M+R Castor Pencil Sharpener Review

Small, Schmedium, Large.

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.

Stuck in the middle with you.

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.