The best way to sharpen your pencils is to use a tool specifically designed for doing so. Sure, you can use a utility blade to reveal the cylinder of graphite in the middle of a pencil, but a pencil sharpener does it a lot more cleanly. So, what size do pencil sharpeners come in?
Block-shaped pencil sharpeners will usually measure 1 × 5/8 × 7/16 inches in size. A wall-mounted pencil sharpener will measure around 5 × 5 × 3 inches.
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about pencil sharpeners, including their size, how long they last, and what that large hole in two-holed pencil sharpeners is for.
How Big Is a Pencil Sharpener?
It goes without saying that pencil sharpeners come in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Even if you pay a visit to your school’s supply store, you might come across over 20 pencil sharpener styles with vastly different measurements.
Something else you will notice is that there are different pencil sharpener types. For the most part, we can place them into one of three groups—manual, wall-mounted, and electric.
Manual Pencil Sharpener Size
The most common pencil sharpener shape is a block or rectangular prism. Discounting its rounded corners, the dimensions of such a pencil sharpener will measure around 1 × 5/8 × 7/16 inches.
Of course, there are cylindrical pencil sharpeners, which measure around 7/8 of an inch tall and 1-1/2 inches in diameter. However, the more pencil sharpeners you come across, the more you’ll notice a variance in size between them all.
Wall-Mounted Pencil Sharpener Size
In American classrooms, we’re used to seeing silver wall-mounted pencil sharpeners that the school provides. They come with crank handles and a number of different hole sizes that accommodate pencils of nearly all girths. These pencil sharpeners, such as the X-ACTO Ranger 1031, measure around 5 × 5 × 3 inches.
Electric Pencil Sharpener Size
Last but certainly not least, there are electric pencil sharpeners that either plug into a wall outlet or require batteries. One of the most reliable electrical models is the PowerMe Electric Pencil Sharpener, which measures 7 × 8 × 3 inches.
Does Pencil Sharpener Size Matter?
There are two things to consider—portability. Since wall-mounted and electric pencil sharpeners aren’t designed to be transported from place to place, you only need to think about how long it will take for their containers to fill up.
Manual pencil sharpeners are usually small enough to stick inside a pencil bag. As such, you don’t have to worry about it taking too much space in your backpack. Even the largest manual tools don’t take up more than a few cubic inches of space.
Some pencil sharpeners are designed to capture the shavings that come off your pencil as you twist them. The larger the pencil sharpener is, the more shavings it can hold, and the less frequently you will have to get out of your seat to empty the sharpener’s contents.
That said, some people prefer hovering the sharpener over a waste basket while they sharpen their pencils, thereby preventing the tool from creating a mess all over their workspace.
The same principle applies when it comes to wall-mounted and electric pencil sharpeners. The larger the tool is, the more it can hold at once. And since these pencil sharpener types are much larger, it can take sharpening hundreds of pencils to the ferrule before its container even comes close to reaching maximum capacity.
Are Pencil Sharpeners Dangerous?
@AskTSA on Twitter responded to a user’s questions about whether or not pencil sharpeners are allowed on planes. Yes, they are—you can even leave them in your carry-on bag, and TSA agents shouldn’t bat an eye.
That said, they’re not exactly toys, either. Manual pencil sharpeners, especially the blocky ones, have exposed blades that, when rubbed the wrong way, can tear through denim, let alone your skin. As such, you should leave the pencil sharpener inside a pencil bag and not fish around blindly inside the bag.
As for electric pencil sharpeners, it goes without saying that they can be extremely dangerous. They typically do not come with sensors that differentiate between wood and flesh, so whatever you stick in there will be exposed to multiple high-speed blades.
Why Do Pencil Sharpeners Have 2 Holes?
One common feature that you’ll find in manual pencil sharpeners is that they come with two holes, with one hole being considerably larger than the other. How come?
The straightforward answer to this is that the two holes accommodate different pencil sizes. Since not all pencils are made to the same size specifications, it doesn’t hurt to have a secondary sharpening hole to accommodate wider pencils.
One answer you might’ve heard in your childhood is that the larger hole is used to sharpen the tips of crayons to a point. This is also true.
If you have a standard-sized crayon (0.3 inches in diameter), you can sharpen the point by twisting it in the larger pencil sharpener hole. However, don’t expect pencil-sharp results since the wax may be too brittle to maintain its sharpness for very long.
What you will find in wall-mounted pencil sharpeners is that they come with a one-size-fits-all hole and multiple hole sizes to sharpen narrow and wide pencils. However, they don’t work well on crayons since the helical blades are far too aggressive.
Can I Sharpen My Eyeliner in a Pencil Sharpener?
No, you cannot. To sharpen your eyeliner or other makeup sticks, you should use a cosmetic sharpener.
A cosmetic sharpener, such as the REVLON Sharpener, uses blades that are designed to sharpen the compressed waxes, gums, and clays to a point. Traditional pencil sharpeners are more aggressive in order to tear through wood and hard graphite with each turn.
Wall-mounted and electric pencil sharpeners can come with dual helical cutters that rotate at high speeds to remove material more quickly. What they will do to your soft eyeliner pencil is not create a fine point; instead, it might even pull the soft lead out of the pencil, forcing you to shave the pencil to expose more of the hidden lead underneath.