The Best Graphite Pencil Sharpeners

I draw with both wood and mechanical pencils, and most of the time I like to work with a long thin point. Here are the two sharpeners I can’t live without.

Alvin rotary lead pointer

Alvin rotary lead pointer

Alvin Rotary Lead Pointer

You can sharpen mechanical leads on a sandpaper block but it’s much quicker and easier to use a hand held sharpener that’s designed for the job. This rotary sharpener from Alvin will fit most lead holders for 2mm leads and sharpens the leads to long thin points.

To sharpen a lead, you lengthen the lead in the holder a little bit, insert the lead holder in the large hole, and then rotate the entire top of the sharpener – kind of like stirring a cup of coffee.

The white piece of “stuff” in the cap is used for cleaning the tip after it’s sharpened, but you have to be a good shot or you’ll break the point. I just roll the lead over a finder to remove any loose graphite.

The holes or either side of the white point cleaner are for measuring for the kind of point you want. One length makes a point, and the other makes a flat tip.

Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener

Kum Long Point Pencil Sharpener

Kum Automatic Long Point Pencil Sharpener

This unique sharpener works better than any I’ve ever used for wood pencils. It’s a “two stage” sharpener with two holes.

The first hole removes the wood and the second sharpens the lead. This system keeps the lead from breaking as happens so often with regular sharpeners. It also creates a beautifully long lead that’s perfect for drawing fine details.

There are extra blades tucked into the back under the lid too.