I’m asked this question often enough that I figured it was time for a full video on the subject. Before I get started I know I will have people tell me “you should only sharpen pencils with an exacto knife etc. If that works for you, great…go for it. I would cut off my fingers and don’t enjoy playing with knives so it’s not my preferred method. The sharpeners that I use depends on the pencils that I’m sharpening. For each of these sharpeners, I sharpen a regular graphite pencil every so often to clean the blades.
I’m going to start with how I sharpen Prismacolors. While I don’t personally use these pencils anymore (besides for comparison videos), they are the biggest drama queens when it comes to sharpening so lets get them out of the way first so they don’t have a tantrum and start breaking in their storage box because they wanted to go first. With Prismacolor I use this Derwent battery operated electric sharpener. I’ve tried the Prismacolor hand held sharpener, and every other sharpener that you can think of, but with prismas poor casings and tendency to break, those were not ideal choices for me. I’ve had the best results and WAY less breakage and wood cases splitting though with that Derwent electric sharpener. When you sharpen your prismas, it’s best to use the wider angle option on the sharpener. If you use the option to have a long pointy lead, it’s just going to break on you.
For all my other colored pencils, I can sharpen them with just about any sharpener and have perfect results. Right now, my favorite is this handheld sharpener by Kum. This one has a magnesium inner sharpener and a handy barrel to catch shavings. Because I do a lot of detail in my work, I need my leads to be really sharp quite often. If I had to keep sharpening my pencils every time I needed that tip just a bit sharper, I would waste SO much lead. Instead, I keep a sheet of fine sandpaper (around 300 grit) at my easel so that I can sharpen the point on the pencils without having to eat up tons of lead. When I do sharpen my pencils with a hand held sharpener, I do so with a pretty light hand. You don’t need to add a lot of pressure with these to get them to work.
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