Pencil sharpeners are an essential pencil accessory. They keep the pencil pointed and usable. Yet they are frequently a frustration to use, splintering, chopping, and breaking pencils. Sometimes this is the fault of a cheap pencil. And sometimes it is the fault of the sharpener.
The weak aspect of most portable sharpeners is the blade. The blade may be made very cheaply and be just barely usable a few times, or even if better quality, have become dulled over time. Rust and oxidation may also have had a role.
Yet, in years of frequenting art and office supply stores, I have never seen a replacement blade for sale. Art supply store staff tend to agree that this would be a good idea, but they have no place to order them.
What this means is that portable sharpeners are being sold as de facto disposable items – even fairly expensive ones with glass and metal housings.
I suspect that even a single sharpening dulls many blades, and that the working lifespan of a typical handheld sharpener blade in tip-top condition may be less than that of a single pencil. So there are a lot of blunt sharpeners out there in the world.
Laurentien, a colouring pencil brand that will be known to Canadians (now part of Sanford), states here:
We no longer recommend hand-held sharpeners for any of our colouring pencil lines. These sharpeners usually dull quickly and will chip at the wood instead of shaving the wood.
In the photo are some replacement blades (the KUM Standard 530S) that I ordered from the highly efficient Cult Pens in the U.K. Yikes – replacement blades from overseas. It is a shame that I couldn’t buy them locally. But I ordered them as part of a larger shipment, and now wish I had ordered more. It was the only realistic way I could see to keep some favorite sharpeners, like a DUX inkwell, usable over time.
Now some sharpeners truly are disposable – with no ability to replace the blade – but many are attached with a tiny screw, and will take this replacement blade.
Why aren’t replacement blades commonly available?