From El Casco, here is the M-430 chrome plated and black pencil sharpener.
I’ve heard good and bad things about these sharpeners for years. I also don’t seem to ever have read a review or heard a personal account from an owner. An online retailer recently had a very good sale, and I decided to purchase one.
The sharpener is handmade in Spain by a former gun manufacturer. One complaint is that the handmade parts can be finicky, and must be sent back to the manufacturer if a repair is needed. I’ll say some context is needed here. Who else even guarantees sharpener parts or offers repair? I suspect El Casco is the last desktop sharpener manufacturer in the entire world outside of China.
Another reason for the purchase – they are made to unusually high standards, compared to almost anything one might find in the entire commercial stationery realm.
The price is also cited as prohibitive. The story here is that Deskstore had a May 30% off sale, and refunds VAT to foreigners (they are a Swedish company), so the $US319.00 M-430 was $US178.64. I know, most of us don’t spend $178 on our pencil sharpeners. Some of us even balk at $175. But if you’ve bought a fancy handheld sharpener which easily could be $50 to $250, you’ll see that this peak of craftsmanship at this price is a true bargain.
In the box:
It turns out that the giant polishing cloth is not excessive:
There is a lot of very nice chrome to be maintained:
The surfaces are like a mirror, so it was hard to make sure I was photographing the sharpener, and not reflections:
The camera lens inspired opening for the pencil:
The viewing portal, which is mesmerizing in use:
What pencil would you sharpen first? Which pencil did you think I would select?
Not sure if I need more practice, as a ring of graphite is noticeable. The point is remarkable:
The blunt surface at the end of the point makes the pencil even more usable and break resistant, in comparison with needle points.
Some further points, especially about aspects of the sharpener that can’t be inferred from photos:
The base has a suction clamp and lever. This is essential, and seems to work better with kitchen counter tops and very smooth surfaces. My pine desk does not get the greatest grip.
The reason this grip is needed is that two hands are required to operate the sharpener. One hand must feed the pencil – the entry hole is not a vise grip as in the Carl sharpeners. It is just a guided entry point. For a right-handed person, the right hand must rotate the handle while the left hand feeds the pencil in.
Larger diameter pencils can be accommodated. I am not sure of the limits, but I just sharpened a LAMY plus and a large diameter Ito-Ya, and wow, wow, wow – the results are amazing – they are the finest looking points I’ve personally seen with large diameter pencils.
The tray has an edge with a file for further shaping a pencil point. One of those little details that confirms the thought put into the product.
I’m really looking forward to using the El Casco. The beauty is not just on the surface!
60 Replies to “El Casco pencil sharpener”
Thank you for your reply and your point is well taken. There is a language barrier and, for the moment, I may give them some extra time to reply and I will try once more. I’ll let you know what happens.
I just got this reply from El Casco a few moments ago. In my email I asked about maintenance and repair.
“No special maintenance is required . After many years of use some people ask
us to replace the blade cylinders , we can do this work.
Very best regards”
Indeed, this sounds promising. However, given the price and the problems mentioned above I would still be a little reserved. It is definitely a great looking device but I not convinced by it.
Last November I ordered an El Casco via an American distributor. They emailed to say that the most recent shipment of El Cascos seemed defective — apparently there was a screw-up at the factory. When they finally got a new batch of sharpeners and sent one, I found it to be a little bit off: Less reliable than the El Casco I got in 2010; the build quality felt a little inferior. So I returned it. Not sure if the situation has improved.
I like the Caran D’Ache pencil sharpening machine. I’ve done a review if you are interested.
I inherited an older model El Casco Pencil sharpener. The pencil is sharpened through the top and you can see the blades rotate and shave the pencil on the side. It has an adjustment mechanism on the side. It only sharpens the graphite and removes no cedar shavings. Any comments on how to adjust it or could it be that I need new blades? Who services them? I await your comments.
Is the pencil point you posted from the longest setting? How long is the point from the shortest setting?
I have a favor to ask. Could anyone please get a fairly accurate measurement of the diameter of the tip? I am looking to match the width of victorian propelling writing pencils, which were 1.1-1.2mm in diameter. Thanks! Desk Store has their sale again (still?) and it’s aprox. $200 US if I’ve done my math correctly.
To answer my previous question: yes, the El Casco sharpener sharpens to 1 to 1.2 mm diameter for 3 or so mm.
I know this is an older thread _ I am in Canada and have a Gold plated version of this sharpener. I bought it for my day probably 20 plus years ago or more. I am wondering if there is a secondary market to sell these. Some of the gold does look like its a bit worn but otherwise works and looks great.