March 13, 2024

Sharpening a pencil. Sounds like the easiest thing in the world, right? Well, yes, but as with most things there, a little proper technique can make a big difference in the result. So, without any further ado, let’s go over some *tips* on pencil sharpening technique. (Pun very much intended.)

First, let’s start with the basics. When it comes to sharpening your pencil, you have three main tools at your disposal: a manual sharpener, an electric sharpener, and a utility knife.

Using Sharpeners

The average manual and electric sharpeners work much in the same way: small blades within the sharpener are situated in a cone shape and spun around the pencil. This removes thin shavings of wood and shapes the graphite beneath into a nice point. Manual sharpeners can be operated by either twisting the sharpener itself around the pencil or turning a crank. Electric sharpeners typically start on their own as soon as you slide the pencil in.

There’s not a lot of finesse needed here, but it’s important to note that you don’t need to jam the pencil in – that’s likely to break the graphite. Apply just enough pressure to engage the blades against the pencil, and you’ll be on your way. If you happen to notice the sharpener isn’t working properly, carefully check for wood shavings that may have gotten stuck in the blades (unplug the electric sharpener for this). It’s also possible for the blades to become dull over time, so it may be necessary to replace your sharpener every now and then.

Using a Utility Knife

Then, of course, you could sharpen your pencil with a utility knife. This requires some skill and practice, and is not suitable for children to try. This technique is mostly employed by artists who want to have precise control over the shape of the graphite, resulting in a specific sort of line when they draw.

To sharpen a pencil with a utility knife, first ensure that the knife is sharp. Working with a dull blade is more dangerous than a properly sharpened one because it can act unpredictably. Then, hold the pencil in your non-dominant hand, with the non-eraser end away from you. Hold the knife in your dominant hand, set the blade against the pencil at a slight angle, and gently apply pressure, slicing away from you. You want to remove the wood in thin shavings, not large chunks. With a little whittling, you’ll be able to shape the tip of the pencil as you wish.

Note: It is very important that you sharpen the pencil in a motion going away from you, this will help avoid injury if the knife slips.

Odd Shapes and Sizes

So how do you sharpen a pencil with a large diameter, like a My First? Or a triangular pencil? Do you have to use a knife? Nope!  All you need is a sharpener with a wider opening. This is more common for manual sharpeners. Some, like our Duo Sharpener, have openings for both standard and wider pencils.


So, there you have it. With these little tips you’ll have a perfectly sharpened pencil that’s ready to write in no time.



Shop Ticonderoga Pencil Sharpeners on Amazon