Mitsu-bishi made a long point and had rubber on the grippers. This was the one!
Or so I thought. I was happy with the long point, but I wanted something more concave. The KH-20 makes a really long "point" if you mean a long collar and a normal amount of graphite. But the collar is so long and the point itself so small, it seems disproportionate and aesthetically displeasing to my eye. The collar is also wildly uneven. It works great for a thicker-cored pencil, like anything in the 2B and darker range, as well as something like the 2014 Norica, but for normal writing pencils, it looks ugly.
The device itself is very quiet. It is a single-burr sharpener with 2 settings, one for the longer, sharper tip, and one for a blunt tip that does well for drawing or colored pencils. Speaking of colored pencils, the KH-20 does a good job of not eating up the softer pencils and does stop when it is fully sharpened, which is a problem for some others in this category.
It is an all plastic body. It has the automatic pulling mechanism and the teeth are tipped in rubber so they do not dig into the lacquer. I have seen 3 colors on Amazon: black, blue, and red.
1. Very quiet.
2. Two point styles to choose from.
3. Good for colored or drawing pencils.
4. Rubber tipped pencil grippers.
1. Long collar, but short core exposure.
2. Straight point, not concave.
3. Uneven collar sharpening.
4. On the expensive side.
Available on Amazon, $25.
Come by tomorrow for a review of the Dahle 133 sharpener.
The Pollux is finally here! The Möbius + Ruppert sharpener has been long sought after in the US stationery nerd community. It has been only available in Europe up to this "point" (har har har). A few made it over here, and those who had one were nice enough to brag about it to all of the unworthy on the Erasable Facebook group.
Why is this expensive little brass hand-held sharpener so sought after? Why, when it gets shavings everywhere and graphite dust all over your fingers, were people waiting? The point! It shaves your wood-cased wonder into a concave shape, which allows for a longer point than previous simple, one-stage sharpeners. Can you get a similar long point with a Kum Masterpiece? Sure, but that thing has parts and a plastic case that fits inside a carrying case...whoa. Too much. The Pollux is perfect to toss into your pocket and go. No case, no problem.
You've probably seen a similar M+R brass sharpener they call the Grenade. It's just as much of a tank, but the point is not as long. Good, but not great. Serviceable, and equipped with those great M+R blades, but there were better options out there.
Replacement blades are not yet available in the States, as far as I can find, but CW Pencils says they'll have some soon. There have been a few reports online that there's a few duds out there that keep breaking points, but I'm happy to report no problems with mine.
I sharpened hard and soft pencils, and everything in between. All sharpened up great. The only drawback I saw came from the sharpening of a new pencil. It ate it down in a way a hand crank never would, breaking off the initial lead exposure. But once that was cleared out, it worked like a champ. I personally never start a new pencil with a hand-held anyway, so I don't see this as a problem for me.
If you want one of these, they aren't cheap and don't give a point any longer, stronger, or better than something like the KUM Masterpiece, but it is a simpler machine and not as labor intensive to sharpen. I full recommend this based on my first day's use. Check out my video review.
Available at CW Pencils. $28