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The Best Pencil Sharpeners for Your Office or Classroom

compact blue and white electronic pencil sharpener on a wooden desk beside a plant, several notebooks, and other office supplies

As the name suggests, a pencil sharpener is a simple mechanical tool that keeps pencils’ points sharp and thus more suitable for writing or drawing. They have a built-in razor that shaves away the pencil’s worn wooden and graphite surface, which keeps the remaining graphite pointy. Pencil sharpeners can be electronic or manually operated. There are even tiny pocket models that tuck away into desks or pencil cases or even makeup bags for eyebrow pencils. Though they’re a staple of classrooms and offices, you may find it beneficial to keep at least one pencil sharpener at home in case a pencil ever breaks, or the point snaps off while you’re using it. This is especially true if you write by hand or draw with pencils as a hobby or professionally. Here are a few pencil sharpeners we recommend.

Buying a Pencil Sharpener

Here are a few things to think about before buying a pencil sharpener:

  • Manual vs. Electric: Both manual pencil sharpeners have their benefits and drawbacks. Manual ones are usually wall-mounted and operate by turning a crank or inserting the pencil inside the sharpener and rotating it. They require more effort, of course, and some may require an installation process as well. However, they’re also much quieter, won’t increase your electric bill, and will still function if you ever lose power. Manual models that aren’t wall-mounted are also highly portable. Electric pencil sharpeners are highly efficient and easy to use. They are quite noisy; however, they need to be plugged into a wall outlet unless they’re battery-powered and will be more expensive on average.
  • Size: You’ll want to consider both the size of the pencil sharpener and the pencils you use when picking out a pencil sharpener. The pencil should fit fairly snugly inside the sharpener for it to sharpen more efficiently. Naturally, most will be sized for standard, classic #2 pencils. But there are larger and smaller models available if you use littler or bigger-than-average pencils for writing or drawing. Some are designed specifically for smaller pencils, like eyebrow pencils or golf pencils. Also keep in mind that some models allow you to rotate between different opening sizes to fit different sizes of pencils.
  • Compatibility: If you’re a recreational or professional artist who uses pencils, you may use standard pencils for sketching, if not for your final product. More likely, you also use colored pencils or charcoal pencils while creating your artwork. Unfortunately, specialty pencils like these aren’t always compatible with pencil sharpeners. Fortunately, there are some models that will sharpen more than one type of pencil, including these types. Be sure to check a pencil sharpener’s listing and make sure it specifically mentions compatibility with colored pencils, charcoal pencils, or any other type of specialty pencils you own.

Top Choice: X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener

see through and dark blue electric pencil sharpener with multiple sized pencil holes

If you prefer the quick efficiency of an electric pencil sharpener over a manual one, you’ll love this model. It has every feature you might want in a pencil sharpener, and maybe even one or two you haven’t thought it. While designed with classrooms in mind, this model will work equally well in commercial and home offices alike.

For starters, unlike just about every electric model on the market, this pencil sharpener has a quiet motor for minimal interruption and disruption. Never again will you have to worry about your students drowning you out or disturbing your co-workers in the office when a pencil needs sharpening. The internal helical steel cutter sharpens pencils to a perfect point in mere seconds without oversharpening. Thanks to the flyaway cutter system, the pencil sharpener will stop automatically once the pencil is appropriately sharp. It also contains an auto-reset feature that prevents the device from overheating. And even though this pencil sharpener needs to be plugged into a power outlet, it won’t draw electricity or waste your power when it’s not in use.

Not only is the model quiet and incredibly efficient, but it’s also designed to be as strong and durable as possible. A pencil sharpener in a classroom or public office setting will more likely than not be used multiples times a day, every day. You’re going to want a strong device that can hold up to this level of daily use, especially if you have a classroom with young children who love to fiddle and play around with objects. This electric pencil sharpener has a durable construction that is specifically designed to hold up to wear and tear, including the long-lasting interior blade.

In addition to its strength, this device offers two additional conveniences. The shavings bin is see-through, so you’ll always be able to tell by a quick glance when it’s full and needs to be emptied. And the pencil hole can be easily adjusted between six different sizes.

Top Choice

X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener, Blue, 1 Count

Specifically designed with classrooms in mind, this electric pencil sharpener has just about every feature you could hope for.

Best for Artists: JARLINK Electric Pencil Sharpener

vertical black and clear electric pencil sharpener

A pencil sharpener is an incredibly useful device for artists who draw and/or sketch by hand. Whether they draw recreationally or as a hobby, take commissions as a side hustle, or their artwork is their main career, keeping their pencils as sharp as possible is important. It won’t do any artists of any level much good if their pencil point breaks off in the middle of a project and can’t be fixed. But if an artist tends to draw with implements like colored pencils or charcoal pencils, most pencil sharpeners can’t accommodate these types of pencils. Fortunately, that’s where this artist-friendly electric model comes in.

Unlike many other automatic, electric pencil sharpeners, you’ll insert your pencils vertically instead of horizontally. This allows the sharp, durable helical blade inside to more efficiently and intelligently dispose of the pencil’s broken tip and sharpen it more quickly. Your pencil will be perfectly pointy within mere seconds, and this device shuts off as soon as the pencil has reached the appropriate sharpness. And unlike many comparable models, this pencil sharpener works on any type of pencil with a 6- to 8-millimeter diameter. This includes both standard #2 pencils and professional drawing pencils, including colored and charcoal pencils.

This model is convenient in other ways, too. Whether you prefer an electric pencil sharpener that is battery operated or plugs into an outlet, it has you covered; you can choose which power method you prefer. Either insert four AA batteries (sold separately) in the bottom slot for a pencil sharpener you can place anywhere and carry around at will, or use the included 58-inch USB cord to plug it into a wall outlet or power bank. The top, firmly sealed lid keeps shavings inside as you sharpen, and the device will shut off automatically if the lid pops off or falls open. This not only prevents pencil shavings and scraps from flying everywhere but helps protects the fingers of whoever is using it. The shavings bin has a large capacity, designed to hold the debris of potentially thousands of shavings before it needs emptying. The bin is also clear, so you’ll always be able to easily tell when the time to empty it comes. And when it does require emptying, all you have to do is pop the lid off and turn the sharpener upside down over a trash can. No further steps or hassle needed.

As a small bonus, this pencil sharpener is available in black, blue, gray, or white, so you can pick whichever color you prefer or best suits your home office or workspace.

Best for Artists

JARLINK Electric Pencil Sharpener, Heavy-duty Helical Blade to Fast Sharpen, Auto Stop for No.2/Colored Pencils(6-8mm), USB/Battery Operated in School Classroom/Office/Home (Black)

A highly compatible electric pencil sharpener that works with a range of professional drawing pencils as well as standard ones.

Most Compact: Bostitch Personal Electric Pencil Sharpener

compact silver and teal electric pencil sharpener

Finding the right pencil sharpener can be tricky if you don’t have a good place to put it. Depending on where you work and the size of your office (home or on-site), you may have a smaller desk with a limited amount of surface space for your desk items. Or, alternatively, maybe you have a decent-sized desk, but it’s already so full of important office objects and/or decorations that you don’t have a lot of available space left. If any of these situations sound familiar, this small and compact but powerful pencil sharpener may just be the solution to your problem. It’s designed for light use, an ideal choice for a personal pencil sharpener.

At only 8.38 x 4 x 4.25 inches (LxWxH) in size, this model won’t clutter or take up more than its fair share of space on your desk. It’s designed specifically to be a space-saver. Yet despite its small size, this pencil sharpener will still provide a precise and clean point to your pencils. The motor is powerful and won’t stall as it’s operating. The HHC cutter technology also ensures that this pencil sharpener will provide you with longer service life, potentially up to four times longer than normal.

Due to this device’s small size, you may expect that this pencil sharpener doesn’t have a large shavings bin, meaning you’ll have to empty it into the garbage can more often. However, the shavings tray is high capacity, spanning the entire width of the sharpener, to save you this very trouble. When it is full, which you’ll always be able to easily tell thanks to the transparent bin, all you have to do is pop out the tray and carry it over to the trash to be emptied. There’s a handy safety switch built-in, which prevents the sharpener from functioning while the tray isn’t inserted.

There are four different colors option from which you can choose, and if you need a new stapler, you also have the option to buy a matching one in tandem with the pencil sharpener of your choosing.

Most Compact

Bostitch Personal Electric Pencil Sharpener, Black (EPS4-BLACK)

This electric pencil sharpener is the perfect choice for personal use on your personal work or office desk.

Best Manual: X-ACTO Wall Mount Pencil Sharpener

classic chrome and black manual pencil sharpener with multiple sized pencil holes

Some people prefer a manual pencil sharpener to an electric one. Many classroom teachers like them because they’re quieter and thus less disruptive than most electric models. Others feel they have more control when operating a manual pencil sharpener. And others simply prefer a device that doesn’t use power or require constant battery changes in order to function. Whatever your reasoning, you can’t go wrong with this manual pencil sharpener.

This model is commercial grade, perfect for busy, high-volume environments. No matter how many workers or students have to sharpen their pencils, however many times a day, this pencil sharpener is up to the task. Despite its strength and durability, the operation is easy. Even young school children won’t have any trouble turning the crank to sharpen their pencils. And the dual helical cutters inside ensure a sharp, precise point for pencils. As a bonus, this sharpener can be adjusted to fit eight different pencil sizes and comes with screws for installation. This allows you to mount it directly on your desk, to a wall, or even onto a table if desired.

Best Manual

X-ACTO Ranger 1031 Wall Mount Manual Pencil Sharpener,Silver/Black

A classic manual pencil sharpener with eight different pencil size settings that can be mounted just about anywhere you want.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »

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