Best pencil sharpeners?

May 2, 2022 | 12 Comments


A few weeks ago I did a little research (certainly not extensive) and as a result, I decided to buy two reasonably-priced sharpeners:

  • Kutsuwa STAD T’GAAL Sharpener
  • Dahle 133 Rotary Sharpener

 


The Dahle is working great and gives me a really nice sharp point! These pencils were sharpened with the Dahle and not quite the longest point setting. BTW these are my most used pencils and the colours are very similar to my standard watercolour colour schemes.


My Coloursoft pencils and watercolour pencils (Faber Castell Albrecht Durer and Caran d’Ache Museum) are a little snug in the T’GAAL and I find the Coloursoft work best at the lower settings of 2 or 3.


The watercolour pencils sharpened well but the sharpener did scratch the barrels a little.

I also wish that the T’GAAL had a transparent body so I could see when it was full up with shavings.

In recent days I’ve heard rave reviews about Swordfish sharpeners… so I would love to hear any recommendations you have. I’m particularly interested in a sharpener suitable for my sketch kit. I’ve already gotten some great suggestions on Instagram here.

Please share any recommendations in the comment section below.

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12 Comments

  • CYNTHIA COURTNEY says:

    Are you reviewing battery powered portable sharpeners?

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Cynthia – I’d love to hear recommendations for electric or battery-powered sharpeners!

  • Matt says:

    Hi Liz,
    You already have the “best”! Most versatile and colour pencil friendly: the Dahle 133 (and its various variants from Staedtler and other). Bonus, no teeth, and easy on these brittle Coloursoft.
    As for portability…that is another story. I really like the M&R Castor, but you’ll have the same problem as with the T’GAAL. The Castor is very ok with fragile colour pencils too, as long as you don’t “force” the pencil in (use light pressure), and stop sharpening before you get to a needle point. There are several other styles of bullet sharpeners, but many will get you an oddly shaped point that will break as soon as you put the pencil to the paper.
    The quest for the perfect sharpener is a bit like the quest for the perfect red ink…everybody has its own idea, and that can change from one day to the other! Mine stopped with the Dahle 133. Good luck!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Matt – thanks for sharing all those details and glad that someone thinks I’ve made a good choice! 🙂 I’m loving the Dahle!

  • The best sharpener is a craft knife or similar. Sharpeners can give your “lead” a spiral fracture and this leads to continual breaking while sharpening, and we have all experienced that. (I moonlight in art supply retail when I’m not sketching and painting)

  • Skint Student says:

    Just two sharpeners for my coloured gear

    Bruynzeel Design sharpener- brass dual hole and comes in a small plastic case with 2 spare blades. Kept with my Caran d’Ache Museum Aquarelles. Solid and designed to last forever.

    KUM 300-2 sharpener- also brass dual hole but case less and no spare blades. My regular coloured pencils get this. Also heavier than the Bruynzeel- feels solid and also designed to last forever. A joy to use like the B as they take no effort at all. Sadly without replacement blades it’ll die sooner than the B. Unless I work out how to sharpen the blunt blades but that’s a problem for when it happens.

    My regular graphite pencils get a cheap junky sharpener- dual hole from a $2 shop I think? The cats love this one.

    I’ve wondered about a Dahle 133 but I don’t think I’ve enough pencils for one!

    I’d probably lose a finger if I tried a craft knife XD

  • Beverly says:

    I like the Faber-Castell Grip Trio Sharpener. It has 3 separates holes for sharpening different sized pencils, with one specifically designed for colored pencils. It does a great job. It collects the shavings and is easy to empty.

  • Annette Huppatz says:

    The most important thing about manual sharpeners is the blade. That’s what does all the work. I found the t gaal great but as the blade isn’t replaceable it got blunt relatively quickly so I gave up on it. I mostly use a m+r 0802 which is brass dual hole sharpener. I bought a pkt of 10 spare blades at the same time. The blades seem to be fairly interchangeable so I swapped out the blades on some other portable sharpeners (anything with a screw basically, the tgaal sadly has a rivet) and they work brilliantly.

  • Tina Koyama says:

    My favorite crank sharpener is the Carl Angel-5 Royal, and it fits all my colored pencils, including the slightly larger Museum Aquarelles and Albrecht Durers. But if you like that Dahle 133, you probably don’t need anything else — that’s a good sharpener and very popular among pencil people. 😉 The only portable I’ve found that fits those larger pencils is the Mobius & Ruppert brass sharpeners. They also make one with a plastic case around the brass sharpener to catch shavings. That’s the one I carry.

  • kiri says:

    Hi Liz,
    a few years ago I purchased a Derwent pencil sharpener. I absolutely love it. It gives a really nice point with almost no breakages.
    k

  • Julia says:

    The Dahle 133 is awesome, it’s one of my most loved studio tools! For my field kit I like those sharpener caps that come with some pencils to save space.

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