My Favorite Pencil Sharpener for the Art Room (Ever)

My pencils and my “Carl”

Once upon a time, I wrote a post entitled “The Holy Terror that is the Electric Pencil Sharpener.

After I wrote that a lot of you sent me some super-helpful tips about managing the Vile Pencil Sharpener. They were and are great tips like setting specific guidelines for usage, posting rules for sharpening next to the sharpener and (my favorite) a little card over the sharpener that read “The Sharpener is Currently Closed for Business.”

Even with all of those awesome tips, my opinion on the matter is pretty much unchanged.

Electric pencil sharpeners are a pain in the bootie in the Art classroom. Here’s why:
#1. You have to constantly manage their use.
#2. Using one is the go-to choice for students who want to waste time.
#3. Despite management, students WILL use it when you are trying to address the whole class.
#4. They overheat and then stop working for periods of time (usually when you most need them).
#5. They break. Easily.
#6. A decent electric pencil sharpener is expensive.

So far this year my students and I have killed the following electric pencil sharpeners (may they NOT rest in peace!). I should add that none of these sharpeners were killed through misuse or deliberate abuse; we just used them to death.

X-Acto Teacher Pro 
-I inherited this sharpener with my classroom
-Overheated all the time
-Students liked to play with the pencil diameter settings
-One day just stopped working
-Retails for $60

Status: DEAD

X-Acto School Pro Heavy-Duty Sharpener
-I bought this one with my own money after we killed the Teacher Pro
-Often sharpens pencils off-center making for that extra-sharp wood-only point (ugh)
-CRAZY super loud
-Students still liked to play with the diameter settings
-The shavings reservoir has a piece that breaks easily when emptying. The sharpener will not work unless this piece is present. I hot-glued it back into place about 25 times before we killed it.
-Didn’t over-heat too much
-One day just stopped working
-We re-purposed the parts for a recycled art project
-Retails for $59.99

Status: DEAD

X-Acto XLR 1818
-I might have liberated this sharpener from an unused classroom after the School Pro died
-Often sharpens pencils off-center making for that extra-sharp wood-only point (ugh)
-Overheats ALL. THE. TIME.
-CRAZY super loud
-Shaving reservoir is tiny and more conducive to a non-Art setting
-Not for high-volume use
-Pretty sure that the constant over-heating is what killed it
-Retails for $27.66

Status: DEAD

Bostitch All Metal Wall Sharpener
-This is mounted on the wall of my classroom
-It has probably been there since 1985
-Often sharpens pencils off-center making for that extra-sharp wood-only point (ugh)
-Reservoir cover was lost long before my time
-It barely sharpens anymore because we’ve worn the blades down so bad
-Dangerous because the exposed blades are present b/c the reservoir cup is gone
-Retails $22.99


After killing THREE electric pencils sharpeners in a span of six months, I decided it was time to do a little research. I kept hearing good things about the CARL Angel-5 Pencil Sharpener; a non-electric, high-volume pencil sharpener. It looks like no pencil sharpener I’ve ever seen and it is supposedly based on a 1950’s design. It retails for less than $25. I decided to take the plunge. After three months of heavy student use, here are my thoughts on “Carl.”

CARL Angel-5 Pencil Sharpener (non-electric)
-Comes with a clamp for mounting to the desk; the clamp is pretty worthless
-You don’t need the clamp!
-Only allows students to sharpen a pencil to a point (no over-sharpening)
-Sharpens a perfect point EVERY. TIME. (no more off-center sharpening)
-Is easy to remove the blade mechanism to take out a jam (soft lead will jam in any sharpener!)
-Is very quiet
-Has a decent-sized reservoir
-Reservoir is easy to empty
-Sharpening is very easy once you understand how to do it (you will have to teach it first)
-Only a part of the handle is plastic (for comfort) the rest is all metal
-It’s cute
-It comes in different colors
-It has a great price
-Never overheats because it isn’t electric
-My students LOVE it; say it is the best sharpener ever
-Because the students love it, it is treated with respect
-Students beg to sharpen all my pencils for me
-It is personified and treated better because of it, “Yo bruh, be nice to Carl!”
-Retails $23.99


I love my Carl! He lives on my desk and has a set of “instructions” mounted next to him. Students come to me in-between classes to sharpen their pencils because “My other teacher’s sharpener’s aren’t as good as Carl!”  I’m already planning to purchase a Carl for all of my Art tables next year; this will mean all pencil sharpening can happen in student seats!

Carl in his home with his pencils and his instructions. 

The top of Carl. See! His name is even on him!!

Carl sharpens perfectly every time! I sharpened all of these pencils just once before I took the picture!

Here’s a student using Carl

I should add I have received no compensation or anything from the company that makes Carl. I just really, really, really love him!!

5 thoughts on “My Favorite Pencil Sharpener for the Art Room (Ever)”

  1. love it! I may have to get a Carl myself:) also, the pic of your pencils with their tags and in their home base, reminds me SO much of my dad. He taught industrial arts for 25 years and he had ALL his supplies numbered, tagged, and color coded. I don't have it in me to do it;)

  2. Thank you so much for posting this. I've been looking for a sharpener in this style to add to my art room for ages! We have my father-in-law's industrial one with this design at home and it's indestructable.

Comments are closed.