A Good, Cheap Pencil Sharpener

A Good, Cheap Pencil Sharpener

I’ve found it! A good, cheap pencil sharpener that works!

And I found it without really looking for it.

I recently bought a sketching kit with the intention of having graphite tools in a self-contained package I could take anywhere. The set included two graphite pencils, a kneaded eraser, six blending stumps, and a small, two-hole sharpener.

The sharpener is nothing fancy. It’s so “unfancy”, in fact, that I didn’t give it much attention until I needed to sharpen one of the graphite pencils. Even then, I sharpened the pencil for the first time with my new Afmat Long Point Sharpener.

After sketching for a while, I did use the included sharpener to resharpen the pencil, and it did work.

But I still didn’t think much of it.

This sharpener isn’t very big, as you can see, but it works like a dream!

Why this is a Good, Cheap Pencil Sharpener

I like to use colored pencils down to the nub. If possible, I really prefer gluing pencil stubs to new pencils so there’s very little waste. However, most of the high end pencils come with painted ends, so gluing stubs to new pencils is difficult without sanding off the painted end. That’s just too much work, even for a cheapskate like me.

So I bought a set of pencil extenders so I could get the most out of every pencil. They work great. They work so great that my long point pencil sharpener is useless for sharpening the stubs. The stubs are just too short.

I tried sharpening by hand with an X-acto knife. That works, but didn’t produce nice, sharp points.

Finally, because I had no other options (other than throwing the stub away), I took out the cheap sharpener from the sketching kit and sharpened the stub. This is the result.

Look at this beautiful point! It’s sharp enough to get down into the tooth of the toothiest paper, and short enough not to break easily.

So far, I’ve sharpened only Faber-Castell Polychromos pencils with this sharpener. Both of my current projects are mainly Polychromos.

Polychromos pencils are quite hard compared to softer pencils like Prismacolor and Derwent Drawing Colored Pencils, but I have no doubt this sharpener will work just as well with them.

Do You Have to Buy a Sketching Kit to Get the Sharpener?

No. I did a little research and found what looks like the same sharpener on Dick Blick. It’s the KUM brand, but the only difference I could find was the printing on the sharpener and blades. The sketching kit sharpener has no printing.

The KUM two-hole sharpener is under $3. I’ve ordered three of them (one for each of my project boxes). I’ll tell you all about them when I’ve had a chance to use them.

KUM also makes a one-hole sharpener and replacement blades. I ordered replacement blades, too.

Are You Looking for a Good, Cheap Pencil Sharpener?

If so, stay tuned. I’ll try out the KUM sharpeners when they arrive and you’ll read about them first right here!

Can’t wait?

You can buy your own KUM sharpener (or sketching kit) at Dick Blick. KUM sharpeners are also available through other art supply stores, too.

If you do buy your own, don’t forget the replacement blades!

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  1. Gail M Jones

    Very interesting article about pencil sharpeners. I have an electric one that just lasts and lasts, takes all sizes of pencils and gives me a great point and doesn’t break my pencils. It has various hole sizes for different pencils. It is the Xacto School Pro sharpener. Then I looked at my little portable, heavy metal pencil sharpener, that I have had forever, that gives me perfect points every time and it is the KUM pencil sharpener. It is the best little sharpener! I like it because it doesn’t take a pencil down like an electric sharpener but only takes a little off… just enough to give me a good point. I am glad you like yours too. I haven’t bought a second one because it just doesn’t seem to wear out, but maybe an extra or two would be a good idea.

    1. Gail,

      Interestingly enough, when I was researching pencil sharpeners earlier this year, the X-acto School Pro sharpener was one of those I looked at. I decided to go with the Afmat Long Point sharpener, which I like except for the super long points.

      The only reason I decided to buy more than one KUM sharpener is because I used spare pencil tins to keep the pencils for each project together. When I work on a project, I just get out the tin with that project’s colors in it and go to work. There’s no need to haul out all of my full sets.

      I also have a ball of mounting putty in each tin, so it made sense to have a small sharpener in every tin, too. It’s strictly for convenience!

      But thank you for the good review on the X-acto sharpener you’re using. Other readers who are looking for sharpeners may be interested in that sharpener.

      1. Gail M Jones

        Hi Carrie, what you are doing with multiple KUM sharpeners certainly makes sense. I guess one of the signs of having a good pencil sharpener, is when you don’t have to constantly think about it. It’s easy to take a good pencil sharpener for granted.

  2. Patricia E Wilson

    Quite some time ago this sharpener was recommended to me for colored pencils. I bought one, but like you, I’m thinking this tiny sharpener will be worthless. It is the only one I consistently use for all my pencils, whatever brand. I love it and put the expensive one in the drawer where it gathers dust. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. The really cool thing about Kum is their replaceable blades. If i can get the screwdriver to the screw connecting blade to holder, i can replace pretty much any blade in a portable sharpener with shavings receptacle. A lot of otherwise nice cheap sharpeners have cruddy blades; sometimes i’ve replaced a blade in a nearly new sharpener with a Kum.
    And have you tried Kum’s two hole, two process sharpener? They take a lot of getting used to, but give you a long, VERY sharp point.
    Thank you for all the work you put into sharing your vast experience & expertise!

    1. Valerie,

      Being able to change blades is a big plus with any sharpener.

      I have not tried the KUM two-hole, two-process sharpener. The small wedge sharpeners are the first KUM product I’ve tried. I’m looking forward to receiving them.

      The difficulty for me is that I don’t want a particularly long point on my pencils. I like the ability to get needle-sharp points, but they don’t have to be super long. That’s one of the reasons I like the little wedge sharpener that came with my sketching kit. The point is very sharp, but it’s also quite short.

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!

  4. Richard A Steffens

    I’ve used the same kind of two hole sharpener like you showed here. Bought it at Hobby Lobby in Davenport, Iowa. Will probably buy another couple of them pretty soon. Mine is starting to get dull but worked well for quite awhile.

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