KUM Masterpiece Pencil Sharpener Review

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.

The body of this sharpener is made of magnesium. It seems to be machined very well: when cleaning it up for taking pictures, I took off the blades and was wiping gunk away with my finger. The edge where the blade sits cut me; it was almost as sharp as the blade! I'm currently typing injured. With as much paper as I handle, I'm surprised this is my first stationery-related injury since starting Lead Fast.

To sharpen the pencil, using Hole 1 will sharpen away the wood. On a perfectly centered pencil, you'll get nothing but core, still as blunt as when you put it in. Once you've hit the blue "stop" at the end of the sharpener body, stage 1 is done and you move onto Hole 2. If you remove the blue stop, you can continue to remove wood in Hole 1 for as long as you want. This allows for a draughtsman's point that could be sharpened with a lead pointer.

Stage 2 is where having a sharp blade is important. If your blade is dull, you'll twist and twist and the graphite will take forever to shear off. If you press in harder, you'll more than likely snap the core and have to start over. But if the blade is sharp, a very small amount of turns will give you a great point. When the Stage 2 blade gets dull, it can be used in Stage 1. Both blades seem to dull evenly, so when it's time, Blade 1 gets tossed and Blade 2 moves to Blade 1's spot. Then the fresh one goes to Stage 2.

So how's the point? If you like long points, you'll be happy. The angle is about 15°, which makes the collar pretty long. There is a lot of exposed graphite, but the shape of the point is not concave like a couple other long point sharpeners like the handheld Pollux or the hand crank Classroom Friendly. With my writing style, the very end of the needle-point created by the Masterpiece is just a little too fine. I like to tap the end a bit to blunt the tip just a smidge.

Stage 1.

Stage 2

Stop removed.

There's a lot to love about this sharpener, but what about the cons? KUM makes another sharpener called the Automatic. It's a similar 2-stage sharpener, but makes a shorter point and is entirely made of plastic. But it has the advantage of having a case around its body to hold shavings. The Masterpiece has a case, but it's to hold the sharpener, not shavings. I would like to see the Masterpiece in a similar casing to hold onto the shavings. Next, and this is a nitpick, but on Stage 2, the hole is a teensy tiny bit too small, and it creates a round groove in the wood collar that, to me, is aesthetically unpleasing.

Also, because the collar is so long, and with the 2-stage sharpening process being what it is, it seems that the sharpener takes away a lot of pencil. The only controlled way to measure this is weight. In my testing, the Masterpiece removed 7.3% of the pencil weight, on the initial sharpen. In subsequent sharpenings, it went down to 5.2%. Compare that to the 5.5% / 2.6% of the hand-cranked Carl CP-80, and you can see that the Masterpiece is not very efficient. Even amongst other handheld sharpeners, it is far and away the least efficient. 

Overall, this is a great sharpener. It's a little pricey, but the blades are easy to get and cheap. The metal body means it's going to last for as long as I don't lose it, and it won't get crushed in my bag or back pocket. Unlike the Pollux, it can take any normal sized pencil with ease, and for about half the price. For fans of long points, you really can't do much better.

Available from Pencils.com, $14.95.