The Best Electric Pencil Sharpener

electric pencil sharpener

After 3 days of research and talking with a number of classroom teachers who experience the heaviest use of pencil sharpening. I conclude that you have 5 choices when choosing the best electric pencil sharpener.

The most loved pencil sharpener would be a Panasonic KP-33. But since it is an old discontinued model there's a high change you will not be able to get it.

In this article I'll explore some alternatives, trying to balance quality, longevity and the limited budget a lot of us have.

Panasonic KP-33

panasonic kp-33


  • This model will last you decades
  • Sturdy
  • Heavy
  • Teacher friendly
  • Reliable


  • Aesthetically challenged
  • Discontinued

There are countless stories of people having this model for years. Even handing it down from father to son. The KP-33 is made from strong, durable metals. Under the hood you will find zero cheap plastic. That is often the cause for many of the modern electric pencil sharpeners breaking down. This model is not just a good electric pencil sharpener and I apologise for being preachy. But for many this sharpener symbolises a time where quality came before capitalism. If you can not get this model I suggest you look for similar panasonic products.

X-Acto School Pro Heavy-Duty

x-acto eletric pencil sharpener


  • Suction cups
  • Indicates when it's done
  • Affordable
  • Large shavings container
  • Teacher friendly


  • Unreliable quality
  • Not great for years
  • Not colored pencil friendly

I believe this model is primarily popular because it's cheap. The X-acto School Pro Heavy-Duty can collect a lot of shaving before needing emptying. But quality seems to be vary from days to a few months. Anything exotic seems to choke it up.  The wax or binding agent in colored pencils will clog it up. Same goes for special coatings on pencils. Best used with regular graphite pencils.

Choosing a pencil sharpener


First you need to figure out what size pencil you use. Most pencils are 8 mm in diameter while some bigger pencils may be up to 10.5 mm. We're going to assume that you need a pencil sharpener for a default 8 mm pencil.

sharpened pencil size


 You have probably noticed that pencils come in different shapes. Although most sharpeners can sharpen a pencil regardless of their form (circular, hexagonal, triangular) you may on occasion come across an eletric pencil sharpener that’s designed for a specific cosmetic purpose.



The angle or depth of a sharpener is another concern for the purist pencil user. The advantage of a deeper angle is clearly longer usage but with the vast majority of users being young children in school you might want a smaller angle which will fit younger kids more by allowing more pressure and heavy use.


Lead tip

Some sharpeners will give you a super fine lead tip which might be great if you’re a fine artist but if you’re a student or maybe a craftsman you may prefer a sturdier, blunt and rounded tip.


Quality of the Pencil Sharpening

Another concern for the purist pencil lover is the quality of the sharpening. A bad blade can cause your lead to break more often. Another concern with low quality blades is the rugged finish you sometimes see. Where the wood hasn’t been perfectly cut off and left rough edges. A similar concern although less frequent is graphite not going to the disposal bin and compromising the look of your pencil by leaving marks on the wood.

Issues with colored pencils

Colored pencils differ from regular carbon based pencils because their lead is made of wax and colorant. That means that unless you take proper care of your pencil sharpener the wax and colorant will gum up your sharpener and render it useless. In order to protect and maintain the device experienced teachers recommend you occasionally run a graphite pencil through to clean the sharpening blades of excess wax and pigment. Any cheap graphite pencil will suffice for this purpose.Additional note: If you notice that your colored pencil leads are breaking then that’s probably because the lead is broken already. This will be a more common problem with more expensive colored pencils because cheaper pencils will still have a version of a graphite lead instead of a pure wax and pigment one.

Tips and Tricks

Since colored pencils are made primarily of wax they will harden if you put them into a refrigerator for the night before sharpening.

Should you encounter that your pencil has a broken lead, try heating it to refuse the lead.

Clean your machine with a cheap graphite pencil

Art of pencil sharpening. It's funny!


Regardless of what you end up choosing it’s important to remember that you need to take care of your sharpener and possibly keep it out of the hands of the children if they are young enough to use the sharpener in a way that it’s not meant to be used. We suggest that you get a more expensive electric pencil sharpener instead of a cheap one that likely was designed to fail. If you can’t afford risking buying an expensive electric pencil sharpener I would suggest you go the mechanical sharpener route. They are generally built to last and will attract less curious children.

About the author

John Thatch

John Thatcher is a computer science educated artist. He uses technology to solve artist problems. His friends don't like it when he speaks of himself in the third person. But John does it anyway, because he's a rebel.

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