The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened

New pencils are sold both sharpened and unsharpened. The major European manufacturers (Staedtler, Faber-Castell, Derwent, Lyra, Stabilo, etc.) all typically sell their pencils pre-sharpened. In contrast, the Japanese (Kita-Boshi, Pentel, Mitsubishi, Tombow) and American (Sanford, Dixon) manufacturers generally sell pencils unsharpened. There are of course exceptions.

Pre-sharpening can provide a convenience factor to consumers. But it also has drawbacks – the pencils are more likely to get broken in transport from store to home/office. As well, the angle of sharpening might be different than that provided by your preferred sharpener, and require a couple of unideal sharpenings before it’s right.

It also deprives one of the pleasant sharpening ritual, the defined initiation of a new pencil.

On the plus side, a pre-sharpened pencil is instantly useable, and sharpeners aren’t always at hand or convenient to use. The factory sharpening could be viewed as a small courtesy towards the customer.

So what do you prefer? Feel free to leave a comment as well as vote in this poll.


7 Replies to “The Great Debate: sharpened or unsharpened”

  1. I certainly prefer them unsharpened. I never open a new box of pencils “on the run” anyway, so I like the sense of the pencils being “untouched by human hands” when I crack the box open. ;-)

    I’m also a collector of pencils – not only a user, so I like my unused ones to look just that: unused.

  2. Unsharpened, that way my sharpener gets to use part of the blades that don’t get used relativel often. Yes, I know that’s weird.

  3. Nuetral. For collecting, I prefer unsharpened. But when I try to buy a completely new one to me on off-line stores, I prefer sharpened, for test writing.

  4. Unsharpened, for all the practical reasons noted, but also because sharpening seems to me to belong to the user’s experience, like uncorking wine or filling a fountain pen.

  5. I like the sharpend once.
    Nothing to do with the advantages or disadvantages, they just look better.
    I also like that the manufactures of these pencils are trying to be courteous.

  6. I prefer sharpened because I find it hard to sharpen them straight if it hasn’t been ‘pre-done’ for me.

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