For all pencil artists a good pencil sharpener is an absolute essential. Here are some tips on how best to sharpen your pencils and which type of sharpener is the right one for you.
The type of point you prefer on your pencils is obviously very personal to you. It is as standard to have your pencils sharpened to a blunt point as it is to sharpen to the more traditional needle point. Many of our sharpeners offer you both types of point using the sharper points for your graphite and detail pencils and the blunter ends for colour pencils which require a softer touch. Use a craft knife for more accurate sharpening to the exact finish you require.
Probably the most common mistake people make is keeping their sharpeners too long and expecting them to work forever.....they won't! Whether you sharpen with a hand held sharpener or a craft knife ensure they are sharp and ready for action before you start. You can check whether your sharpener is blunt by examining the wood of a sharpened pencil, if it is at all 'furry' or rough then the blade is blunt. You can also tell from the length of the wood shavings - long, continuous shavings show a sharp blade, short shardlike ones mean your sharpener is blunt and if the blade cannot be changed then throw it away!
If you decide to use a craft knife to sharpen your pencils hold them in your non writing hand and at a shallow angle stroke the blade along the wood away from you (for safety get a Derwent sharpening stand). To start with you are shaving the wood away from the inner strip and then once it is exposed you can sharpen little bits off of the strip until it is to the point you want. This technique requires a little practice so try it on a more disposable pencil before trying it on your best pencils.
For pastels and pastel pencils you can use a specialist pastel sharpener, especially to get the sharpening started initially, then shape the end of the pencil or pastel with a sandpaper block.
Battery Sharpeners or Rotary Sharpeners
These are extremely popular as they take the 'human error' element out of sharpening your pencils. Battery operated sharpeners like the Derwent one pictured often sharpen to different points and different pencil sizes.
Helical Super Point Sharpeners
Helical Blades last much longer than ordinary blades and are perfect for putting long, sharp points on thinner gauge pencils (up to 8mm). Making super point sharpeners the choice for people doing detailed work. Available in both manual and battery sharpeners.
Popular among most artists because they catch the shavings neatly in one place and it is more difficult to hold the pencil at an incorrect angle with these sharpeners.
Double & Single Holed Sharpeners
Standard sharpeners in either double holed, to sharpen standard and larger gauge pencils or single holed for standard sized pencils. Perfectly good way of sharpeneing pencils but as with all sharpeners do not use them once the blade is blunted, you will damage the pencils.
Pastel Pencil Sharpeners
Made especially for soft pencils such as pastels, these sharpeners have a shallower angle intended for pencils with these sort of cores.
Craft knives are a great way of sharpening pencils. The new Derwent sharpening stand will protect you from damage while using a craft knife as a sharpener.
Leadholders require different points due to the variety of applications they are used for:
A blunt point for normal writing and
A very sharp point for drawing
The triangular symbols next to the small holes indicate the different kinds of points.
The fine, sharp point on the left is suitable for drawing, the normal point on the right (shown as being slightly blunt) is for writing.
The holes are used for setting the amount of lead protrusion. Place the leadholder point with the preset level of lead protrusion in the pointer’s main hole and turn together with the lid in a clockwise direction until the resistance eases off.
The lead is now sharpened.
Any graphite dust on the lead can be removed by gently twisting the sharpened lead around in the cleaning device (light-coloured hole in the bottom centre of the illustration).
Sandpaper blocks are ideal for pointing leads, pastels and pastel pencils. Use a little of the fine grained sand paper to smooth the wood on your pencils after sharpening and to blunt points to the required roundness.