New artists frequently are surprised to learn just how critical a good pencil sharpener is to their success. As a pro will tell them, the best pencil sharpeners for artists can make all of the difference.
You can buy the best artist pencils, but if you don’t have the right tool to keep those pencils in top condition, then you might as well be using cheap pencils. This single tool is so critical, that it was necessary to conduct artist pencil sharpener reviews to determine the best products available.
In arriving at this list of the 10 best pencil sharpeners, factors such as cost, durability, and performance were measured. Choosing one or more of these sharpeners will help you to develop your talent.
Best Pencil Sharpeners for Artists:
1. X-ACTO School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil SharpenerView at Amazon
This is a more expensive option. However, it is a heavy-duty sharpener that will easily stand the test of time and give you the sharpest leads on your pencils. You may find that it’s the best electric pencil sharpener for artists.
X-Acto is a company that’s known for making a variety of cutting instruments for several diverse industries, including home use. Operated by an electric motor, the X-Acto School Pro Classroom Electric Pencil Sharpener is surprisingly quiet.
Even more importantly, it features a flyaway cutter system that automatically stops sharpening once the pencil has reached maximum sharpness. The slightly rounded points on the pencils are produced thanks to a helical steel cutter.
Also worth noting is that the sharpener may be adjusted to accommodate six pencil sizes and that the cutter blade has a substantially longer life span when compared with other blades.
Fans of this sharpener say that it truly stands up to heavy use thanks to its sturdy construction. Nonetheless, its operation is quiet and the shavings bin is quite large. Critics say that they don’t think the point on a fully sharpened pencil is fine enough for some projects.
This X-Acto electric pencil sharpener would be at home in any classroom or studio for everyday use.
- Quick, quiet operation
- Stops automatically when the pencil is sharp
- Suitable for heavy use
- Pencil points may not be fine enough for some projects
View at Amazon
This product may be the best colored pencil sharpener for artists, and it costs less than five bucks. Made by Staedtler, a reputable manufacturer, you can trust that these small plastic sharpeners are always ready to go.
They perform especially well on colored pencils, so if this is what your project calls for, you can’t go wrong. Small enough to easily fit in your hand, this sharpener includes a screw-on lid so that you are always in control of any pencil shavings.
You’ll never have to worry about cleaning up a difficult mess after sharpening your pencils. Plus, these sharpeners come in fun colors so they are always easy to spot. Many people praise this straightforward but totally functional product. It’s made in Germany by a company that has a reputation for building quality drafting supplies. Fans say that these sharpeners are no exception.
They love the screw-on lid because it means that shavings never get spilled into bags, pouches, or pockets. Additionally, this sharpener appears to work particularly well on quality colored pencils. If there is a complaint, it typically relates to not being able to replace the blade.
If you are looking for an economical but well-made manual sharpener, then you can’t go wrong with this Staedtler model.
- Compact and lightweight for portability
- Receptacle with screw-on lid for catching shavings
- Performs well on colored pencils
- The blade is not replaceable
3. JARLINK Electric Pencil Sharpener, Heavy-duty Helical Blade to Fast SharpenView at Amazon
Designed for all No. 2 pencils, the Jarlink Electric Pencil Sharpener can be operated with four AA batteries, but it also includes a USB cord so that it can be plugged into a laptop, power bank or a wall using an adapter.
This electric pencil sharpener that’s good for colored pencils is sturdy and sits on tables or countertops. Pencils are inserted vertically into the top of the sharpener, which also is fitted with a large plastic receptacle for pencil shavings.
Most pencils can be sharpened in less than five seconds with the heavy-duty helical blade. When the tip has reached its sharpest point, the Jarlink automatically shuts down so that you never waste lead.
Further, if the lid is lifted during use, the unit automatically turns off to ensure safe operation. The manufacturer boasts that the blade will stand up to 3,000 uses and that a safety device protects against overheating.
Enthusiastic users frequently say that this sharpener is one of the best they have ever encountered. It’s easy to use. Just plug it in or insert the batteries, place a pencil in the hole and within seconds you have a perfectly sharpened pencil.
Additionally, this electrical sharpener appears to work equally well on a variety of pencil types. Nonetheless, critics say that they wish this Jarlink sharpener was a bit quieter during operation.
People seeking a reliable, well-made, and heavy-duty sharpener that can be used with a variety of power sources will not be disappointed with this Jarlink model.
- Works fast
- Durable blade
- Clear receptacle for pencil shavings
- Operation is pretty noisy
4. Prismacolor Scholar Pencil SharpenerView at Amazon
This combination of a great eraser and a reliable sharpener is a safe bet for any artist. As a product of the Prismacolor brand, you can trust that this is the best pencil sharpener for Prismacolor pencils.
The sharpener has a handy receptacle for capturing pencil shavings, and the translucent green body alerts you to when it’s time to empty it. The blade is made of sharpened steel. You can get the combination pack of the sharpener and the eraser extremely affordable price tag. The eraser is actually a great deal. It’s PVC- and latex-free and features a triangular shape.
This makes the eraser not only easy to hold in your hand but also capable of erasing marks both large and small. The manual pencil sharpener is a simple, straightforward tool that works.
It gives Prismacolor and other pencils a perfectly sharp point every time. Many people love this sharpener, though some argue that it can be difficult to get the point on pencils exactly right. It is advisable to visit the company’s website to view their tutorial regarding the correct way to sharpen a pencil.
This provides enough guidance to help people avoid common mistakes that only waste lead. People praise how easy it is to open the sharpener, which makes it really easy to clean. However, others remark that the lid comes off too easily.
If you’re looking for an inexpensive, portable pencil sharpener, this one is highly recommended.
- Specially compatible with Prismacolor pencils
- The lid pops off fairly easily
5. PowerMe Electric Pencil SharpenerView at Amazon
The PowerMe Electric Pencil Sharpener is a highly recommended best battery-operated pencil sharpener for artists. It is compact and lightweight so it’s possible to take it wherever you go. Alternatively, it can be mounted to a desk or other flat surface.
The sharpener is constructed with quality materials that are designed to last. This includes the helical sharpening blade, which is made from stainless steel. It takes about three seconds to sharpen the average pencil with this sharpener. Equipped with important safety features, the PowerMe will stop operating if the lid is lifted during use.
This keeps even the littlest fingers safe. A rotating spiral-drill design is meant to provide the ideal point every time, and an auto-jam release system makes it easy to remove stuck pencils. The manufacturer notes that the blade is good for 3,000 sharpening cycles.
Users praise this sharpener for being lightweight and totally portable. It operates quietly and produces sharp pencils in a matter of seconds. Unfortunately, it is only suitable for standard-sized pencils, which may be a drawback for some consumers.
A durable and reliable option, the PowerMe Electric Pencil Sharpener may be the ideal choice for the artist on the go.
- Lightweight and portable
- Blade lasts for 3,000 sharpening cycles
- Constructed from high-quality materials
- Only accepts standard-sized pencils
6. STAEDTLER 502 BK A6 Mars Rotary Action Lead Pointer and Tub for 2mm LeadsView at Amazon
This quality pencil sharpener is designed for two-mm leads. It features rotary action and includes an integrated dust wiper. The sharpener is made of metal and features an auto-stop to ensure that the pencil point doesn’t get too delicate.
Additionally, this sharpener is equipped with a measuring device so that users can adjust the sharpening cone. The measuring device consists of two small holes in the top of the unit. One provides a blunter point while the other is sharper.
These are depth gauges that help you to determine what kind of point you need. The pencil is then inserted into the larger hole and rotated around the sharpener. Suitable for mechanical pencil leads, this sharpener requires some experimentation. Once you get the hang of it, it works well.
People who own this sharpener say that it’s useful, versatile, and efficient. They have high praise for the small cotton tubes that are included in the package so that the dust can be cleaned from the sharpened lead. The one downside to this product is that it does require time to figure out how it works.
If you use mechanical pencils, this sharpener is the solution you need.
- Ingenious design
- Measuring device included
- Efficient sharpening
- There is a learning curve associated with this sharpener
7. OfficeGoods Electric & Battery Operated Pencil SharpenerView at Amazon
Affordably priced, this OfficeGoods product is a great value. It’s considered a good pencil sharpener for colored pencils because it has great features. Most notable among these is the ability to choose how sharp each pencil should be.
The sharpener has settings for blunt, medium, and sharp tips so that there is no guesswork. This sharpener is compatible with graphite, colored, and standard No. 2 pencils. If the translucent shaving cover is removed, the sharpener automatically shuts down to ensure safety.
You get to choose how to power this unit. It runs on three AA batteries and also includes an AC adapter and a USB cord so that you can use a computer, power bank, or wall outlet as your power source. Available in black, gold, and silver, you can color-coordinate your office or studio with this sleek-looking sharpener from OfficeGoods. A one-year extended warranty comes with each sharpener.
Fans of this product say that it delivers the perfect point every time. They have had no problem with colored pencil shavings clogging the machinery, and several of them mention just how quickly this sharpener works. It seems to work equally well on a wide variety of pencil types.
If there is a downside to this sharpener, it is that it is not equipped with an auto-stop feature when the pencil is done sharpening. Instead, users must listen for a change in the sound the sharpener makes to determine when the sharpening is complete.
This OfficeGoods Electric & Battery Operated sharpener is a great bargain that delivers reliable performance.
- Works with several power sources
- Variable sharpness settings
- A perfect point on pencils every time
- No auto-stop feature
8. Artlicious 3 Colorful Compact Metal Pencil Sharpener Value PackView at Amazon
Colored pencil sharpener reviews suggest that these are a functional and economical option. Small enough to easily fit in a pocket or a pencil bag, you can enjoy the peace of mind of always having a good pencil sharpener with you wherever you go. A snap-on lid is affixed to a translucent plastic container, so you always know when the receptacle needs to be emptied.
The pack includes green, red, and blue sharpeners with interchangeable lids so that you can get creative with your color combinations. Suitable for everyone from small children to adults, the metal blade appears to be quite sturdy and capable of many sharpening cycles.
Parents love these sharpeners because they are so safe and easy to use for kids. Nonetheless, they seem to work just as well for seasoned artists, with many people reporting that this sharpener works quickly and well.
Critics note that these sharpeners do not have a particularly long lifespan. The blade becomes dull fairly quickly. Fortunately, you still have two backups.
Artists looking for a compact, inexpensive sharpener will probably love this offering from Artlicious.
- Suitable for use with all standard pencils
- Safe and easy to use
- Convenient in a pack of three
- These sharpeners do not have a long lifespan
9. Alvin 9866 Brass Bullet SharpenerView at Amazon
This solid brass selection may be the best manual pencil sharpener for artists. It is totally portable and fits well in the hand thanks to its bullet shape.
Moreover, it features a stainless steel cutting blade that can quickly and conveniently be replaced. Combined with its middle price point, this Alvin sharpener is an excellent value.
This high-quality item is crafted in Germany using outstanding materials. Accordingly, this is a durable sharpener that stands the test of time. It’s a huge plus that the blade is so easy to replace. There’s no need to search for a new sharpener, you can just keep using the reliable one that you already own.
Plus, this sharpener appears to work equally well on graphite, charcoal, and colored pencils. Most people who have given this sharpener a try rate it quite well. They like that it’s so portable, and because it’s so inexpensive, many of them recommend buying several so that they can be kept in the studio, classroom, car, purse, and elsewhere.
Even when used on the finest artist’s pencils, they claim that this sharpener performs well. Many fans also say that this sharpener wastes very little lead. On the downside, this Alvin model has no receptacle for catching the shavings as they come off the pencil.
This rock-solid sharpener is small, inexpensive, and totally sturdy. It deserves to be in any artist’s arsenal.
- Solid construction
- Quality materials
- Blades are easy to replace
- No receptacle for catching shavings
10. Kum AS2, Two Hole Automatic Long Point Pencil SharpenerView at Amazon
We considered this sharpener as the best art pencil sharpener because it’s capable of producing an extra-long tip. The mechanism sharpens the wood casing first, followed by the lead for a perfect point every time.
This sharpener features dual holes with flexible blades to ensure that lead points don’t get broken.
It’s worth noting that this is a two-step sharpener. Use the first side, which is marked with a “1,” to sharpen the wood.
Then, insert the pencil into the hole marked “2” to bring the lead to a sharp point. Many people love how this sharpener results in an extra-long tip.
This means that they can use the side of the lead for larger areas, reserving the sharpened tip for smaller details. Accordingly, it may be possible to waste less lead. Critics say that the blade becomes dull too quickly, but this is an inexpensive sharpener that is easy to replace.
An economical choice when only an extra-long point will do, this Kum sharpener is a bargain.
- Creates an extra-long point
- Produces incredibly sharp tips
- Great for saving lead
- Blades dull fairly quickly
Factors to Consider When Buying a Pencil Sharpener for Art Colored Pencils
While it would be convenient to be able to name one sharpener as the best all-around tool to use, a genuine answer is more nuanced.
Your choice of pencil sharpener will depend upon the pencils you are using and the medium in which you are working.
Amount of Sharpeners
In fact, you may discover that you need at least two or more pencil sharpeners in order to achieve all of your artistic goals.
Accordingly, when you’re trying to decide which pencil sharpener is the best one for artists, there really aren’t any right or wrong answers. What you are left with is the need to consider the requirements of each individual project before you choose the appropriate pencil sharpener for it.
Electric vs Handheld
Some artists swear by sharpening with a hand-held blade like a box cutter. While this may be an ideal method for use on charcoal pencils, it doesn’t do so well when you’re sharpening colored pencils.
Not only does it not produce as nice of a point on colored pencils but also it takes far longer to hand-sharpen a pencil. Your time is better spent creating as opposed to sharpening.
Typically, it is advisable to use a heavy-duty electrical sharpener whenever you need to achieve a narrow, long taper. This means that you’ll have a fine point that lasts for quite a while. Frequently, the same results can be achieved with a battery-operated sharpener.
Many artists are concerned that an electrical sharpener will cause them to over-sharpen their pencils, thereby wasting lead.
However, this is rarely a concern any longer as most modern sharpeners are equipped with a trigger stop that causes the sharpener to cease operations as soon as the pencil is fully sharpened.
The result is a perfectly fine tip without any wasted lead.
If you need a blunt tip that won’t leave visible strokes, then you may want to use a handheld, manual sharpener. This will let you sharpen your lead just a bit so that you can achieve the effect you want.
You will always get the best performance from your sharpener if you properly maintain it. This means cleaning it regularly by dumping out the receptacle.
Ideally, this is done before it is completely full, which is especially critical for electrical sharpeners. Overflowing shavings can get into the sharpeners’ gears and cause trouble.
Also, consider using extenders to get the most life out of your pencils. An extender allows you to continue to sharpen and use a stub that may be as short as one inch in length.
Making the Decision
When it comes to choosing the best pencil sharpener for artists, there isn’t a single correct answer. You could easily have a variety of sharpeners, each one chosen for its ability to give you the lead point you need on a particular brand or type of pencil.
The best advice is to get out there and experiment. Fortunately, many highly recommended pencil sharpeners like the ones on this list are quite affordable, which means that you can try several of them.
Also, make a point of asking fellow artists which sharpeners they used on their pencils to achieve a particular effect. Their answer may help to steer you toward a particular brand or type of sharpener that you would like to try.
Above all, don’t listen to anyone who tells you that there is just one sharpener that every artist needs. Everyone works with different techniques, in different mediums, and with different pencils. Chances are good that you’ll need a variety of sharpeners to meet your artistic needs.