My Favorite Colored Pencil Sharpeners

My Favorite Colored Pencil Sharpeners

Today’s reader question is about sharpeners. There are so many options available that I thought I’d share my favorite colored pencil sharpeners and tell you what I like and don’t like about them.

But first, here’s the question:

It’s not my first rodeo so to speak, but I still have sharpening issues at times- broken points, too short a point. Like you, when using a sharp pencil, I prefer a longer point. I’ve gone through 6 sharpeners, some a little better than others, but still haven’t found a gem.
Which ones have you found work the best consistently?

This reader isn’t alone in the search for the ideal colored pencil sharpener. Sooner or later we all look for a great pencil sharpener.

My Favorite Colored Pencil Sharpeners

I’ve used a variety of colored pencil sharpeners over the years, from hand-held to crank to electric. Some of them have been excellent sharpeners and some haven’t. The best thing I can say about all of them is that I haven’t spent much money on any of them.


Hand-held sharpeners come in a variety of shapes and styles. Some have containers to catch shavings and some haven’t, but they all have one thing in common. You hold them in your hand.

I currently have two styles. Both of them come with shavings containers and both were very inexpensive. Under $2 each.

But one sharpens pencils to a short point, while the other sharpens a longer point.

One of my favorite colored pencil sharpeners is this inexpensive hand held sharpener.

What I like about them is that I can keep them in my pencil box, in the cup of pencils currently in use, or in my field kit. They’re also so cheap (yes, I’ll go ahead and say it) that I can keep several handy in different locations. For my artsy side, they come in different colors. How cool is that?

What I’m not crazy about is that they don’t last more than a few months under heavy usage. But I have had two of them for more than two years and they still do the job.

Besides, they’re cheap enough that replacing them is no big deal.

Crank Sharpeners

The sharpener I use most in the studio is actually not mine. My husband bought it when he was in school. It’s an APSCO Premier Standard and is the kind of sharpener that used to be in every classroom in every public school. What’s more, it’s all metal! No plastic parts.

I like this sharpener because it’s solid, is designed to take pencils of different sizes, and sharpens like a dream. Pencils sharpened in this sharpener have a lovely, long, tapered point.

It’s easy to clean, too. Just turn the shaving container a quarter turn, slide it off the blades, and empty it.

To keep the blades sharp and functioning properly, I sharpen lead pencils once in a while to remove wax and other colored pencil debris.

Is there anything I don’t like about it? Yes. It’s not attached to a wall, so I have to either hold it on a desk top or in my lap to sharpen pencils. But that’s not all bad. I can move from one working area to another when necessary.

Electric Sharpeners

I’ve used a couple of different electric sharpeners in the past. One battery-operated and one that had to be plugged into the wall.

The battery-powered sharpener was large enough that I didn’t need to hold it while I sharpened a pencil. Just put the pencil in the top-loading opening and sharpen. But it was also small enough to take along when I worked out of the studio.

The second sharpener was also not very large, but because it required a power outlet, it didn’t leave the studio.

Both of them sharpened well and lasted quite a while. Both were under $30, but it’s been so long since I purchased them, that prices have almost certainly gone up.

My only complaint about both is that they eventually wore out, as sharpeners tend to do. By then, I had other options and just never replaced them. Do I sometimes wish I had? Absolutely.

Which Colored Pencil Sharpener is My Favorite?

That’s easy. The crank sharpener is the one I reach for most. It produces long, tapered points, it’s easy to clean, and sturdy. And it’s all-metal, so it’s going to last a long time.

But there are other ways to sharpen pencils, and you can read more about one way a lot of artists swear by in Getting the Most Possible Use out of every Colored Pencil, which I wrote for EmptyEasel.

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  1. Patricia Wilson

    This was helpful as hate when you get a sharpener and it breaks the lead inside the pencil. I did find a hand held one from one of my card making suppliers. It was inexpensive and works wonderful.

  2. Liz

    Funny, went to Dollar General to buy your recommended sharpers. Sales person said, I just put these out and can’t keep them in stock. I’m in Georgetown Texas, near Austin. Could you causing this problem? Wouldn’t that be awesome?

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