Sunday, 11 January 2015

Sharpener Review

Hello everyone, I hope you are all feeling creative this year.. using all your new Christmas stash to make art. One thing that I really wanted for ages was an electric pencil sharpener, and that went on my Christmas list. 

I have tried lots of hand held sharpeners and have found the metal 2 hole ones to be the best, and of course they are the most portable. I prefer the 2 hole ones as some pencils are just too big for the 1 hole types. 

 But I wanted something robust that could stand on my desk. I tried one that has a handle to turn, but I found it did not grip well enough nor sharpen well enough. 

So onto an electric one. I chose to ask for the Swordfish 40051. You can see all their products HERE. mine was ordered from a seller through Amazon, I won't say who as their delivery time was appalling, but there are lots of art shops online that stock these machines. Look around for the best price, mine was £47.

This is how it looks in the box. The machine, with power cord attached and an instruction leaflet. The machine weighs 2lb 5oz, and measures approx 14cm x 10cm it is fairly substantial. It also has 4 suction cup feet, which once you press down on the machine, they keep it in place 

Here is some blurb about the machine.. 

Perfect for office or studio use, this model has a choice of pencil point options and will produce a sharp or gently contoured point. A jam eject button enables broken leads and pencil stubs to be removed with ease.

  • Choice of pencil point options from rounded to sharp
  • Sharpens up to 6 pencils per minute
  • Automatically sharpens when a pencil is inserted and stops when it is removed
  • Auto-stop when sharp to prevent oversharpening
  • Safety feature cuts power when tray is removed
  • Effective thermal cut-out to protect the motor
  • Strong, sharp replaceable helical blade
  • A jam eject button enables broken leads & pencil stubs to be removed with ease
  • For standard (8mm) diameter pencils

After reading up on the machine, it appears that the wax from coloured pencils can build up on the blade, this can be cleaned with a small brush. Though it does suggest that alternating between graphite and colour will prevent the build up. The blade can be replaced,(approx £12) but so far I have not been able to find out if the motor can be repaired or replaced. 

It has 3 setting, blunt/rounded, pointed and extra pointed. 

At the front is a pull out drawer in which the shavings collect.

Here is the pencil I started with, as you can see, brand new never sharpened. 

This was done on the blunt setting. 

This is the pointy setting

and the extra pointy setting

This is the amount of shavings after just these 3 settings were tried. 

and finally I tried a coloured pencil. This is a Prisma. 

On the whole I am impressed so far, the points are really pointy, I am not sure if this comes at a cost of sharpening away more pencil that usual... I won't know this for a while, until I have used it a lot more. I guess then it will be a choice, accept that you will go through pencils quicker and enjoy the super fine point, or put up with less of a point but have your pencils last longer... a personal decision, and based upon each persons finances and the level of art they wish to achieve. 

This is not a cheap machine at all, which is why I got Santa to bring it.. but hopefully it will be a worthwhile investment. 


Derwent Coloursoft...

Derwent Inktense...

Caran d'Ache Supracolour (watercolour) - hexagon shape

Faber Castell Polychromos

Derwent Graphitint

Derwent Academy (watercolour) hexagon shape

Derwent Metallic - hexagon shape

Cheap metallic unknown brand

Derwent Graphite hexagon shape

Staedtler graphite - hexagon shape

Darcy x


  1. We could have a sharpening party Darcy. Looks amazing. Xx

  2. Very interesting, thanks for sharing. This sharpener looks the biz if a bit of an extravagance... The extra pointy is what I'm after but will it take Colousoft pencils (a tad over 8mm) ?

    1. Hi, please see blog post. I have edited it to add several more photos of other pencil trials, one is coloursoft. it wasn't the easiest out of them all to sharpen, but definitely not impossible.

    2. I'm sold! Think you have found the best of the bunch here. Many thanks for testing !

  3. Thanks for your review Darcy, a tad expensive but when you are an artist and using pencils a lot i am sure this is a godsend. Thanks for all the images showing the pencils, really helps :-) xxx

  4. Oh this is very interesting, a big thank you Darcy!!!! We all share these concerns I think, at least this is a question that I have been asking myself since a while. I keep this prticular tool in mind for next Christmas or my birthday, it shows very good results. xx