As with pencils, it's easy to get into a state of overwhelm when you realize just how many types of sharpeners there are! From our simplest single hole sharpener to more complicated 2-step long point tools, I tested each of our handheld sharpeners to create a handy comparison to help you determine which sharpener is right for you.
To start, here's a short list of the types of handheld sharpeners we offer:
Standard Single Hole - This type of sharpener accommodates slim pencils - from bridge-size pencils to regular diameter to very slightly thick ones like a Swiss Wood. The point length on a standard sharpener varies only slightly - from about a 74 to 77 degree angle. Types to try: M+R Bullet, Duroplast Single Hole, Milan Cube
Long Point Single Hole - The main difference between this sharpener and a standard single hole is the tip length it creates. The angle is slightly steeper (about 78 degrees) on these types, exposing more "collar" (that's the amount of wood showing above the pencil's finish) and creating a longer point. These work best with only regular diameter pencils, but allow you a bit more point than a standard sharpener, without the work of a 2-step long point sharpener. Type to try: Kum Magnesium Long Point
Double Hole Sharpener - This type of sharpener is designed with two different sized holes - one for slim pencils and one for mini jumbo or jumbo pencils. These typically only create standard length points on either size of pencil, but they're great if you are shopping for different sizes of pencil and only want to get one sharpener. Types to try: M+R round Double Hole, Duo Touch Sharpener, General's 3-in-1
2-step Long Point Sharpener - This is what you'll want if you are looking for a very sharp, fine line for your pencil. These differ from other sharpeners because they require two steps to sharpen your pencil: the first step only shaves down the wood casing, exposing the stick of graphite within, while the second step refines the exposed graphite to a point. Kum makes two different styles that really are the greatest for this process, the Automatic Long Point and the Masterpiece. The main difference between the two is point length - the Automatic does about a 79 degree angle, while the Masterpiece does maybe an 85 degree (that's a guesstimation on my part). Type to try: Automatic Long Point, Masterpiece
Other types: Lefty Sharpener (blades on the opposite sides for left-handed folks!), lead lointers (typically for sharpening just the very tip of a pencil or for 2mm or 3.2mm drafting leads), adjustable sharpeners (which has a dial to allow you to pick the length of point it has), built-in pencil cap sharpeners (point protectors that have sharpeners built in!) and short-point or colored pencil sharpeners (we don't carry a single-hole version of these, but check out the General's 3-in-1 in the reference photo for an example of that point length)
Here's my round up of favorite sharpeners after thorough testing (and getting a lot of graphite on my hands):
Winner: M+R Bullet Sharpener
This reliable and sturdy sharpener creates my favorite mid-length point (neither too short, nor too long), perfect for just about any regular-diameter pencil, including colored pencils and pencils with very thick cores. It's compact and easy to clean and replace the blades. Oh, and in case that's not convenient enough, there's a keyring version.
Runner up: Magnesium Long Point Sharpener
This little guy is super light weight and creates a slightly longer point (great for point retention). And it only costs $2.00! The only downside is the quality is a bit hit or miss, but you can tighten or loosen the screw to help with that.
Best Double Duty
Winner: Milan Duo Touch
This sharpener creates great standard-length points for both jumbo and regular diameter pencils, plus has a reservoir to collect shavings AND an eraser on the opposite end. Pretty much everything you need on the go.
Runner up: General's 3 in 1
This sharpener gets bonus points for having a third hole just for colored pencils, which creates a very short, blunt point (great for kids who press hard or colored pencils that are prone to breakage). The reservoir is nice and big, but it also makes the sharpener rather bulky.
Best for Jumbo Pencils
Winner: M+R Round Double Hole Sharpener
This one was a little tricky to determine! In fact, the double hole sharpeners we carry each does a very similar point. My winner comes down to a simple choice: quality. The brass double hole is simply going to have more longevity and withstand being tossed around in a pencil case better than the plastic ones. These also have easily replaceable blades and are nicely compact!
Runner up: General's 3-in-1
This one actually gets a major vote of confidence from our 11 year old neighbor - she's carried it in her backpack to school and it hasn't burst open! I prefer this one's reservoir over the Touch Duo. It simply has more space to hold more shavings, while not being nearly as bulky as the Duroplast double hole.
Best for Long Points
Winner: Kum Masterpiece
No contest here. It's called the Masterpiece for a reason. It doesn't get better than this for handheld sharpeners. The two-step process fashions your pencil into a need-fine point. It does take some getting used to, but once you're accustomed to the excellent point retention and fine line your pencil will have, it's hard to go back to anything else.
Runner up: Tie between the Magnesium Long Point and the Automatic Long Point
On a comparison test between these two, when they are both sharp and working perfectly, the point length is only a teensy bit different. I do prefer the 2-step long point because the blade quality is much nicer so the sharpening experience is just cleaner all around. However, the lid on the reservoir is quite flimsy, so with either sharpener you won't have the tidiness of collected shavings.
Best for Lefties
Winner: Kum Lefty Sharpener
Okay, so this is the only lefty one we have, but it is actually a great sharpener! The point length is great compared to other standard-length sharpeners for both the regualr diameter and jumbo diameter hole. The shape of it is also pretty comfy to hold!