Caran d’Ache Pencil Peeler

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Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

It is not a vegetable peeler, nor a magnet. It is a curiosity, a design object created by Oriol Gener. It claims to be able to sharpen a pencil.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

It is fun, and surprisingly miniature – from photos, I imagined a full-sized kitchen vegetable peeler – but it is comparable to the size and weight of a large coin.

The packaging has instructional photos that I don’t find helpful.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

As one would imagine, you peel away at the pencil with the peeler’s blade.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

(An MD pencil.)

Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

I’m quite ambiguous in my reaction. It just can’t be as consistent as a quality regular sharpener. It costs roughly $USD25. It benefits from softer woods. But it is a lot of fun.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Peeler

What do you think?

Caran d’Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

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An icon of the pencil world not yet featured by this blog is the Caran d’Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine. A sturdy all metal desktop sharpener, the product has been in production for eighty years. In honour of that anniversary, Caran d’Ache issued a limited edition of 1933 in a matte black finish.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

It’s a beauty.

Some of the packaging:

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine
Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Inserts and accessories:

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine
Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Compared to other desktop sharpeners, the function is very simple.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

A drawer for the shavings.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Three jaws.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

A Tombow Mono 100 was chosen to be the first test subject.

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

Caran d'Ache Pencil Sharpening Machine

The results are surprising and practical – a blunt point and an overall shape similar to what a handheld sharpener would deliver.

KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener

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The website for the KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener seems reserved in describing the sharpener’s purpose:

8 + 10” Double Pencil Sharpener, for some special-diameter triangular pencils, with 8mm and 10mm holes, container has pencil hole cover, assorted red and black.

The idea of a specialty sharpener just for large triangular pencils is appealing, but it is hard to imagine the engineering behind such a sharpener. Note the octagonal pencils in the graphic:

KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener

The sharpener appears to be the usual fare:

KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener

And the sharpening result (not bad, in fairness) doesn’t convince me that this product is a specialty item:

KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener

El Casco pencil sharpener

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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:
El Casco pencil sharpener

It turns out that the giant polishing cloth is not excessive:
El Casco pencil sharpener

There is a lot of very nice chrome to be maintained:
El Casco pencil sharpener

The surfaces are like a mirror, so it was hard to make sure I was photographing the sharpener, and not reflections:
El Casco pencil sharpener

The camera lens inspired opening for the pencil:
El Casco pencil sharpener

The viewing portal, which is mesmerizing in use:
El Casco pencil sharpener

What pencil would you sharpen first? Which pencil did you think I would select?
El Casco pencil sharpener

Not sure if I need more practice, as a ring of graphite is noticeable. The point is remarkable:
El Casco pencil sharpener

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!

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

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Troy from Classroom Friendly Supplies kindly sent a “Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener” this way. I’ve previously read reports on the sharpener at Pencil Revolution and Lung Sketching Scrolls. (Alberto really put it through the paces!) Some searching reveals further coverage at Unposted and Little Flower Petals.

In terms of modern day desktop sharpeners, there is one thing that seems to be true – they all appear to be essentially the same. With the exception of a very pricey model from El Casco (and possibly one from Caran d’Ache), these products are nearly identical (whether labelled Carl or Staedtler or Faber-Castell or no-name) and seem to be made at the People’s No. 2 Sharpener Factory in Yangzhou, or some similar facility.

This comment hits the nail on the head about today’s specimen – this sharpener is either an unbranded Carl A-5, or from the same supplier that Carl uses. As Carl sharpeners have been mentioned here many times over the years, they will be used for comparison.

The product is packaged in a way that makes shipping feasible:

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

The sharpener has a different aesthetic, and is cased in metal, making it heavier and more substantial than the plastic housed Carls. Between the Carl Decade 100 and Carl Bungu Ryodo:

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Unlike those Carl sharpeners, the jaws mark the pencils. Whether or not this is a deal breaker would be a personal choice. I did not attempt to transplant the guide mechanism and padded non-marking jaws of a Carl sharpener to the Classroom Friendly model. It should be feasible as far as I can tell, but the look of the sharpener would be off.

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Those fierce jaws:

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

Finally, on the question of sharpening – there is no point adjustment capability.

The official Carl product page reveals the A-5 to be the least expensive of the Carl range. It and most other models do not have adjustable point settings. The top of the line CC-5000 has five point settings!

The surprise is that the Classroom Friendly point (top) is even sharper than the acute setting of the Decade:

Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener

That point is so sharp that most leads sharpened in that way will break fairly quickly under any pressure – but it is dramatic!

I did try and move the blade mechanism between sharpeners. That works, though you understandably get another odd looking sharpener.

While I didn’t test it in a classroom, the product is excellent for personal use, and I have no trouble recommending it. Troy has been selling these since 2004, so you can be confident in the vendor.