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Never have a dull moment with a solid pencil sharpener. A classic option is a manual one with an old-school hand crank—once a staple of classrooms and art studios everywhere. While many people may opt for electric sharpeners for convenience, a crank sharpener remains an excellent choice if control is a priority. When you’re sharpening colored pencils, charcoal pencils, and even pastels, being able to feel your professional tool get whittled down can make all the difference between a pristine point and a broken core. Plus, you won’t encounter the loud grind that an electric sharpener emits. Below, we’ve found the best sharpeners to keep your pencils in tip-top shape—no batteries or sockets required.
Derwent SuperPoint Manual Pencil Sharpener
Designed with artists in mind, Derwent’s sharpener is built with steel helical blades that deliver long and sharp points on tools up to eight millimeters in diameter. The sharp and precise blades work gently but steadily to expose cores without breaking them, and the crank action is smooth and consistent to help prevent over-sharpening. This sharpener features a clamp to mount it on any work surface without leaving permanent damage, and it stays put as you turn the handle. Finally, a translucent catch for shavings lets you know when you need to empty out discards.
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Dahle Professional Pencil Sharpener
Dahle’s sharpener can handle chunkier pencils, with a single hole that can fit 12-millimeter diameter tools. We like that it’s versatile: You can use it as a handheld sharpener, but it comes with a clamp if you want to attach it to your desk. A cool feature is its point adjuster—use this mechanism to set your desired sharpness before you go. One thing to know is that there’s a small learning curve with this sharpener. You have to pinch open its jaws to clamp in your pencil, and the sharpener will pull it in as it shaves away. Though made of plastic, this sharpener is a workhorse that will deliver clean results on hard and soft leads.
ANOTHER GOOD OPTION
Bostitch Metal Antimicrobial Manual Pencil Sharpener
If you have a spot in mind to permanently install a sharpener, you can get one that screws into a stable surface. This model from Bostitch requires three screws to mount it either vertically or horizontally for a totally wiggle-free sharpening experience. Resembling the original old-school, hand-crank sharpeners, it features an eight-hole dial to fit a variety of pencil sizes. The die-cast, alloy steel body (connected to an easy-to-sanitize plastic handle) feels like a tank, and it houses super-sharp cutters. The only sharpener with replaceable parts on our list, this one might be the last you ever buy.
X-Acto Ranger Wall Mount Manual Pencil Sharpener
The only all-metal sharpener on our list, X-Acto’s model is equipped with the brand’s famed blades, which are among the sharpest around. Like Bostitch’s sharpener, this one has a similar eight-hole design and also screws into place, either horizontally or vertically. Its durability makes it a particularly great choice for classrooms, where heavy daily use demands a tool that withstands continuous and care-free cranking. Pencils sharpen to satisfyingly pointy tips without snapping.
X-Acto Bulldog Vacuum Pencil Sharpener
Weighing just over 10 ounces, this vibrant and compact pencil sharpener is a good option for artists on the go. You get the precision of a hand-crank tool combined with the portability of a regular handheld sharpener. Thanks to a suction base, this sharpener can be pressed onto any nonporous horizontal surface to create a seal that successfully anchors it as you sharpen. The clear receptacle means you always know when to dump its contents. It is made of plastic, so make sure you store it carefully for travel.