Keep pencils ready to go with a pencil sharpener

What types of pencil sharpeners are available?

There are two main types of pencil sharpeners: manual ones you hold in your hand and physically turn the pencil or sharpener in order to sharpen it, and electric ones that operate either via AC power or replaceable batteries.

With traditional pencil sharpeners, grasp the sharpener via grooves on the side and turn the pencil to cut off the wood and graphite shavings using the tempered steel blade. Stand over a garbage can to dispose of the shavings as you turn the pencil. Some also come with a built-in housing to capture shavings that you can empty whenever it gets full.

Requiring much less effort, and working quickly, electric pencil sharpeners let you place the pencil inside and push down or in. The blades turn, shaving down the wood and graphite until you get a perfectly sharp pencil, usually in a matter of a second or two. Once the receptacle that holds the shavings is full, empty it into the garbage.

What pencil sharpener should you use for coloured pencils, crayons?

While you can technically place any type of pencil, or even crayon, inside a pencil sharpener that fits, and some sharpeners even have multiple holes for different sized pencils or crayons, should you? Some believe that wax from coloured pencils can build up in a sharpener over time and clog it up.

If you want to use an old school pencil sharpener for coloured pencils, it's best to turn the sharpener around slowly versus turning the pencil in order to get the best cut. If you use an electric sharpener, make sure to run regular pencils through it often as well. The graphite from them can help clean the wax from the blades. You can also clean the blades with a Q-tip or toothpick. Another good option to consider for coloured pencils is a cosmetic sharpener, which is designed for use with products like eyeliner.

With crayons, some handheld pencil sharpeners have holes big enough to accommodate them, sometimes on the opposite end of the traditional pencil sharpener. As long as you clean them after use, they should work just fine. There are also special electric sharpeners designed specifically for crayons, though they aren't as commonly found.

How long do pencil sharpeners last and how do you clean them?

Usually, pencil sharpeners stop working once the cutter gets dull or worn, which can take around three-to-six months to happen, depending on how often you use it – they could potentially last even longer if you only sharpen every now and then. If a foreign object gets stuck in the hole, this can also prevent a pencil sharpener from working.

If the blade is dull, you can replace it, but you're better off just buying a new sharpener since they're already pretty affordable. Before doing that, first try clearing the area using a small object like a paperclip to dislodge any debris that's stuck inside.