I’ve been thinking of starting up the blog again, but with a different focus. As usual, time gets away. If only the day were a couple hours longer! I have really been bit by the pen, pencil and paper bug thanks mostly to Brad Dowdy and Myke Hurley at the Pen Addict podcast. So I figured maybe I’d throw a couple reviews of tools I’ve used. The first is the Classroom Friendly Sharpener.
Spoiler alert: It’s a total winner!!! I love this thing. So do my students. I will always have one at school and at home. You can read on, but if you are looking for a pencil sharpener just go buy it now.
I have owned and used all types of sharpeners. From cheap little bullet sharpeners to big expensive electric ones. I like my little manual ones very much, but they can be messy. The one bolted down on my windowsill would always break and the metal case that you remove is always loose and the kids have a heck of a time replacing it after they empty the shavings. The electric ones eat pencils so quick and seem to always die on me. They overheat or the kids jam something in there to break them. And they are so loud!
The Classroom Friendly Sharpener is a decent sized little gadget. Larger than the traditional bolted down crank turning sharpener. It’s tall and portable. It comes with a clamp to attach it to a desk, but I had trouble getting it to tighten securely. They sell a piece seperately to attach it to a surface more permanently, but I like having it free. I leave it on my desk and the kids come up and use it there or take it to their desk. I have used it for a few months now and it has yet to fail me. I’ve seen the kids sharpen everything from a regular old Dixon #2, colored pencils, and yes, even those awful things that are wrapped in some kind of plastic with Ninja Turtles on them. I’ve even see the glitter pencils go in! They all sharpened right up!
The design is very interesting. The sharpener is a single blade design. It can be easily removed and even replaced if necessary. The shavings fall into a clear chamber under the blade that is easily removed when it becomes full. There is a metal plate on the front which you pull out to begin sharpening. A few supports hold it in place once it is fully extended. In the center of this plate there is a hole with a set of little metal jaws on the inside. To use the sharpener you pinch together two levers to open those little jaws. Insert the pencil through the plate and into the sharpener’s body. Once you release the levers, the metal jaws hold the pencil in place while you sharpen. Once you start turning the handle the supports are released and the pencil will begin sharpening. The metal plate pulls the pencil into the blade as it operates. You turn the handle until the sharpening has ended. You can feel it, the handle turns very easily. Sounds strange, but really simple.
It’s a cool little gadget and that immediately hooked the kids. I heard audible gasps and “wows.” It puts a nice long EXTREMELY sharp point on the pencil. It’s also designed with a little stop and the end of the blade, so it is impossible to oversharpen. This machine cannot eat pencils! It has extended the life of our tools!
I should point out some of the cons I have discovered. They are small quibbles, but should be mentioned. They rubber feet on the bottom make black marks on any surface you use the sharpener on. I need to clean my desk often where I keep it. For whatever reason, it actually matters if we turn it clockwise or counterclockwise. We haven’t completely figured it out, but some new pencils are finicky with the direction you sharpen. Finally, it does leave little teeth marks on the pencil where the metal jaws hold it in place. The kids could care less, but if you are a pencil geek and you don’t want your Blackwing 602 marred up, you may want to look elsewhere.
None of those would keep me from wholeheartedly recommending the purchase of this sharpener. At around $25, it’s a steal. I have taken it from classroom to classroom to show it off. Just get it, you won’t regret it. Currently $24.99 at Classroom Friendly Supplies.