Our Top Pick for 2018: School Smart Vertical Pencil Sharpener
Read our full review.
Whether you are a school teacher, homeschool parent, or business owner, you need a good pencil sharpener. Gone are the days of the sharpener attached to the classroom wall with a hand crank. Electric pencil sharpeners are fast and efficient. The key is finding one that will last and doesn’t destroy your pencil in the sharpening process. There are several quality pencil sharpeners in varying prices ranges.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
#1. School Smart Vertical Pencil Sharpener
The School Smart Vertical Pencil Sharpener (School Smart) has a unique contemporary design. As a vertical unit, it looks different than how you usually picture pencil sharpeners. Sometimes when you change basic design elements, you end up with a gimmicky device that doesn’t hold up to its promises. With the Smart School, the change in design is backed by a good product.
A helical blade works as the sharpening agent within the School Smart. This type of blade is typical of a pencil sharpener because it has several blades on one cylindrical surface. As this blade is turned around a spindle, the sharp edges rotate across the surface of the pencil. Having sharp blades at the correct angles is the key to creating a sharp point without breaking the lead of the pencil. The School Smart creates a good point at the center of the lead.
Electric pencils sharpeners work faster than a manual sharpener because electricity can move the blade faster than the human hand. The School Smart works fast and, while it does create noise, the speed of the sharpening makes any disturbances caused by it to only last for a short time.
It automatically stops sharpening when the pencil is sharpened. This works especially well for households with children or at schools where children may try to jam a pencil into the sharpener long past the point where it is sharp. This feature can also help prolong the life of the sharpener.
The large shaving receptacle should be emptied when the shavings reach the fill line which is about half way up. The receptacle is clear so that you can clearly see the fill level. It is easy to remove by sliding out. If allowed to overfill, the School Sharp may not function as well but it does return to peak efficiency once it is empty. Spilling becomes much more of problem when not emptied at the appropriate time. As a safety feature, the sharpener will not run unless the receptacle is in place.
Non-skid rubber pads on the bottom of the School Smart prevent it from moving during use. Vibrations can often cause pencil sharpeners to bounce or move across the table or desk but not with the School Smart.
It comes in two colors – gray and black.
This sharpener has been used in libraries and school classrooms with good success. Most users’ favorite feature is the speed with which it sharpens. If you have many users, speed will get you through more pencils faster.
Occasionally, the School Smart has arrived with manufacturing defects. When returned and reported, a new one has been issued with no problems. The School Smart cannot be used for large preschool pencils, only standard sized pencils and color pencils.
#2. X-Acto School Pro Heavy-Duty Electric Sharpener
The X-Acto School Pro Heavy-Duty Electric Sharpener (X-Acto) is designed to meet the needs of a classroom. Children have proved to be the ultimate test of any type of equipment and if it can survive a room full of children you’ve found a good product. Constructed of plastic, the X-Acto can withstand a few bumps, drops, and scrapes without losing its sharpening ability.
The X-Acto has the typical helical blade working around a spindle with the pencil in the center. X-Acto uses a patented fly-away cutter that stops sharpening once the pencil reaches the appropriate point. This is an important feature with children that frequently will keep sharpening a pencil past when they should stop. It is designed to create a rounded point rather than a sharp point for safety in a classroom setting. However, for artists or others that prefer a sharp point, the X-Acto may not be ideal.
There is a multi-sized pencil selector that can be easily moved to the correct hole. Fat pencils that are used for young children and skinny pencils used for drawing can all be sharpened in the X-Acto. The hole selector allows you to align the pencil within the sharpening chamber so that the pencil is centered each time. This allows the pencil to be worn down in the correct pattern. Some users found that sharpening a lot of colored pencils at once gummed up the blades. However, if you mixed sharpening standard pencils with color pencils the problem was avoided.
A clear, extra-large receptacle catches all shavings. There is a visible fill line so that you know when to empty it. Keeping the receptacle from overflowing will prevent jams and damage to the motor of the X-Acto. A SafeStart design prevents the blades from working while the receptacle is removed, helping to prevent any accidents or damage to the sharpener.
On the bottom of the X-Acto are suction cup feet to prevent it from moving across a table or desk while sharpening. Pencil sharpeners create vibrations that have to be countered to create a stable machine. The X-Acto does this well.
A noisy pencil sharpener can be disruptive to a classroom, office, or library. This sharpener is quieter than many other models so that it won’t disturb others. It won’t startle kids that are trying to take a test or people trying to study in a library.
There is a 2-year warranty on the blade and 10-year warranty on the motor.
#3. OfficePro Heavy-Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener
The OfficePro Heavy-Duty Electric Pencil Sharpener (OfficePro) is a battery powered pencil sharpener that can withstand heavy use.
A stainless steel, helical blade works to sharpen pencils to the perfect point. Stainless steel is a good material for a pencil sharpener as it is tough, durable, and resists corrosion. As a vertical pencil sharpener, gravity works in conjunction with the blade to sharpen the pencil. Users don’t have to hold the pencil in as tightly to get a sharp point.
The blades automatically shut off when the pencil reaches the correct point. Teachers and parents need features like this to prevent children from over sharpening their pencils. It can also help prevent jams because the blades will stop before a jam can occur. This is also a money saving feature as you won’t go through as many pencils if they are sharpened correctly.
The vertical design also has ergonomic grip features so that it can be held while sharpening. You can use whatever angle works best for you. The design also helps you keep a secure grip while emptying the shaving receptacle. No matter what angle you choose to use, the pencil gets centered in the chamber every time so that your pencil doesn’t get chewed or sharpened only on one side.
The shaving receptacle can be slid out to be emptied. As a safety feature, the motor cannot run while the receptacle is out of the sharpener. For classrooms or libraries, this is a necessary way to protect children from injury. While the small receptacle bin helps the OfficePro to be portable, it also means you have to empty it frequently, which may be a problem in a busy classroom.
For artists, families, or business people, having a sharp pencil with you at all times may be a necessity. The OfficePro is battery powered so it can be taken with you to any location. Using four AA batteries, it can travel in a messenger bag, backpack, or art kit without taking up much space. However, battery power means that you have to buy replacement batteries, which can get pricey after a while. Many users wished it had a corded backup for classroom use.
It can sharpen most types of pencils including hard leads, drafting pencils, and golf pencils. The OfficePro can sharpen most colored pencils, except for the softest leads which can gum up the blades. It does the job quickly, but some users reported that it was disruptive even though it got the job done fast.
This pencil sharpener also comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee. If you have any problems with OfficePro, it can be returned for a replacement sharpener at any time. You will need to know the details of the guarantee to be sure you get the full benefit. You may need to keep the receipt or original packaging.
#4. Bostitch Vertical Electric Pencil Sharpener
The Bostitch Vertical Electric Pencil Sharpener (Bostitch) is an inexpensive choice yet remains fairly reliable.
Another sharpener with a vertical design, the Bostitch is also compact and portable. It has the ability to be used with either a power cord or batteries. This gives you many options as to its use. To save money, you can leave it plugged in to be used at home, in the classroom, or office. Artists, traveling families, and students may want to have a pencil sharpener with them at all times. The Bostitch is small enough to easily keep in your bag, backpack, or briefcase.
The Bostitch can successfully bring your pencil to a well-sharpened point with a hardened steel HHC cutter. This type of steel is supposed to help lengthen the life of the blades on the cutter. With a Sharp Stop feature, the motor automatically shuts off when the pencil is sharp to prevent over sharpening and jamming. This feature can also extend the life of the motor as it won’t keep working on an already sharp pencil.
The motor has thermal overload protection that shuts down the motor before it can become overheated. This helps to keep the motor stall free and functioning at peak efficiency.
A small shaving receptacle slides out for easy cleaning. When the receptacle is removed, the motor cannot run for the safety of users. This is a necessary feature if you have a sharpener that may be used by children.
It works best with standard #2 pencils but can do colored pencils if a lot are not used at once. The soft lead in colored pencils can gum up the blades.
The Bostitch comes in five colors – black, blue, green, purple, red. Color options let you express your personality or match other office supplies.
This type of pencil sharpener may not work well in a classroom setting where it would be used often. It works best for occasional use and on-the-go.
Electric pencil sharpeners can be powered by either an electrical cord or batteries. Those that use a cord have consistent power and can usually handle a high volume of pencils over the course of a day. They also tend to be more powerful and sharpen quickly. However, they can also be louder because of that extra power.
Battery powered pencil sharpeners are portable and can be easier to use because you can hold them at any angle you want when sharpening. In general, they sharpen slower than a corded model but are also quieter. The power may begin to fade as the batteries run out. In the long run, they may cost more because of the need to replace the batteries.
There are some professions that make having a portable pencil sharpener a necessity. Artists, architects, inspectors, and teachers may need to have a pencil sharpener with them at all times. Look for a compact battery powered pencil sharpener. These types of sharpeners are usually quieter and should be able to fit in a briefcase or backpack without any trouble.
One of the difficulties of sharpening a pencil is getting centered in the chamber so that the blades sharpen it equally on all sides. A sharpener that places the pencil off center can leave the lead trapped behind the wood.
If you have a chance to test the sharpener before purchase, look for one that centers the pencil correctly. Pencil sharpeners that can be adapted to fit different sized pencils are convenient in a classroom or home with children.
There are a few safety features for electric pencil sharpeners that are a must. The blades and motor of the sharpener are the most dangerous parts. A safety shut off feature when the shaving receptacle is being emptied should always be included. This will prevent any fingers or foreign objects from getting into the blades while the receptacle is off.
Many electric sharpeners come with an automatic shutoff when the pencil reaches the correctly sharpened point. This not only prevents from over sharpening but it helps to prevent the motor from becoming overheated. The life of the sharpener will be extended with this feature.
There should be some kind of device attached to hold the sharpener in place. Pencil sharpeners cause vibrations that can move the unit around on the table or desk and, potentially, it can fall off. A corded sharpener should have rubber feet or suction cups that hold the unit in place. The sharpener should not wiggle or jump across any surface when running. Battery powered models should still have some kind of feet on the bottom in case someone wants to use it on top of the table. Any feet or suction cups should be securely attached.
The shaving receptacle is an important part of a pencil sharpener. For a desktop sharpener, look for the biggest receptacle you can find. This way you won’t have to empty it as often. Be sure the sharpener you choose has a safety mechanism that turns the motor off when the receptacle is being emptied to prevent injuries and accidents.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Electric pencil sharpeners have come a long way since they were first put on the market. A quality sharpener will be made with durable materials and should be able to sharpen quickly. Examine whether portability or speed are more important to you. If you need something fast, a corded sharpener will be fastest and the most reliable. Those that decide on a portable sharpener may want to keep an extra set of batteries with them in case you run out of power.
With the right electric pencil sharpener not only will your pencils be sharp, but your drawings and work will look crisp and clear. You will be able to put forth a professional image of yourself at all times.