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Handheld multisharpeners

A few ambitious handheld sharpeners attempt to offer multiple options.

Handheld multisharpeners

Here are four.

Upper left: Kutsuwa T’GAAL
Upper right: Kutsuwa K’ZOOL
Lower left: Flute-like sharpener, name unknown
Lower right: 5 steps pencil sharpener

Handheld multisharpeners

The T’GAAL mainly moves a backstop, and slightly moves the (large) blade’s angle:

Handheld multisharpeners

The K’ZOOL manipulates the angle of sharpening, a feature that seems amazing to me in an inexpensive sharpener:

Handheld multisharpeners

The wooden sharpener is quite different – it is aimed at five different diameters of pencils, rather than five variations.

I wasn’t sure where this was leading, and thought I might be chewing up a lot of pencils in these tests, so I bought a budget pack of pencils: the Dixon Economiser. What I’ll say about these pencils is that friends shouldn’t let friends use the Dixon Economiser! Rough basswood (though not the worst) with rich unpleasant chemical paint aromas, it is no ambassador for pencildom.

Handheld multisharpeners

The T’GAAL:

Handheld multisharpeners

The K’ZOOL:

Handheld multisharpeners

Note how nicely the K’ZOOL creates those obtuse points. Various readers have asked how to get this type of point rather than a long acute point. The K’ZOOL can do it!

For a full review (in German) of the T’GAAL, with quality pencils tested and some great photographs, please see Lexikaliker.

My thanks to isu from the uncomfortable chair for the Kutsuwa sharpeners.

[Update: January 22, 2011]

For completeness, here are some Aruna/CalCedar ForestChoice pencils sharpened in the “5 Steps” sharpener. For a product costing about $1, it seems okay. Notice the stop point in action:

Handheld multisharpeners

And regarding the V-15 Dizi: The five holes are 5mm, 7mm, 9mm, 11mm, and 13mm in diameter. Here is a ForestChoice in the 9mm hole. It does not sharpen to a point (or even close), though the 9mm hole would seem to be the best fit for a standard woodcase pencil.

Handheld multisharpeners

26 comments to Handheld multisharpeners

  • Another informative post to start the year. Might have to try one of those K’Zool sharpeners sometime, to expand the range of pencil point options of my sharpener collection.

  • Mitch

    Great. Now I’ll have to cruise on to JetPens and order a K’Zool.

  • Thank you for that interesting review! I wonder how the 5 steps pencil sharpener in the lower right performs. – The flute like sharpener could be the “Dizi” by V-15.

  • Gunther, thank you for the information and link. I recall that the Dizi came in a cardboard tube (which I’ve either discarded or lost) that had product information.

  • penciladmin, you’re welcome. Yes, the Dizi came in such a tube and was wrapped in squared paper; here is a photo that shows the packaging at least partially.

  • I feel like I’m starting to repeat myself, but I can’t NOT compliment your amazing macro photos, Stephen. :)

    Turns out I have one of those “match” pencils from V-15. I received it as a gift, and I never knew where it came from. Thanks, Gunther!

  • I enjoy the macro photos too! – You’re welcome, John. May I ask you which match pencils do you mean? I couldn’t find them on the V-15 website.

  • The squared ones in the natural “finish” with the reddish blob eraser. I have to dig mine up. It’s really a neat piece.

  • adair

    How good is the Dizi?

  • Just saw the Matchy erasers and pencils last night in a stationery shop here in Hiroshima. Almost bought one, but talked myself out of it partly because the place was about to close. If I’d seen the dizi or those Quos, though, I fear I would have succumbed. Went off to the pub quiz with nothing more than a fresh Faber Grip. Bet I know a couple of other places around town to look, though!

  • Thank you for the comments. I’ll try to put up some documentation on the other two sharpeners – the Dizi is quite different – it takes five diameters of pencil, and the smallest two are really small. Not that the others aren’t, but it seems like a novelty item most notable for the design. The “5 steps” is a more basic “T’GAAL”, and was purchased locally.

  • The dizi does look like a novelty, except that as you know if it’s intended primarily for Japan there actually are a lot of odd pencils scattered around. Pocket memo books, for example, more often than not come with a tiny pencil slipped into a sleeve at the spine. I avoid using those pencils because I don’t want to sit and sharpen them with a penknife. The dizi, aside from looking cool sitting on the desk, would probably solve that one small problem.

  • Kevin

    The problem with all manual sharpeners is they last for a couple of dozen sharpenings before the blade dulls. I will admit the photos are very nice with a new product but let me see the same photos with the sharpener 1 month older. I’m going through KUM long point sharpeners like a chain smoker even though they have a spare set of blades with each sharpener. Sharpeners continue to be the weak point of wooden pencil use. Congratulations on the macro shots.

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  • MJD

    Wow, I’m gonna have to buy a few of those sharpeners. I remember those Dixon’s from school and all I can say is you dont condemn them strongly enough. the only pencils worse than those are Staples or CVS brand generics. They are a disgrace to the company which has been known to put out a quality product. Then again the current crop of Ticonderogas are rather shoddy to.

  • Adair

    Kevin, I agree with you. I have given up on hand-held sharpeners. I prefer to carry a Carl Decade in my bag.

  • [For anyone following this comment feed, the post has been updated with photos of the 5 Steps and Dizi sharpening results.]

    Just curious – if a company made a “premium” hardened carbide blade that stayed sharp for hundreds of uses, would anyone buy it?

  • I might, and so might other readers here, but I doubt it would ever find a broad market. As someone commented on another of your posts, for some of the people for whom this kind of thing matters, sharpening the blades yourself is a perfectly acceptable option.

  • Thank you for the update! – I definitely would buy such a blade. However, I agree with Matt Mangham and don’t think that it will sell in large quantities, especially in view of the fact that so many low-quality sharperners are offered and sold.

  • Robert M.

    I wouldn’t mind giving a better sharpening blade a try, but I don’t have much faith in using them anymore. For me, pocketable, contained sharpeners that produce reasonably good points are nonexistent, and looking at the systems I’ve tried, I might as well just use a knife. Then again, if I could get a teeny brass sharpener like my little Dux (sans the stupid “adjustable” stopper) that actually produced a good, longer point without constant blade maintenance or replacement, I’d probably give it some real thought.

    In the meantime, I’ll stick to a rotary sharpener for the bulk of the work at home, and I’ll touch-up points with a knife or abrasive when away from the sharpener. When I want something really convenient and portable, I go with a 2mm lead pointer and skip the wooden pencils altogether.

  • Kevin

    I think there will always be a place for a premium blade sharpener and I’d certainly like to see one(two) in the KUM Automatic Longpoint. I also wonder what the “true market” situation is for a premium blade product and cheap sharpeners probably abound simply because people are distrusting of claims made for the pricier sharpeners.

    I’ve tried manual sharpening of the existing KUM blades on a diamond hand sharpener but it is very difficult to get a good grasp of the blade and the results so far have been pretty poor. Would appreciate a YouTube video by someone who has had success with sharpening dulled blades.

  • I was actually quite pleasantly surprised by those Dixon ? 2 pencils. I got some in a University shop on impulse a while back, loose stock for 40p per pencil. They’re no Tombow Mono or Lumograph, but they sharpened surprisingly well, hold quite a good point, and no unpleasant aroma (though that may be because it had dissipated as they sat in the rack). The wood does look different in the ones I have, though: more pinkish.

  • DougF

    Does anyone know of a rotary sharpener, other than the El Casco, that will produce different point angles?

  • Michael

    Where can I get info on sharpening colored pencils? What kind of point is best? I use Prismatic colored pencils. Some sharpeners I have used seem to break the lead. And my auto sharpener eats too much lead. I buy my pencils mostly at University Art in San Jose, Ca. They give a discount which is nice but still colored pencils are more expensive, by far, than standare writing pencils.

  • DougF, Carl makes a sharpener (the CC-2000) that has 5 positions.

    Michael, there are many websites devoted to colour pencils that would probably have more information. The advice one typically hears is – if using a handheld sharpener, use a sharp blade and a sharpener with an obtuse angle. Sharpeners aimed at cosmetic pencils may work well.

  • Jan Gontard

    It sometimes seems I spend as much time on researching,shopping for and maintaining my sharpeners as I do on drawing. I use Prismacolor colored pencils (famous for lead breakage), and I need a very sharp point. I recently discovered the Westcott battery-operated sharpener (Target, $6.29). Better than several $20+ electrics I’d tried. With a larger resevoir for shavings and a durable blade, I’d pay a BUNCH more dollars for this!

    TIP:Blades (in general) seem to work much better by frequently pushing/twisting a Qtip way down into the sharpner where the sharpest part of the point is created.(Be sure the batteries are de-activated first!)

    Thrilled to have found this blog. Thanks!

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